Originally Published: 9/8/2012
Smallest Spender: Who’s the smallest government spender since Eisenhower? Obama. Check out Forbes’ chart showing the 2 biggest spenders were Reagan and Dubya. I know. You’re not surprised.
Dictatorships: Here’s a YouTube of the final speech from Sacha Baron’s movie The Dictator. Okay. So Baron is kinda scuzzy (e.g., Borat), but this is good. I just had to pass it on.
Citizens United: If you’re still not sure that the Citizens United decision unleashed the 1% controlling the rest of us, you need to read this Mother Jones piece. Not only is the money in this election season the highest amount ever seen, the so-called Super PACs, along with non-profit organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are dominating the spending spree. However, a new report has revealed that just 1,082 donors account for 94% of the individual donations. That’s the 1%, folks, dominating our elections.
Arizona: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton finally ruled on the rest of Arizona’s “your papers, please” law. (TWW, SB 1070, 6/30/12) She said that Arizona law enforcement can enforce “the most contentious section” of the law - questioning “the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.” (Guardian)
Florida: U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled that students at Florida’s public colleges and universities “cannot be charged higher out-of-state tuition simply because their parents are in the U.S. illegally.” (ABC News) And the DOJ has said it won’t challenge Florida’s plan to implement an early voting schedule that will keep the polls open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm over the 8-day period that ends 3 days before the election. (Capitol News Service)
Michigan: The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the referendum reversing the state’s emergency manager law will be on the ballot. (TWW, Michigan, 8/11/12) (Huffington Post) And the Court of Appeals ruled that the proposed constitutional amendment to add collective bargaining rights will also be on the November ballot. (Communications Workers of America)
New Hampshire: The Justice Department (DOJ) has approved the new voter ID law in New Hampshire. (Raw Story)
Ohio: You probably remember that the Obama reelection campaign, with others, requested a federal court to reinstate in-person early voting the 3 days before the election. (TWW, Ohio, 8/11/12) Judge Peter Economus of the Southern District Court of Ohio has ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted not to enforce the state law. (Toledo Blade) Husted, however, is refusing to do so until an appeals court hears the case. He said it would “only serve to confuse voters.” See his Memo to county Boards of Elections (Directive 2012-40). So, Judge Economus set a hearing for September 13th. Election Law Blog noted that you know a judge is upset when an Order says this: “Motion Hearing set for 9/13/12 @ 10:00 AM before Senior Judge Peter C. Economus. The Court ORDERS that Defendant Secretary of State Jon Husted personally attend the hearing.” I guess Husted got the message. He rescinded Directive 2012-40 and will comply with the court order.
Texas: As I told you last week, since a federal judge had determined Texas’ new voter ID laws were unconstitutional, the attorney general said he would appeal the decision. (TWW, Texas, 9/1/12) Well, he did and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th District has stayed that decision until they can hear the case. (Bloomberg)
Hunger: It rose in the U.S. in 2011 to “record numbers,” - 17.9 million households. 700,000 more than in 2010 “didn’t have enough food at all times . . . to sustain active, healthy lives for all family members. (McClatchy)
Education: Most states have made “steep cuts” to education funding since the start of the recession. 26 states are now providing less funding for elementary and high school education than last year and 35 states have funding at levels less than 2008 - many far less. Check out the graph. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
Solyndra: You remember this, don’t you? Solyndra was a solar company that received a federal loan through the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program for advanced energy technologies. It went bankrupt and Republicans have been screaming about the program ever since. So, those wacky House Republicans have put up a bill - HR 6213, called the “No More Solyndras Act.” The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has looked at the bill which would revise the terms of conditions that DOE uses to guarantee loans. According to CBO, the bill would cost about $1 million over a 4-year period. CBO also estimates that any impact on DOE spending would be “negligible.” However, the bill would also make certain federal employees personally liable for civil penalties ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for each violation of any of the requirements of the laws governing the program.
Elephant Slaughter: “Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter.” Recently 22 dead elephants were found, including very young ones. All for their ivory. Conservation groups say they’re wiping out tens of thousands of elephants every year. Since ivory was outlawed decades ago, elephants have been doing well. No more. What’s changed? It’s believed that the Ugandan military is flying planes over the herds and shooting from the air. And it’s not just poachers and it’s not just the Ugandan military. “Members of some of the African armies that the American government trains and supports with millions of taxpayer dollars - like the Ugandan military, the Congolese Army, and newly independent South Sudan’s military - have been implicated in poaching elephants and dealing in ivory.” (NY Times) If our military is there, providing military weapons, airplanes, training, and money - our money - then the Pentagon can exert some control over the situation. Why am I mentioning this? Because you need to contact your congress critters and demand that the Pentagon control the situation.
Healthcare Costs: The institute of Medicine has released a report on the state of U.S. healthcare. “The report aimed at assessing the cost-efficiency of the U.S. healthcare system and its ability to adapt and evolve.” It ain’t pretty. It found that there were 75,000 needless deaths since 2005 and $750 billion is unnecessary spending since 2009. (ForexTV.com)
Deepwater Horizon: Yes, folks, we’re still living with it. Hurricane Isaac stirred it up and deposited oil on 2 Louisiana beaches that have been found to come from the 2010 BP oil spill. (Times-Picayune) The state had to close down a 12-mile section of the coastline. (Times-Picayune)
Jobs: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we added 96,000 jobs in August. However, an independent jobs survey with data from a paycheck processing firm claims we added 201,000 jobs, “far more than expected.” (Guardian) Unfortunately, many more jobs could have been created. “Despite a virtual hiring freeze in the spring, U.S. companies increased profits and the overall volume of goods and services they produced rose by 1.7%.” How? They had their employees work longer hours and gave them no raises. (Economy Watch) That’s what is referred to as productivity.
What Could Have Been: Had Obama’s American Jobs Act not been blocked by Republicans, where would we be? Moody’s Analytics estimated it would create 1.9 million jobs and add 2% to the gross domestic product (GDP). The Economic Policy Institute estimated it would create 2.6 million jobs and protect 1.6 million existing jobs. Macroeconomic Advisers predicted it would create 2.1 million jobs and boost the GDP by 1.5%. And Goldman Sachs estimated it would add 1.5% to the GDP.
Auto Industry: There was a huge jump in auto sales last month, primarily driven by a strong demand for pick-up trucks. “GM’s August U.S. sales rose 10% compared with a year earlier, while Ford’s rose 13% and Chrysler’s 14%.” (Salt Lake Tribune) And who was it that said we should let the auto industry go under? (See “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” by Mitt Romney.)