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Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes about a recent upending of conventional wisdom in Liberty, Equality, Efficiency:

It’s widely known that income inequality varies a great deal among advanced countries. In particular, disposable income in the United States and Britain is much more unequally distributed than it is in France, Germany or Scandinavia. It’s less well known that this difference is primarily the result of government policies. Data assembled by the Luxembourg Income Study (with which I will be associated starting this summer) show that primary income — income from wages, salaries, assets, and so on — is very unequally distributed in almost all countries. But taxes and transfers (aid in cash or kind) reduce this underlying inequality to varying degrees: some but not a lot in America, much more in many other countries.

So does reducing inequality through redistribution hurt economic growth? Not according to two landmark studies by economists at the International Monetary Fund, which is hardly a leftist organization. The first study looked at the historical relationship between inequality and growth, and found that nations with relatively low income inequality do better at achieving sustained economic growth as opposed to occasional “spurts.” The second, released last month, looked directly at the effect of income redistribution, and found that “redistribution appears generally benign in terms of its impact on growth.”

In short, [LBJ chief economic adviser Arthur] Okun’s big trade-off doesn’t seem to be a trade-off at all. Nobody is proposing that we try to be Cuba, but moving American policies part of the way toward European norms would probably increase, not reduce, economic efficiency.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post belatedly discovers that the Republican Party is in disarray. He writes At CPAC, a Grand Old Free-for-all:
The notion of “civil war,” often used to describe the clash between the Republican establishment and the tea party, implies a conflict with identifiable sides. In reality, the GOP condition is more of a free-for-all.

The annual CPAC gathering, conservatism’s trade show, provides a snapshot of the anarchy:

The group’s much-celebrated straw poll of presidential candidates listed no fewer than 26 prospective contenders on the ballot this year—a sign of just how fractured the party is in advance of 2016.

Robert Samuelson at The Washington Post whines about the very modest cuts at the Pentagon in Defunding defense:
The United States’ military retrenchment won’t make China’s leaders less ambitious globally. (China plans a 12 percent increase in military spending for 2014; at that pace, spending would double in six years.) Nor will it dampen Iran’s aggressiveness and promote a negotiated settlement over its nuclear program. Probably the reverse. Diplomacy often fails unless backed by a credible threat of force.
More excerpts from pundits can be found below the fold

Sarah Jaffe at In These Times writes With new strategies, the Working Families Party is shaking up the two-party system:

As public discontent with mainstream Democrats builds, is it possible for a third party to grow—not by running a famous big name on a presidential ticket, but from the bottom up? And if it succeeds at that task, can Working Families pull national politics back in the direction of ordinary people and away from the 1%?

In the states of Connecticut, New York and Oregon, the Working Families Party relies on “fusion voting” in order to hold a slot on the ballot. Fusion voting, operative in eight states, allows a candidate to be simultaneously endorsed by multiple parties; New Yorkers could vote for Bill de Blasio, for example, on either the Democratic or the WFP ballot line. This allows voters to express support not just for the candidate but for the party’s ideals, without the party acting as “spoiler,” a charge often leveled at minor parties. Cross-endorsing big-name candidates can help the party draw votes, allowing it to meet the minimum vote threshold to stay on the ballot in the next election without a time-consuming petition process. Having that slot in turn means the party can—although it rarely does— run its own independent candidates, counting on voters to support them because they know and like the WFP.


Sadhbh Walshe
at The Guardian writes This year a slave: 3 out of every 1,000 humans are still trafficked. Let's fix that:
Just the other night, in the year 2014, Steve McQueen got up there on stage, accepted the trophy for Best Picture, and closed the Oscars with these simple words:

Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.
And of those 21 million people, around 1.5 million modern slaves are hiding in plain sight – and in the advanced democracies of North America and the European Union, no less. Steve McQueen is right to insist that we do not avert our eyes. [...]

To understand why traffickers can operate successfully in a country like America, where the legal system is not (theoretically) on their side, you have to look at the collective vulnerability of their victims. In his op-ed, [the CEO of Polaris Project, Bradley]
Myles describes “modern slavery” as praying on the women and girls who are lured against their will into the commercial sex trade, or the farm workers, domestic workers and factory workers who are induced through force, fraud or coercion into working work long hours in terrible conditions for little or no pay.

David Dayen at The New Republic writes This Is the Fed's Most Brazen and Least Known Handout to Private Banks:
Rarely does a day go by when some House Republican doesn’t demand an end to Federal Reserve funding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). But you will never hear about the Fed’s direct subsidy to private banks that costs over three times as much as the total CFPB budget.

The subsidy comes in the form of a 6 percent dividend, paid on stock that over 2,900 banks purchase to participate in the Federal Reserve system. Very few places where ordinary Americans park their money offer such a risk-free benefit. In 2012 (the last year with available data), the Fed gave away $1.637 billion in dividends to banks, tax-free in the majority of cases. And the Fed has been doing this for the last 100 years. It’s one of the many unknown ways the Fed extends special benefits to Wall Street. [...]

There aren’t other industries where the businesses own stock in the agency that regulated them—and receive a dividend payout from that agency. And it’s not like the stock purchase doesn’t already come with perks. Member banks receive a vote for the board of directors for the regional Reserve Banks who regulate them. The 6 percent dividend is like a cherry on top.

Lisa Wirtham at The Denver Post writes Mind the Gap:
As the income gap continues to grow, the mobility that's supposed to offset that inequality is eroding. The odds that children born in Denver's bottom 20 percent will make it into the top 20 percent of earners by the time they're adults is just 8.7 percent, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project.

And while the study showed that overall mobility in the United States remained stable during the last half of the 20th century, a more nuanced look reveals disturbing trends. First, the ability to move up the income ladder in the U.S. varies widely by geographic regions, and a closer look at the differences between them shows the areas of highest income inequality also have the least upward mobility.

Second, much of America's income inequality came from gains made at the very top of the income ladder, where there's traditionally very little mobility. So when the rich get richer (and even when the poorest get poorer), we don't see a huge impact on mobility.

When the middle class collapses, however, we have a bigger problem. Although the lack of mobility for the poorest children remains depressingly consistent, mobility for working-class children on the next rung up—or the second fifth of income distribution — decreased as income inequality grew.

Debra Saunders at the San Francisco Chronicle writes about "crafty" Rep. Elijah Cummings The silence of the tax lamb:
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi later tweeted that Issa's "decision to silence a fellow Member of Congress was outrageous and disrespectful." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank denounced Issa for falling below "today's low standard of civility in Congress."

Issa exhibited shoddy manners. Worse, he lacked the discipline to not be baited by the crafty Cummings. Thus Issa handed the left an excuse to make him the issue when the IRS practice of going after the Tea Party cries out for public scrutiny. Lerner's refusal to answer questions, while it is the exercise of a constitutional right, should make all House members squirm.

Just what was Lerner doing on the taxpayer dime that she doesn't want to share?

The Editorial Board of The Blade of Toledo has concluded it's time to Kill the gerrymander:
The state commission charged with modernizing the Ohio Constitution is set to meet this week. The major task on its agenda remains proposing constitutional reforms to end the corrupt partisan gerrymandering that continues to steal the power of Ohioans’ votes.

The Republican elected officials who control state government have rigged the process of drawing district boundaries for Ohio’s congressional delegation and General Assembly to ensure their party’s dominance well into the next decade. An example of this anti-democratic conduct: In 2012, Ohio voters gave GOP candidates 51 percent of votes cast in U.S. House elections. But because of the way the lines are fixed, Republicans hold 75 percent of Ohio’s House seats—12 out of 16.

Ohio needs a better method of political districting to represent all voters fairly and equally. The first step in that process is removing it from the unchecked control of either party. [...]

Two years ago, Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal that would have created an independent commission to propose new ways to draw political districts, largely on the assurances of elected officials and interest groups that the constitutional modernization commission was better suited to that task.

Commission members will soon show whether voters made the right decision — or whether the commission represents another obstacle to reform.

Greg Palast at Truthdig writes Brains Lost in Mail—Postal Bank Bunkum:
Payday loans, like rats and cops with tasers, are a fact of ghetto life. The desperate poor sign over their paychecks in advance to some sleazy loan-shark who charges “vigorish” (interest) that can eat a third of the paycheck. It’s sickening – and in several states, it’s a crime.

But crime pays: The Post Office projects it can suck $8.9 billion a year from America’s poorest if they can just get into this payday loan racket.

America’s big banks also lust for a payday pound of flesh. But they are barred from this kind of sick-o predatory lending by the federal consumer protection regulations promoted by … Liz Warren.

Yet, under a new Post Office plan endorsed by this same Liz Warren, the P.O. would team up with commercial banks to cash in on payday predation, exempting themselves from the Warren rules.

Are you confused? Surely the senator is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Two types of people at CPAC (21+ / 0-)

    Nutjobs.
    People grifting the nutjobs.

    "Drudge: soundslike sludge, islike sewage."
    (-7.25, -6.72)

    by gougef on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:33:30 AM PDT

  •  We have met the enemy...and he is us.... (9+ / 0-)

    http://www.redstate.com/...

    Paul Ryan blows it again.

  •  GOP in disarray? (13+ / 0-)

    If so, then why do they still control the narrative and all policy debates. Democrats should be so lucky to be in "disarray," yet still hold all the cards.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:35:59 AM PDT

    •  Why? (7+ / 0-)

      Because the narrative isn't partisan, it's ideological, and as well as the Republicans, the critical mass of the Dem Party leadership adheres to the same ideological principles:  the supremacy of markets and private capital, rugged individualism, and American Exceptionalism.  Enough to make them hegemonic.  Counter-hegemonic narratives by definition are likely to draw less attention, to be dismissed as extremism, or CT, or purism, or even, hilariously, ideological.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

      by ActivistGuy on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:41:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, This. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude, Laconic Lib

        The GOP raises money and fields candidates, but there are a LOT of conservative money organizations, and they also back candidates.

        It's great the GOP has issues, but they're only one piece of the problem.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:05:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm in complete agreement (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laconic Lib

        and that's why Denise Oliver Velez's diary bugs me so much. Fall in line. On economic issues, that line largely includes all my political enemies, why do I want to get in that line?

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:41:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's delusional to think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pajoly, diffrntdrummr, Laconic Lib

      that the party that controls most of the governorships and state legislatures, as well as the House of Representatives and, de facto, the Senate is the party that's in trouble.
        The Republican factions may not be in agreement on things but their voters are highly motivated and turn out. The average Pub voter has never heard of CPAC.

  •  Yet Another Astounding Electoral victory (5+ / 0-)

    for Kim Jong Un!

    This is so frustrating..what's his secret?

  •  Yet the media covers their every move (12+ / 0-)

    And that is the problem.  Disarray ... yes.  Disgusting ... yes. Getting air time ... yes.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:40:03 AM PDT

  •  Here's another question (21+ / 0-)

    Anyone ever notice how many bytes and how much ink is spilled over CPAC? I read about in spades in every political blog site -- liberal or conservative -- as well as CNN, MSNBC, et al.

    When was the last time you read ANYTHING ANYWHERE about a gathering of progressives?

    The entire country is fixated on conservatives and the entire Democratic media and political establishment lives in reactionary mode to it. I understand this to a certain extent, but it is a major problem. Own the narrative and you own the present and lay the foundation for what's next.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:52:33 AM PDT

    •  I should have added a potential solution (7+ / 0-)

      FUCKING IGNORE THEIR GATHERINGS.

      Let FOX participate in their circle jerk all by themselves. Just stop giving them the gdamned microphone everytime they open their mouths.

      If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?

      I don't mean do not fight them, but that is not the same as amplifying their every utterance.

      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

      by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:02:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  GOP filled with provocateurs...always dependable (6+ / 0-)

      to say something outrageous.....Broun...King...Gohmert...Bachmann...Boehner...Palin...Cruz.....the list goes on and on.

      •  Yes, but only because they know its rewarded (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skillet, tb mare, whl, a2nite

        More Democrats need to have children so they will understand how that whole "don't acknowledge a remnant" thing works. Or since Liberals and Progressives like to fancy themselves as intellectuals, familiarize yourselves with Pavlov.

        Respond to a tantrum in ANY way and you've already lost.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:07:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Was thinking the same thing (5+ / 0-)

      but I think a lot of this is just show biz. CPAC is a genuine freak show. Plenty of material there for everyone in the media.

    •  This is the first year (12+ / 0-)

      not feeling pissed off that CPAC is widely publicized. I know the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but the soundbites played of CPAC this year was all negative over the top rhetoric finished off with the extremely distasteful Palin spouting her mean girl word salad. Yes, it annoys me to no end that equal fanfare isn't given to NN, especially as the contrast would be incredible - thoughtful panels discussing real issues/solutions vs. irrational hate - but seeing the nuttiness of pandering to the extreme may be a real eyeopener to the average Joe.

    •  It's about sound bytes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whl, Heart of the Rockies

      CPAC provides endless sound bytes and videos of people saying stupid things.
      You don't find that at progressive gatherings.
      I did see quite a lot of Tweets about a gathering of progressives and Democrats in California this weekend that looked very well attended.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:54:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah. Tweets. (4+ / 0-)

        No offense intended, but that's the choir singing to its parishioners.

        Anything beyond tweets? I'm in the tech space. I don't tweet or read tweets (unless they are cut and pasted elsewhere). I'm pretty sure I'm reflective of the vast majority of the population on that one.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:05:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's also about funding. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whl, Stude Dude, a2nite

        Putting on an event the size of CPAC takes 10s of millions of dollars.

        Conservatives hold hundreds of these events every year. Yes, they are mostly smaller than CPAC, but the total runs will into the billions.

        This is an area where conservative money just completely overruns the field.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:12:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ..and that fact is just awful and true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LS Dem

          I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

          by pajoly on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:37:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tens of millions? (0+ / 0-)

          I think you should probably  research that a bit.
          Regular attendees paid $250, veterans $150 and students $50.
          An estimated crowd number was 11,000, let's use a nice round 10,000, because there were more media in some of those rooms than there were attendees (and I'm sure media had to pay for tickets, but we'll concentrate on the "real conservatives").
          Let's say 6500 were regular attendees- that's 1.6 million dollars. We'll take the remaining 3500 and split evenly between veterans and students, so that's another $350,000, so you're talking almost $2 million in registration fees alone. The booths are paid for by the companies that sponsor them, and booths were going for $4000 each.
          Tens of millions in costs? I don't think so.

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

          by skohayes on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:43:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Working Families Party in New York State (7+ / 0-)

    Does in fact often run their own progressive candidates.
    They do it in Democratic primaries.

    •  Interests diverge (0+ / 0-)

      The opponents to democratic rules changes that would make third party (and 5th party for that matter) viable are more largely in the Democratic leadership.  They know full well what would happen to their positions and power if there was a real answer to the question, "where're they going to go?"  There is a real difference between the interests of the Party and the interests of a substantial portion of its office holders.

  •  Food Security & civiliz collapse - Lester Brown (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    a speech in Seattle on a book tour about this problem

    need drastic reduction in carbon in atmosphere for food production

    need to reduce population

    video of speech from Pirate TV, an independent video service in Seattle and shown on Free Speech TV and Link TV where I found them. Lots of excellent videos.

    Lester Brown been an important person in the env movement

    https://archive.org/...

  •  Thanks for the roundup, MB! (7+ / 0-)

    If gerrymandering ever ends, we'd have a chance to elect progressive politicians.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:19:41 AM PDT

  •  Mr. Samuelson, three points (9+ / 0-)

    1. What you describe is not diplomacy, but black tie blackmail.

    2. You have removed all doubt that you are an idiot.

    3. See #2.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:37:12 AM PDT

    •  Every time Samuelson taps his laptop (5+ / 0-)

      and composes a column he proves himself inept at economics.  Dean Baker at CEPR dissects every one of his columns and shows exactly how wrong, misleading or dishonest he is.  I don't know why the Post continues to print his drivel, except that it's the Post, and printing drivel is what they do.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:42:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every time Samuelson taps his laptop (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe

        an innocent, virgin angel dies in heaven, satan becomes more powerful than a speeding locomotive, and Michele Bachmann is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

        The above is a commercial free message displaying the same logic and wisdom that any Samuelson article contains.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:02:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FREEDOM! LIBERTY!! (9+ / 0-)

    Blah, blah, blah:
    A Louisiana DEMOCRAT introduced a bill that would:

    If a physician prescribes, dispenses, administers, or provides any drug or chemical to a pregnant woman for the purpose of inducing an abortion as defined in R.S. 40:1299.35.1, the physician shall report the abortion to the Department of Health and Hospitals as provided in R.S. 40:1299.35.10.
    http://www.bayoubuzz.com/...

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:01:54 AM PDT

  •  Not a huge issue, (6+ / 0-)

    but one we can beat the Republicans on:

    "In recent years, American public opinion has shifted rapidly in favor of legalizing marijuana....The shift has powered a wave of political victories for marijuana advocates, from the 20 states where medical marijuana is now legal to the unprecedented ballot measures legalizing the drug in Colorado and Washington in 2012. Three more states expect to put pot to a popular vote this year....What opposition remains is concentrated among Republicans. According to Gallup, only about a third of Democrats and independents now oppose legalization, compared to nearly two-thirds of Republicans. Opponents of legalization are also disproportionately elderly. The situation closely parallels the party's predicament on gay marriage, which most Republicans still oppose even as widening majorities of the broader public support it. It adds up to a quandary for the GOP: Should it embrace the unpopular position still disproportionately favored by its members and risk marginalization as a result? Or will the burgeoning conservative voices in favor of legalization win out? Simply put, do Republicans want to be on the losing side of yet another culture war?"
    http://www.theatlantic.com/...

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:05:43 AM PDT

    •  Do you read Forbes? The Republican libertarian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes

      wing is all in on marijuana legalization. They've already beaten the Dems to the punch on this. The Republicans won't lose any votes over legalization. I doubt that Dems will gain any.
        When it comes to same sex marriage, the problem is intensity of feeling. The public is increasingly tolerant of gay marriage, but they really don't care all that much. IOW, it isn't a big motivator as to voting behavior.
        Since the battle is pretty much being decided in the courts, there won't be much "hangover" in electoral politics. As same sex marriage gains acceptance, people who have intense feelings about it now will move on to other issues.

         

      •  With all due respect, (0+ / 0-)

        the Republican "libertarian wing" is a small subset of the party as a whole. They're libertarian on marijuana (remember the old adage, "A libertarian is just a republican who smokes pot"), and a few are more isolationist than the norm (Rand Paul seems to be making a go of this meme right now, and getting a lot of push back), but overall they are solid Republicans.
        The younger Republicans see legalization/decriminalization as an important issue, but the money boys aren't on board as of yet.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:48:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes the IRS again (13+ / 0-)

    The ex-employee, Lois Lerner "took the 5th" each time she was asked a question. Including the question when Daryl Issa asked her if she needed more time to prepare for questioning. I would probably do the same thing, if I didn't actually have any food handy to throw at Congressman Issa.

    The real travesty of this whole thing is that the IRS was told (in response to the Supreme court ruling) that it must write rules to determine whether organizations receiving tax exempt status were in fiction nonpolitical. Including organizations that include "Tea Party" in their names. This has been totally ignored by 95% of the media, but the obvious problem is that how on earth is any sentient person supposed to write a rule designed to determine that organizations entitled "Tea Party" are non-political ???

    You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.

    by mstep on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:06:26 AM PDT

    •  and....it's always prudent to be 'lawyered-up' (5+ / 0-)

      when appearing before an Issa Inquisition.

    •  Issa made it clear, even before the first (10+ / 0-)

      hearing of his committee, that he just knew criminality was involved in the way the IRS investigated conservative 501(c)(4) organizations and he was going to ferret it out.  I don't blame anyone in the IRS for taking the fifth in the face of such a threat - in fact, I don't know why anyone at the IRS would answer any question(s) from the committee.  Issa has turned the entire process into a witch hunt, and it seems that Lerner is his designated witch.  Hang in there, Lois.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:32:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lawrence O'Donnell has pointed out that (5+ / 0-)

      during the Eisenhower administration the executive branch changed the wording from exclusively non-political to primarily non-political.  How does a conscientious IRS employee determine the meaning of "primarily" in practice?

      I have not seen this very important issue discussed anywhere else.

      •  Not that big a problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rl en france

        The IRS code and regulations are full of rules like this. What they are normally interpreted as meaning is that a "de minimus" amount of the "forbidden" activity won't disqualify you. So if you go on a trip "primarily" for business purposes, the fact that you spend one evening at La Scala because you love opera won't disqualify the entire trip. And at a business lunch, you can ask about the spouse and kids, or the golf trip to Scotland, without making the meal a non-deductible personal expense.

        The alternative is "zero tolerance" rules that suspend 5-year-olds from school for having a picture of a toy soldier on their t-shirts or lunchbox. That's I presume why the rule got altered to allow some wiggle-room -- a good thing, IMO.

        For lay people this may seem like an insurmountable problem. But lawyers and tax people deal with this stuff every day, and it's not unworkable.

      •  Easy (0+ / 0-)

        The burden is not on the IRS. If an organization wants to be considered "primarily" non-political, it should change it's name to something that doesn't include "Tea Party" before it applies for tax-exempt status. The name of an organization should reference (or at least not contradict) it's stated primary purpose.

        You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.

        by mstep on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:10:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The law was written as "exclusively" (0+ / 0-)

        This is a heckuva lot easier to enforce than the very gray word "primarily" that wasn't in the original law as passed.

      •  You are right-on; I tried to to get word out on.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies

        ..this awhile back:

        Lawrence ODonnell alleged targeting of teabags today real IRS scandal was in 1959 Ezra Klein video republican effort to dirty up Democrats Obama for political gain
        In 1959 IRS changed the wording from exclusively to primarily when defining what constitutes 501(c)4  social welfare tax exempt organization:

        O’Donnell: The real IRS scandal happened in 1959

        The IRS is facing criticism after news broke that a Cincinnati branch targeted Tea Party-related groups with unequal scrutiny–but according to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, the real scandal happened long ago.

        Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code defines tax-exempt social welfare groups like this:
         

        Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

        In 1959, under the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, the meaning of this section was changed dramatically when the IRS decided the word “exclusively” could, in effect, be read as “primarily.”

        “For 54 years, the IRS has gotten away with the crime of changing the word ‘exclusively’ to ‘primarily,” said Lawrence O’Donnell on The Last Word  Monday. “The IRS took a hard, clear word like ‘exclusively’ and changed it into a soft word  ’primarily’ and then left it to the IRS agents to determine if your organization was primarily concerned  with the promotion of social welfare.”
         - emphasis added

        Add Citizens United on top of that and what was predicted has happened. An anonymous un accountable tool of political muscle favoring those with the most money.

        But:

        As Klein says, the IRS “must act in ways above reproach.” O’Donnell agrees with a balanced approach, but “if in 2010, there was a flood of Tea Party applications for tax exempt status and many fewer applications for tax exempt status from liberal political groups, then it only makes mathematical sense that more questions would be directed at Tea Party applications.”
        So since the IRS can't possibly  investigate or possibly audit all cases for tax abuse they use a system of tags (red flags). One of the most common tags for instance is the "home office" tag.

        It sure seems to me like a whole series of poor choices were made along the way and the original tax exempt provision for a genuinely good purpose of social welfare has been corrupted into a political tool.

        Corruption (loophole) - and Karl Rove and people like him are right there

         The last actual commisioner was Douglas Shulman (appointed by GWB) retired and with the republicans slashing funding and refusing Pres. Obama’s Appointments doesn’t help things

        I find every bit of the GOP outrage is more anger at having done to them  (allegedly) what they are supreme  at doing to others.

        That and they want desperately to dirty up the Dems. And the've never been picky about how to do it.

        Link to video with discussion: http://www.nbcnews.com/...

        My comment @ Daily Kos:
        http://www.dailykos.com/...
        Another short version of my comment @ Daily Kos with video included Open thread:
        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        •  There wasn't an increase in applications (0+ / 0-)

          until after they developed the BOLO list of teaparty applications. The scandal is that that only one political ideology was (apparently - Lerner could sure clear this up) used as red flag (later expanded) and those applications were treated differently than other groups. Which is not OK at all.

    •  Not accurate (0+ / 0-)

      The groups can be political (Just like Americans United for Change). Politics cannot be their "primary" purpose. The rules were not rewritten. It was an order that right wing names be automatically pulled for further review. Lerner could and should clear up these discrepancies.

  •  OT: Anybody into 3D printing here? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    And like to trade tips?

    I'd like to trade tips, but I still got too much to still learn....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:30:16 AM PDT

  •  Debra Saunders? Really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib

    Not sure what she has ever written that was interesting or thoughtful, and she is one of the worst when it comes to bullshit name calling. The segment included is simply stupid, and Saunders would never question why a GOP appointee would plead the fifth. Love this daily roundup a ton, but unless she writes something good there's no reason to include her.  Same bs since Obama was elected.

    “There are always surprises. Life may be inveterately grim and the surprises disproportionately unpleasant, but it would be hardly worth living if there were no exceptions, no sunny days, no acts of random kindness.” ― T.C. Boyle

    by UncleCharlie on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:19:56 AM PDT

    •  The APR includes a number of people with... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, UncleCharlie

      ...whom no progressive is going to agree. The idea here is not just to be an echo zone. I used to edit her syndicated column; I know full well what her views are.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:31:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Understood, just don't think she (0+ / 0-)

        Ever adds anything original or interesting.  I have always thought her role was just to rile up the Chronicle's subscribers. There are definitely more thoughtful folks I vehemently disagree with, and who support their arguments better and with less sniping. Cheers.

        “There are always surprises. Life may be inveterately grim and the surprises disproportionately unpleasant, but it would be hardly worth living if there were no exceptions, no sunny days, no acts of random kindness.” ― T.C. Boyle

        by UncleCharlie on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 06:54:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Debra J. Saunders is a... (4+ / 0-)

    C list right wing hack who's only purpose in life is to give "balance" cover to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    She attempts to be critical of Republicans ("Issa exhibited shoddy manners") but managed to stick in the dog whistle ("crafty Elijah Cummings") and the right wing talking point ("IRS practice of going after the Tea Party cries out for public scrutiny") stated as fact. Notice how that got slipped in, when EVERY organization is getting looked at by the IRS.

    Fortunately, she gets routinely shellacked in the comments section after the Chron publishes her drivel. Her columns are always predictable. You know what she's going to say just by reading the headline.

    FAIL.

  •  US Military Growth Begets Foreign Military Growth (5+ / 0-)

    Nobody knows exactly what gets foreign countries to reduce their military growth, except physically destroying them in a war to total surrender. And even that backfires a lot (see Germany 1919->1939 and plenty of others).

    But it's clear that US military growth doesn't reduce foreign military growth. The Chinese military buildup, Russia's (and its Ukraine invasion), Iran's nukes programme, Syria's war, and plenty of others, have all busted out while the US has spent more on its military than ever before. Even as the US military spends more while winding down (if not quite out) Iraq and Afghanistan, these foreign countries have responded by growing their militiaries.

    It's perfectly obvious that we push other countries to grow their militaries to match ours, whether (perhaps only nominally) enemies or (perhaps only nonmially) allies. Just as we use any foreign military activity as excuse to grow our own.

    Everyone involved in military spending and growth knows this. It's completely clear. Anyone arguing we will reduce foreign military growth by growing ours is just lying.

    Because US military growth is its own reward - to military vendors, and to the military itself. And those same vendors are also selling military products worldwide, to the other countries in the arms race.

    The only way to disarm is to disarm. To replace war and threats with a better source of money and power for the people who own the levers of power.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:39:23 AM PDT

  •  No no & no; some of WaPo opinionators are.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..already laying the ground for triangulation, adopting neo-con "facts" into the mix.
    Does this mean that they expect HRC to be the candidate and are determined to make sure she keeps to the Big military money script?

    I hope not

    [Defense spending]

    As a share of the federal budget, it falls from 18 percent in 2013 to 11 percent in 2024. Meanwhile, Social Security spending in nominal dollars increases 85 percent to $1.5 trillion by 2024 and Medicare advances 75 percent to $863 billion. The inflation-adjusted gains are also large.

    Yes Bernie Sanders definitely should challenge if for no other reason than to force the conversation back to reality, and to make space on the left open to cutting the MIC down. Way down. We need that

    This neo-con lie of measuring our military in % of the GDP is misleading BS. Our spending is enormous as our GDP is and has been growing overall  

    The U.S. of A.outspends every other industrialized country combined - arrgh
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    But this is fact free Garbage coming from Debra J. Saunders @ SFGate, where Debra Saunders mocks Dana Milbank, who has the facts of it down.

    Note: but Saunders won't link to Dana Milbank's article where Milbank breaks Darrell Issa's corruption into pieces

    [Saunders writes]:

    Milbank is put out that Issa "forced" Lerner to invoke her right against self-incrimination "no fewer than 10 times." Apparently it would be the gentlemanly thing for Issa to allow Lerner to maintain a version of events that defies credulity without answering to the American public.

    Ignorance is bliss.

    No. Ignorance isn't happening here. Ms Saunders deliberately cherry picks the "truth" -  Darrell Issa's idea of what an investigation is.

    The fact is Issa, who knew full well that Lois Lerner (who previously invoked her 5th amendment right and would not change that decision) forced meeting after meeting to add to his pageant of lies.

    When Elijah Cumming was trying to introduce a proffer from Lois Lerner's attorney that would answer Issa's questions. Issa cut Elijah Cummings off.

    Issa refused the truth to be known- again.

    Issa doesn't want answers as they would end his charade, as has happened with every other Issa witch hunt. Each time the truth came out Issa's grasping conspiracies fell apart.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So thank goodness we have Krugman, Sarah Jaffe, Sadhbh Walshe, and David Dayen reporting in with what is actually happening. Every day working people getting overwhelmed by a "conservative movement" wave of oligarchic suppression on too many fronts.

    Thx MB

    rant over

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