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At the moment, HuffPost headlines, "WILL DEMS CAVE ON SOCIAL SECURITY?"

Pundits summarize, Democrats won't "give on entitlements" and Republicans won't increase taxes. As if it's all just a poker game and the details are of no concern!

That frame is spent. It's a loser mentality, imprecise to such a maximal degree that it's false.

Americans believe in Social Security. We want it.  So say that.

If the budget needs changing change something but no voters want to reduce Social Security. And politicians will not be measured on if they "caved" or not or what accounting gimmicks are utilized in the budget but on the details. We care about the details.

Americans of both parties, in every state, in cities and in rural regions, have affirmed over and over again that Social Security and Medicare are national assets, valuable, worth paying for and treasured as money well saved and well spent. It's upon that premise that if and when adjustments are necessary to raise funding or benefits then it's the responsibility of the government, both parties, with data and recommendations from their supporting organizations - the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Social Security and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for Medicare - to make whatever changes are required for healthy, sustainable functioning.

The economy, the population, and demographics will always change but that requires adjustments in the overall budget and other priorities, not the foundational commitments the entire nation shares.

If, as is being implied in the reporting and framing, the long term deficit trends indicate some adjustments must be made in the accounting, funding, benefits, of other budget priorities to meet legislative obligations then Congress is on point to legislate solutions. No dilution of the programs can pass unnoticed; no cuts will be acceptable. Strengthen the fiscal health of the overall budget that responsibly administers for and to the people.

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The White House released this press statement a few hours ago announcing that the TPP is on track for a year end completion. It is a followup to bobswern's terrific diary today on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 08, 2013
Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders Statement

We, the Leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce today that our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets.  We have agreed that negotiators should now proceed to resolve all outstanding issues with the objective of completing this year a comprehensive and balanced, regional agreement that achieves the goals we established in Honolulu in 2011, ensures the benefits of the agreement are fully shared, and takes into account the diversity of our levels of development.

A final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.  The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.

We see the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with its high ambition and pioneering standards for new trade disciplines, as a model for future trade agreements and a promising pathway to our APEC goal of building a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.  We are encouraged by the growing interest in this important negotiation and are engaging with other Asia-Pacific countries that express interest in the TPP regarding their possible future participation.

Stakeholders across the region have provided valuable input to TPP negotiating teams both on-site at rounds and in our respective countries.  As we work to conclude these negotiations, we will further intensify consultations with stakeholders to craft a final agreement that appropriately addresses the interests of our citizens. We look forward to review and consideration of the outcome of our work, consistent with each of our domestic processes.

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Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM PDT

Breaking - US Coastal Real Estate Market

by kck

If you're purchasing a family residence, vacation home, condo, rental property or a real estate investment on the beach today don't you want to know if the property will be gone in 50, 60, or 80 years? If you signed and closed yesterday without disclosure, will you sue?

Are sellers, developers, appraisers, bankers, brokers, mortgage lenders, contractors, insurers, and residential and commercial litigators doing due diligence for impacted zip codes?

For instance, here's 540 multiple listings of Key West, Florida real estate for sale today. Will these sellers disclose the limited lifespans of their properties in their mandatory sellers disclosure statements required for all Florida real estate transactions? Nothing to see in the MLS's... It will be interesting to review the comps.

State laws mandate that real estate sellers provide prospective buyers written disclosures for all material or structural defects and natural hazards such as flood zones, areas subject to unusual flood risks, fire hazards, wild fires, or land slides. Surely if the property is predicted to be underwater in 60 years falls under this law. In fact, Florida has something called a Natural Hazards Disclosure law that seems to be overdue for an update to include being submerged underwater!

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This is either the worst plot ever to encourage progressives, a flat out lie, or Gene Sperling has way too much time on his hands.  

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Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 03:05 PM PDT

Rebuke John Sununu's Racism

by kck

Americans do have standards and values so when viewing TV/cable these standards should be respected. We shouldn't be spoon fed frank, fanatical racism without being called out for what it is. John Sununu is free to be a fanatical bigot, belligerently so, if he wishes, in the same way passersby are free to speak at the risk of their profanity being over heard. To a point. However, whenever John Sununu speaks on the air or to the public his racism should be called out. Since Sununu is deployed by Mitt Romney to appeal to the basist of the Republican base, to convey Romney's messaging, Mitt Romney should be called out too.

Here is only the latest in a legacy of Sununu's insulting Americans with no diect objections or rebukes.

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Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 12:50 PM PDT

NYT Falsely Claimed Ivins Anthrax Killer

by kck

In today's New York Times International Herald Tribune, Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, considers the modern “Living in the Era of Megaterror.” In this article Graham falsely claimed that federal employee Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax killings that terrorized the U.S. in 2001.

Today, how many people can a small group of terrorists kill in a single blow? Had Bruce Ivins, the U.S. government microbiologist responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, distributed his deadly agent with sprayers he could have purchased off the shelf, tens of thousands of Americans would have died. Had the 2001 “Dragonfire” report that Al Qaeda had a small nuclear weapon (from the former Soviet arsenal) in New York City proved correct, and not a false alarm, detonation of that bomb in Times Square could have incinerated a half million Americans.
The statement I emboldened is false.
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If Jamie Dimon can achieve much higher valuations for Chase and "potentially release tens of billions of value to his shareholders" then why hasn't he done it?

Shelia Bair (bio) has been vocal since she retired from chairing the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) and last month called for the breakup of of J.P. Morgan Chase saying it would be good for shareholders and taxpayers.

...banks of the size and complexity of J.P. Morgan Chase, Citi (C), and Bank of America (BAC) are just too difficult to manage, even for talented managers like Dimon. Whatever economies the megabanks achieve from their size are more than offset by the challenges in managing trillion-dollar institutions that are into trading, market making, investment banking, derivatives, and insurance, in addition to the core business of taking deposits and making loans. This is one of the reasons why, even before the crisis, their shares performed more poorly than those of the well-managed regional banks, and continue to do so.

Given the poor shareholder returns, why are these unstable behemoths allowed to exist? There is the perception that the government will not let them fail. Also, their size and complexity protect them from market pressure, and shareholder activists with a mind to break up the big banks are stymied by the megabanks' complex web of thousands of legal entities.

In Washington no one is seriously discussing breaking up the big banks. That said, the best chance of restraining these giants is the hugely important regulatory reform, now being implemented by the FDIC and the Fed, that forces the banks to produce "living wills." These rules require that big banks map their business lines to their legal entities. So, for instance, Chase and others would have to identify the legal entities that support their investment-banking operations, their trading and brokerage activities, their commercial and retail lending, and so forth. The idea is to have a credible breakup plan in place if they get into trouble.

Maybe Dimon hasn't maximized returns because he's out of control of a TBTF. After all, TBTF is probably equivalent to TBTSucceed.

As for Bair, she's joining Paul Volcker and Brooksley Born and stepping to the plate at the nexus of advocacy and leadership to oversee the overseers.

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It's not personal, Mrs. Romney. When consultants and strategists criticize your husband and his policies and his lame attempt to use you to deflect questions about the economy, it's really not personal criticism of you. It is Mitt Romney who said that he gets insights from you about what women care most about regarding the economy and economic issues. So, Rosen is right to question your depth and breadth of experience in representing the economic interests of American women.    

Democrats will continue to criticize your husband's weaknesses so please don't take it personally, this will be a long, vigorous campaign.

Rosen was right. She was not insulting stay-at-home moms when she made a cogent rejection of your husband's policies around the recession and his campaign strategy of using you to appeal to women voters.

Women voters don't want to be shuffled off to the candidate's wife with questions about the economy. You're a lovely woman and a wonderful mother and I'm sure you're a strong ally and sounding board for your husband. But women voters are not looking for "compassion". Americans want to know your husband understands the challenges we're all facing.  Men and women are insisting on effective, sustainable growth strategies, economic policies that will not harm American families while the nation navigates these terribly vulnerable economic times of high unemployment, inequities, and national and global deleveraging and rebalancing.  

It's really not about you.

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Where does Rick Santorum get his wild ideas? Well, maybe from Christian Zionist, dominionist, Texas megachurch, megamillionaire, Pastor John Haggee whose Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conferences Santorum has attended in 2007 and spoken at in 2008.

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM PST

PBS: Slavery By Another Name

by kck

Watch The Bricks We Stand On on PBS. See more from Slavery by Another Name.

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HHS and DOJ recovered a record $4.1 billion last year!

Kudos to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Medicare is a core element in our social infrastructure, critically important to all Americans, and one we will ardently and relentlessly defend against the forces of austerity waiting in the wings for 2013. This kind of good news proves Medicare can, and is, effectively managed which deserves recognition. Hopefully even more can be done in 2012.  

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Can McKinsey & Co. or Bain really fix the US Government?

Mitt Romney told the Wall Street Journal last week that if he is elected President, he will "probably" hire McKinsey, the management-consulting firm, to tell him how to reorganize the government. "I'm not kidding," he said, tactfully adding that it might be another management-consulting firm such as Bain (where Romney worked for years and where he got rich) or the Boston Consulting Group. Or he just might call on Jack Welch, who retired years back as CEO of General Electric but has yet to be replaced in the Lee Iacocca Chair as America's semiofficial Business God.
Michael Kinsley wrote that in Time Magazine on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007. It's a good read.

Today the WSJ tallied up a mixed set of results from Romney's stint at Bain.

The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain's involvement and shortly afterward.

Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost.

Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors—yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

Some of those companies, too, later ran into trouble. Of the 10 businesses on which Bain investors scored their biggest gains, four later landed in bankruptcy court.


Mitt Romney's history and pride in Bain raise a character question, but also a national strategic issue and begs the question if he knows how to govern in a democracy, one we all want to thrive and grow. Mitt Romney sometimes falsely refers to himself as a venture capitalist, an investment banker, or an entrepreneur. He's none of these. He was a demolition guy. Romney was a corporate raider - a private equity/leveraged buyout (PE/LBO) champion - who was as well compensated by the losses as by the wins. Romney risked none of his own money and raided corporate assets, pension funds, debt, and government insurance with no other goal than running the company into the ground.
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