Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Chicken-Little Debt Crisis - The U.S. Has a Revenue Problem Not the Fake Spending Crisis Cooked Up By Republicans

The Chicken-Little Debt Crisis - The U.S. Has a Revenue Problem Not the Fake Spending Crisis Cooked Up By Republicans

Whenever someone like me(Nobel economist Paul Krugman) or Bruce Bartlett points out how little Obama resembles the right’s portrait of a raging leftist, someone is sure to come back with the assertion that Obama has presided over a vast expansion of federal spending. Even people who really should know better, like John Taylor, do it.

So what’s the truth? I’ve written about this before, but here’s another take.

The fact is that federal spending rose from 19.6% of GDP in fiscal 2007 to 23.8% of GDP in fiscal 2010. So isn’t that a huge spending spree? Well, no.

First of all, the size of a ratio depends on the denominator as well as the numerator. GDP has fallen sharply relative to the economy’s potential; here’s the ratio of real GDP to the CBO’s estimate of potential GDP:

A 6 percent fall in GDP relative to trend, all by itself, would have raised the ratio of spending to GDP from 19.6 to 20.8, or about 30 percent of the actual rise.

That still leaves a rise in spending; but most of that is safety-net programs, which spend more in hard times because more people are in distress. The CBO breaks out “income security” (Table E-10 in Historical Budget Tables), which is unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc., and also gives us numbers on Medicaid; here’s what they look like as percentages of GDP:

That’s another 2 points of GDP, or about half the rise.

So we’re still left with a bit, around 1 point of GDP. That’s the stimulus, more or less. And there are two things you need to know about it. First, it’s temporary, and already fading out fast. Second, a large part of the stimulus “spending” was actually aid to state and local governments, intended not to expand spending but to avert a fall — that is, it was about maintaining government, not expanding it.

Now, pointing out the Obama spending binge is a myth generally produces rage: people know that it happened, because Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal say so. But that doesn’t make it true.
Safety net spending(chart with blue/red waves) because of the recession. The economy was shedding 700,000 jobs a month. It is only fair that people who had little to do with causing the recession, but were victims of it have some unemployment insurance benefits while they try to survive. Most of the spending that occured in 2009 was from polcies Republicans voted into law in 2008 - including TARP and the automakers bailout. Note in the graph at the very top that spending as a percent of GDP dropped back down to perfectly normal historical averages in 2010 and are predicted to remain at that level for years.

The Debt Ceiling Crisis And The Failure Of The Establishment( A crisis mind you invented by Republicans who raised the debt ceiling 7 times during the Bush administration when it was running up the largest deficit in US history)

The political assumptions here turned out to be badly wrong. The main problem is that the Republican Party does not actually care very much about the deficit. It cares about, in order: Low taxes for high-income earners; reducing social spending, especially for the poor; protecting the defense budget; and low deficits. The Obama administration and many Democrats actually do care about the deficit and are willing to sacrifice their priorities in order to achieve it, a desire that was on full display during the health care reform debate. Republicans care about deficit reduction only to the extent that it can be undertaken without impeding upon other, higher priorities. Primarily "deficit reduction" is a framing device for their opposition to social spending, as opposed to a genuine belief that revenue and outlays ought to bear some relationship to each other.

The Post has since published a series of increasingly terrified-sounding editorials pleading for a debt ceiling hike backing away from its bold hopes that the debt ceiling would produce a bipartisan compromise. In retrospect, they now see what should have been obvious: Increasing the political leverage of the Republican Party made a Grand Bargain less, not more, likely. Moreover, the deficit hawks who represent the center of Washington establishment thought badly underestimated the danger entailed by tying high stakes negotiations involving the Republican Party to a cataclysmic event. Happy visions of Bob Dole and Tip O'Neill danced in their heads, oblivious to the reality of what they were facing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Republicans Are Telling a Dangerous Lie About Obama and Spending

Bush vs. Obama on Spending: It's No Contest - See chart above.

The No. 1 Republican talking point these days seems to be this: Profligate spending by President Barack Obama is the reason we face a debt-ceiling crisis.

Any rational, reasonably well informed citizen should know that is not true. But prominent GOPers still chant it like a mantra. God only knows how many otherwise sane Americans are starting to believe it.

That's why a chart in Monday's New York Times should be sent to every household in the US of A. It shows, in clear, indisputable numbers, that policy decisions by Republican president George W. Bush led to spending that dwarfs financial outlays under Obama. (See the chart at the end of this post.)

In fact, the cost of just the Bush tax cuts ($1.8 trillion) exceeds the costs of all spending under Obama ($1.4 trillion).

The final tally--$5.07 trillion of spending under Bush, $1.44 trillion under Obama. By the way, those figures for Obama are projections from 2009 to 2017. In other words, both presidents are being judged in eight-year time frames. And Bush "wins" the spending contest in a runaway.

If my math is correct, spending under Bush was more than three times greater than that under Obama. Yet we still get bilge like this from the blog of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): "President Obama Refuses To Acknowledge That His Out Of Control Spending Sparked A Debt Crisis."

In a piece titled "The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling," James Fallows of The Atlantic explains why the Times' graphic handiwork is so important:

It's based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who's "to blame" for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was the largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.

The chart is titled "Policy Changes Under Two Presidents," and Fallows says it is called that for a reason:

An additional significance of the chart: It identifies policy changes, the things over which Congress and Administration have some control, as opposed to largely external shocks--like the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks or the deep worldwide recession following the 2008 financial crisis. Those external events make a big difference in the deficit, and they are the major reason why deficits have increased faster in absolute terms during Obama's first two years than during the last two under Bush. (In a recession, tax revenues plunge, and government spending goes up--partly because of automatic programs like unemployment insurance, and partly in a deliberate attempt to keep the recession from getting worse.) If you want, you could even put the spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in this category: Those were policy choices, but right or wrong they came in response to an external shock.

The point is that governments can respond to but not control external shocks. That's why we call them "shocks." Governments can control their policies. And the policy that did the most to magnify future deficits is the Bush-era tax cuts. You could argue that the stimulative effect of those cuts is worth it ("deficits don't matter" etc). But you cannot logically argue that we absolutely must reduce deficits, but that we absolutely must also preserve every penny of those tax cuts. Which I believe precisely describes the House Republican position.

In other words, the GOP of 2011 is utterly illogical. But large chunks of the America public still lap up Republican sound bites.
It is dangerous to the economy to make Americans think we're in a debt crisis when we're not. Americans stop spending because they lack confidence in the economy and that lack of spending makes the economy worse. Which is likely the reason Republicans are lying about spending because they want the economy they crashed to crash again under a Democratic president. Conservatives have always put their radical Anti-American agenda before what is best for the nation. So this is nothing new.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Economic Plan Republicans Hate - How We Could Make The Debt Go Away

The Economic Plan Republicans Hate - How We Could Make The Debt Go Away

Once upon a time in America, back a century ago, our nation's rich paid virtually nothing in taxes to the federal government. And that same federal government did virtually nothing to better the lives of average Americans.

But those average Americans would do battle, over the next half century, to rein in the rich and the corporations that made them ever richer. And that struggle would prove remarkably successful. By the 1950s, America's rich and the corporations they ran were paying significant chunks of their annual incomes in taxes — and the federal projects and programs these taxes helped finance were actually improving average American lives.

America's wealthy, predictably, counterattacked — and, by the 1980s, they were scoring successes of their own.

Today, the rich and their corporations no longer bear anything close to their rightful share of the nation's tax burden. The federal government, given this revenue shortfall, is having a harder and harder time funding initiatives that help average working families. The result: a “debt crisis.”

This “debt crisis” in no way had to happen. No natural disaster, no tsunami, has suddenly pounded the United States out of fiscal balance. We have simply suffered a colossal political failure. Our powers that be, by feeding the rich and their corporations one massive tax break after another, have thrown a monstrous monkey wrench into our national finances.

Some numbers — from an Institute for Policy Studies report released this past spring — can help us better visualize just how monumental this political failure has been.

If corporations and households taking in $1 million or more in income each year were now paying taxes at the same annual rates as they did back in 1961, the IPS researchers found, the federal treasury would be collecting an additional $716 billion a year.

In other words, if the federal government started taxing the wealthy and their corporations at the same rates in effect a half-century ago, the federal debt to investors would almost totally vanish over the next decade.

Similarly stunning numbers have come, earlier this month, from MIT economist Peter Diamond and the University of California's Emmanuel Saez, the world's top authority on the incomes of the ultra-rich. These two scholars have shared some fascinating “what ifs” that dramatize how spectacularly the incomes of our wealthiest have soared over recent decades.

In 2007, Diamond and Saez point out, taxpayers in the nation's top 1 percent actually paid, on average, 22.4 percent of their incomes in federal taxes. If that actual tax burden were to about double to 43.5 percent, the top 1 percenter share of our national after-tax income would still be twice as high as the top 1 percent’s after-tax income share in 1970.

So why aren't we taxing the rich? Why are we now suffering such fearsome “debt crisis” angst? Why are our politicos so intent on shoving the “fiscal discipline” of layoffs and cutbacks — austerity — down the throats of average Americans?

No mystery here. Our political system is failing to tax the rich because the rich have fortunes large enough to buy off the political system. Again, some numbers can help us better visualize that plutocratic big picture.

In 2008, the IRS revealed this past May, 400 Americans reported at least $110 million in income on their federal tax returns. These 400 averaged $270.5 million each, the second-highest U.S. top 400 average income on record.

In 1955, by contrast, America’s top 400 averaged — in 2008 dollars — a mere $13.3 million. In other words, the top 400 in 2008 reported incomes that, after taking inflation into account, amounted to more than 20 times the incomes of America’s top 400 a half-century ago.

But 1955’s top 400 didn’t just make far less than 2008’s top 400. The rich in 1955 paid far more of their income in taxes than today’s rich. In 2008, the new IRS data show, the top 400 paid only 18.1 percent of their total incomes in federal income tax. The top 400 in 1955 paid 51.2 percent of their total incomes in tax.

The bottom line: After taxes, and after adjusting for inflation, 2008’s top 400 had a staggering $38.5 billion more left in their pockets than 1955’s most awesomely affluent.

Multiply that near $40 billion by the annual tax savings the rest of America's richest 1 percent have enjoyed over recent years and you have an enormous war chest for waging class war, billions upon billions of dollars available for bankrolling think tanks and candidates and right-wing media.

In the face of these billions, should the rest of us, America's vast non-rich majority, just toss in the towel? Our counterparts a century ago certainly didn't. They challenged their rich, on every battlefront imaginable. They eventually prevailed. They sheared their rich down to democratic size.

We can do the same.

Related to this are some tax sound bites from the radical Right: half of Americans do not pay taxes. That is clever. It is true that about half do not pay federal income taxes, but even the poorest Americans pay regressive sales taxes on which states have become more and more dependent. The wealthy pay most of the taxes and that just ain't fair. Well they profit the most from America's infrastructure and take huge cuts of the value added by labor, so they should pay more.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lying Sleaze Bag of the Week Eric Cantor(R-Va) Opposed Debt Ceiling Increase, Now Calls Obama’s Opposition to Short-Term Increase ‘Indefensible’

Lying Sleaze Bag of the Week Eric Cantor(R-Va) Opposed Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase, Now Calls Obama’s Opposition to Short-Term Increase ‘Indefensible’

Today, Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) told the House GOP caucus that he is preparing a short-term bill that would raise the debt ceiling for about six months, despite Obama’s pledge to veto such a measure. On the call, Majority Leader Eric Cantor blasted Obama for opposing it. The Wall Street Journal reports:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated in his remarks during the conference call that Republicans don’t want to give President Barack Obama a debt-ceiling deal that lasts past the 2012 elections. Mr. Cantor called the president’s insistence on a deal that carries through the election purely political and indefensible.

But late last month, Cantor himself vehemently opposed a short term deal:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pushed back hard Tuesday against Senate Republican suggestions of a scaled-back, short-term debt deal, saying it’s “crunch time” in White House budget talks and “if we can’t make the tough decisions now, why … would [we] be making those tough decisions later.”

“I don’t see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go,” the Virginia Republican told reporters. “It is my preference that we do this thing one time. … Putting off tough decisions is not what people want in this town.”

Standard and Poors, a credit rating agency, agrees that a short term deal would be bad for the nation’s credit. In a July 14 release S&P wrote “We may also lower the long-term rating and affirm the short-term rating if we conclude that future adjustments to the debt ceiling are likely to be the subject of political maneuvering.”
Republicans are playing politics with the debt ceiling - they raised it seven times during the Bush administration without taking the economy hostage. There are currently 130 right-wing nuts in Congress who voted to raise the debt ceiling during the Bush era. Certainly this is all confusing to even those who have been paying attention - some days the debt ceiling is important some days days it is not according to conservative fanatics like Michele Bachmann(R-MN) who has said the debt ceiling should never be raised.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who Is To Blame For Failure of Debt Ceiling Talks

130 Republicans Who Are In Congress Today Voted To Hike The Debt Ceiling Under Bush Without Hostage Threats

There was a time when House Republicans chose not to threaten the nation with default to get their agenda passed.

White House and congressional negotiators are currently in the process of striking a deficit reduction deal, as most Republicans in Congress are refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling without deep cuts to public investments and social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare. By doing so, these Republicans are essentially holding the country hostage, threatening the United States with default unless Democrats agree to these cuts.

Yet these Republicans were not always demanding hostages in exchange for allowing the country to pay its own bills. In November of 2004, Congress voted in both the House and Senate to hike the U.S. debt limit by $800 billion, which raised the total ceiling to $8.1 trillion.

A ThinkProgress review of the votes in both the House and Senate finds that a whopping 130 congressional Republicans voted to hike the debt ceiling that November that remain in the U.S. Congress today (either in their same seats or by coming to the Senate). These members of Congress did not demand draconian cuts in public investment that would’ve driven up unemployment and threatened the economy in return.

Of course, there was one other difference between then and today. President George W. Bush was in the White House, and Republicans did not have an incentive to try to politically damage him by holding the debt ceiling hostage. In 2002, during another hike in the nation’s debt limit under Bush, his press secretary Ari Fleischer said it was important to raise the debt ceiling because it was not the time “to engage in activites that could in any way raise questions about the full faith and credit of the United States”:

MR. FLEISCHER: The Senate passed, 68-29, a clean increase in the debt limit. The President praises the Senate’s action. The debt limit is a very important issue. This is not the time to play any — this is not the time to engage in any activities that could in any way raise questions about the full faith and credit of the United States. And the President urges the House to follow the Senate’s action on this matter.

These votes also prove that these Republicans, when faced with the default of their country, are willing to vote to raise the debt ceiling; this indicates that it is perhaps unneccesary to strike any sort of deficit reduction deal at all to win their votes. If Republicans and Democrats want to strike a grand bargain on deficit reduction, they can certainly do that in the context of the budget appropriations process rather than holding the debt limit hostage.
Why increase the debt ceiling under Bush who everyone knew was charging two wars and Medicare part D on the national credit card. Because Bush was one of there own. There s no debt crsis under which we need to get our house in order. We have a revenue problem that is a legacy of most of the same Republicans who spent money like there was no tommorrow during the Bush years. Trying to blame Obama is like blaming the victims of identity theft for the debts rung up by thieves.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 - Republicans Vote to Increase Deficit Yet Reject Obama's Compromise Which Would Lower The Deficit

2011 - Republicans Vote to Increase Deficit Yet Reject Obama's Compromise Which Would Lower The Deficit

Increasingly, the debate in Washington about budgets and deficits is looking like little more than a kabuki dance, with each Party playing its part, and the press orchestrating the choreography to make it appear authentic. The real issues and questions America faces are being ignored, while hypocrisy and duplicity take the stage. This raises questions that are begging for answers. Here’s a few worth considering.

How have the people been convinced that debt and deficits—medium and long-term problems to be sure – have suddenly become a short-term crisis? Especially since every economist not employed by a right-wing think tank is practically screaming that austerity in the midst of a jobs crisis is a form of self-destructive economic insanity.

Why are we locked in a dance with disaster – a full-fledged economic disaster – over defaulting on our national debts? At a minimum, a default would increase interest rates on everything, acting like a giant brake on our economy, and according to the CBO adding to our national deficit. Republicans claim to be playing this dangerous game of brinksmanship because the deficit poses a dire threat to our economy, yet their policies, their tactics, and a default will increase the deficit. Can you say hypocrisy?

How can Republicans get away with cynically posturing about the debt ceiling, after nearly unanimously voting for the Ryan bill, which requires raising the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars several times over the next decades? For that matter, how in the hell can they have even a scrap of credibility on this issue when they ran up the vast majority of our debt. Oh, and while we’re at it, why were Republicans silent on the debt for decades – indeed, Cheney famously said, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Apparently, deficits aren’t a problem until a Democrat assumes the Presidency.

Why are people blithely unaware of the dire implications and extreme hypocrisy of the Ryan Budget? This compilation of plutocratic pornography doesn't balance the budget until 2063 and runs up an astounding $62 trillion in additional debt in the meantime, mostly on giveaways to the uber-rich, paid for by cuts to programs that benefit working and middle class Americans. The press reacted to this plutocratic wet dream by calling it “courageous.”

Why is a perfectly sound and popular solution to our budget crisis and our long-term debt ceiling being ignored? The People's Budget eliminates the deficit by 2021, while protecting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a variety of other social programs, using policies that the majority of Americans support. Yet it is being virtually ignored by the Press and both Parties, while Ryan and the gang of six’s budgets get big play. Both of these budgetary absurdities actually cut taxes in the name of balancing the budget. Huh? Look, if the goal is simply to eviscerate government, then let’s have that debate, instead of trying to achieve it through a stealth attempt in response to a faux crisis.

Finally, how can deregulation and tax cuts for the rich be posited as a solution to the recent economic catastrophe, when these were the very policies that caused it? Is the antidote for cyanide more cyanide? We’ve tried this approach three times, first in the late 1800’s, next in the 1920’s, and more recently, over last thirty years. Each time it ended in disaster. The first time resulted in the Panic of 1893 and the depression which followed it. The second caused the Great Depression of the 30’s. And our latest sojourn into rightwing madness resulted in the Great Recession. That’s three times we tried conservative, laissez-faire policies featuring deregulation, low taxes for the rich and weak governments, and three of the biggest economic collapses in our history to show for it. At what point do empirical facts trump rightwing talking points?

The answer to these questions is both sad and simple.

Republicans have been running a 30-year scam to vilify government, glorify the private sector, distract the public with wedge issues, and take over the press, while Democrats have run like sissies from any hint of confrontation.

But Republicans have only been carrying their plutocratic overlords’ water. Indeed, corporations have funded a coordinated takeover of the Republican Party, the media, and the machinery of government.

This fact, ultimately, explains the answers to the questions above.

But there’s one question remaining. What is the source of Democratic complicity in this toboggan ride to national hell? Are they as cowardly as they seem, or are they simply playing their pre-appointed role in the whole sordid scheme.

With every new pre-emptive compromise by Obama, with every weak-sister protest by Congressional Democrats – followed closely by capitulation – and with their collective silence on the People’s Budget, the answer to that question gets increasingly clearer by the day.

John Atcheson's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as well as in several wonk journals. He is currently at work on a fictional Trilogy that centers on climate change. Atcheson's book reviews are featured on
By the end of G.W. Bush's last term deficits as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product wer the same as they are now. Did we see any tea nut crazies running around in 2008 saying it was the end of the world. Of course not, they still had a Republican moron for president and as long as conservatives are the ones trashing the economy and running up debt, they'll whine but wont' act like brats having a temper tantrum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Corrupt Sleaze Bag of The Week - Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Corrupt Sleaze Bag of The Week - Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) gained infamy in May when he went on a childish tirade against Professor Elizabeth Warren, who is currently setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a special adviser to President Obama. McHenry, a former College Republican hack, repeatedly accused Warren of lying about the agreed-upon time for testimony she gave before Congress.

According to a ThinkProgress analysis of new campaign finance data released on Friday, McHenry received $63,800 from lobbyists and executives from banks, mortgage companies, payday lenders, pawn shop executives, and other predatory lenders in the last three months alone. Notably, much of the campaign donations from payday lenders came on a single day, April 20, 2011:

– Advance America PAC: $10,000 on 4/20/11
– Dennis Bassford, CEO of the Seattle-based payday lender MoneyTree: $4,600 on 4/20/11
– Sarah Bassford: $2,700 on 4/20/11
– Community Financial Services Association of America PAC (trade association for payday lenders): $5,000 on 4/20/11
– Checksmart Financial LLC PAC, an Ohio-based payday lender: $2,000 on 4/20/11
– A. David Davis, CEO of Ohio-based payday lender Check-n-go: $2,000 on 4/20/11
– Jared Davis, CEO of Ohio-based payday lender Axcess Financial: $2,000 on 4/20/11
– Roger Dean, CFO of Axcess Financial: $500 on 4/20/11
– EZCORP PAC, a Texas-based payday lender: $2,000 on 4/20/11
– Natl Pawnbrokers Assoc. PAC: $2,000 on 4/20/11

The surge of payday lender money to McHenry on a single day suggests the congressman had a campaign party with opponents of Warren. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is tasked with policing and regulating dozens of predatory lending practices. A few weeks after the predatory lending campaign money started flowing to McHenry, he used the hearing with Warren to berate a leading consumer advocate.

According to his latest financial disclosure, the McHenry household receives an income from the Brattle Group, an industry consulting firm that employs McHenry’s wife. The Brattle Group helps connect powerful industry groups with academics to produce reports that can be used during testimony or lobbying campaigns — the same type of firm highlighted by Charles Ferguson’s investigative documentary Inside Job. In conjunction with the Community Financial Services Association of America, a trade association for predatory lenders, the Brattle Group produced a study claiming that payday lending never results in cycles of debt for its customers. According to its website, the Brattle Group also represents banks, credit card companies, and other businesses in the financial industry.

Asked by ThinkProgress if the Brattle Group is working for any of its clients on Dodd-Frank implementation or any issues related to the new Consumer Financial Protection agency, a representative said they would not supply such information.
Simple - you give Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) money and he takes the side of predatory lenders and sleazy financial lobbyists over what is right, fair and just for the average American. No wonder he is a conservative Republican. he fits right in.

Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, second from left, stands with Wynn International Marketing President Linda Chen at the grand opening of Encore at Wynn Macau in April 2010. Wynn ranked at No. 2 on the 2010 list of highest-paid executives with $14.6 million while Chen, the first woman to break the top 10, ranked at No. 5 with $13.47 million.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Conservatives Destroying Democracy One Step At a Time - How The Right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council is Gutting Democracy

Conservatives Destroying Democracy One Step At a Time - How The Right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council is Gutting Democracy

In the world according to ALEC (the extreme facist lite American Legislative Exchange Council), competing firms in free markets are the only real source of social efficiency and wealth. Government contributes nothing but security. Outside of this function, it should be demonized, starved or privatized. Any force in civil society, especially labor, that contests the right of business to grab all social surplus for itself, and to treat people like roadkill and the earth like a sewer, should be crushed.

This view of the world dominated the legislative sessions that began in January. GOP leaders, fresh from their blowout victory in November, pushed a consistent message—“We’re broke”; “Public sector workers are to blame”; “If we tax the rich we’ll face economic extinction”—and deployed legislative tools inspired by ALEC to enact their vision. They faced pushback, but they also made great progress—and will be back again soon.

Let’s examine what happened in three critical economic areas:


ALEC has long sought to limit the ability of states to raise or collect taxes or fees. Before this spring, it had already succeeded in getting more than thirty to adopt such limits, often hard-wired into their constitutions or requiring supermajorities to change. Its varied model legislation to this end includes the Capital Gains Tax Elimination Act, Use Tax Elimination Act, Super Majority Act, Taxpayer Protection Act and Automatic Income Tax Rate Adjustment Act. Its model resolutions oppose such things as mandatory unitary combined reporting (the chief way states get corporations to pay any taxes at all) while supporting such things as the federal flat tax and efforts to extend the Bush tax cuts permanently. The Automatic Income Tax Rate Adjustment Act, for example, “provides for a biennial reduction in the state adjusted gross income tax rate on residents, nonresidents, and corporations if year-over-year revenue…exceeds certain amounts,” in effect ensuring no increase in state revenue, even during periods of growth, while keeping tax cuts on the table. The Taxpayer Protection Act “prohibits the revenue department of a state from basing any employee’s compensation, promotion or evaluation on collections or assessments,” otherwise known as doing their job.

This past session, ALEC members, drawing heavily from the list above, introduced 500 bills to “starve the beast.” But their greatest victory was the most obvious one. Faced with shortfalls in state revenues from the economic crisis, states almost universally and overwhelmingly chose cuts to public employment or services over progressive tax increases as a solution.


Privatization is so central to ALEC’s agenda that it has built a fake board game, Publicopoly, on its website, where the curious can find model legislation and other resources on privatizing basically everything, from transportation (Competitive Contracting of the Department of Motor Vehicles Act) to the environment (Environmental Services Public-Private Partnership Act). Critical to ALEC’s agenda are the foundational bills that set up the rationale for privatizing government services: the Public-Private Fair Competition Act creates a committee to review “whether state agencies unfairly compete with the private sector,” and the Competitive Contracting of Public Services Act requires “make or buy” decisions to encourage privatization. The hallmark of ALEC’s model privatization legislation, the Council on Efficient Government Act, creates “a council on efficient government to leverage resources and contract with private sector vendors if those vendors can more effectively and efficiently provide goods and services and reduce the cost of government.” These councils typically include representatives from the private sector, who then decide to let their business colleagues bid for public sector work.

In the past few years, with at least three additions this session alone, legislation establishing a state Council on Efficient Government has been introduced in Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, Illinois and South Carolina. In each case, the concepts in the bill mirror the ALEC proposal. In some cases—South Carolina, Arizona and Illinois—the state bills read as copies of ALEC’s model legislation. Virginia’s, Oregon’s, Maryland’s and Kansas’ bills, to varying degrees, contain language directly from ALEC’s model.


The fiercest attacks this session were reserved for public sector unions, especially in the once labor-friendly Midwest states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that went deep red in November. ALEC has a sweeping range of model antiunion laws, the broad aim of which is to make it harder to be a union and easier for workers not to pay the costs of collective bargaining or union political activity. The Right to Work Act eliminates employee obligation to pay the costs of collective bargaining; the Public Employee Freedom Act bars almost any action to induce it; the Public Employer Payroll Deduction Act bars automatic dues collection; the Voluntary Contribution Act bars the use of dues for political activity.

This spring, GOP governors or legislatures introduced at least 500 of these and other ALEC-inspired antilabor laws, including laws to restrict the scope of collective bargaining; to limit or eliminate “project labor agreements” and state “prevailing wage” requirements; and to pre-empt local living wage or other labor standards. Just keeping track of all the antiunion legislation was often daunting. In Michigan, the AFL-CIO was dealing with more than fifty laws aimed at its demise.

In some states, the results have been lethal. In Wisconsin, the first state to legalize public sector union bargaining, public sector unions (excluding police and firefighters) were reduced to near irrelevance. The law limits collective bargaining to wages only (no bargaining over benefits, safety or work conditions) and forbids those to be increased faster than inflation. To continue to exist, unions must annually win recertification elections with more than 50 percent of the vote of all workers in their bargaining unit—a threshold requirement that is unheard of. Ohio also passed a law limiting public sector bargaining rights (including for police and firefighters) and permitting members to opt out of paying dues.

There were limits to this stampede. “Paycheck protection,” introduced in fifteen states, passed only in Alabama and Arizona. “Right to work,” introduced in eighteen states, hasn’t advanced significantly anywhere. (Tennessee reaffirmed a pre-existing right to work, and in New Hampshire the governor’s veto is holding it back.) But damage has been done. It may be that unions and other progressive organizations, moved by the carnage, will work together and with the public to build a mass movement to reverse it. Certainly, many people are trying to do that now. Whatever their success, we can be sure that ALEC will fight them fiercely in the states, while pressing forward with its own project: the complete business domination of American public life.
There are several articles in the ALEC series. One of them is ALEC Exposed: Rigging Elections. It is not that raises or lowering taxes is always wrong. It is not that privatizing some service usually dome by public employees is always right or always wrong. ALEC believes in absolutes. Such as all services should be privatized and taxes should never be raised no matter the economic circumstances. They are one size fits all ideologues. One of the greatest Founders warned us of people like ALEC. Thomas Jefferson knew that corporations (ALEC is just a mouth piece for coporate interests) would, if left to their own devices put profits ahead of democracy,

Jefferson might not have wanted a lot of government, but he wanted enough government to assert the sovereignty of citizens over corporations. To his view, nothing was more important to the health of the republic.

In the early years of the 19th century, as banks and corporations began to flex their political muscles, he announced that: “I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Proof That The Republican Controlled 2012 House of Representatives is Holding America Hostage

Proof That The Republican Controlled 2012 House of Representatives is Holding America Hostage


1. NUMBER OF TIMES UNDER REAGAN: 18 times or Once every 5 months: 1981, 1981, 1981, 1982, 1982, 1983, 1983, 1984, 1984, 1984, 1985, 1985, 1986, 1986, 1987, 1987, 1987, 1987

2. NUMBER OF TIMES RAISED UNDER BUSH: 7 times or Once every 13 months: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2008.

3. UNDER OBAMA: 2 Times or Once every 15 months: 2009 and 2010.

4. NUMBER OF TIMES UNDER CLINTON: 4 Times or Once every 24 months: 1993, 1993, 1996 and 1997.

5. NUMBER OF TIMES PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET WILL RAISE THE DEBT CEILING: 8 times. (The average debt ceiling increase is 800-billio­n. Ryan’s budget increases the debt by $6-trillio­n)

6. NUMBER OF TIMES THE “PROGRESSI­VE” BUDGET WILL RAISE DEBT CEILING: 0 times. The Progressiv­e Budget actually balances the budget in 3 years, and creates surplus by 2021. It does this while saving Social Security and Medicare.
The Progressive Budget, the only sane one out there is not even being debated by the Whitehouse who is determined to pass a budget far to the Right of Ronald Reagan - and that still is not good enough for today's unhinged right-wing conservatives.

Let's kill the myth that low taxes create jobs - Rich People’s Taxes Have Little to Do with Job Creation, Conservative Arguments that Higher Income Taxes for the Wealthy Hurt Employment Don’t Hold Up to Scrutiny

Apparently, conservatives believe that a key driver of overall job growth is the tax rate that rich people pay on their last dollar of income. They argue that these very rich people are the ones who “create” the jobs and therefore taxing them at even slightly higher rates will make them less likely to invest, expand their businesses, and hire more people. That sounds plausible, but it turns out to be completely baseless.

In fact, they are just as wrong about this as they are about the relationship between marginal tax rates and overall economic growth. In the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.

For instance, in years when the top marginal rate was more than 90 percent, the average annual growth in total payroll employment was 2 percent. In years when the top marginal rate was 35 percent or less—which it is now—employment grew by an average of just 0.4 percent.

And there’s no cherry-picking here. Pick any threshold. When the marginal tax rate was 50 percent or above, annual employment growth averaged 2.3 percent, and when the rate was under 50, growth was half that.

No matter how hard they try to spin it, the poor and Fannie-Freddie did not cause the housing bubble ( chart at top) - Still Wrong About Genesis of Housing Crisis

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Republicans To Sabotage The Economy Because They Can't Get 100 Percent of What They Want

Mitch McConnell Debt Ceiling Plan: Senate GOP Leader Offers Alternative To Obama's 'Grand Bargain'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated a novel way out of default Tuesday, suggesting that Congress give up its power to raise the debt ceiling, and instead effectively transfer that authority -- and the political pain that comes with it -- to the White House for the remainder of Obama's current term.

With eight days until the administration-imposed deadline to reach a deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters he had no plans to "trash" McConnell's plan and would give it a close look.

Under current law, Congress raises the debt ceiling, which allows the Treasury Department to issue more bonds to pay off debts and fund projects that Congress has already authorized. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize or appropriate new spending, but merely settles old bills.

Yet under McConnell's plan, which he called his "last-choice option," the White House would request an increase in the debt ceiling and Congress could only block that request with a veto-proof super majority -- effectively ceding control over the debt limit to the White House. A super majority would likely be difficult to amass, especially when neither party's leadership genuinely wants the nation to default.

McConnell said he believes the votes exist in the Senate to pass a bill that would establish such a debt-ceiling regime. If House Democrats went along, fewer than 25 Republican House votes would be needed to make the bill law. How congressional leadership could marshal those votes, however, remains a mystery.

The novelty of McConnell's plan made those on Capitol Hill more pessimistic, moving genuine fears of default from the fringe to closer to center stage.

"This is not my first choice," McConnell said at a press conference Tuesday."I had hoped all year long that the opportunity presented by his request to raise the debt ceiling would generate a bipartisan agreement that would begin to get our house in order reducing spending."

"That may still happen, I still hope it will," he added, "but we're certainly not going to send a message to the markets and to the American people that default is an option."

The bill would require the president to recommend spending cuts -- without revenue-raisers -- in the same amounts of a debt ceiling increase request, although actually passing the cuts would not be necessary to raise the debt limit.
"It gives the president 100 percent of the responsibility for increasing the debt limit," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told reporters after the press conference.

The debt limit would be increased three times during Obama's term: First, by $700 billion over the next few weeks, then $900 billion in the fall and another $900 billion in the spring, McConnell said.

But the bill doesn't guarantee that spending cuts will happen, McConnell said.

"We have become increasingly pessimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement with the only person in America who can sign something into law, and that's the president," he said.

McConnell said he has "spoken about it with others," but would not comment on whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is open to the idea.

Reid said he had received a call from McConnell about the plan.

"[McConnell] has a proposal that some of you have looked over," Reid said. "He'll explain that to you. I'm not about to trash his proposal. It's something that I will look at."

"It sounds like the ultimate punt," said one senior Senate Democratic aide.
Democrats have offered historic $4 trillion dollars in spending cuts. Republicans want all that without cutting out some tax loopholes so they're walking away. Potentially sending the country into an recessionary spiral. You can tell when someone is an America hating brat when you offer them 90% of what they want and it is not enough.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Truth About Democratic Congressional Candidate Janice Hahn

Republicans Launch False Attack On Janice Hahn Over Gang Workers

Remember the booty-shaking attack video on Janice Hahn? The one that was declared the most offensive campaign ad of all time?

Republicans immediately distanced themselves from it. But that doesn't meant they've given up on making an issue out of Hahn's support for gang-intervention programs. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Today, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent a text to voters in the 36th Congressional District alerting them that "Councilwoman Janice Hahn helped steer tax $ to violent, inner city gang members." The text directed them to a new website, for a "must see news report."

The news report is Chris Blatchford's 2008 series for Fox 11 News, which accused Hahn of funneling money to active gang members under the auspices of the city's gang-intervention programs.

Blatchford is a veteran reporter with plenty of awards under his belt, but he botched this one. (I know because I re-interviewed his sources three years ago and debunked his story.) Among other problems, "P.J. Steve," the gang member he leads with, was not a gang-intervention worker. Whoops. The others identified in the report didn't get taxpayer money. Whoops again.

On Monday, Politifact did its own fact-check of the infamous stipper ad, which was based on the Fox 11 report, and rated it "False."

Setting the Fox report aside, there is a legitimate debate to be had about gang intervention. Hahn is a longtime supporter of such programs, and tried to get a $30 million tax measure approved to fund gang prevention and intervention.

Asked for a defense of gang intervention, the Hahn campaign referred comment to civil rights lawyer Connie Rice. Rice wrote a lengthy report for the city advocating a dramatic increase in funding for gang prevention and intervention programs. She noted those programs are supported not only by Hahn but also by the L.A. Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff.

"This is just stupid," Rice said. "Are we going to listen to our police leaders or are we going to listen to a bunch of people who have too much time on their hands thinking about stripper poles?... We've got real lives we've saved because Janice Hahn stepped up to the table. These clowns are trying to knock her down. They wouldn't have the guts to do what she did."

Hahn is facing Republican Craig Huey in the July 12 runoff for the seat vacated by Jane Harman. She is favored to win, due to a strong Democratic registration advantage, though her campaign has been doing everything it can to stave off voter apathy and get Democrats to the polls.

Huey's campaign manager, Jimmy Camp, said he was unaware of the NRCC's attack on Hahn's gang intervention record. Asked if Huey planned to make it an issue as well, Camp said "I wouldn't rule it out."
The ads run by some of the sleaziest lying bastards in the right-wing conservative movement - Ladd Ehlinger and crew - have been proven to be completely false and racists. Even Politifact called the video one of the worse it has seen and completely lacking in evidence of any kind. Asked about the sleazy racist video Hahn's Republican opponent the Un-American zealot Craig Huey says he may exploit it to his advantage anyway. In tyical arrogant fashsion Huey has no ideas for stopping gang violence in his district, but he and his wing-nut friends are happy to trash a program the police support.

We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Does Michele Bachmann Hate America

Bachmann: ‘I Hope’ Higher Unemployment Will Help My Campaign

Bachmann: ‘I Hope’ Higher Unemployment Will Help My Campaign | Appearing on CNBC this morning, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was asked about this morning’s dismal jobs report and whether higher unemployment rates might help her chances of winning in 2012. “Does it strike you that as the unemployment rate goes up, your chances of winning office also go up?” host Carl Quintanilla asked. “Well, that could be. Again, I hope so,” Bachmann replied. Watch it:

While it’s of course acceptable for Bachmann to campaign on wanting to turn the economy around, it’s another matter entirely when she actively pursues policies that make the economy worse — while hoping it will help her campaign.

No news here really. Republicans lied us into a three trillion dollar senseless quagmire in Iraq, their policies and lack of regulation enforcement lead the Great Recession.

When do conservative Republicans take responsibility for their immoral anti-American behavior? Kind of a trick question sense the answer is never - Fox "Straight News" "Save[s] The Economy" With Right-Wing Talking Points

In a series of segments called 10 Ways to Save the Economy, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier promoted conservative talking points on the financial crisis, stimulus package, estate tax, and deregulation. The segments also frequently echoed the viewpoint of Fox News' conservative opinion programming. None of the ten segments advocated measures favored by progressives to help the economy. - Save The Economy Segment Pushed Claim That Government Programs For "Low Income Borrowers" Caused Financial Crisis

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

15-Year-Old Girl Faces Life in Prison for a Miscarriage? Why Conservatives Are Criminalizing Pregnant Women

15-Year-Old Girl Faces Life in Prison for a Miscarriage? Why Conservatives Are Criminalizing Pregnant Women

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

"Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws," said Lynn Paltrow of the campaignNational Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). "It's turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights."

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state's "chemical endangerment" law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her fetus was diagnosed with possible Down's syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with "chemical endangerment" of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

"That shocked me, it really did," Kimbrough said. "I had lost a child, that was enough."

She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. "I'm just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids," she said. "They say I'm a criminal, how do I answer that? I'm a good mother."

Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalization of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs' case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi's highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.

"If it's not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is," Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.

What is it exactly that validates the Republican claim that are against abusive big government. Republicans used big government and secrecy to sell arms to the Iranians during the Reagan years. They used the power and pulpit of big government to sell the nation lies about Iraq and WMD. Now they're using big government to persecute women for personal behavior. And apparently in some instances when they need evidence they just make stuff up.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Planet Are Republicans From

The Budget Debate, and What Should Be Obvious

If you dropped in from outer space and looked at the Republicans' budget, you would conclude that the big economic problem facing our nation is that poor people have too much income and rich people have too little.

I found myself on TV recently arguing once again for a budget deal that balanced spending cuts and new revenues. Only later did it occur to me that I had neglected to say why that's so important. Maybe it's obvious, but my experience is that in debates like this with two starkly opposing views, there's a danger of staking out your position without rationale, and that weakens your argument.

The case for revenues is a simple one. Given the level of deficit reduction to which both parties are committed, around $4 trillion over 10-12 years, if you try to get there solely by cutting spending, you'll be forced to cut too deeply into parts of government that vulnerable people depend on. In short, you'll do more harm than good.

Specifics? Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, embraced by House Republicans, is a good example. As my CBPP colleague Bob Greenstein shows here, two-thirds of its spending cuts, almost $3 trillion, come from programs that help low-income families:

$2.17 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and related health care; $350 billion in cuts in mandatory programs serving low-income Americans (other than Medicaid [so things like food assistance, child care credits, unemployment benefits]; $400 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs.

More specifics come from this important editorial in the New York Times, which points out that exempting low-income programs from deficit-cutting deals "has been a major feature of deficit deals going back to 1985." That tradition is especially germane today, with the economic recovery still far from reaching the most vulnerable among us.

And that, my friends, is why we need a plan that doesn't depend solely on spending cuts.
Hard working Americans, the ones who empty the bedpans, pave the curbs, stand behind the counters, bandage your cut, teach your child to read, mop the floors, drive the bus, cook your breakfast and put new shingles on your roof are the ones Republicans have targeted to make all the sacrifices. Because goodness forbid that some billionaire only be able to afford eight exotic sports cars instead of nine.

Friday, July 1, 2011

In Ohio and Wisconsin Patriotic Americans Are Fighting Back Against The Right-wing Republican War On Democracy

In Ohio and Wisconsin The Right-wing Republican War On Democracy and Working Americans Continues

On the same day that Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee law takes effect in Wisconsin, public workers in Ohio can celebrate a victory in the battle for democracy.

We Are Ohio, the group leading the effort to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5, the anti-collective bargaining bill, delivered a record number of nearly 1.3 million signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State today, backed by a "Million Signature March" parade of more than 6,000 people, retired fire trucks, motorcycles, a drum line and bagpipes.

"This is the people's parade," said We Are Ohio spokesperson Melissa Fazekas in a news conference after the parade. "You are truly one in a million."
Ohio's Veto Referendum

Both Ohio and Wisconsin have had union-busting legislation forced on them by Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker in the name of fiscal austerity, and both states saw massive protests in response to the attacks on workers' rights and public services. The electoral methods of recourse, however, differ between the states.

Ohio is one of 21 states that allow for veto referendums. A veto referendum is a unique mechanism that allows a new law to be placed on a ballot for voters to either ratify or reject if enough signatures are collected within the statutory timeframe.

About 231,000 valid signatures are required to put the collective bargaining law on the November ballot as a referendum. The 1,298,301 signatures were delivered in 1,502 boxes carried by a 48-foot semi-truck. The Ohio Secretary of State's office must now sort the signatures by county, count them and distribute them to county boards of elections for validation.

According to the Toledo Blade, "Just the filing of the petitions Wednesday will keep Senate Bill 5 from taking effect on Friday as scheduled. If at least 231,149 of the signatures are determined to be valid, the law will remain on hold until the results of the election are known. If voters reject the law, it will never take effect."
Wisconsin's Recall Elections

In Wisconsin, six Republican state senators face recall elections over their vote to abolish public employees' collective bargaining rights. Three Democratic state senators have also been targeted for recall, in response to their decision to leave the state during the battle that ensued over the controversial legislation. Primary elections for the recalls will take place July 12 for the Republicans and July 19 for the Democrats, with general elections following in August. If the Democrats hold onto their seats and three of the six Republicans are recalled, the state Senate will flip to a Democratic majority, loosening the Republican stronghold on the state.

While papers cannot be filed to recall Walker until January 2012, United Wisconsin, the grassroots organization behind the gubernatorial recall movement in Wisconsin currently lists 189,321 pledges for recall. To prompt a recall election, 540,206 signatures would be required.

"What we saw today in Ohio was a response of millions of people saying 'no' to Gov. Kasich's agenda and standing up for bargaining rights and workers' rights, because we don't have the ability to remove him," said Kris Harsh, spokesperson for Stand Up for Ohio.
Both Mechanisms from the Progressive Era

Ohio does not have a recall provision, thus the referendum drive. But both referendums and recalls are progressive tools that date back to the early 1900s. According to the Ohio Historical Society, "Progressives argued that the referendum made the American political system more democratic." Referendums were approved as an amendment to the Ohio Constitution in 1912, and the Wisconsin Constitution was amended to allow for the recall of elected officials just one year after Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette's death, in 1926.

La Follette fought for progressive ideals -- such as recalls and open primaries -- to empower average people at a time when corporate bosses ruled the political scene. La Follette's fight was against railroad barons and agricultural monopolies, while Ohio battled the Standard Oil Trust.

The overwhelming outpouring of people standing up for their rights and for their communities in Wisconsin and Ohio today indicate that the progressive tools given to Americans by fighters like La Follette are just as relevant and necessary now as they were more than 100 years ago.

Jessica Opoien is an intern with the Center for Media and Democracy
Republicans tell lots of really big lies. One of them is the often repeated lie that they are the party of small government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Americans who believe that are being conned. The attacks on worker rights in the states which have Republican governors have all been about shifting power to corporations at the expense of everyday working Americans. In every case those conservatives have claimed attacking workers rights was done to save money even as all the public unions agreed to huge concessions. Thomas Jefferson Feared an Aristocracy of Corporations

He was, as well, a relentless critic of the monopolizing of economic power by banks, corporations and those who put their faith in what the third president referred to as "the selfish spirit of commerce (that) knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.

Jefferson might not have wanted a lot of government, but he wanted enough government to assert the sovereignty of citizens over corporations. To his view, nothing was more important to the health of the republic.

In the early years of the 19th century, as banks and corporations began to flex their political muscles, he announced that: “I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."