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Fifth, would the middle-class tax increases, end of unemployment insurance and the abrupt end of the payroll tax holiday programmed for the end of January risk cutting into the main lines of consumer spending, business profits and economic growth?  Yes, over time it would.  But the effects in the first few weeks will be minimal, and Congress could act on these matters separately, with a clean bill either before the end of the year or early in the new one.

-- James K. Galbraith

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Obama's Fiscal Politics: Snatching Defeat out of the Jaws of Victory
When it comes to the fiscal cliff, the president is in a superb tactical position. Why is he making concessions before he has to?

President Obama, to his great credit, has drawn a bright line. Taxes have to revert to the rates that were in effect before Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent.

This is crucial because the less the very rich pay, the more others have to pay either in the form of less tax relief for the bottom 98 percent or on program cuts like Social Security and Medicare.

Or has he drawn that line?

Sanders Says Simpson-Bowles Must Not Shape Deficit Debate

WASHINGTON - November 28 -
With Congress and the White House in the midst of deficit negotiations, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today called on colleagues to reject proposals by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Erskine Bowles that would hurt working families and help the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations.

The Simpson-Bowles plan “will cause major economic pain to virtually every American while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and large corporations,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Sanders today also released a new Congressional Research Service study which undercuts a key Simpson-Bowles claim. They say lowering the top tax rate and reducing so-called tax expenditures like the popular home mortgage interest deduction would somehow yield $1.2 trillion in revenue. In fact, according to the study by the non-partisan research arm of Congress, the Simpson-Bowles tax plan could shave tax rates by no more than 2 percentage points and would not reduce the deficit.

Sanders has detailed his own proposals to cut unnecessary spending and increase revenue in order to lower deficits.

Fiscal Cliff Debate: Austerity One Way or Austerity Another Way
Published on Nov 28, 2012
Bill Black's Financial and Fraud Report on the current choices offered by President Obama and Congress
Why the Fiscal Cliff is a Scam
Published on Nov 29, 2012
James K. Galbraith: Is there a looming crisis of debt or deficits such that sacrifices in general are necessary?

Palestinians celebrate status upgrade at UN
Overwhelming majority of states vote to give Palestine non-member observer status, despite Israeli and US opposition.

"People here know that when they wake up on Friday they'll still be living under an Israeli occupation. They won't, for instance, be in control of their own borders," reported Nadim Baba from Ramallah, West Bank, amid deafening noise from ecstatic Palestinians.

"What they do hope is that when it comes to negotiations with Israel, the fact that Palestine might be able to refer Israeli officials to bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC) could put pressure on Israel to halt or slow down its settlement expansion."

With UN vote, bipartisan Senate group threatens cutoff of US aid, closing of PLO office

The measure, which the lawmakers plan to offer as an amendment to a far-reaching defense bill, would cut off assistance to the Palestinian Authority if they file charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. As a nonmember state in the U.N., the Palestinians could join the court and press war crime charges against Israel.
“We are committed, Democrats and Republicans, to using every means at our disposal to ensure that this U.N. General Assembly vote does not serve as a precedent for elevating the status of the PLO,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Any Signs of Life at Doha Climate Talks?
All governments participating in COP18 should put “people and the planet before the polluters and their profits”

Despite this, the United Nations climate talks in Doha (COP 18) threaten to be another round of brinkmanship between the so-called global north and south, developed and developing nations, with each waiting for the other to blink – and no one taking leadership.

Meanwhile, extreme weather events, the record Arctic sea ice melt and catastrophic warnings from unusual suspects continue to pile up like bits of Boardwalk in the wake of “Superstorm” Sandy.

COP 18 comes at the end of year that has seen the impacts of climate change hit hard around the world.

Speechless.  What used to be hyperbolic adjectives for some of the powers that be in this country are no longer hyperbolic.  I'll have to study up on the history and nuance of and synonyms for words like fascist and totalitarian because I think we are going to legitimately need those words a lot more for the forseeable future.  And (big) note here -- notice that the powers that be are going after both the left and the right here.  What could be more scary to the 1% than the tried and true tactic of divide and conquer via red/blue manipulation of the populace failing to work when the shock of their power and greed grab is so over the top, the boundaries so overstepped, that the real divide is laid bare and the man behind the curtain utterly exposed?
WSJ editors come out swinging in defense of indefinite detention of US citizens

If you are a regular reader of this blog you are probably someone the Wall Street Journal editorial page counts as member of the "anti-antiterror left" or the "tea party right," aka "rigid adherents" to the "libertarian approach to government." (We like to think of ourselves as people who respect the rule of law and not the rule of men, and therefore support the WSJ's right to be completely wrong about many, many things, including what and who we are. Free speech!)

In a screaming editorial entitled "The Tea Party Goes to War: A left-right attempt to treat terror detainees like common criminals," the Journal takes aim at those among us who think that habeas corpus, fair trials and civilian courts are important enough to keep around when people (allegedly) do nasty things we don't like, even if we decide to call those people Terrorists or "enemy combatants."
It's a good thing that the people who wrote the Bill of Rights didn't take that view. Rule of law and not of men exists precisely because phrases like "to the detriment of American citizens" mean wildly different things to different people. Many of us do indeed feel unsafe living under a government that asserts it has the right to throw us in a military brig without charge or trial, indefinitely, based on secret "evidence" -- even if we aren't the ones who wake up from a forced drug-induced nap in a cold and desolate solitary cell.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues

Little Feat- Time Loves a Hero


Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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