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January, 2009:

A Second Look: Media Matters: Fetishizing off-center centrism

Media Matters for America wrote:

Media Matters: Fetishizing off-center centrism


From: Media Matters for America [action@mediamatters.org]
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 5:41 PM
To: tomc2322
Subject: Media Matters: Fetishizing off-center centrism

To many journalists, bucking your party — like “centrism” and bipartisanship — is a noble goal all by itself. But I suspect most people recognize that these things are means, not ends.

Sure, people want the politicians to stop bickering and get things done. But, more
specifically, most people want the politicians to stop bickering and do things they want done. A single mother working two minimum-wage jobs to feed her kids might want politicians to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship — but she doesn’t want them to pass bipartisan legislation lowering the minimum wage; she wants a bipartisan bill raising the minimum wage. If she can’t have that, I suspect she’d take a party-line minimum-wage increase, even if it means a decrease in the bonhomie at Washington cocktail parties she’ll never attend.

Does anyone remember John McCain’s accusations that Obama never bucked his party leaders? He obviously said that to bolster his own claim to maverickyness. Sure Obama has and may again defend legislation that is contrary to his progressive base’s belief, but the idea that the head of the Democratic Party should buck the …Democratic Party…is silly.

A single mother working two minimum-wage jobs to feed her kids might want politicians to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship — but she doesn’t want them to pass bipartisan legislation lowering the minimum wage; she wants a bipartisan bill raising the minimum wage.

There is some ethereal meme or concept floating around out there among Republican politics that allows their candidates and Congresspeople to talk about killing the federal minimum wage. Joe the Plumber would (secretly) turn over in his grave, or under his sink, whichever the case may be. It’s ghastly to consider either lowering the minimum wage or introducing legislation that would turn the control of minimum wage over to the individual states. Lowering the minimum is jarring to everyone’s sense of right from wrong and fair play. If those who argue against a minimum wage win, then we have just stepped onto the slickest of slippery slopes. It would not be long until business asked people to work for free.

The point of this is Americans want our government to do the right thing. Whether or not the means include bipartisanship is immaterial. The vote on the stimulus bill split along party lines. So what? The important thing is that it passed.

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A Second Look: Just Foreign Policy News, January 30, 2009

Just Foreign Policy wrote:

Just Foreign Policy News, January 30, 2009

Hamas demonstration in Gaza


From: Just Foreign Policy [info@justforeignpolicy.org]
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 5:49 PM
To: Tom Chambless
Subject: Just Foreign Policy News, January 30, 2009
1) Tony Blair says Hamas must be brought into the Middle East peace process because the policy of isolating Gaza in the quest for a settlement will not work, The Times of London reports. Asked whether he had changed his view about talking to Hamas, Blair replied his “basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody.” But he repeated the Quartet position that there can be no talks with Hamas until they renounce violence and recognize Israel. Blair then made a distinction between negotiating with Hamas as part of a peace process, and “talking to Hamas as the de facto power in Gaza.”

Just as with the Bush plan for diplomacy with Iran, Blair advocates a similar Catch 22 situation for Hamas. If there can be not talks with Hamas until they renounce violence and recognize Israel, then there will be nothing to talk about at the negotiating table. It strains diplomacy for one side to be forced to start at such a disadvantage. I know that Hamas is violent verging on terrorist, but I don’t believe they are stupid enough to agree to that.

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A Second Look: Wonk Room » Conservatives Beat The Drum For Permanent Corporate Tax Cuts

via Wonk Room » Conservatives Beat The Drum For Permanent Corporate Tax Cuts.

Cutting corporate taxes is a tired conservative solution to just about everything. Remember, it was a centerpiece of Sen. John McCain’s R-AZ presidential campaign, even before the economic crisis hit. But as the Center for American Progress’ Will Straw wrote, permanent corporate tax cuts simply fail to provide stimulus:

The track record for such steps is poor in general, but they are particularly ill-suited for a recessionary period. After all, the reason that businesses and individuals are not investing at the moment has little to do with the taxes they may pay in the future and everything to do with a fear of losing money because there is no demand in the economy, asset prices are highly volatile, and credit is hard to come by.

Citizens for Tax Justice noted that “every dollar lost from cutting the corporate income tax would increase real GDP by just 30 cents.” That’s hardly the sort of stimulative effect that would justify slashing the corporate rate.

Tax cuts didn’t work, neither under Reagan, nor Bush, nor Bush. So the logic here is that more tax cuts will work to stimulate the economy this time?

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