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Posted at 8:27 AM ET, 02/25/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Freshman GOPers realizing spending cuts might impact their constitutents: Good read from Shailagh Murray on how House Republicans returning to their districts are discovering that proposed cuts would impact real, live human beings, and are having second thoughts.

* White House sees no political upside in government shutdown: Obama and his advisers fear it will impede the recovery, with major political ramifications for the president, an angle that's been surprisingly missing from the shutdown debate.

* Unions keep up pressure on Walker over Koch prank: The unions are going up today with a new statewide 60-second radio ad, which you can listen to right here, that shifts the battle to another front, alleging that buried in Governor Walker's proposal "is another sweet deal that could mean more profits for Walker's oil billionaire buddy."

This follows a new TV ad that was released yesterday featuring audio of Walker telling the fake Koch that he intends to "crank up a little bit more pressure" with layoff threats.

Both ads reflect a sense among labor strategists that Walker's conduct on the Koch call left some Republican officials in Wisconsin uncomfortable with the Governor's stark ideological display and may be closer to breaking with him and supporting a compromise.

* Wisconsin Assembly passes budget bill, but... The news that Walker's proposal to roll back union rights passed the state assembly late last night will be presented in some quarters as a victory, but as Eric Kleefeld notes, the basic dynamic remains unchanged: It still has to pass the Senate, and Dem Senators are not coming back.

* GOP governors backing down in other states: In Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, governors are softening their anti-union proposals and rhetoric in response to the events in Wisconsin, another sign that even Republicans recognize that Walker overreached and over-estimated the public's anti-public employee sentiment.

* And: The national media is picking up on real story here: Walker is hemorraging national GOP support.

* Another Walker claim debunked: The Governor explained away the Koch prank by insisting he says the same things publicly as he told "Koch," but PolitiFact debunks the claim as false, noting Walker never talked publicly about possibly planting troublemakers in protesting crowds.

* Meet the Press will host AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka: It took some doing, but NBC's Meet the Press has announced it will host Trumka, making it the only Sunday show to host a labor official this weekend, even as the media swoonfest for anti-union demigod Chris Christie continues apace.

It's worth asking why it took so much to get a single voice for unions onto a single Sunday show at a moment when the labor movement -- and its fate -- are at the center of the biggest domestic political story in the country.

* Your liberal media: Balancing out Trumka on the Sunday shows will be three anti-union GOP governors, Walker, Christie and Mitch Daniels (though in fairness they may also have been invited on to talk about topics not related to labor).

* The larger context: Ronald Brownstein on how Obama is facing a far more intense effort by Republican governors to undo his agenda than anything faced by Bill Clinton, a sign of both the pressure on Republican officials to undo the Affordable Care Act and of the rightward ideological tilt of today's GOP.

* Gay rights no longer hot-button issue for today's GOP: Obama's decision not to defend DOMA has drawn tepid reactions even from the 2012 GOP hopefuls, who have struggled to outdo each other in anti-Obama fervor on virtually every other front.

* Gay rights history lesson of the day: Stephen Stromberg reminds us of an important point: The ongoing "drastic realignment of public attitudes" we're witnessing would not have happened without "decades of hard work in persuading gays not to hide."

* Will conservatives insist GOP officials step up on DOMA? Rick Santorum wants John Boehner to defend DOMA where Obama won't, suggesting that conservatives may try to pressure GOP officials to continue the losing war against the march of gay rights, even if they (rightly) don't want to.

* Another right-wing myth vanishes inton the ozone: Conservative bloggers and far-right GOP Senators (see Inhofe, James) gnash teeth as an independent review concludes the fake "climategate" scandal was much ado about nothing and scientists didn't manipulate any data to fake global warming.

* And did you know the (state-level) individual mandate is a freedom solution? The latest from Mitt Romney: Repeal Obamacare and its individual mandate compelling people to have insurance so state governments are free (if they so choose) to implement the individual mandate compelling people to have insurance.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 25, 2011; 8:27 AM ET
Categories:  House GOPers, Labor, Morning Plum, Political media, budget  
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Next: Secret Service interviews Georgia constituent who asked who will `shoot' Obama; case is `closed matter'

Comments

Maybe the big three and cable news have no use for labor. Is that possible? Does it go deeper?

"facing a far more intense effort by Republican governors to undo his agenda than anything faced by Bill Clinton"

Apart from the tax hike, what agenda did Clinton get pushed through that Republicans could undo? Most of his agenda was driven by the Republicans. The rest was driven by Rubin and worked on with Phil Gramm to free up derivative markets.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 25, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Can't remember who posted this yesterday but it's worth re-posting:

"Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina – 50th
North Carolina – 49th
Georgia – 48th
Texas – 47th
Virginia – 44th

If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country. Let’s keep it that way.

This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes, of course, but it is true that the evidence that breaking teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes is somewhere between “exceptionally weak” and “non-existent.”

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/02/but-i-thought-union-busting-solved-all-educational-problems

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 25, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh and good morning all.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 25, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Greg et al-
Here's another example of state republicans gone crazy:

The Arizona Republic (2/25, Reinhart, Alltucker) reports, "Health-care providers say they're under siege from the Legislature, battling against a raft of proposals to shrink the public system and bring illegal-immigration enforcement into hospital corridors and doctors' offices." Proposed bills "would add fees for people on the state's Medicaid program, withhold federal emergency-care funding from hospitals that treat illegal immigrants, and make it a crime if health-care workers fail to report people without proper documentation." Tara McCollum Plese, of the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers, said, "We feel like we're getting assaulted from all sides."

That blurb is from an AHLA update I get.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Bill Black explains how and why the financial sector has become so large that it now both threatens and undermines the real economy, the one most of us are trying to use to improve our own lives. To me this is both a bipartisan issue and one that we all need to both be aware of and work against.

""Even when not in crisis, the financial sector harms the real economy. First, it is vastly too large. The finance sector is an intermediary — essentially a “middleman”. Like all middlemen, it should be as small as possible, while still being capable of accomplishing its mission. Otherwise it is inherently parasitical. Unfortunately, it is now vastly larger than necessary, dwarfing the real economy it is supposed to serve. Forty years ago, our real economy grew better with a financial sector that received one-twentieth as large a percentage of total profits (2%) than does the current financial sector (40%). The minimum measure of how much damage the bloated, grossly over-compensated finance sector causes to the real economy is this massive increase in the share of total national income wasted through the finance sector’s parasitism.

The financial sector’s fixation on accounting earnings leads it to pressure U.S manufacturing and service firms to export jobs abroad, to deny capital to firms that are unionized, and to encourage firms to use foreign tax havens to evade paying U.S. taxes.

• It misallocates capital by creating recurrent financial bubbles. Instead of flowing to the places where it will be most useful to the real economy, capital gets directed to the investments that create the greatest fraudulent accounting gains. The financial sector is particularly prone to providing exceptional amounts of funds to what I call accounting “control frauds“. Control frauds are seemingly-legitimate entities used by the people that control them as a fraud “weapons.” In the financial sector, accounting frauds are the weapons of choice. Accounting control frauds are so attractive to lenders and investors because they produce record, guaranteed short-term accounting “profits.” They optimize by growing rapidly like other Ponzi schemes, making loans to borrowers unlikely to be able to repay them (once the bubble bursts), and engaging in extreme leverage. Unless there is effective regulation and prosecution, this misallocation creates an epidemic of accounting control fraud that hyper-inflates financial bubbles. The FBI began warning of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud in its congressional testimony in September 2004. It also reports that 80% of mortgage fraud losses come when lender personnel are involved in the fraud. (The other 20% of the fraud would have been impossible had these fraudulent lenders not suborned their underwriting systems and their internal and external controls in order to maximize their growth of bad loans.)""

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/02/how-the-servant-became-a-predator-finances-five-fatal-flaws/

Posted by: lmsinca | February 25, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Madison Wisconsin Lawmakers Approve a Bill to halt sleepovers in Capitol offices, hearing rooms and to stop Protestors from Spending the Night!

http://bit.ly/gWrv4f

GOP Dirty Tricks!

Posted by: wdsoulplane | February 25, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Great find Imsinca. I really like the middle man analogy.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Re: New WI Ads...

I like the radio ad, it should turn some heads. I think the line of attack against Walker in the TV ad is better -- though the ad itself isn't that well done.

Pointing out that he's issuing layoff notices AS A POLITICAL TOOL is really dam^ing stuff. Especially where he notes he could ratchet up the pressure with more layoffs. In this economy, the idea that he's using people's jobs as political leverage will be seen as incredibly callous. The unions would do well to take that message and run with it.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 25, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Mike Konczal gives some details of the agreed upon three pronged approach the Republican Governors have tried to enact. Luckily, a little sunlight caught up with them. I'm not sure how many of you caught the fact that Walker already signed, earlier this week, legislation that requires a 2/3 vote to pass tax increases, another conservative must have.

""There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is the selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations.

Notice that each of these objectives overlap with each other. Privatizing services cuts public workers out while crony deals, skimming and poor services creates distrust in the government, leading to a negative feedback loop.

States will have to deal with their budgets. There are costs coming down the road. But the important thing to understand is that the new wave of governance at the state level isn’t about handling these problems — it’s about changing what the government does in a more reactionary and polarized way. Squeezing regular people to provide benefits will maintain and expand our high levels of inequality. Its about making struggling parties weaker and strong parties richer. Making it almost impossible to raise taxes later is irresponsible and dangerous, but it accelerates this plan. They hoped to handle this all behind closed doors — sadly for them, and lucky for the public, activism and the internet are shining a large spotlight on their actions.""

http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/walkers-budget-plan-is-a-three-part-roadmap-for-conservative-state-governance/

Posted by: lmsinca | February 25, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

Re: Wisconsin Assembly passes budget bill...

I actually the WAY the Assembly passed the bill changes the dynamics a lot. The willingness of the GOP to pull a stunt like that to pound it through will surely stiffen the spines of the exhiled Dems, knowing that the GOP is willing to stoop to anything to break the unions. Not only that, but while the immediate "victory" headline may show up, as it trickles out about HOW it happened...people are going to be even more angry.

It's also worth noting, in regards to other Governors backing down, the more the workers of WI errode Gov. Walker's standing, the more other Govs will see this sort of move as a liability. Then when they bail, Walker is weaker. Once that downward spiral starts, it's tough to break the momentum of it...esp. when we all know Walker has zero intention of budging.

Unions really should be pushing recall petitions of the 8 GOP members that can legally be recalled. They should easily be able to garner the sigs to bring it to a ballot. Doing so really undermines the legitimacy of the bill, should it pass, and could possibly box in the GOP if Dems pressed them to shelve the bill until after the recall elections.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 25, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

"It's worth asking why it took so much to get a single voice for unions onto a single Sunday show at a moment when the labor movement -- and its fate -- are at the center of the biggest domestic political story in the country."

I agree, 100%.

So...who specifically have you asked (networks, instead of names, if that's an issue), and when can we expect the write up on the responses you recieve?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 25, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

""* Your liberal media: Balancing out Trumka on the Sunday shows will be three anti-union GOP governors, Walker, Christie and Mitch Daniels (though in fairness they may also have been invited on to talk about topics not related to labor).""

No, Greg. It •used• to be your liberal media. Now, it's still a liberal dominated media--but it's dominated by liberals so scared of raising the ire of the conservative machine (and, also, any remaining viewers) that evidence of liberal bias has become the exception rather than the rule.

They could also worry that overt liberalism is a turn-off. However, if that was a political ploy, they'd invite less appealing examples of GOP politics than Christie and Daniels. They'd bring on Newt and Dick Morris. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

For those who'd like to see some video of the WI Assembly floor right after the vote to jam through Walker's budget...here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGDp581g9t0

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 25, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

@mikefromArlington "an't remember who posted this yesterday but it's worth re-posting:

"Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina – 50th
North Carolina – 49th
Georgia – 48th
Texas – 47th
Virginia – 44th

If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country. Let’s keep it that way.

This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes, of course, but it is true that the evidence that breaking teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes is somewhere between “exceptionally weak” and “non-existent.”

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/02/but-i-thought-union-busting-solved-all-educational-problems "

This is false and has been debunked.

http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/23/state-democratic-party-wisconsin/labor-union-supporters-say-wisconsin-test-scores-v/

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

This is false and has been debunked.

http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/23/state-democratic-party-wisconsin/labor-union-supporters-say-wisconsin-test-scores-v/

--------------------------------------
Yikes, data from 1999? Just awful. I didn't put any credence in that cute little statistic anyway for rather obvious reasons.

Although indirectly the politifact post also discredits those who blame (some more forcefully than others) unions for the poor performance of our students because it protects bad teachers.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

BBQ, yesterday's post (linked in that item) has a response from CBS, which is hosting Christie but no union official...ABC as of yet is not having one either...

Posted by: sargegreg | February 25, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes"

What's the poverty rate like in WI, especially compared to the 5 non- collective bargaining states? VA might not have collective bargaining, but it certainly hasn't hurt Fairfax County. Of course, the median household income in that county is more than 100,000. Family situation is going to have a a much greater influence on test scores and overall achievement than whether or not the staff is union or not.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@jnc4p: ""Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina – 50th
North Carolina – 49th
Georgia – 48th
Texas – 47th
Virginia – 44th"

North Carolina obviously does a poor job at ATC/SAT prep. However, in 2003, NC was #7 in the nation in ranking of elementary schools (Wisconsin was 22). In middle schools, NC was 27th (smack dab in the middle), while Wisconsin was 15.

If someone wants to pay to get rankings through 2007, they are more than welcome to:

http://www.psk12.com/rating/USindexphp/STATE_US.html

There are a number of measures for schools in addition to SAT/ACT scores. Including graduation rates, college graduation rates, etc. I'd be interested to see how the evil non-union states performed on a broader criteria.

Apparently, North Carolina's graduation rates are reasonably high.

http://www.ncpublicschools.org/newsroom/news/2010-11/20101013-01

Another point of interest is the actual SAT scores. Wisconsin averages a 588-600-577 (reading, writing, math) vs. 495-513-485 for NC. Big difference! Of course, the ATC, Wisconsin averages 22.2 vs. 20.5 for NC. Not so big a difference.

Also, I'm not sure there's that much of a causal relationship. North Carolina, like Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all in the south. And southerners all know that the Yankees who come up with those fancy learnin' tests try and trick us. :)

Compare demographics of the states (easily done), conclude a similar causal relationship based on whatever arbitrary demographics you pick, and see how that sounds. Google "nc demographics" and "wi demographics".

Then notice the interesting correlation between mean travel time to work and SAT/ACT performance. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

@me: "North Carolina, like Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, "

You can't deny that North Carolina is a lot like North Carolina. Almost exactly alike.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Free information: where learning is esteemed, teachers will get paid more and children will study harder. Where learning is deprecated (see Party, Republican) the opposite will be true.

Over here, in Socialist Vietnam, you never see a kid in an ad, even a coke ad, who isn't holding a book. It's really cool.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin_Willis

Note that I was posting the link to the article from PolitiFact debunking that list.

http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/23/state-democratic-party-wisconsin/labor-union-supporters-say-wisconsin-test-scores-v/

PolitiFact provided the following chart.


Mean SAT scores by state, 2010:

State Overall Score National Rank Participation Rate
Wisconsin 1778 3rd 4 percent
Virginia 1521 34th 67 percent
North Carolina 1485 38th 63 percent
Texas 1462 45th 53 percent
Georgia 1453 48th 74 percent
South Carolina 1447 49th 66 percent


Mean ACT scores by state, 2009

State Overall Score National Rank Participation Rate
Wisconsin 22.3 13th 67 percent
Virginia 21.9 22nd 20 percent
North Carolina 21.6 26th 15 percent
Texas 20.8 35th 30 percent
Georgia 20.6 40th 40 percent
South Carolina 19.8 46th 50 percent

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Then notice the interesting correlation between mean travel time to work and SAT/ACT performance. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis
-------------------------------------

I scored quite well on both of those tests and have a short drive to work. Between your correlation and my personal experience I think it's fair to say it's not a correlation it is a FACT! Case closed. (What other debate-ending claims of victory am I missing?)

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

In this present crisis, millionaires & billionaires are not the solution to the problem. Millionaires & billionaires are the problem. (Including millionaire Republic governors supported by billionaires.)

Even PBS is so blindly brainwashedly trapped in the reigning power-zeitgeist that there is no Nightly Labor Report. Imagine the remarkable St. Senators Lena Taylor, John Erpenbach, Trumka, and so many other heart-compelling voices on a *nightly* show. (Lena Taylor is not just a St. [*State* senator], I think she may be a St. [saint]).

Posted by: wendyf | February 25, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

literacy is the antidote to theocracy

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

@ashot: "Although indirectly the politifact post also discredits those who blame (some more forcefully than others) unions for the poor performance of our students because it protects bad teachers. "

It makes more sense that blaming unions for the weather. But only a little more.

Yes, some (maybe most, not all) unions protect bad teachers. But most school systems I've observed make like hard on •really• bad teachers. But it's important not to confuse bad teachers with good teachers who just don't look as good as •great• teachers.

In many places, public employees are going to have to have benefits packages and pension structures revisited--it turns out, they are unsustainable. Chris Christies was, in my opinion, 100% correct to require public employees to put in 1.5% of their paychecks to pay for their health insurance.

But there's a big jump between saying "gee, we should have thought about this whole defined benefit thing more, and the double dipping, and this and that, because it's going to break the bank" and attempting to explain stagnant student performance as being the fault the union, in the day of self-involved parents, X-box, Playstation, iPhone, MTV, Facebook Twitter, texting, etc., etc.

Most awful teachers that can't be fired don't actually teach. And I think about saying more, because I work in a school system and I see a lot of what goes on in this system, and some of what goes on in others, but not everything should be shared in public. Let's just say, particular union deals (and other financial deals in the public sector) can cause real problems that must, in some way, be addressed, and if the spending structure is quasi-insane, that's the thing to address before increasing revenues. Although that can and should be addressed, too.

However, the vast majority of teachers take their jobs seriously and want to teach the kids. That majority of support staff want to do everything they can to get the bureaucracy off the teachers, and get them busy teaching kids (and, though I do believe testing is important, standardized testing does as much harm as good when it comes to how much teaching and teacher time it monopolizes, but this has been true since before I was born). Acting like getting rid of public sector unions is going to make our kids better educated or make the roads magically repair themselves or result in a better fire or police department is just crazy.

Although it also won't be the end of the world if the public sector ends up with serious constraints on collective bargaining rights. Keep in mind--more than half of the public sector has no union representation. And they still work (and, from what I've seen, do a darn good job) in the public sector.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

All Democrats and their media spokesmen, like Sarge Greg, know that the Democrat party and labor unions have a symbiotic relationship. Those two groups thrive on each other. Labor unions spend most of their "union dues" on Democrat causes, especially getting more Democats elected. The Democrat party pays it's "union dues" by jamming union friendly legislation through Congress, any way it can.

Labor unions are, truly, a branch of the Democrat party. The money involved is enormous.

AFSCME spent $87.5 million on the 2010 elections, an amount the Wall Street Journal calculated as about 30 percent of all spending for Democrats by outside groups. The Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association combined to spend another $84 million for Democrats, more than even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent during the midterms.

This is input from just three unions.

Government is going broke, all across America. Fat, union contracts cannot continue. It's that simple.

Posted by: battleground51 | February 25, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"Over here, in Socialist Vietnam, you never see a kid in an ad, even a coke ad, who isn't holding a book. It's really cool."

It's true. While visiting the country a few years ago there was a woman about my age who was hanging out at one of the tourist attractions waiting to practice her English with native speakers. Very much enjoyed speaking with her. She was shocked at at age 25 I didn't have at least 3 kids. I was shocked that her goal seemed to be to move her family to the USA. Also, everyone thought I was some sort of genius because I'm left-handed.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"What other debate-ending claims of victory..."

Self-congratulatory taunts, then bragging to the "audience" and repeat the same insult so many times no one could possibly miss the __fact__ that you took your opponent to da house.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

This is so depressing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/books/review/Filkins-t.html?hp

So evidently, 9/11 and a professional army was the end of the Peace Movement; whatever we are doing over there, no one seems to care all that much, as if this is just the price we have to pay for being America.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I just read about those statistics being a decade old. But, the argument that unions protect bad teachers doesn't hold up when the 2010 statistics are looked at considering the non union states.

And, VA and NC, I'm not surprised those two states are much better off that those other non union states. VA sucks off the teet of the Fed Govn't and has a highly skilled work force with a highly academic student body that's overwhelmingly located in NoVa.

NC has it's research triangle that also has a highly educated work force and thus a less hostile home environment and a student body that's more attentive.

Not saying Texas is full of rednecks nor that they don't have their high tech area's like Richardson outside of Dallas and Austin, but it's apparent they've got a long way to go.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 25, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Kevin- It does seem that the union workers can/should contribute more to their healthcare and pensions. Wisconsin teachers have even agreed to do so and other unions would be well served in proactively suggesting such cuts. That said, if we can ask a teacher making $30,000 to $60,000 dollars to take home 1.5% less pay (yes I realize that money benefits them as healthcare or a pension) how can Republicans say with a straight face that we simply can't raise taxes on those making considerably more.

There also seems to be an assumption that non-union teachers don't have these benefits. My brother teaches in Georgia and has a pension. I'm sure he contributes to it (I really need to ask him), but it's not like ending public unions means an end to legacy costs for public employees and state budget deficits.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Barack H. Obama does not believe in duly enacted law, that he dislikes. Obama is acting like a third-world despot, in this regard. He calls himself a "Democrat" but that is only a name of a party.

Refusing to enforce the laws he does not like is noticed by the people who vote. The newest Gallup, electoral map shows that much of the deep-blue of 2008 is fading like old jeans going into 2012.

The Obama regime has been taken hostage by the radical, homosexual lobby and now Obama is cowering before it and promoting homosexuality again. It wasn't enough to homosexualize America's military. Now Obama must destroy marriage, as we know it.

Obama is also refusing to fully enforce America's immigration laws because he couldn't get his big amnesty schemes rammed through in 2010. Big baby!

Obama seems to be doing everything he can to ensure that he is our next one-term president. I'm all for that.

Posted by: battleground51 | February 25, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

All, some news on the Georgia constituent who asked GOP Rep Paul Broun who will "shoot" Obama:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/secret_service_interviews_geor.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 25, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

everyone thought I was some sort of genius because I'm left-handed.
-----------------------------------
Is that an admission that you aren't a genius? Because it's a FACT that the two are connected. Just like unions and snow. I should know since I live in Michigan, a union state, and it was snowing this morning. Also, the snow proves global warming to be a farce.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he should just have his DOJ rewrite laws battle. Would that work out better?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 25, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The Obama regime has been taken hostage by the radical, homosexual lobby and now Obama is cowering before it and promoting homosexuality again. It wasn't enough to homosexualize America's military. Now Obama must destroy marriage, as we know it.

==

Are you for real?

Posted by: caothien9 | February 25, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what sweet deal in the legislation the radio ad is referring to? Is it about the power plants? Or is there something else?

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "This is so depressing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/books/review/Filkins-t.html?hp

So evidently, 9/11 and a professional army was the end of the Peace Movement; whatever we are doing over there, no one seems to care all that much, as if this is just the price we have to pay for being America."

Do you see a disconnect between these comments and your call for a more active intervention by the Obama administration into Libya?

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@ashot: "Kevin- It does seem that the union workers can/should contribute more to their healthcare and pensions. Wisconsin teachers have even agreed to do so and other unions would be well served in proactively suggesting such cuts. That said, if we can ask a teacher making $30,000 to $60,000 dollars to take home 1.5% less pay (yes I realize that money benefits them as healthcare or a pension) how can Republicans say with a straight face that we simply can't raise taxes on those making considerably more."

Depending on the context, I think it's perfectly reasonable to increase taxes on the rich to super-rich (in small, but more progressive increments, and marginally). I'd like to see us do that and cut taxes on the middle-class, myself, but I'm apparently a minority in that.

My argument, re: teachers, public workers paying more into healthcare in pensions is strictly a pragmatic one. If the systems could be sustainable without requiring that, I'd be all for it. But I'm in a public system where we pay most of our healthcare and much of our pension, and it's sustainable. It's in good shape. I'd rather be in a system that cost me a big chunk of money and won't give me a huge payout, but will actually be there (and currently is there for current retirees). Pensions only become unsustainable when folks end up drawing 10x what they paid in and can double-dip and can retire at 50 and where the managers assumed perpetual growth in their contributor pool or that they could manage investments for an annual 10% return in perpetuity, etc.

By the same argument, I wouldn't mind seeing more progressive taxation (which I've characterized as bumping up tax rates in 1% increments upwards, so that folks who make $500k per year don't get taxed at the same upper marginal rates as folks making $10m a year). Yet if you keep the increments relatively low (1% per every $250k, marginal, for example, or something like that), the increase in taxation is unlikely to change behaviors, so federal revenues are likely to go up.

I also wouldn't object to taxes that target day trading, either. Stuff like that.

I think both sides should be a little more flexible. "Hey, let's try cutting taxes on the middle class significantly, cut corporate taxes for folks under $1 million, close loopholes on mega corporations who do billions in business but pay next-to-nothing (or nothing) in corporate income tax, end some corporate welfare, end double-dipping and 100% tax payer funded health benefits) and then see how that works!"

It just seems to me that a lot of people fall in love with process, rather than outcomes, and don't believe that good things can come from reducing union benefits or raising taxes on the very rich (income wise), when I'd like to see us try certain things, and see how they work out. There are examples of states with high income tax rates that do pretty well. There are other states that do poorly. There are examples of states with no income tax that do well. Etc

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@ashot: "Also, the snow proves global warming to be a farce."

This is true. But . . . it proves my long-held theory of man made "snowball warming"!

Ba-dum-dum!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Do you see a disconnect between these comments and your call for a more active intervention by the Obama administration into Libya?"


No, thank you for being civil. There is all the political space in the world between being unable to mention Gaddafi by name and GI boots on the ground.

See for example, the NYT editorial today or Eugene Robinson's column.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"White House sees no political upside in government shutdown: Obama and his advisers fear it will impede the recovery, with major political ramifications for the president, an angle that's been surprisingly missing from the shutdown debate."
------------------------------------------

So, does this mean that Obama will tell Reid to NOT shutdown the gov?

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 25, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

A bit of promising news, Turkey has clout...

"Word from the White House now on that conversation between President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan. The two discussed ways the international community can respond to the Libyan crisis and the importance of providing humanitarian assistance, the White House said in a statement."

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The Virginia = 44th has been thoroughly trampled over here, so I'll largely let it pass. Wisconsin is an ACT state and thus the participation rate in the SAT is small (4%). It therefore is not representative of the overall student body. Ranking 13th in the ACT is decent, though.

Battleground's claims need to be taken down. Declining to defend a law in court is nothing new. John Roberts in the Office of Solicitor General didn't merely decline to defend a law, he wrote a brief attacking it.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 25, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Oil sure makes people gun shy...

"Ms. Pillay said that “thousands” of people may have been killed in Libya, and that while she would normally call for “independent investigators,” the situation in Libya required “more state action and intervention.”

The French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, told French radio that “we cannot make do with speeches any more, we need to act,” while France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting Turkey, has asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Friday in special session to discuss Libya and the efforts of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to hold on to power. He called on Mr. Qaddafi to resign." NYT

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

So, does this mean that Obama will tell Reid to NOT shutdown the gov?

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 25, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

--------

Sure. He strong-armed the tax deal through when Dems had 58 votes.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 25, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Battleground's claims need to be taken down.
--------------------------------------
I thought his/her claims were self-defeating.

I enjoy the attack on union relationships with the Democratic Party. Should they send their money to Republicans? Should they not be allowed to make political contributions? Since they can't really answer that second question yes, they'll just try to make them non-existent instead.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Most intelligent, sentient beings know, that "climategate" was much to do about nothing; however, the perception (=that it did) is already hard -wired reality with the legions of deniers. Notwithstanding, it is already too late to do anything about it. And, just like a cancer which usually takes a long time to "appear," so too with climate change, as it's man-made-accelerated global changes will speed up the New Testament's mission of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Posted by: dozas | February 25, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dozas: "...so too with climate change, as it's man-made-accelerated global changes will speed up the New Testament's mission of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
----------------------------------------

And... Scientific data says! "Nope"
http://www.lakepowell.net/sciencecenter/geologic%20global%20temp.jpg

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 25, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2 ""Do you see a disconnect between these comments and your call for a more active intervention by the Obama administration into Libya?"


No, thank you for being civil. There is all the political space in the world between being unable to mention Gaddafi by name and GI boots on the ground.

See for example, the NYT editorial today or Eugene Robinson's column."

So the line you would draw would be a no fly zone versus boots on the ground?

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"So the line you would draw would be a no fly zone versus boots on the ground?"

I've never called for military intervention. But hey, when the Swiss can freeze the assets of someone while the US is only considering it, the fix is in. The problem the administration has is with the other OPEC states, with Israel, with Jordan...Everyone wants Gaddafi gone, but no one wants to set the precedent of intervening on behalf of regime change, least of all after what the US did in Iraq.


Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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