A major wire story detailing large tax increases on the middle class during an election year would seem to be big news. Yet scarcely an eye was batted when this story disappeared. The administration can ill afford to be seen as raising taxes on the middle class during a recession when the President's Congressional majority is already imperilled. Reuters should be made to explain why this story disappeared.
If The NewsBusters had done a bit of research before they published this sorrowfully wrong blog post, they would have found an explanation (though maybe not the one they're looking for), posted by Reuters yesterday afternoon:
The story "is wrong." Don't believe Reuters? Take it from the American Enterprise Institute, an organization dedicated to "strengthening free enterprise" and described by NewsBusters itself as "conservative." AEI spoke out against "appalling inaccuracies" in the Reuters article, the first of which Lanza repeated in his blog post, calling the claim "fair enough" and "big news." From AEI's post:
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would allow the 10 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent brackets to expire, boosting those rates to 15, 28, and 31 percent, respectively. In reality, the budget would permanently extend the lower rates.
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would raise the dividend tax rate to 39.6 percent. In reality, the budget would raise the rate only to 20 percent.
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would allow taxpayers' option to deduct state and local sales taxes to expire. In reality, the budget would extend that option through 2011.
Or try the Tax Foundation, an anti-tax think tank that NewsBusters has cited as recently as yesterday, which stated that Reuters' characterization of the Bush tax cuts under Obama's budget is "evidence of intentional deceit or terrible reporting," and that "[t]he reporter also seems to not fully understand the alternative minimum tax."
The Media Research Center created NewsBusters "to provide immediate exposure of liberal media bias, insightful analysis, constructive criticism and timely corrections to news media reporting." Far from being timely, insightful and constructive, Lanza's reproduction of Reuters' days-old, retracted false claim that Obama plans to raise all income tax rates and his slow, misguided demand for an "explanation" for the retraction would be as embarrassing as the Reuters article itself ... if anyone expected more from NewsBusters.
One of my favorite parts of James O'Keefe's underwhelming performance on Sean Hannity's show this week (and let's face it, if a conservative activist can't score points on Hannity's program, something's wrong), was when the host gently pressed O'Keefe about the wisdom of trying to infiltrate a U.S. senator's office.
O'Keefe's response was priceless:
Ah, the "people's office." In other words, security, schma-curity. The U.S. federal government, according to O'Keefe's take on things, should apparenlty have an open door policy when it comes to citizens stopping by unannounced for visits. In fact, it should have an open door policy for twentysomething pranksters who dress up as telephone repairmen. Or pizza delivery guys, or whatever.
Listening to O'Keefe try to spin his way out the fact that he enetered a federal building under false pretenses, the activist announced that there should be no restrictions when it comes to offices of senators, because we, the tax payers, pay their salary. As I noted last week, my guess is that sudden right-wing disdain for security woud evaporate if a a bunch of Arab-Americans got dressed up and filmed their undercover visit to the "people's office."
But let's stick with O'Keefe's unique claim that because federeal buildings and offices are the property of tax payers, than that means there should be an open door policy to wandering inside. Well, why stop at hometown offices of senators and Congressmen? I assume O'Keefe now wants all Capitol Hill offices to do away with security, right? And of course, the court houses too. I mean we pay the salaries of our judges. So why can't anybody just stroll right in?
And naturally, that clearly means the White House should tear down the gates around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., rigth? In fact, let's lay off the entire Secret Service staff becuase, let's face it, all they really do is keep "the people" from getting to see the president; from wandering into the Oval Office. Or as O'Keefe would put it, "the people's office."
From a February 2 post by Seven Days' (Vt.) Shay Totten:
A conservative talk show host's suggestion that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was drunk while delivering a Senate floor speech last week is quickly being passed around on right-wing blogs and media outlets.
Mark Levin, a conservative yakker based out of New York City, made the unsubstantiated claims on his Friday program. His proof? That Leahy appeared to be slurring his speech.
Maybe we're just accustomed to Leahy's affectation, but he doesn't sound like anything more than perhaps a wee bit exhausted. He may have stayed up late after the State of the Union address the night before -- who knows?
Leahy spokesman David Carle called Levin's implication is "as ridiculous as it is patently false."
"So in a situation like this, their MO is to level false charges at whim. It's a tactic they've been using more and more to poison rational debate," said Carle. "They're like the schoolyard bullies who gang up to smear and smack down anyone who dares to disagree with them or to stand up to them."
Media Matters for America has been tracking the trend of right-wing talkers making unsubstantiated claims of Democratic senators being drunk while giving speeches.
Red State's Erick Erickson has uncovered what he thinks is a shocking admission in President Obama's 2011 budget: that "the White House is now admitting" that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being distributed over the course of two years. Erickson has also determined their purpose. From Red State:
Washington was "unwilling to solve" the problems because 2009 was not an election year and 2010 is. The President of the United States refused to help get unemployment down in 2009 by design so he could get credit in the 2010 election year instead.
You can't blame Erickson for jumping to this conclusion. Who wouldn't accuse the President of prolonging economic hardships in order to rig elections when no other justifiable reason has been presented?
Except Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag discussed exactly this last July:
In designing the Recovery Act, we also recognized that the economic situation we inherited was so severe that we needed to assure producers and consumers that aggregate demand would be boosted not just for a few months, but for a sustained period. That is why we envisioned a Recovery Act that would ramp up rapidly in 2009, have its peak impact in 2010, and lay the groundwork for further growth thereafter.
And in January 2009, the Congressional Budget Office illustrated the fact that the stimulus money was designed to be distributed over two years:
Combining the spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would increase federal budget deficits by $169 billion over the remaining months of fiscal year 2009, by $356 billion in 2010, by $174 billion in 2011, and by $816 billion over the 2009-2019 period.
CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that enacting H.R. 1 would increase budget deficits by $526 billion over the 2009-2010 period (about 19 months) and by a total of $816 billion over the 2009-2019 period.
And, as Vice President Joe Biden wrote in a July, 2009 New York Times op-ed:
The care with which we are carrying out the provisions of the Recovery Act has led some people to ask whether we are moving too slowly. But the act was intended to provide steady support for our economy over an extended period - not a jolt that would last only a few months. Instead of quick-hit rebates, we are giving Americans a tax cut in each paycheck. Instead of pumping out all the state aid immediately, we are spreading it over the two years that it will be needed. Road projects, energy projects and construction projects are being started as soon as they pass review, contracts are competitively bid and reporting systems are in place.
Last week I wrote about the hypocrisy on display by CBS when it agreed to air an anti-choice ad from the right-wing Focus on the Family during this year's Super Bowl after rejecting an ad from the United Church of Christ intended for the 2004 Super Bowl that advocated the inclusion of LGBT people and others.
Well, CBS has doubled down on the hypocrisy rejecting a gay-themed ad that was intended to run during this weekend's big game.
It gets worse.
According to a report in The Daily Beast, CBS worked for months with Focus on the Family developing the anti-choice ad's script featuring college football star Tim Tebow which the network ultimately approved (surprise, surprise):
The major broadcast networks have avoided political advocacy ads for years, so CBS's decision to air the Tebow ad caught abortion rights advocates off guard. But Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group founded by Dr. James Dobson, says that it has actually been working closely with CBS executives for months on the ad's script.
"There were discussions about the specific wording of the spot," said Gary Schneeberger, spokesperson for Focus on the Family. "And we came to a compromise. To an agreement." Schneeberger declined to comment on exactly how CBS changed the ad's message.
CBS has said that in the last year, in an acknowledgment of "industry norms," it loosened previous restrictions on advocacy advertisements, accepting ads that pushed for health reform and environmental activism.
Politico's Michael Calderone reports:
Fox News host Sean Hannity will deliver the keynote address at this year's fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). It'll be held on March 23 at the National Building Museum.
"On behalf of House Republicans, it is a pleasure to announce Sean Hannity as our keynote speaker for this year's annual March Dinner," said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions in a statement.
Calderone goes on to note that Fox News' Glenn Beck will be headlining the annual CPAC gathering. I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin is keynoting the National Tea Party Convention later this week.
Does anyone still doubt that the right-wing media runs the GOP?
The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that Republicans think they've found a "loophole" in the reconciliation process that would allow them to block a vote on health care legislation:
Republicans say they have found a loophole in the budget reconciliation process that could allow them to offer an indefinite number of amendments.
Though it has never been done, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he's prepared to test the Senate's stamina to block the Democrats from using the process to expedite changes to the healthcare bill.
Another option for Democrats would be to seek a ruling by the parliamentarian that Republicans are simply filing amendments to stall the process. But such a ruling could taint the final healthcare vote and backfire for Democrats in November.
DeMint said he's ready to try anything.
"You'll see Republicans do everything they can to delay and stop this process," DeMint said. "They need to get the message the track they're on is the wrong track."
Let me get this straight: Republicans may uffer an "indefinite number of amendments" simply to "test the Senate's stamina" and "block the Democrats from using the process" -- but if Democrats seek a parliamentarian's ruling on whether the Republicans are simply trying to "stall the process," the tactic may "backfire" on the Democrats and "taint" the vote?
Put another way: DeMint directly says Republicans will "do everything they can to delay and stop this process" -- but The Hill thinks the Democrats would be out of line if they ask the parliamentarian to rule on whether the Republicans "are simply filing amendments to stall the process." What?!? Republicans are bragging that they're stalling the process!
Just a quick note about how another favorite point of pushback from conservatives in the wake of James O'Keefe's arrest New Orleans has been that the nasty, liberal media erroneously reported that there was a judge-issued gag order attached to the case, which would suggest O'Keefe shouldn't be talking about his arrest.
It's all a pack of lies, claim O'Keefe and his mentor, Andrew Breitbart.
But why would anyone have (mistakenly?) thought there was a gag order surrounding the case and that O'Keefe shouldn't discuss it with anyone? Maybe because the defendants were telling people that.
In an article about O'Keefe and his infiltration pals, the AP interviewed a New Orleans friend, Johnny Angel [emphasis added]:
Angel said he asked the guys if what the newspaper was saying was true: Did they really try to mess with Landrieu's phones?
"They said they couldn't talk about it, that the judge said they couldn't discuss the case," Angel said. The fourth person arrested, Robert Flanagan, 24, of New Orleans, the son of the Shreveport-based acting U.S. attorney for Louisiana's Western District, also has been silent.
If you're getting the feeling you can't believe anything O'Keefe and Breitbart say, you are not alone.
From Ben Shapiro's February 3 syndicated column, headlined "Obama's Philosophically Fascist State of the Union Address":
There sure is something different about President Obama. Usually, the State of the Union address is a laundry list of proposals spiced with sycophantic applause and dipped in an admixture of boredom and bravado. It is rarely a statement of basic philosophy. Not for President Obama.
President Obama's State of the Union address was the greatest American rhetorical embrace of fascist trope since the days of Woodrow Wilson. I am not suggesting Obama is a Nazi; he isn't. I am not suggesting that he is a jackbooted thug; he isn't (even if we could be forgiven for mistaking Rahm Emanuel for one).
President Obama is, however, a man who embodies all the personal characteristics of a fascist leader, right down to the arrogant chin-up head tilt he utilizes when waiting for applause. He sees democracy as a filthy process that can be cured only by the centralized power of bureaucrats. He sees his presidency as a Hegelian synthesis marking the end of political conflict. He sees himself as embodiment of the collective will. No president should speak in these terms—not in a representative republic. Obama does it habitually.
It would be pointless to discuss at length the dictatorial, demagogic nature of much of Obama's address—the attacks on the banking system; the unprecedented personal assault on the Supreme Court justices; the dictatorial demands ("I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay"); the scornful looks and high-handed put-downs directed at his political opponents. It would be even more pointless to discuss the incomprehensible stupidity of Obama's policy proposals. (Export more of our goods? Why didn't anyone else think of that?)
It is worth examining, however, the deeper philosophy evident from Obama's address. From the outset, his speech was an ode to himself.
We are not he. The American spirit is not the Obama spirit. America is not defined by our collective desire to bring about political utopia through abdication of representative democracy to a body of "wise pragmatists." America is defined by Americans—individuals fighting to support their families, to preserve their values and their freedoms. And that Americanism stands in direct opposition not only to the Obama agenda, but also to Obama's vision of himself.