Rage. Probably political rage. Maybe just personal rage. Lots of sarcasm and cynicism. Also pretty pictures.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama,” The Hill reports.

“During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in the hopes of striking a grand bargain on the deficit. Those efforts ended in failure, leaving Boehner feeling burned by Obama and, at times, isolated within his conference.”

Instead, he’ll try to “pass bills through the House that can then be adopted, amended or reconciled by the Senate.”

As opposed to …?

downlo:

Back in September, the Congressional Research Service released a report that found no evidence that tax cuts for the wealthy spur economic growth. Republicans objected to the wording and findings of the report. It ended up being quietly pulled in mid-September. From the NYT article about this:

Congressional aides and outside economists said they were not aware of previous efforts to discredit a study from the research service.

“When their math doesn’t add up, Republicans claim that their vague version of economic growth will somehow magically make up the difference. And when that is refuted, they’re left with nothing more to lean on than charges of bias against nonpartisan experts,” said Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Maddowblog points out that this is not a new tactic for Republican lawmakers:

This was consistently one of the more offensive hallmarks of the Bush/Cheney era. In 2005…after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. Reality proved problematic, so rather than addressing the problem, the Republican administration decided to hide the reality.

Soon after, the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.

When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

[…]

And now, we’re seeing a similar problem. Republicans have adopted trickle-down, supply-side economics as the foundation for their entire worldview. The Congressional Research Service used reliable, objective information to report what most mainstream economists widely accepted — if the goal is boosting economic growth, giving people who already rich a tax break doesn’t do anything except make the gap between rich and poor more dramatic.

This is all part of a pattern: if conservatives don’t like the facts, they not only dispute them, but try to bury them. So we have climate change deniers in government. More recently, they’ve attacked Nate Silver for using math instead of his gut to predict the outcome of the 2012 election and made paranoid, unsubstantiated claims that national polls are all skewed against Mitt Romney.

The GOP is a party that stands for the denial of reality, obstructionism, and bullshit. No wonder the GOP nominated a blatant liar like Romney to be president. I cannot believe these mendacious assholes are the only other major political party in this country.

latimes:

Think Congress is sophomoric? A study says you’re right: Oratory in the House and Senate has dropped a full grade, to the high school sophomore level, an analysis finds.
Photo: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), left, with his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). A study found the younger Paul’s oratory to be at an eighth-grade level. Credit: Ed Reinke, Associated Press

latimes:

Think Congress is sophomoric? A study says you’re right: Oratory in the House and Senate has dropped a full grade, to the high school sophomore level, an analysis finds.

Photo: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), left, with his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). A study found the younger Paul’s oratory to be at an eighth-grade level. Credit: Ed Reinke, Associated Press

Republicans are currently blocking the extension of lower student loan interest rates because they insist on cutting a health care fund to pay for its cost. But when it comes to the Bush tax cuts, they continue to believe that no budget offsets are necessary to pay for them.

The Hill reports: “House Republicans say they have no plans to pay for the extension of the Bush-era tax rates, a move that could erase the deficit reduction they have achieved since winning their majority in the chamber in 2010.”

In other words, Republicans intend to do exactly what they did when they passed the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in the first place, which (along with not paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or for Medicare prescription drug coverage) is exactly what created our budget mess in the first place.

Welcome, again, to the GOP War on Budgeting. You really couldn’t ask for clearer evidence that Republicans are not only wholly uninterested in reducing federal budget deficits, but even oppose the whole notion of considering individual spending and taxing decisions in the context of an overall budget.

What You’ll Pay in Taxes if American Jobs Act ISN’T Passed By Congress - Tax Calculator

Good morning,

I’ll cut to the chase: If Congress doesn’t act soon, middle-class Americans will see their taxes go up starting on January 1st, taking almost $1,000 out of the pockets of a typical family next year. 

Last year, President Obama and members of both parties in Congress cut the payroll tax for 155 million workers, putting money in your pockets.  Now, that tax cut is expiring. So in September, the President and I proposed extending that tax cut and cutting your taxes even further: giving the typical family a $1,500 tax cut.  Steps like this won’t just help families feel more secure in their budgets, it’ll give them more money to spend at local businesses that will hire more people and make investments in new equipment too.

We thought the extension would win bipartisan support again. How could Republicans in Congress, some of whom have pledged not to raise taxes by a penny, oppose extending the same tax cuts they just passed? But after years of protecting expensive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, many Republicans now say we should let this middle-class tax cut expire.

There’s a lot at stake here for you and your family, and the better folks understand how much more they may have to pay, the easier it will be to get Congress to do the right thing. We’ve put together a calculator to show how much of your money hangs in the balance.

Try it out.

Check out the calculator and share it with other tax payers.

Last week, we finally got some good news from Capitol Hill. Congress passed another measure from our American Jobs Act, creating tax credits for companies that hire veterans – and yesterday President Obama signed the bill into law. 

But folks, as important as that is, it’s not nearly enough.

There is not a single good reason – not one – why Congress should stop there. Just like that tax credit will help ensure returning service members can find a job, the American Jobs Act helps put Americans back to work by jump starting the private sector and creating an economy that’s built to last. Congress ought to pass the rest of our proposals, too.

And Congress should start with protecting your paycheck.

Let me lay out the facts: Today, because of our tax cuts, everyone who collects a paycheck contributes 4.2 percent of their wages in payroll taxes. But if Congress doesn’t act, that tax will go up two percentage points, to 6.2 percent. That might not sound like much, but to an average family, that’s a difference of almost $1,000 a year.

President Obama and I have proposed cutting the rate even further – down to 3.1 percent. That would give a tax cut to 160 million workers next year, providing a $1,500 cut to the typical middle class family. 

We have 40 days for Congress to take action. That’s 40 days for Republicans in Congress to do the right thing for the country – or 40 days before they force middle-class families to pay almost $1,000 more.

Take a minute to calculate what’s at stake for you: 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/jobsact/calculator

Sincerely, 

Vice President Joe Biden 

First chance Congress had to put people to work, they go into recess without acting on it. - @AntDeRosa

POLITICO’s Mike Allen collects this list of job-creation legislation pending before Congress:

  • The federal highway program lapses on Sept. 30, and Senate Democrats say a multi-year reauthorization would create more jobs than a shorter extension. 
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has been reaching out to Republicans to get support for an infrastructure bank (combining federal and private funds for marquee projects), which is supported by Obama, labor and the Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Extend 2% payroll tax break, which now expires at the end of 2011. Currently covers worker side; Larry Summers and other economists are arguing that it should also go to the employer. 
  • Other tax breaks, such as making R&D tax credit permanent and renewing clean-energy manufacturing tax credit (Section 48C), which expired at the end of 2010. The aide: “In this political environment, tax credits are going to be the most hospitable options. In the days ahead, we’ll say that the unfinished business of Congress includes these tax breaks that have lapsed.” 
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has a veterans’ hiring bill, aimed at providing job training for veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan. 
  • Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have a bill to promote plug-in electric vehicles. 
  • Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is pushing clean-energy incentives. 

via Business Insider

(via brooklynmutt)

Despite Democratic control over the White House; despite Democratic control over the Senate; despite overwhelming opposition from the American people; a small minority of the members of the Republican-controlled House have successfully pushed an extreme right-wing agenda onto the American political landscape. This right-wing ideology is a set of beliefs that represent the interest of the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations. It is an ideology that ultimately wants to destroy social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and made devastating cuts in education, Head Start, environmental protection, nutrition, infrastructure, and every other program which protects the interests of working families and the middle class. It is an ideology which believes that despite the fact that the rich is getting richer, the middle class is shrinking, and poverty is increasing, all—all—of the burden of deficit reduction should rest on working people.

Bernie Sanders (via currenteye)

 This makes me so sad.  Bernie Sanders is correct and we are watching it happen.  Some of us are fighting tooth and nail trying to get through to our Reps in Congress to beg and plead with them that the GOP/Tea Party/Republican way (right now) is NOT what we want.  They are not listening to their constituents.  They are listening to their campaign-funders.  They are listening to their stock brokers.  There is no human element to the decisions they are making and they are holding America hostage by playing their political games.  It breaks my heart that our President cannot stand up to this evil in his own home.  I breaks my heart that people exist in the House of Representative that are so callous and cold that they would destroy the lives of so many people just to positively influence their bottom line.  (via)

Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.

Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.

Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility—two things that set us apart from much of the world.

If you receive Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, your benefits could be suspended on August 3.

In order to keep making government payments, including your benefits, Congress needs to raise the official “debt ceiling” by August 2.

But Republicans may force the government into default unless the President agrees to more tax breaks for corporations and the rich – and big cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other vital programs.

If Congress doesn’t act, President Obama says, “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”1

We can’t let that happen! Call your member of Congress TODAY. We need to make sure they all know we don’t want our benefits threatened just to protect tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or click here to find your member of Congress and their phone number.

Source:

1. “Obama says he cannot guarantee Social Security checks will go out on August 3,” CBS News, July 12, 2011 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20078789-503544.html

shortformblog:

drinkthe-koolaid:

What Congress Would Look Like If It Were Demographically Representative of America
(clickthrough for full size)

The most fascinating one is the religion segment, where “unaffiliated,” which has no representation in Congress, would be the third-largest slice of the pie in the reflective section. Why is atheism so verboten in Congress, anyway?

shortformblog:

drinkthe-koolaid:

What Congress Would Look Like If It Were Demographically Representative of America

(clickthrough for full size)

The most fascinating one is the religion segment, where “unaffiliated,” which has no representation in Congress, would be the third-largest slice of the pie in the reflective section. Why is atheism so verboten in Congress, anyway?

That would be a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy. I don’t think it’s a question that’s even on the table.

—Speaker Of The House John Boehner • Commenting on the looming necessity to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, all the way back in late January. See how quickly things change? Seriously, though, the above statement is almost certainly Speaker Boehner’s true opinion on this issue. The fact that he’s now trying to game some more political leverage out of it is unsurprising, as it’s very similar to the way he handled last month’s budget battle. Greg Sargent has a pretty astute take on this — that Boehner knows failure to raise the limit is unthinkable, but wants to push this debate as close to the eleventh hour as possible, hoping that will make it easier to convince members of his own party that he got all he could out of the White House. Sounds about right to us. source (viafollow)