Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

PRESS RELEASE: Angry Bear Offers Dem Pols Free Political Consulting Service. Free!

Here’s our offer.  It’s a very good offer.  And a serious one.  Seriously.

(Yeah, I’m venting my frustration.)

Who, the HELL, is running the House and Senate Campaign committees? My guess: People who have some personal or financial connection to the usual-suspect Dem consulting firms. Or who just can’t even imagine that, y’know, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

So, folks, let’s start a protest movement, right here at AB, and demand a change.


UPDATE: Reader Alex Bollinger posted this in the Comments thread this morning:

Not only would low-info voters benefit from actually knowing that the ACA is doing good, but a few lefties could use a reminder that it’s not just a neoliberal gift to the insurance industry.

I responded:

Yes, Alex.  Exactly.  It surprises me that the insurance industry hasn’t been sponsoring pro-ACA, anti-AFP-disinformation ads.  I realize that it would involve implicitly acknowledging that their past policies–e.g., denying individual-market coverage to anyone who had even a minor preexisting condition–but they’re in real danger of losing the single-payer war (or at least the public-option) war.

Back last December, after it had become clear that many of the state Blue Cross companies–which had by far the largest market share of the individual market in many, many states–was taking obscene advantage of the ACA (and then the debacle) to imply to policyholders of canceled plans that their only option was a very high-priced plan, I wrote here in AB that they were presuming that single-payer or at least the public option could not become a real possibility as a result. And by the very end of the year, after several pundits began making the same point, and it looked like the issue could really take off, the industry apparently did recognize it; it did stop the deceit.

What everyone seems to forget is that until last fall, the wingnut argument, including in the court challenges, was “Freedom! Liberty!”  You never hear that anymore.  Now all you hear is that premiums and out-of-pocket caps are too high and provider networks are too narrow.

Um.  Single-payer would take care of those things.  So maybe sometime before November the industry will realize that it’s very much in its interest to counter the AFP with a massive ad campaign.  Call it survival instinct.

And, who knows?  Maybe by the time the insurance industry realizes that the AFP ads need to be countered with an ad campaign of hard-hitting refutations and real-people  stories, the Dems will have figured that out, too. I never got this idea of addressing the ACA with generic we-need-to-fix-rather-than-repeal it, and hope that that nullifies the law’s unpopularity as a political problem.

The way to nullify the law’s unpopularity as a political problem is to make the law popular.  And all that would take is a good ad campaign.

Please, no more generic keep-and-fix. Please, now, specific refutations and explanations from actual real people .  And, fix?  A public option, maybe?

Seriously, Dems.  Go for it. There’s nothing to lose but loss itself.



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Objective reality and intra-Dem debate

by Robert Waldmann

On Ed Kilgore’s thoughts on Peter Beinart.

He wrote:

he mentions both the Washington Monthly and the New Republic (which he used to edit) as onetime journalistic bulwarks of the soon-to-be discarded Clintonism (and Obamism) that have now “moved left,” I would point out to him the not-exactly-distant-past March/April issue of WaMo devoted to praise of Obama as great president who continued Clinton’s legacy. My own basic view is that Clinton and Obama and virtually all center-left folk have “moved left” in response to conservative counter-revolutionary activity, the disastrous consequences of the Bush Era, and other manifestations of objective reality. As my resolutely New Demish friend Will Marshall observed nearly a decade ago, “we’re all populists now” thanks to W., who’s now being denounced as a RINO piker by most of his GOP successors.

I comment:

“other manifestations of objective reality” … heh indeed.   I think that in the intra-Democratic party debate, reality has a clear liberal bias.   Let’s pretend that there is no Republican party (it’s real fun to do that).  There would still be new information relevant to the debate between the past eventheliberal Peter Beinart and the current actually liberal Peter Beinart (I should admit that I haven’t read the recent Beinart article).

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Social Security and the current fad of being balanced and comprehensive

Salon writer  Natasha Lennard reports that a sticking point around Social Security stalled ‘fiscal cliff’ back and forth rejoinders between the two parties, but also points out that the topic continues to be on the table (and has been offered by President Obama before these talks a couple years ago).   Notice both parties using the same language of “part of a balanced, comprehensive agreement” as the fix is in without looking at other parts of the budget…these back and forth sallies are bi-partisan in appearance, but do not address the current version of ‘fical cliff’ responsibilities.

A free gift to the political players and the cover of the moment, a matter not even related to current fiscal responsibility, nor to the real world impact it has on poverty and seniors, nor the carefully thought out and responsible plans offered to address real issues.

In what Democratic aides told reporters was a “major setback” in fiscal cliff negotiations, Republicans proposed throwing a Social Security cut into the scaled-back deal Congress is attempting to cobble together in advance of the New Year deadline. As things stand at the time of writing, negotiations are close to breakdown.

Aides to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell presented the Social Security proposal, which included a method of calculating benefits with inflation. The plan would lower cost of living increases for Social Security recipients. Democrats were swift to reject the offer.

A Democratic aide told ABC News that the proposal was a “poisoned pill” in the current negotiations. However, it should be noted that President Obama has suggested a similar proposal within the context of negotiations on a broad deficit-reduction deal. Such a measure had been taken off the table in discussions over a scaled-back, short-term agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Sunday, “We’re willing to make difficult concessions as part of a balanced, comprehensive agreement but we’ll not agree to cut social security benefits as part of a small or short-term agreement, especially if that agreement gives more handouts to the rich.”

How do I know this? Well, it is worth the time to follow posts at Angry Bear over the next few months, and to compare the analysis to your own understandings. Bruce Webb will be writing with updated numbers, a must to understand the words others are using, and to gain further understanding of the big numbers used to argue political points of view.

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Social Security as you know it, it’s over, forget about it.

I caught a bit of Jennifer Granholm’s The War Room for 2/23/12.  She was talking gasoline prices and had Ron Klain on for his ideas. He is a past chief of staff for Gore and Biden as VP’s. Mr. Klain also published his thought at Bloomberg2/20/12.
This post is not about solving the rising gasoline costs. This post is about the further screwing of the 99% by further reducing their security from the risk of life and living.
Let’s cut to the chase: 
One idea might be a “pocketbook protection” plan, which would work as follows: If the average price of gas exceeds $4 a gallon, an additional, automatic payroll tax cut of 1 percent would kick in, as much as $50 per month, per person. The cut would stay in place for at least 90 days; it would disappear when the price fell below $4.00 per gallon.
There are three advantages to this approach. First, because the plan is of limited duration and is capped at $50 a month, its cost is relatively modest — about $5 billion a month, or $20 billion total, assuming the usual four-month gas-price surge. Second, because it isn’t a reduction in gas taxes, it doesn’t weaken any incentives for fuel conservation or efficiency: All workers get $50 to soften the blow of higher gas prices, but the less fuel they use, the more money they save. And third, the relief provides the greatest relative help to lower-income workers who need gas to commute and feel the price pinch the hardest.
I have to assume our Colberly’s head has just popped. What Mr. Klain has proposed is the exact danger many have warned about regarding the use of SS as a means to make up for what is a major functional problem of our current economy: lack of share of income to the masses.

I have pointed out many times that we can not make up for the $1.1 to $1.4 trillion per year of income no longer in the hands of the 99% that is in the hands of the 1% with tax reductions. It can not be done. With that fact, considering taxation reduction in any form as a method to address this specific issue is nothing more than the continuation of the false economy that financialization created as observed from the position of those in the labor part of the economy. It quite literally is the government now using the mathematical gymnastics pioneered by Wall Street to trick the masses into believing that home equity was the same as earned income. Getting a tax cut anywhere is not the same as receiving a greater share of the nation’s income.  It is money, by the way, that you are more than justified to receive because you helped to create it. The rich used to have an opportunity to relearn this lesson every time there was a major strike, say the NY City trash collectors going on strike.
People, I hope we have learned that one’s home, your house has a more important roll to play in your life other than that of asset appreciation. The home is one of the foundations used to reduce the risk of living, of having a life: shelter. Social Security is another one of those life’s risk reducing foundations: longevity. I have asked often here: How many times to do we have to relearn a lesson?
Using SS as a means to offset the results created over the long term from bad policy is the polluting of a very good policy. We can look at the housing crisis as another already experienced pollution. The good policy was promoting home ownership. The bad policy was setting up an economy that changed the perception of home ownership from a life risk reduction activity to an asset building activity. Now that SS has been used once as a solution to an unrelated problem and extended once in a manor that moves it further from the original purpose (reduction of risk of living), with Mr. Klain’s proposal, the use of SS as a back stop for non-related policy results has become an unquestioned and considered reasonable use.
Mr. Klain’s proposal so exemplifies what our politico’s now consider acceptable for SS’s use that he even proposes to pay for it via a general funding solution: 
The plan could be almost entirely paid for with a modest, no-loopholes surcharge on corporate taxes on profit derived from the higher gas prices. The administration would be able to avoid pejorative terms such as “windfall” or “excess” profit tax, because the tax is neither confiscatory nor punitive. With higher gas prices, oil companies will make record profit — and a partial surcharge will still leave that profit at record high levels. In other words, the plan isn’t vulnerable to suggestions of creeping, soak-the-rich redistribution. It would leave in place all incentives for oil companies to increase production, do more research and development, and explore alternative fuels. But a modest surcharge would help fund at least a partial pocketbook protection program to make sure the cost of the oil companies’ gain isn’t excessive pain for the rest of us.
Just to be clear, that Mr. Klain proposes using SS for anything other than SS is the problem. The only difference in such action compared to the housing crisis which was tied to the removal of specific banking regulation is that it took us 10 year or so to experience the warning of Senator Byron Dorgan.

For those warning about the proverbial slippery slope phenomenon of using SS as a back stop for bad policy results leading to furthering the destruction of SS, it’s only been about 3 years since this application of SS first became a reality. This use is now acceptable. Social Security has now officially been changed from a purpose specific funded program to an general revenue program.  The establishment is so comfortable within this frame of use for SS we get a proposal such as Mr. Klain’s.   We also have on the record a warning in the vein of Senator Dorgan’s  from Senator Harkin:
“This Congress will be making a grave mistake — a grave mistake — and reinforcing a dangerous precedent,” Harkin said in a dramatic Senate floor speech late Thursday.
Mr. Klain freely proposing another application of a SS tax cut is proof of the truth to Senator Harkin’s warning.  The precedent stands.  It is “codified”.   And, with this precedent the conservative/monied movement has neutralized another barrier protecting SS and it’s status as the end-all be-all of the New Deal: the Democratic Party.
The Movement has also successfully completed the instillation of it’s virus known as Financialization into the nervous system of our government. Social Security no longer thinks as the mind of one living in a labor economy; as the 99%.  It thinks as the mind of one living in a money from money economy; as the 1%.

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I’ll Believe in the Tea Baggers if Tamyra Gets the Signatures

Tamyra d’Ippolito has suddenly become a Very Important Person.

She needs signatures primarily in Indian’s Eighth District (currently represented by Brad Ellsworth, who would be the Party’s pick to replace Evan Bayh), Evansville, and Terre Haute. She has a background to make a Tea Partier proud:

I was born in Worthington, Indiana and raised in Linton. Currently, I live in Bloomington. I was raised an only child with a single, hard-working mother who “retired” from General Electric as a factory worker.

I attended college at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, receiving my degrees in Graphic Design and Photography. The United States government financed my education with federal grants.

In 1981, jobs were limited in Indiana so I moved to Houston, Texas and worked for over 3 years at Foley’s, an advertising agency, as a Production Artist. At 25, I moved to New York City where I lived for the next 20 years. I worked on Wall Street for Salomon Smith Barney and later for Lehman Brothers. While in NYC I picked up another degree at the New York Film Academy in Filmmaking….

When I returned to Indiana, I was chosen by the Linton Rotary to go with a team to the country of Brazil. We were Ambassadors of the USA and traveled to 6 different cities. In Indiana, I became involved with World Learning. I worked as a Regional Director with World Learning in Indiana, Boston, and New York City

However, since moving to Indiana I have had no health insurance. I was diagnosed with colon cancer five years ago giving me a pre-existing condition. Additionally, I own a small business. Those two obstacles make insurance very expensive and unattainable. As a cancer survivor and small business owner, health reform is an issue that directly affects me like many Indiana residents.

I own and operate the Ragazzi Arte Cafe in Bloomington. I also founded the Poor Club,, after meeting many people who are in need. Our mission is to bring awareness and education to the fact that poverty is prevalent in Indiana and I want to make a change for the better.

I am a past board member of Women Inspire, I am also a member of PSI XOTA, a philanthropic sorority. Some of my accomplishments are Leadership Bloomington Graduate of 1995 and City of Bloomington Citizens’ Academy Graduate in 2008. I also serve on the Volunteers in Medicine Advisory Board.

Right now, the Democratic Party (having been royally screwed by its current Senator) is hoping that Tammy doesn’t get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, which would enable them to pick someone without bothering with a primary.

But here’s a small business owner, someone who earned things and is quite aware of “from where it is that I come from.”

In short, an ideal candidate from outside of the Establishment—but one who comes naturally without having to build a third party. And someone who—as a small-business owner—knows very well what works and what doesn’t.

If the Tea Party people endorse her, then I’ll take them seriously. If they avoid her because she would have to run with a (D) next to her name, then that will tell us everything we need to know about whether they are Astroturf.

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