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Health-Reform-SBIn case you missed it, be sure to check out Sahil Kapur’s article today on Talking Points Memo about the fast-fading attacks on Obamacare and why a political “nightmare” may be coming to pass for the American right. One of Kapur’s key sources: none other than long-time conservative icon William Kristol, who two decades ago led the charge to defeat Bill Clinton’s proposed healthcare overhaul. Back then, Kristol’s chief fear was of what would happen was, effectively, the same thing that is happening now: the establishment of a new law that would fast become an integral part of the middle class safety net and, as such, quickly become politically unassailable.

As the TPM story notes: the massive healthcare industry is adapting, premiums are stabilizing and even Mitch McConnell wants the hundreds of thousands of newly-insured Kentuckians to keep their Obamacare.  In short, Kristol’s fear that “reform would paint Democrats as ‘the generous protector of middle-class interests’ and strike a ‘punishing blow’ to the GOP’s anti-government ideology” appears, by an increasing number of indications, to be coming true.

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Brace yourself for a new wave of far right trickledown propaganda as President Obama is expected to call for a hike in the minimum wage in tonight’s SOTU speech. If you’re looking for some actual facts to counter the onslaught, John Schmitt has an excellent post at the Center for Economic Policy research blog, entitled “SOTU Minimum Wage FAQ.”

For instance:

Who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage?

According to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), almost 17 million workers who earn between the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 and the proposed new level of $10.10 (to be fully phased in by 2016) would see an increase in their wages. EPI estimates that another 11 million workers who earn just above the new federal minimum wage would likely get a pay increase as well. Read More

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Obama at lunchIf you’re sitting at your computer waiting for the President’s speech to commence at N.C. State (or in the audience staring at your smart phone), here are a few interesting links to keep you occupied:

First off, it looks like our leftist-socialist President continues to fail in his crusade to bring down capitalism. The Charlotte O reports this morning that Bank of America is the latest financial institution to report huge profits — in this case, the largest in six years.

Meanwhile click here to see the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average — which has been going pretty much nowhere but up throughout the Obama years. Back to the drawing board, comrades!

As for Obama’s prominent NC critics, both Gov. (“It’s all Bev’s fault”) McCrory and Sec. Aldona (“Heck of a job, Donie!”) Wos are apparently showing up to pay their respects to the Prez today. Good for them for rising at least slightly above partisan politics. Perhaps they’re feeling some kinship with someone struggling in the polls.

If she gets to say “howdy,” though, Wos might want to ditch the “everything is Obama’s fault” rap. As Sarah Ovaska reported this morning on the main PW page, Read More

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In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer explained yesterday why it’s time, at long last, to “go nuclear” on the filibuster in the U.S. Senate:

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid told reporters Tuesday that he was once again considering rules reform – which is shorthand for doing away with filibusters on judicial and executive nominations by allowing a simple majority vote for approvals. A senior aide made that “nuclear option” sound even more likely in an interview with the Washington Post, saying that it’s hard to envision Reid not changing the rules.

He should. The filibuster, once a useful tool designed to give the minority party more influence in confirmations and legislation, is now a tactic overused by both parties to strip the president of the appointment powers the Constitution has given him.

Well over 100 of Obama’s executive and judicial nominees – including U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte, who was nominated to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency – have seen their nominations stalled because the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. That means just 40 senators can stop nominees from getting the consideration and yes-or-no vote they deserve….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

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Raleigh’s News & Observer was kind enough to publish this morning an essay I wrote on Richard Burr’s ongoing and inexcusable silent filibuster of President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

If you haven’t checked it out, I hope you will by clicking here.

One thing I didn’t have space to mention in the N&O piece, however, is that Burr’s absurd obstructionism is part of a broader and pernicious pattern; the GOP has been blocking and delaying Obama’s court nominees simply as a matter of course for years. Even nominees who end up getting confirmed unanimously often find themselves waiting for months (or even years) for a simple hearing and up or down vote that ought to take a matter of weeks.

To see the extent of the ongoing and growing national judicial vacancy crisis, check out the “Why Courts Matter” website maintained by the good folks at the Center for American Progress.

One warning: The information contained therein may provoke you to put your fist through your computer monitor.