The tug of these contradictory impulses was evident when Mr. Obama held a news conference late last week, at which he tried to sound simultaneously firm and flexible on rolling back Bush-era tax cuts and passing jobs legislation.
To some extent, these cross-currents simply go with being president, though they are made much more acute by both the economic mess and the conflicting priorities—health and stimulus, bailouts and deficit concerns—within President Obama's own agenda.
But these struggles have their roots in a factor that's rarely discussed: the 2008 presidential campaign, which left neither the president nor the country fully prepared for the momentous decisions that followed.
A follow-up on today's Johanns amendment by Georges Benjamin, MD, and Larry Cohen:
As Congress returns to work this week, senators are scheduled to cast a critical vote on Tuesday as part of a broad measure designed to encourage economic growth for small businesses. But in this case, the outcome could end up hurting small business, costing us billions in crucial prevention dollars and jeopardizing efforts to improve and protect the health of millions of Americans.
At issue is an Internal Revenue Service reporting requirement included in the new health law as a means to raise revenue to offset reform's costs. It does so by reducing noncompliance with tax laws by requiring expanded 1099 reporting on certain business transactions — a reform, by the way, that was supported by George W. Bush during his presidency. Since the measure became law, Democrats and Republicans alike have realized that it places an unnecessary burden on small businesses, which are already stretched thin by the current economy.
Those backing the amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., say it will help small businesses by providing them relief from this reporting regulation. The Johanns amendment, however, makes up for the resulting lost revenue by virtually eliminating the landmark Prevention and Public Health Fund. Helping small businesses makes sense — but we won’t be helping them by eliminating prevention.
The Senate primary in Delaware on Tuesday was prompting anxiety among party officials, who feared that a victory by Christine O’Donnell, a candidate backed by the Tea Party, could complicate Republican efforts to win control of the Senate. Republican leaders rushed to the aid of Representative Michael N. Castle, a moderate lawmaker and former governor, as internal party warfare — including accusations of a death threat — intensified on the eve of the primary.
Democratic leaders portrayed Republican opponents as refusing to pass tax cuts for middle-class families unless they also secure benefits for the wealthy.
"By this Republican logic, until rich CEOs get what they want, middle-class families can’t get what they need," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday in a statement.
With those coping mechanisms now exhausted, it’s painfully obvious that the economy has failed working Americans.
There was plenty of growth, but the economic benefits went overwhelmingly — and unfairly — to those already at the top. Mr. Reich cites the work of analysts who have tracked the increasing share of national income that has gone to the top 1 percent of earners since the 1970s, when their share was 8 percent to 9 percent. In the 1980s, it rose to 10 percent to 14 percent. In the late-’90s, it was 15 percent to 19 percent. In 2005, it passed 21 percent. By 2007, the last year for which complete data are available, the richest 1 percent were taking more than 23 percent of all income.
The richest one-tenth of 1 percent, representing just 13,000 households, took in more than 11 percent of total income in 2007.
Is Newt Gingrich just pretending to have lost his mind, or has he actually gone around the bend?
He's trying to out-Palin Palin. That's the definition of insanity. But speaking of Newt, the GOP is already talking about shutting down the government.
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