Carl Davidson at In These Times a writes wait-just-a-dang-minute-here piece with regards to—Flipping the House:
With Congressional elections in 2014, it’s time we get serious about electoral politics. Strategic decisions must be made, resources assembled, alliances forged and forces deployed in the most critical terrains.The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times states—Congress should give negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program more time to bear fruit:
No progressive measures will see the light of day until the right-wing cabal in Congress is crushed at the polls. This is not to say it will be easy or that all Democrats are sweetness and light. People are not energized by “neoliberalism lite.” But we have to start somewhere in getting the spanner out of the works and the boots of the super-rich off our necks. To defeat as many Republicans as we can in the next round is a fine place to begin.
The first difficulties to overcome will be internal. The Democratic Party is not a unified force. In Congress, they divide into major clusters, from the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on the left, then proceeding rightward through the Old New Dealers backed by the AFL-CIO and Campaign for America’s Future, to the Clintonite New Democrats, to the shrinking Blue Dogs.
But the fault line here is between the Democratic advocates of global and finance capital, and everyone else. This is nowhere clearer than in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is part of the problem, not the solution.
With exquisitely bad timing, a group of House members is urging the Senate to approve new sanctions against Iran in the middle of negotiations on a deal in which the Islamic Republic would suspend its nuclear program. [...]Michael Hirsch at The Atlantic claims that Elizabeth Warren is Not Ready for Prime Time as the Democrats' 2016 presidential candidate:
The House members argue that because existing sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, "the threat of enhanced sanctions holds the promise of compelling Iran to give up its ambitions." But that threat will exist whether this legislation is enacted or not. The question is whether rushing to institute new sanctions at this time would undermine the delicate negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5-plus-1 — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.
Gutsy, smart, and hyper-articulate, Elizabeth Warren is quickly becoming the voice of progressivism in Washington. Along with departing regulator Gary Gensler, Warren probably did more than anyone in Washington to bulk up Dodd-Frank from its rather flimsy beginnings and turn it into a financial-reform law with some weight. She also speaks out eloquently for the beleaguered middle class and on the deeper problem of income inequality.More pundits can be found below the fold
But the idea that somehow this growing reputation translates into a competitive bid for the 2016 presidential nomination—The New Republic recently suggested on its cover that Warren represents the "soul" of the Democratic Party more than Hillary Clinton—is pretty over the top.
John Judis at The New Republic fumes—If You Believe in Government, You Should Be Furious About Obamacare's Incompetent Rollout—A fiasco that could haunt progressives for years to come:
Tennis players make a distinction between forced and unforced errors. President Obama’s failure to provide sufficient funds in 2009 to boost employment was a forced error – it’s unlikely he could have gotten a trillion-plus spending bill through Congress. But Obama’s failure to make good on the promise of the Affordable Care Act is an unforced error – and the public is unlikely to forgive or forget it.Eric Alterman at the Center for American Progress —A Bully Pulpit for Billionaires:
The magazine’s editors appear to believe that Michael Bloomberg was a virtually flawless mayor. To The Economist—whether in its opinion or news pages, a candidate who ran in opposition to Bloomberg’s legacy must be wrong in pretty much everything he promises or proposes, despite de Blasio’s incredible margin of victory. This bias remains unchanged, regardless of whether the available evidence supports it.The Editorial Board of Haaretz urges that the government—Stop the discriminatory East Jerusalem park plan:
Together, both pieces of the magazine’s feature take up 2,500 words. There is nary a column inch that offers a criticism of Bloomberg’s 12-year tenure as mayor or examines why voters might prefer anyone different. Has inequality exploded in New York in recent years? Yes, says The Economist—and that’s a good thing. “New York needs its plutocrats. The top 1% of its taxpayers fork out a whopping 43% of the income taxes; if they leave, public services will suffer.”
True, they would, but there is almost no reliable research to support the notion that they will leave.
Ultimately, this is a simple story. The state insists on establishing a grandiose park of dubious archaeological importance in the only area that can allow people living together in a densely crowded area a more reasonable life. But those people are not Jews, and that is enough for the state to see no reason to take their welfare and quality of life into consideration.A.B. Stoddard at The Hill writes—It may be all over for Obama:
The plan was indeed approved last week by the regional committee, but the “national park to dry up the neighborhoods of Isawiyah and A-Tur” is a project dictated from above - from the government, and particularly its leader. That is why Netanyahu is the one who must stop this injustice, and prevent the establishment of a park that will grow entirely from the seeds of discrimination.
President Obama's proposed policy "fix" may ultimately fix little in the mess the Affordable Care Act has created, but his concessions Thursday nonetheless made history. In an unprecedented admission, Obama not only owned up to failure — something he has never done — but he admitted to misleading congressional Democrats who are now being blamed for telling their constituents they could keep insurance plans they liked. [...]Jim Hightower at The Progressive writes—The Pope Shows Us How To Deal with Wall Street:
There's a lot "on" Obama now as Democrats scramble to distance themselves from his false promise, the failed website and the president himself in the wake of ObamaCare's frightful start. As a lame-duck president with approval ratings down in the danger zone and little prospect for a second-term agenda, Obama will soon find that unless the ACA's enrollment and popularity increase dramatically, he is all alone.
Many congress critters like to rise up on their hind legs and bellow that they're "tough on crime."Paul Krugman at The New York Times explains in A Permanent Slump? how a man whose actions are among the key reasons we're in the acute economic crisis we are in (as well as why we are in a chronic one) is now saying there may be no way out of the mess he helped create at no damage to his own wallet:
But they all seem to suffer from a genetic defect known as "Upper-Class Crime Exceptionitis." One symptom of UCCE is that lawmakers who take a hard line against common bank robbers, suddenly go flaccidly soft when it’s the bankers doing the robbing. We're presently witnessing an epidemic of UCCE in Washington's coddling of Wall Street's fraud-meisters. Hardly a month goes by without one or more of these royal bankers conceding that they've been systematically stealing people's homes, defrauding their own customers, doing illegal trades, laundering drug money, and so forth. [...]
So, does no one have a cure for this gross injustice? Well, there is one person our legislators might consult: Pope Francis! He's been in office for only six months, but he's already launched a clean-up of the corrupt Vatican bank and has proclaimed by word and deed that the moral standard for church officials—from bishops to bankers—is to be: Humility, modest living, and service (especially to the poor).
But what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?The Washington Post Editorial Board cheers because Ethanol takes policy blow from the Environmental Protection Agency:
You might imagine that speculations along these lines are the province of a radical fringe. And they are indeed radical; but fringe, not so much. A number of economists have been flirting with such thoughts for a while. And now they’ve moved into the mainstream. In fact, the case for “secular stagnation” — a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between — was made forcefully recently at the most ultrarespectable of venues, the I.M.F.’s big annual research conference. And the person making that case was none other than Larry Summers. Yes, that Larry Summers. [...]
Mr. Summers began with a point that should be obvious but is often missed: The financial crisis that started the Great Recession is now far behind us. Indeed, by most measures it ended more than four years ago. Yet our economy remains depressed.
ONCE TOUTED as a climate-friendly renewable alternative to foreign oil, the corn-based liquid ethanol has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake. Lured by federal subsidies, Midwestern farmers have devoted millions of acres to corn that might otherwise have been devoted to soil conservation or feed-grain production.
Meanwhile, a “dead zone” fed by fertilizer runoff spreads at the mouth of the Mississippi and production costs throughout the grain-dependent U.S. food industry rise. At the end of 2011, the ethanol industry lost a $6 billion per year tax-credit subsidy. And on Friday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered yet another policy defeat for ethanol – which is to say, a victory for common sense.
We refer to the EPA’s proposed cut in the amount of ethanol that the nation’s refiners must add to the fuel supply in 2014, from 18.15 billion gallons of ethanol called for in current law to a new target of 15 billion to 15.52 billion gallons.