November 10th, 2010
Cr Editor's Note: Obama's Quote On Commissions:
Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—A White House commission laid out a sweeping plan to cut the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions a year by targeting sacrosanct areas of U.S. tax and spending policy, such as Social Security benefits, middle-class tax breaks and defense spending.
Among the controversial proposals, the plan in its current form would end or cap a wide range of breaks relied on by the middle class, including the deduction for home-mortgage interest. It would tax capital gains and dividends at the higher rates now levied on wage income. To compensate, one version of the plan would dramatically lower and simplify individual rates, to 9%, 15% and 24%.
For businesses, the plan would significantly lower the corporate tax rate—from a current top rate of 35% to as low as 26%—but also eliminate a number of deductions. It would make permanent the research and development tax credit. Overall, the plan would cut the federal deficit by $3.8 trillion by 2020.
The interim report stands as an opening bid in what will likely be a heated debate over the future of spending and taxes, issues that exploded in the midterm elections. Many of the plan's more provocative elements are intended as starting points for negotiation, not final recommendations.
The question is whether members of the commission can hone the draft into something on which they can agree, or whether they and their supporters will splinter. The plan's unveiling Wednesday provoked denunciations from some quarters, particularly from organized labor and liberal lawmakers, but also from conservative taxpayer advocates.
"We have harpooned every whale in the ocean, and some of the minnows," said co-chairman Alan Simpson, a retired Wyoming Republican senator. "No one has ever done that before." The panel of 18 lawmakers, business leaders and others was formed by President Barack Obama; it was led by Mr. Simpson and co-chair Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.
The plan would make significant cuts on spending over which Congress has direct control, beyond entitlements such as Medicare. It identifies $410 billion in discretionary spending cuts by 2015. It proposes cutting the federal work force 10%, at a further savings of $13.2 billion by 2015.
Congressional earmarks—provisions inserted into legislation for lawmakers' pet projects—would be banned permanently, saving $16 billion.
In the bond markets, which have much riding on the outcome of the deficit debate, investors cautioned that the ideas are preliminary and touch many political third rails.
With gridlock likely after the midterm elections split control of Congress between the two parties, enacting major changes designed to significantly cut the deficit "would take some pretty Herculean efforts I think down in Washington, D.C.," said Kevin Flanagan, chief fixed-income strategist at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
The plan's authors hope this first draft will improve the chances of any final version, said commission aides, by making it look milder by comparison. At a minimum, the plan's surprise release gives President Barack Obama a chance to appear serious about deficit cutting should he adopt its recommendations.
The panel's recommendations aren't binding; its proposal needs to garner the votes of 14 of the 18 members to trigger votes in the House and Senate. But the final version, due Dec. 1, likely would be a starting point for any deficit-reduction plan Congress and the White House put together.
"In the end, the president is going to have to decide whether to incorporate some of this into the 2012 budget," said David Walker, a former U.S. auditor general and an advocate for deficit reduction. "He's going to have to lead, because if the president doesn't lead on this, it goes nowhere fast."
Mr. Obama avoided any comment on the specifics, as did Congressional leaders. Both said they'd wait for a final product.
Lawmaker reaction was mixed, suggesting any final plan will be weaker than the one released Wednesday. Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.), the top Republican on the Budget Committee and a panel member, called it "a genuine product that deserves very serious attention."
But liberal panel members were less enthusiastic. Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) said he wouldn't vote for it, saying that "there are things in there that I hate like the devil hates holy water."
Some important interest groups were sharply critical, particularly over curbs on entitlement spending. The plans authors "just told working Americans to 'Drop Dead,"' said AFL-CIO Chairman Richard Trumka. "Especially in these tough economic times, it is unconscionable to be proposing cuts to the critical economic lifelines for working people, Social Security and Medicare."
Sen. Gregg said that overall, federal spending takes a bigger hit in the plan than taxpayers do. The plan's goal is to reduce federal spending and federal revenues to 21% of gross domestic product. Federal revenues currently are projected to be about 19% of GDP in 2015, and outlays about 23%.
It would seek to achieve the pullbacks through a mix of spending cuts and increasing tax revenues—about 75% in spending reductions and about 25% from the tax side.
If the plan was adopted in its entirety, it would reduce the deficit to 2.2% of gross domestic product by 2015, exceeding the target set for the panel by the White House of lowering the deficit to 3% of GDP.
The budget deficit equaled 8.9% of GDP in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Despite the raft of spending cuts and changes to the tax code, it would still take until 2037 to balance the budget entirely.
November 10th, 2010
By James Hibberd, Hollywood Reporter via Reuters
(HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) — We'll name a hit TV show, and you guess if it's more popular among Republicans or Democrats.
First, "NCIS" — investigating military crimes on CBS. Safe bet conservatives love it, right?
How about ABC's "Desperate Housewives" — a racy soap, female audience? Little more tricky.
Which of these shows is favored more by Republicans?
All of them.
According to months of data from leading media-research company Experian Simmons, viewers who vote Republican and identify themselves as conservative are more likely than Democrats to love the biggest hits on TV. Of the top 10 broadcast shows on TV in the spring, nine were ranked more favorably by viewers who identify themselves as Republican.
Liberals appreciate many of the same shows, mind you. But their devotion typically is not quite as strong as right-wingers, and Dems are more likely to prefer modestly rated titles.
Like "Mad Men."
The Emmy favorite has struggled to get a broad audience on AMC. It scores through the roof with Democrats (does anyone in Santa Monica or on Manhattan's Upper West Side not watch it?), but it has one of the weakest scores among Republicans. The same is true for FX's "Damages," Showtime's "Dexter," HBO's "Entourage" and AMC's "Breaking Bad."
"The big shows with mass appeal tend to have above-average scores from Democrats and Republicans but with higher concentrations of Republicans," says John Fetto, senior marketing manager at Experian Simmons. "Looking at the Democrats' side, I don't mean to make light of it, but they seem to like shows about damaged people. Those are the kind of shows Republicans just stay away from."
Read More: Reign Of The Right Wing
November 10th, 2010
November 10, 2010
USA Today (among others)
The White House altered a report to make it look like scientists and other experts supported the administration's six-month ban on new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, says a report by the Department of Interior's inspector general.
"The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts," says the IG report, first obtained by Politico.
Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said "there was no intent to mislead the public" and that the report was the product of a misunderstanding that was corrected:
The decision to impose a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling was made by the Secretary, following consultation with colleagues including the White House. As the report makes clear, the misunderstanding with the reviewers was resolved with the June 3rd letter and a subsequent conference call with those experts.
Gulf Coast lawmakers and business owners opposed the ban, since lifted, saying it would further hurt a local economy battered by the oil spill.
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told Politico that the IG report shows that the moratorium "was driven by politics and not by science."
That "is bitter news for families who, because of it, lost their jobs, savings, and way of life," Cassidy said. "Candidate Obama promised that he would guided by science, not ideology. If that were true, at least 12,000 jobs and $1.8 billion of economic activity would have been saved on the Gulf Coast."
(Posted by David Jackson)
November 10th, 2010
Primary Source: Fox News
November 10, 2010
A letter now circulating Capitol Hill was written by defeated House Democrats urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down. At this time, it has not yet been sent to the Speaker.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Many of us want the chance to run again and reclaim the seats that we lost on Tuesday. With you as the leader of House Democrats, the hangover of 2010 stands no chance of subsiding. Many of us have run our last race but remain committed to our party; we want to help recruit successful candidates to run in our stead. Unfortunately, we fear that Republicans will further demonize you, and in so doing they will scare potential candidates out. The prospect of having to run against their own party leadership in addition to their Republican opponent is simply too daunting.
This is a difficult letter to write, because we admire your commitment, your drive, and your conviction. You have been an historic figure in our great nation, and for that we are all proud, as should you be. Nonetheless, we each experienced how Republican demonization of you and your leadership contributed to our defeat.
It is impossible not to judge the results of November 2nd as anything but a profound loss. We want to recover. Recovery of our majority in the House necessitates new leadership at the top of our party. We believe that you can and will play an extraordinary role in our party, and it is extremely unfortunate that Republicans have taken away your ability to lead as effectively as you are able. Nonetheless, one mark of a strong leader is the ability to discern when it is time to pass the baton. As defeated members, whose party needs to rebuild, we are counting on you to show the strength of your leadership in this dark hour. We ask that you step aside as leader of our party in the House.
With utmost respect, we are..
November 10th, 2010
By Jane Jamison
Speculation is still viral on the internet over a video of a possible “missile launch” off the coast of California Monday evening. As reported here in the first 24 hours after the “event,” meteorologists and “contrail” experts have claimed this was simply a vapor trail from a jet, made more interesting by the angle of sunlight. There is now good reason to believe that it was indeed a missile launch or test.
Here is the raw video shot by KCBS-8 TV in San Diego:
There is considerable “chatter” to support a missile launch off the coast of California Monday night.
Readers of UNCOVERAGE.net in the “national defense arena (shall we say?)” say the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carrier, is involved in exercises off San Diego, California right now.
A caller to the Rush Limbaugh show Wednesday morning said that he believes it was a missile launch that was likely made from the high-security “Point Mugu” Naval Base off the coast of California.
Read Full Article: Mysterious Contrail