Posts Tagged President

Another Bad Story Bites The Dust – NYTimes.com


Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

August 6, 2013, 10:42 am 

Another Bad Story Bites The Dust

One of the remarkable things about the ongoing economic crisis is the endless search for explanations of something that’s actually quite simple — the sluggish pace of recovery. You have a large overhang of private debt; you have a still-depressed housing sector; and you have contractionary fiscal policy. Add to this the well-established fact that recovery tends to be slow after recessions caused not by tight money but by private-sector overreach, and there’s just no mystery that needs explaining.

Yet we’ve seen an endless series of analyses declaring that there is indeed a deep mystery, and it must be Obama’s Fault. Probably the most influential of these analyses was the claim that Obama was creating “uncertainty”, and this was holding everything back.

Larry Mishel did a thorough debunking of this meme almost two years ago. And sure enough, the index of uncertainty that everyone was pointing to has plunged, with no visible boost to the economy.

Will anyone who bought into this story engage in some serious self-analysis? Why am I even asking?

 Another Bad Story Bites The Dust – NYTimes.com.

 

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Republicans: Obama Must Take Action in Syria So We Can Criticize Action He Took in Syria : The New Yorker


APRIL 29, 2013

REPUBLICANS: OBAMA MUST TAKE ACTION IN SYRIA SO WE CAN CRITICIZE ACTION HE TOOK IN SYRIA

POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ

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WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A growing chorus of Republican lawmakers are demanding that President Obama take some action in Syria so that they can attack whatever action he took in Syria.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) laid out the situation in stark terms: “The time for President Obama to do something in Syria that we can eviscerate him for is long overdue.”

Arguing that there are a variety of options available to Mr. Obama for dealing with Syria, Sen. Graham said, “The President needs to choose one of those options so that we can immediately identify it as a catastrophic choice and demand that he be impeached.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) used an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to express impatience with Mr. Obama’s “steadfast refusal to give us something new to rake him over the coals for.”

“The American people have grown weary of my nonstop criticism of the President’s handling of Libya,” he said. “They are ready to hear me incessantly berate him for his handling of a different country.”

At the end of his television appearance, Sen. McCain seemed to draw a line in the sand, making a direct challenge to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, we are sick and tired of attacking you for your inaction. The time has come for us to attack you for your action.”

 Republicans: Obama Must Take Action in Syria So We Can Criticize Action He Took in Syria : The New Yorker.

 

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Report: Boehner Caves Again, Offers Obama Year Delay on Debt Limit


House Speaker John Boehner apparently broke from Republican Party principles yet again this weekend, this time with a reported agreement to give President Barack Obama a full year-long free ride that would give up all GOP leverage until early 2014 on the debt ceiling.

“House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a major concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end ‘fiscal cliff,’” the Washington Post reported late Sunday evening. “The offer came Friday, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks, as part of the latest effort by Boehner (R-Ohio) to strike a deal with President Obama to replace more than $500 billion in painful deficit-reduction measures set to take effect in January.”

The most recent rise in the debt ceiling limit was to $16.4 trillion, as set by Congress last year. The national debt is creeping up on that $16.4 trillion now; the country is less than $20 billion away.

According to the Post, Boehner’s offer doesn’t go as far as what Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wanted: absolute executive control over the federal debt limit indefinitely into the future. But the deal also leaves Republicans with little leverage with the White House in budget negotiations and other deals over the next year.

Boehner is now in an apparent rift with his Senate Republican counterparts. When Geithner asked congressional Republicans for leeway on the debt ceiling two weeks ago, McConnell reportedly “burst into laughter” in Geithner’s face. McConnell also disagreeswith Boehner on tax increases, and a spokesman says he won’t support any increases in tax rates on anyone.

This is Boehner’s second reported cave this weekend; earlier this weekend, he reportedly offered to increase tax rates on those earning more than $1 million per year. Obama reportedly rejected the offer, claiming Boehner hadn’t caved on Republican principles enough. Other media outlets confirmed Politico’s reporting shortly thereafter.

“Speaker John Boehner has proposed allowing tax rates to rise for the wealthiest Americans if President Barack Obama agrees to major entitlement cuts, according to several sources close to the talks,” Politico reported. “It is the first time Boehner has offered any boost in marginal tax rates for any income group, and it would represent a major concession for the Ohio Republican. Boehner suggested hiking the Bush-era tax rates for top wage earners, including those with annual incomes of $1 million or more annually, beginning Jan. 1, two sources said.”

Since Boehner’s and Obama’s fiscal cliff negotiations have been conducted in secret, behind closed doors, it’s unclear which team is leaking this information about the talks. It could be the president’s staff, or it could be the speaker’s staff. Either way, liberal media outlets are clearly getting the leaked reports first — a sign that whomever is doing the leaking knows the information is embarrassing for Boehner. 

 Report: Boehner Caves Again, Offers Obama Year Delay on Debt Limit.

 

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Report: Boehner proposes tax hike for nation’s millionaires – The Hill’s On The Money


English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets wit...

English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner during the debt ceiling increase negotiations. The official White House caption says “President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner on the patio near the Oval Office, Sunday, July 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Report: Boehner proposes tax hike for nation’s millionaires

 

By Kyle Balluck

 

  

 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has offered to raise the top tax rate for earners making more than $1 million, a source told the Associated Press.

 

The development in the fiscal talks comes amid pessimism the Speaker and President Obama can hammer out a deal before Christmas. 

 

The source said Obama has not accepted the offer, according to the Associated Press, which added that Boehner is still seeking more spending cuts than Obama has proposed.

 

Democrats had said Boehner wouldn’t relent on raising tax rates on the wealthy for fear it could cost him his job, a suggestion the Speaker dismissed Friday.

 

“I’m not concerned about my job as Speaker,” said Boehner. “What I’m concerned about is doing the right thing for our kids and grandkids. And if we don’t fix this spending problem, their future is going to be rather bleak.”

 

Boehner and Obama last met on Thursday.

 

The 50-minute long Oval Office meeting was the first between the two since last Sunday. It followed a day of harsh rhetoric and attacks that suggested Obama and Boehner were digging in rather than narrowing their differences on taxes and entitlements.

 

 Report: Boehner proposes tax hike for nation’s millionaires – The Hill’s On The Money.

 

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Boehner: Obama Needs to Stop Acting Like He Won Election : The New Yorker


DECEMBER 2, 2012

BOEHNER: OBAMA NEEDS TO STOP ACTING LIKE HE WON ELECTION

POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ

 

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WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Tensions over the so-called fiscal cliff reached a boiling point today as House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama of acting like he won the November election.

“Our message is clear: Mr. President, we are ready to negotiate with you,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “But this nonsense of acting like you won the election has got to stop.”

Lashing out at Mr. Obama’s “delusional arrogance,” Mr. Boehner added, “I don’t know what planet he thinks he won an election on, but this whole ‘the American people elected me’ act is getting a little old.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Mr. Boehner’s sentiments, stating, “The President’s budget proposal sounds like the ravings of a man who thinks he won fifty-one per cent of the popular vote and three hundred and thirty-two electoral votes. When he decides it’s finally time to return to Realityville, he knows where to find us.”

Sen. McConnell denied earlier reports that he “burst out laughing” when he heard Mr. Obama’s latest budget proposal, telling reporters, “Actually, it would be more accurate to say I peed myself.”

“That business about raising taxes on the rich was—pardon my French—freaking hilarious,” Sen. McConnell said. “I’m glad that losing the election hasn’t made the President lose his sense of humor.”

 Boehner: Obama Needs to Stop Acting Like He Won Election : The New Yorker.

 

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Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » An Open Letter to President Obama


MICHAEL MOORE

An Open Letter to President Obama

 

 

Dear President Obama:

Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn’t contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.

Chris Weyant / The Hill

This time, it was more like breathing a huge sigh of relief. But, like the smooth guy you are, you scored the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, and you racked up the most votes for a Democratic president in the history of the United States(the only one to receive more votes than you was …you, in ’08!). You are the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote twice in a row since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This was truly another historic election and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to respectfully ask that your second term not resemble your first term.

It’s not that you didn’t get anything done. You got A LOT done. But there are some very huge issues that have been left unresolved and, dammit, we need you to get some fight in you. Wall Street and the uber-rich have been conducting a bloody class war for over 30 years and it’s about time they were stopped.

I know it is not in your nature to be aggressive or confrontational. But, please, Barack – DO NOT listen to the pundits who are telling you to make the “grand compromise” or move to the “center” (FYI – you’re already there). Your fellow citizens have spoken and we have rejected the crazed ideology of this Republican Party and we insist that you forcefully proceed in bringing about profound change that will improve the lives of the 99%. We’re done hoping. We want real change. And, if we can’t get it in the second term of a great and good man like you, then really – what’s the use? Why are we even bothering? Yes, we’re that discouraged and disenchanted.

At your first post-election press conference last Wednesday you were on fire. The way you went all “Taxi Driver” on McCain and company (“You talkin’ to me?”) was so brilliant and breathtaking I had to play it back a dozen times just to maintain the contact high. Jesus, that look – for a second I thought laser beams would be shooting out of your eyes! MORE OF THAT!! PLEASE!!

In the weeks after your first election you celebrated by hiring the Goldman Sachs boys and Wall Street darlings to run our economy. Talk about a buzzkill that I never fully recovered from. Please – not this time. This time take a stand for all the rest of us – and if you do, tens of millions of us will not only have your back, we will swoop down on Congress in a force so large they won’t know what hit them (that’s right, McConnell – you’re on the retirement list we’ve put together for 2014).

BUT – first you have to do the job we elected you to do. You have to take your massive 126-electoral vote margin and just go for it.

Here are my suggestions:

1. DRIVE THE RICH RIGHT OFF THEIR FISCAL CLIFF. The “fiscal cliff” is a ruse, an invention by the Right and the rich, to try and keep their huge tax breaks. On December 31, let ALL the tax cuts expire. Then, on January 1, put forth a bill that restores the tax cuts for 98% of the public. I dare the Republicans to vote against that! They can’t and they won’t. As for the spending cuts, the 2011 agreement states that, for every domestic program dollar the Republicans want to cut, a Pentagon dollar must also be cut. See, you are a genius! No way will the Right vote against the masters of war. And if by some chance they do, you can immediately put forth legislation to restore all the programs we, the majority, approve of. And for God’s sake, man – declare Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid untouchable. They’re not bankrupt or anywhere near it. If the rich paid the same percentage of Social Security tax on their entire income – the same exact rate everyone else pays – then there will suddenly be enough money in Social Security to last til at least the year 2080!

2. END ALL THE WARS NOW. Do not continue the war in Afghanistan (a thoroughly losing proposition if ever there was one) for two full more years! Why should one single more person have to die FOR NO REASON? Stop it. You know it’s wrong. Bin Laden’s dead, al Qaeda is decimated and the Afghans have to work out their own problems. Also, end the drone strikes and other covert military activities you are conducting in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Colombia, and God knows where else. You think history is going to remember the United States as a great democracy? No, they’re going to think of us as a nation that became addicted to war. They’ll call us warlords. They’ll say that in the 21st century America was so in need of oil that we’d kill anyone to get it. You know that’s where this is going. This has to stop. Now.

3. END THE DRUG WAR. It is not only an abysmal failure, it has returned us to the days of slavery. We have locked up over a million African-Americans and Latinos and now fund a private prison-industrial complex that makes billions for a few lucky rich people. There are other ways to deal with the drugs that do cause harm – ways built around a sense of decency and compassion. We look like a bunch of sadistic racists. Stop it.

4. DECLARE A MORATORIUM ON HOME FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS. Millions of people are facing homelessness because of a crooked system enacted by the major banks and Wall Street firms. Put a pause on this and take 12 months to work out a different way (like, restructuring families’ mortgages to reflect the true worth of their homes).

5. GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS. You already know this one. The public is sick of it. Now’s the time to act.

6. EXPAND OBAMACARE. Your health care law doesn’t cover everyone. It is a cash cow for the insurance industry. Push for a single-payer system – Medicare for All – and include dentistry and mental health. This is the single biggest thing you could do to reduce the country’s deficit.

7. RESTORE GLASS-STEAGALL. You must put back all the rigid controls on Wall Street that Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes removed – or else we face the possibility of another, much worse, crash. If they break the law, prosecute them the way you currently go after whistleblowers and medical marijuana dispensaries.

8. REDUCE STUDENT LOAN DEBT. No 22-year-old should have to enter the real world already in a virtual debtors’ prison. This is cruel and no other democracy does this like we do. You were right to eliminate the banks as the profit-gouging lenders, but now you have to bring us back to the days when you and I were of college age and a good education cost us little or next to nothing. A few less wars would go a long to way to being able to afford this.

9. FREE BRADLEY MANNING. End the persecution and prosecution of an American hero. Bush and Cheney lied to a nation to convince us to go to war. Manning allegedly hacked the war criminals’ files and then shared them with the American public (and the world) so that we could learn the truth about Iraq and Afghanistan. Our history is full of such people who “break the law” for the greater good of humanity. Army Specialist Bradley Manning deserves a medal, not prison.

10. ASK US TO DO SOMETHING. One thing is clear: none of the above is going to happen if you don’t immediately mobilize the 63,500,000 who voted for you (and the other 40 million who are for you but didn’t vote). You can’t go this alone. You need an army of everyday Americans who will fight alongside you to make this a more just and peaceful nation. In your 2008 campaign, you were a pioneer in using social media to win the election. Over 15 million of us gave you our cell numbers or email addresses so you could send us texts and emails telling us what needed to be done to win the election. Then, as soon as you won, it was as if you hit the delete button. We never heard from you again. (Until this past year when you kept texting us to send you $25. Inspiring.) Whoever your internet and social media people were should have been given their own office in the West Wing – and we should have heard from you. Constantly. Need a bill passed? Text us and we will mobilize! The Republicans are filibustering? We can stop them! They won’t approve your choice for Secretary of State? We’ll see about that! You say you were a community organizer. Please – start acting like one.

The next four years can be one of those presidential terms that changed the course of America. I’m sure you will want to be judged on how you stood up for us, restored the middle class, ended the s***ting on the poor and made us a friend to the rest of the world instead of a threat. You can do this. We can do it with you. All that stands in the way is your understandable desire to sing “Kumbaya” with the Republicans. Don’t waste your breath. Their professed love of America is negated by their profound hatred of you. Don’t waste a minute on them. Fix the sad mess we’re in. Go back and read this month’s election results. We’re with you.

 Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » An Open Letter to President Obama.

 

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Matt Miller: Obama must kill the debt limit – The Washington Post


Matt Miller

Matt Miller

Opinion Writer

Obama must kill the debt limit

By Matt Miller, Published: November 15

Everyone assumes the president has the leverage this time because if he does nothing the Bush tax cuts expire and he can propose fresh ones for 98 percent of the country.

But everyone’s forgetting one thing:  the debt limit.  

Amazingly, no one asked about how it would affect the coming fiscal talks at the president’s press conference Wednesday. But we’re slated to hit the debt ceiling early next year, meaning it will be a central part of the kabuki dance that begins Friday at the White House. So the only way President Obama really has leverage is if he decisively removes the debt ceiling as a source of power for the Republicans.

Recall it was reckless GOP brinksmanship with the debt limit last time (and Obama’s timidity in the face of it) that scared markets, gave us the United States’ first-ever downgrade, and left the president looking weak. 

For Obama’s own sake — and for the sake of stable governance for future presidents of either party — the president can’t let the GOP hold the country hostage via the debt ceiling again.

The question is whether Obama has learned from experience and has the stomach now for what’s required. Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics” had some cautionary detail on this question that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.     

The so-called 14th Amendment option — which Bill Clinton suggested pursuing — was discussed in the Oval Office in July 2011 as the crisis peaked. The amendment reads in part that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned.” Could this let Treasury issue debt beyond the statutory limit? Woodward reports that everyone in the meeting, Obama included, “agreed it would not work. There would be lawsuits. The new bonds would be immediately downgraded. It would be a mess.” 

Imagine that. The lawyers had concerns.

Woodward pressed Obama about the matter in a later interview.

“I am not prepared to put the country in a position in which a miscalculation results in default,” the president told Woodward, recalling his sentiment about the 14th Amendment option at the time.  “[T]he world financial markets, having already gone through trauma two years earlier, cannot afford to have uncertainty about what the world’s reserve currency and its Treasury notes are worth in this environment.” 

Well, neither can world markets afford to have the debt ceiling of the world’s most important economy be a recurring source of blackmail and volatility. Now that the GOP has shown it’s willing to cross that line, it’s a matter of choosing your poison.

The White House attitude last time reminds me of Al Gore’s refusal during the Florida recount to challenge military ballots. Gore said he’d be savaged in the press for such a move and wouldn’t pursue it. I recall thinking that Clinton would have had the exact opposite reaction. “If throwing out some military ballots will help us win, then do it,” Clinton would have said.  “I’ll deal with any PR fallout as president.”  

This is about presidential will. And a readiness to do what the situation demands. 

The president knows he can’t let the precedent established last year become the new normal in budget talks. He knows the debt ceiling is a weird relic that no other country (save Denmark, sort of) possesses. In most nations, the act of the legislature passing a budget simultaneously authorizes its treasury to borrow whatever debt that budget contains. That’s only common sense.

If Ben Bernanke can press the limits of legal authority to save the economy, and Obama himself can press these limits to approve a “hit list” for drones, then defanging the debt ceiling should be child’s play by comparison. 

It’s a Reagan air traffic controller moment. The country can’t be held hostage by unreasonable people. The public will be with Obama once he explains.  

Here are two ways the president can proceed.

The first — call it the Clinton approach — would be to announce (in a major speech) that the debt limit is an unconstitutional anachronism that, when combined with proven GOP recklessness, poses unacceptable risks to every American. Obama would say that by executive action he’s declaring it inoperative. And if Mitch McConnell and John Boehner don’t like it, he’ll see them in court. 

What I think of as “the LBJ option” is cheekier. Obama would inform the Republican negotiators — as early as Friday, or in another meeting soon — that he won’t allow a repeat of their debt-ceiling blackmail. He’d say we’re all going to lock arms, go outside now and tell the press that we won’t rattle markets this way, so everyone can be assured. 

Then when they’re in front of the cameras, Obama would say that to avoid spooking markets, and to do so in the most bipartisan way possible, congressional leaders have agreed to raise the debt limit immediately by $5.7 trillion dollars — the amount of debt added over the next decade by Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget passed by the House last year.  “Mitch, John, you’re with me on raising the limit for now just by what it takes to accommodate the debt every Republican has already voted to add, yes?” 

I’m sure the White House can cook up variations on these themes, but you get the point. 

Time to remove the fiscal appendix, Mr. President. For sane governance to live, the debt limit must die. 

 Matt Miller: Obama must kill the debt limit – The Washington Post.

 

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Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Morning in America


MICHAEL MOORE

Morning in America

 

This country has truly changed, and I believe there will be no going back. Hate lost on Election Day. That is amazing in and of itself. Add to that all the women who were elected and you have a total rebuke of Neanderthal attitudes.

Now the real work begins. Millions of us — the majority — must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do. Mr. President, do not listen to the pundits who call for you to “compromise.” You already tried that. It didn’t work. You can compromise later if you need to, but please, no more beginning by compromising. If the Republican House doesn’t want to play ball, do a massive end run around them with one executive order after another — just like they have done and will do if given the chance again.

Kap / PoliticalCartoons.com

We have to have Obama’s back. As he is blocked and attacked by the Right, we need to be there with him. We are the majority. Let’s act like it.

And please Mr. President, make the banks and Wall Street pay. You’re the boss, not them. Lead the fight to get money out of politics — the spending on this election is shameful and dangerous. Don’t wait until 2014 to bring the troops home — bring them home now. Stop the drone strikes on civilians. End the senseless war on drugs. Act like a pit bull when it comes to climate change — ignore the nuts, and fix this now. Take the profit motive out of things that any civilized country would say, “this is for the common good.” Make higher educational affordable for everyone and don’t send 22-year-olds out into the world already in massive debt. Order a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. Enact economic policy that will create good-paying jobs and spend the money that’s needed to do that. Make your second term one for the history books.

Finally, thanks must be given to the Occupy movement who, a year ago, set the tone of this election year by getting everyone to talk about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. It inspired Obama and his campaign to realize there was a huge popular sentiment against what the wealthy have done to the country, and there was something wrong if just 400 rich guys owned more than 160 million Americans combined (all those moochers and bums). This led to Romney’s “47 percent” remarks, which were the beginning of the end of his campaign. Thank you Mother Jones for releasing that secret tape, and thank you to the minimum wage worker who placed a camera on the serving buffet next to the candle.

The Washington Post’s headline following Election Day said it all: “At Romney headquarters, the defeat of the 1 percent.”

Thank you Sandra Fluke for enduring the insults hurled at you and then becoming an important grassroots leader against the war on women. Thank you Todd Akin for… well, for just being you. Thank you CEOs of Chrysler and GM for coming out forcefully against the Republican(!) candidate, saying he lived in “some parallel universe” when he lied about Jeep. Thank you Governor Christie for your new bromance with Obama. You know, you really didn’t have to!

And you, Mother Nature, with all your horrific damage, death and destruction you caused last week, you became, ironically, the undoing of a Party that didn’t believe in you or your climate changing powers.

Perhaps they’ll believe now.

Once again, thanks to all of you who brought a nonvoter to the polls. In a last minute effort to get Obama an extra million votes he wasn’t counting on, I enjoyed talking and texting with your loved ones and friends yesterday who weren’t going to vote — but then changed their minds after a little nudge and some TLC (“Damn! Michael Moore? I’m getting in to car right now to go vote.”).

To my fellow Americans, I think you’ll agree: it was nice to wake up following the election in the United States of America.

 

 Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Morning in America.

 

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Boehner’s 48 Hours of Pretending to Work with Obama Sets New Record : The New Yorker


The Borowitz Report

 

NOVEMBER 9, 2012

BOEHNER’S 48 HOURS OF PRETENDING TO WORK WITH OBAMA SETS NEW RECORD

POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ

 

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WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—House Speaker John Boehner today called for an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, thus ending a streak of pretending to work with President Obama that lasted forty-eight hours.

“We knew he couldn’t hold out much longer,” said Carol Foyler of Guinness World Records.

“Still, John Boehner pretending to be bipartisan for forty-eight hours is pretty darn impressive,” she said, noting that his previous record stood at twenty minutes. “This is David Blaine territory for him.”

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Boehner downplayed the significance of his record-setting performance, saying merely, “It just feels good being a dick again.”

 Boehner’s 48 Hours of Pretending to Work with Obama Sets New Record : The New Yorker.

 

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Harold Meyerson: Electing the future or the past? – The Washington Post


Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Opinion Writer

A vote for the future or for the past?

By Harold Meyerson, Published: October 30

The 2012 presidential election is fundamentally a contest between our future and our past. Barack Obama’s America is the America that will be; Mitt Romney’s is the America that was. And the distance between the two is greater, perhaps, than in any election we’ve had since the Civil War.

The demographic bases of the rival coalitions couldn’t be more different. Monday’s poll from the Pew Research Center is just the latest to show Obama with a decisive lead (in this case, 21 percentage points) among voters younger than 30. Obama’s margin declines to six points among voters ages 30 through 44, and he breaks even with Romney among voters ages 45 through 64. Romney’s home turf is voters 65 and older; among those, he leads Obama by 19 points.Loading…

Age polarization is not specific to the presidential election. On a host of issues, as diverse as gay and lesbian rights and skepticism about the merits of capitalism, polls have shown that younger voters are consistently more tolerant and well to the left of their elders.

Nor is age the only metric through which we can differentiate our future from our past. The other is race, as the nation grows more racially diverse (or, more bluntly, less white) each year. While the 2000 Census put whites’ share of the U.S. population at 69.1 percent, that share had declined to 63.7 percent in the 2010 Census, while theproportion of Hispanics rose from 12.5 percent to 16.3 percent. In raw numbers, total white population increased by just 1.2 percent during the decade, while the African American segment grew by 12.3 percent and the Hispanic share by 43 percent. Demographers predict that the white share of the U.S. population will fall beneath 50 percent in the 2050 Census.

Rather than trying to establish a foothold among America’s growing minorities, however, Romney and the Republicans have decided to forgo an appeal to Hispanic voters by opposing legislation that would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants brought here as children and by backing legislation that effectively requires Hispanics to carry documentation papers in certain states. Republicans seek a majority through winning an ever-higher share of white voters. The Washington Post reported last week that its polling showed the greatest racial gap between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates since the 1988 election, with Romney favored by 60 percent of white voters and Obama by 80 percent of minority voters (a figure that may prove low, if three-quarters of the Hispanic vote goes to Obama, as some other polls suggest it will). The problem for Republicans, of course, is that the minority vote is a far larger share of the total vote today than it was 24 years ago.

By repeatedly estranging minorities and opposing social policies favored by the young, the Republicans have opted for a King Canute strategy: standing on the shore and commanding the tide to stop. Republicans with an eye toward the future, most notably George W. Bush and Karl Rove, have urged the party to embrace immigration reform, but the base is rabidly anti-immigrant and its antipathy is reinforced daily by talk radio hosts and Fox News chatterers who depict an America under siege by alien forces.

Should Republicans prevail in this election and seek to build a more-than-one-term plurality, they will confront a stark choice: Either Romney must persuade his party to reverse its stance on immigration, or the party must seek to extend the scope of its voter-suppression efforts. Put another way, they must try to either accommodate the future or suppress it.

Accommodation with diversity and modernity, however, is simply not part of the Republican DNA. Today’s Republican Party has largely cornered the market on religious fundamentalists, even as the number of GOP scientists has dwindled (a 2009 Pew poll of scientists found that just 6 percent self-identified as Republicans, while 55 percent said they were Democrats). Many of the largest Republican funders come from economic sectors hardly distinguished by significant productivity increases or their contributions to mass prosperity (casino gambling, Wall Street), while Silicon Valley remains more Democratic turf. (By the way, all those messages Republican CEOs have been sending their employees , predicting layoffs should Obama be reelected? Have any of them promised raises if Romney wins? Just askin’.)

Two Americas are facing off in next week’s election. By their makeup, the Democrats are bound to move, if haltingly, into the future, while the Republicans parade proudly into the pre-New Deal past — some of it mythic, lots of it ugly. The differences could not be clearer.

 Harold Meyerson: Electing the future or the past? – The Washington Post.

 

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