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Market Watch, The Wall Street Journal

By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch

May 22, 2012, 12:01 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.

Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.

Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:

In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.

In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.

In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.

In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.

Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.

MORE HERE

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Political Animal

April 09, 2012 8:45 AM

Buffet Rule Tax Day Push

By Ed Kilgore

Usually the week leading up to April 15, the federal income tax filing day, belongs to conservatives who have the change to score uncontested goal after goal against an unloved and unlovable tax system, and more broadly, the public commitments that make it necessary.

But this year, it looks like Democrats will for once try to take the initiative with a “tax fairness” campaign that will have the added benefit of directing public attention to Mitt Romney’s balance sheet. Here’s Jonathan Wiesman’s description:

President Obama and Senate Democrats will kick off a coordinated pressure campaign on Republicans next week ahead of a tax day vote on legislation to enact the president’s “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that the rich pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Mr. Obama will travel to Florida on Tuesday for a speech on the Buffett Rule, named after the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, who has made a point of saying that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The Obama campaign will hold Buffett Rule events in other swing states that day, and Senate Democratic leaders have encouraged Democratic senators to get involved with those campaign efforts….

The push comes ahead of a procedural vote on April 16 that will decide whether the Senate will even debate the bill, and Democrats give it little chance of reaching the necessary 60-vote threshold.

Wiesman’s article goes on to debate whether the Buffet Rule specifically, or “fairness” generally, is a winning election-year economic message.

I think this sort of argument falls prey to the amazingly persistent and pernicious idea that whole issue areas “belong” to one party of the other. No, it doesn’t make much sense for tax fairness to become an overriding issue for Democrats this year. But it makes even less sense for Democrats to fall mute or try to change the subject every time Republicans talk about taxes.

SOURCE

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Richard Trumka Threatens To Abandon Democrats In 2012 Unless They Fight Harder For Labor

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

Posted: 05/20/11 02:22 AM ET

WASHINGTON — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka plans to issue yet another warning to Democrats on Friday, proclaiming that if lawmakers don’t push hard enough to stem attacks on labor’s interests, workers will abandon the party in the 2012 election.

The union leader, whose perch atop the 11-million-member federation makes him arguably the most powerful labor official in the country, is slated to speak at a National Press Club luncheon. In excerpts from his prepared remarks, obtained in advance by The Huffington Post, Trumka focuses his ire on the widening gulf between U.S. workers and the wealthy — attaching particular blame to politicians who value ideology over morality.

“Budget proposals unveiled in Washington and state capitals across our country revealed a despicable canvas of cruelty,” Trumka will say, according to his prepared remarks. “And not just meanness. Destructiveness. A willful desire to block the road to the future.”

“America’s real deficit is a moral deficit — where political choices come down to forcing foster children to wear hand-me-downs while cutting taxes for profitable corporations,” the remarks continue. “Powerful political forces are seeking to silence working people — to drive us out of the national conversation.”

Trumka also says in the prepared remarks that party affiliation alone won’t determine how the federation allocates its resources in 2012. If Republican lawmakers embrace parts of the AFL-CIO’s agenda, the union federation will respond in kind. If Democrats abandon the union community’s principles — or if they fail to protest as those principles are attacked — they can expect similar treatment.

MORE HERE

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Wisconsin Democrats Win Seat That Was Held By Republicans For Sixteen Years In Special Election

Think Progress- By Zaid Jilani at 9:50 am

Wisconsin marks the birthplace of a burgeoning Main Street Movement defending the economic livelihood of the middle class. The movement was spawned after Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and his GOP allies passed new laws stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Last night, Wisconsin Republicans suffered what was perhaps the first electoral defeat resulting from a backlash to their radical anti-labor policies as Democrats won a special election for an assembly seat held by the GOP for the past 16 years:

Democrat Steve Doyle defeated Republican John Lautz for the Wisconsin District 94 Assembly, flipping a seat held by Republicans for 16 years in a race that focused attention on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curtail collective bargaining right for most public employees. With 92% of precincts reporting, Doyle won 54% to 46%, based on unofficial results in Tuesday’s special election. The race flips a GOP Assembly seat for the Democrats, who remain in the minority.

The seat was previously held by Mike Huebsch, who Walker picked in January to serve as secretary of administration. Huebsch was first elected in 1994. The district covers rural La Crosse County and parts of Monroe County.

Doyle actually won despite “a barrage of television and radio attacks by third-party groups, along with mailings from the Jobs First Coalition, a Brookfield, Wis.-based group tied to Scott Jensen, the former Republican state Assembly speaker who left office in 2002 amid misconduct allegations.” “I look at it as a rejection of attack ads,” he told the La Crosse Tribune.

SOURCE

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Democrats Target John Boehner With Mocking Medicare Ad (VIDEO)

HuffPost- Michael McAuliff

First Posted: 04/20/11 09:37 AM ET Updated: 04/20/11 11:13 AM ET

This story has been updated to include additional reporting.

WASHINGTON — After getting mocked by GOP operatives for launching an “offensive” on 25 vulnerable Republicans with minuscule ad buys Tuesday, Democrats are turning the tables with a new stunt aimed at putting some muscle behind their Medicare media campaign.

And they’re doing it in the district of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

In an email sent to supporters around 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel challenged donors to pony up $25,000 by midnight — in order to run a pointed spot in Boehner’s backyard.

It would mark the DCCC’s first TV buy of the 2012 cycle.

“Let’s go big,” Israel writes, offering to splash the spot featuring an older man mowing lawns with his walker and doing a strip tease to afford his Medicare under the budget plan written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) earlier this month.

“After House Republicans rammed through a disgraceful budget that would end Medicare — while giving millionaires and billionaires another tax cut — we knew we had to have an eye-popping response,” Israel said.

“We just cut a creative new ad to break through the clutter and take the fight directly to Republican Speaker John Boehner,” he said. “I won’t ruin the ending for you, but trust me, this ad is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

The gambit comes a day after the DCCC launched a radio campaign that the National Republican Congressional Committee derided as both a scare tactic and a joke.

“[Democrats] are continuing to use partisan scare tactics and insist on the ability for Washington to continue spending money we don’t have,” the NRCC’s Paul Lindsay emailed reporters.

“Well, if you have heard their radio ad you’re one of the lucky few,” Lindsay added. “Based on early reports on the size of this buy, they are spending a whopping $60.00 in many of the 25 districts.”

$25,000 will likely impress the GOP a little more, especially in a district like Boehner’s where relatively small sums can go a long way.

The publicity also will likely aid the DCCC’s effort to spread the ad further.

WATCH:

UPDATE: 11:01 AM

Lindsay said he wasn’t tickled by the spot, and suggested the ad left out what was actually obscene — what he described as the Democrats’ unserious approach to the deficit.

“Steve Israel was smart to leave out the X-rated part of this ad,” Lindsay said. “That’s the version where Democrats tease Americans into believing their party is serious about tackling the deficit, dance around the issue until Medicare is obsolete, strip seniors of the benefits they have been promised, and force small businesses to foot the bill when the time is up.”

Democrats point to Congressional Budget Office estimates that say the GOP plan to shift seniors into the private insurance market with a voucher-like program will raise their out-of-pocket costs.

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During Bush Presidency, Current GOP Leaders Voted 19 Times To Increase Debt Limit By $4 Trillion

Think Progress- By Travis Waldron at 11:49 am

After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.

But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.

At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:

June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

Database searches revealed no demands from the four legislators that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts, as there are now. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

When Bush was in office, the current Republican leaders viewed increasing the debt limit as vital to keeping America’s economy running. But with Obama in the White House, it’s nothing more than a political pawn.

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The Republicans shouldn’t be taken seriously anymore.

It seems obvious, but in order to be taken seriously, politicians have to be, you know, serious. Not just in terms of personality or behavior, but primarily in terms of policy and lawmaking. If a politician refuses to propose serious ideas and only pumps out nonsensical bumper-sticker sloganeering, fear-based histrionics or symbolic legislative measures that pander to kneejerk interest groups, then he or she ought to be summarily refused the privilege of our deference, respect and, especially, our vote.

Very few modern Republicans and conservatives qualify. They fail the seriousness test at almost every level — from the Republican leadership on down the line.

Take Eric Cantor, for example. The House Majority Leader. The second most powerful Republican in Washington. Whenever I write about Eric Cantor, I’m generally met with the reaction of crickets chirping. He’s not as well-known or as incendiary as Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. But he’s exponentially more important, and so we have to pay attention to what he’s doing.

You might recall how Cantor, along with 228 House Republicans, permanently attached their names to proven scam-artist James O’Keefe by voting to de-fund NPR in reaction to O’Keefe’s latest sting video. Like all of O’Keefe’s work, the NPR video was selectively and deceptively edited to make it seem as though an NPR executive was expressing personal views about tea party Republicans. Within days of the release of the video, Eric Cantor publicly embraced O’Keefe and expressed outrage at the dubiously-attained videotape. In his public remarks, Cantor announced the effort to de-fund NPR. Later, the House successfully voted to codify the work of a known fraud.

Should Eric Cantor really be taken seriously? No way. And it gets worse.

Yesterday, Cantor announced a piece of legislation that might as well legalize hobbit marriage and cut the budget for time-traveling DeLoreans. It’s just that fantastical.

(more…)

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