There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.
After adjusting for inflation, spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace — the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s. Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president using raw dollars, and it was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation.
(Of course, there are some who say this is exactly the wrong time to be slowing down spending…)
The main drivers of recent deficits are Bush administration policies: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts and the so-called “automatic stabilizers” — unemployment insurance spending, lower tax burdens — built into existing policy to combat economic downturns.
Recovery measures by Bush and Obama caused a short-term spike in deficits but have mostly phased out and thus represent only modest fractions of the national debt.
But expect the GOP to yell about the deficit anyway in the upcoming campaign:
…most voters don’t actually care about the deficit itself, or really understand what it is. But it’s a scary-sounding word that conjures thoughts of government bloat and reckless spending, which makes it an irresistible weapon for a recession-era opposition party.
And not just the deficit, but also spending and taxes are all lower today than when Obama took office.
Republicans say the United States is rapidly becoming an “entitlement society” in which there is a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work. A new CBPP analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.
And finally, the age gap, revealed: In a recent poll of Florida, Romney leads with landline respondents, 48%-45%. But Obama leads among cell phone respondents, 57%-34%.
When Julius Caesar’s army crossed the Rubicon river in northeastern Italy, it was considered an act of insurrection so famous that “crossing the rubicon” has come to mean “passing the point of no return.”
Three rubicons that America has passed came to my attention this week.
First, in 2009, the amount of data sent with mobile devices exceeded the sum of transmitted voice data. And the calls we do make are getting shorter. While in 2003 the average local mobile phone call lasted a leisurely three minutes, by 2010 it had been trimmed to a terse one minute and 47 seconds.
Thinking of gay/lesbian relationships as morally acceptable is the new normal, according to Gallup.
And finally, the Census Bureau says that in 2011, children born to racial and ethnic minority parents represented the majority of all recent births in the United States, outpacing those born to white parents. The white demographic is on its way to becoming a “majority minority”: it now only represents 63.4 percent of the U.S. population. By the late 2040s, it will be less than 50 percent of the population.
Said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution:
This is a fundamental tipping point signaling a change in our demographic structure for decades to come.
No administration has reduced aggregate government spending as a percentage of GDP as much as Obama’s in forty years.
In the last twenty years, the biggest spenders and borrowers are Republicans and the most fiscally conservative presidents have been Democrats.
That is all.
There is no place in the Republican party for gay people. If you vote for a Republican, you are saying, “Yes, I agree that homosexuals are second-class citizens. Please keep discriminating against them and making their lives harder and more unpleasant. Be sure to let them know at every opportunity that they are evil.”
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Richard Grenell. Grew up in a Christian home, parents were missionaries for the Church of God.
He grew up, attended a Christian college, and became an active, true-believing Republican. Watching the Republicans take over the House in 1994, he was ecstatic: “Everyone around me had chills. It was such a validation of ‘It’s great to be a Republican.’ ”
He worked tirelessly for the party for two decades, championed Gingrich, became a movement neo-conservative on a whole variety of issues, especially the area he was selected to be a spokesman for: national security.
Mr. Grenell joined the Mitt Romney campaign in April with sterling recommendations from Bush-era foreign policy figures, and an impressive résumé. He had served as a United States spokesman at the United Nations under four ambassadors during the Bush administration, including John Bolton.
He told the Romney camp he was gay. They didn’t mind. That’s got nothing to do with what they hired him for.
But the ultra-religious minded, quite a bit. And started making a lot of noise about it.
So the Romney camp told their new spokesman not to speak. Specifically, on a conference call about national security that he had helped to organize, he was told to listen and not speak.
He saw the writing on the wall, and resigned.
And there was much rejoicing from the religious right over their “huge win.”
Bryan Fischer of the AFA:
“Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here. I went outside the parameters here. I went off the reservation with this hire. The pro-family community has called me back to the table here. Called me back inside the borders of the reservation.’ “
So now you know for absolutely sure: The ultra-religious right calls the shots in the Republican Party.
Romney has gone from promising to be more pro-gay in the Senate than Ted Kennedy, to hanging a lone gay spokesman out to dry and pledging to write into the very constitution that gays are second class citizens.
If you’re gay, or your friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle is gay, you just learned something about what the GOP now is. Do not forget it.
a majority of Americans now back marriage equality, including a tsunami of the under-30s. Many moderate middle class suburban voters don’t like the idea of a campaign that cannot include anyone openly gay – especially when that person is about as neoconservative as you can get. The military issue has been resolved – and far from the calamity of a radical social experiment, it has been close to a total non-event. And yet the GOP – because of its fusion with Christianist fundamentalism – cannot have a single openly gay person out front. In Britain, there are now 19 openly gay Tory MPs, and the prime minister is backing marriage equality in a parliamentary vote this year. That’s the difference between a sane and inclusive conservative party – and a reactionary rump of religious fanatics.
To conclude, a comparison of two quotes:
“The Democrats didn’t have any pro-life speakers. They stopped them from talking. We had everyone, from far-right to pro-choice. It’s ludicrous to say the Republicans were intolerant, were filled with hate.”
– Ric Grenell, 1995
“Ric, the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call. It’s best to lay low for now.”
– Alex Wong to Ric Grenell, April 26, 2012
Remember Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was in the national spotlight when Rush Limbaugh attacked her as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating employer-covered contraception?
On Thursday, it was announced that Fluke is engaged.
Fox News’ Monica Crowley reacted by tweeting “To a man?”
What? She was a slut, but now she’s gay?
Blogger Digby cracks:
So, if you’re going to insult someone as a slut for advocating for birth control, calling them a lesbian a month later just makes you look stupider than you already look. Which I wouldn’t have thought possible, since needing affordable birth control doesn’t make you a slut in the first place — and even if Fluke were a lesbian, who gives a damn? Peeling back the layers of idiocy in these insults could take days.
Florida’s law requiring drug tests for people who seek welfare benefits was sold on the promise that it would save taxpayers money. In fact, it has cost the state more money than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test.
Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.
As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.
Why is it that teen birthrates remain highest in America’s most religious and politically conservative states? I thought they were supposed to be all holy and everything. Sounds like they’re too moral for birth control but they’re not so righteous that they’ll stop fornicating.
But it’s true: Teen birthrates are substantially higher in conservative states that voted for McCain in 2008, and remain high in more religious states.
Norway’s response to last summer’s Labour Party youth camp attacks says a lot about the country. One study found Norwegians trust each other more, not less. The attacks have certainly fired up existing activists such as Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, whose friend Haavard Vederhus, the head of the Labour Party Youth League’s Oslo branch, was shot dead on Utoeya, and was replaced by Wennesland. He says:
“This guy wanted to kill me because I believe in democracy, openness, tolerance and dialogue. Well, f-ck it. If that is what he wanted to kill me for, I am going to carry on fighting for it.”
At any time, President Obama could issue an executive order that will prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting. Gay people would like to see that happen, but the administration punted this week, insisting they want a legislative solution.
Gay advocacy groups were disappointed with the decision, particularly since the order had already been approved by the Departments of Labor and Justice and would have expanded employment protections for up to 16 million Americans.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney was asked if it was “a political calculation.”
CARNEY: Absolutely not, the president is committed to securing equal rights for LGBT Americans, and that is why he has long supported ENDA….The approach we’re taking at this time is try to build support for passage of this legislation, a comprehensive approach, to legislate on the issue of non-discrimination.
Translation: you know we like the gays, we just can’t have the President’s fingerprints all over this during an election year.
From the “duh, we coulda told you that” department: Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.
“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.
“In many cases these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” adds co-author Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who helped direct the research.
Bad news for this sedentary blogger: Sitting a lot is unhealthy. Australian researchers compared medical records and lifestyle questionnaires for more than 220,0000 Australian adults 45 and older, and found that the more hours the men and women sat every day, the greater their chance of dying prematurely.
Those people who sat more than eight hours a day — which other studies have found is about the amount that a typical American sits — had a 15 percent greater risk of dying during the study’s three-year follow-up period than people who sat for fewer than four hours a day.
That increased risk held true even if the people sitting eight hours a day spent at least part of that day exercising.
It is likely that there are at least as many adult Americans with student-loan debts outstanding as there are living bachelor’s degree recipients who ever took out student loans.
Moreover, this debt is not all held by young persons who face a likely upward trajectory in their earnings over time. Roughly 40 percent of borrowers are over 40, and many even are over 50–people hoping to retire in another decade or so.
And finally, a little smile for you.
Federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization).
The United States remains a low-tax country by international standards as well, collecting less in combined federal and state taxes than nearly any other developed country.
The formal end of America’s military presence in Iraq came last December. Marc Lynch assesses the current situation:
The real story of America’s withdrawal from Iraq is how little impact it has really had on either Iraq or the region. . . This month’s death toll was the lowest on record since the 2003 invasion, while Iraqi oil exports are at their highest level since 1980.
In a survey of swing states by USA TODAY/Gallup, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters.
The biggest change came among women under 50. Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.
A study of over 120 adult dolphins in the area of Shark Bay, Western Australia found that male bottlenose dolphins engage in extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality.
Male pairs, or even trios, cooperate to sequester and herd individual females during the mating season. Most males are also members of second order alliances consisting of 4 to 14 males. Such relationships appear to be long lasting, with one known 7-member group still intact after 17 years.
However, researcher and professor Richard Connor said:
“I work on the male dolphins and their social lives are very intense; it seems there is constant drama. I have often thought, as I watched their complicated alliance relationships, that their social lives would be mentally and physically exhausting, and I’m glad I’m not a dolphin.”
A new study says Conservatives, particularly those with college educations, have become dramatically more skeptical of science over the past four decades. Fewer than 35 percent of conservatives say they have a “great deal” of trust in the scientific community now, compared to nearly half in 1974.
Chris Mooney frets:
“We now have a powerful linkage between a powerful political movement in the United States on the one hand, and the denial of science and reality on the other. This not only manifests itself every day in our dysfunctional political debates; it is a gigantic threat to the country’s future and its ability to cope with 21st century problems.”
It would be great if Obama could come out in favor of gay marriage before the election, but it’s still risky to do so, says Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast:
But what about Ohio. Pennsylvania. Michigan. And North Carolina—where, in the pretty-bold department, the president has already spoken out against the anti-gay marriage initiative that will be on the ballot May 8. The four states I just named add up to 51 electoral votes. Ohio and North Carolina may be dispensable, but Obama has to have Pennsylvania (20) and Michigan (16). They surely are put at risk if he touches this fiery button.
At a campaign event at a bowling alley in Wisconsin today, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told a boy who reached for a pink bowling ball:
“You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera. Friends don’t let friends use pink balls.”
This is the kind of immature shit I would expect to hear only in the halls of a junior high school thirty years ago.
Forget red versus blue America. Stephen Marche says:
There is a young America and there is an old America, and they don’t form a community of interest. One takes from the other. The federal government spends $480 billion on Medicare and $68 billion on education. Prescription drugs: $62 billion. Head Start: $8 billion. Across the board, the money flows not to helping the young grow up, but helping the old die comfortably. According to a 2009 Brookings Institution study, “The United States spends 2.4 times as much on the elderly as on children, measured on a per capita basis, with the ratio rising to 7 to 1 if looking just at the federal budget.”
The Supreme Court has been in the news this week as they contemplate the constitutionality of Obamacare. One statistical method for analyzing the Supreme Court finds that the current court is the most conservative since at least the 1930s.
A confidential internal document of the lead anti-“gay marriage” group, the National Organization for Marriage” (NOM), says that they wanted to promote hostility between blacks and gays; you know, like Jesus would do:
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. . . Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key. . .”
They also sought out beautiful but “non-cognitive” (dumb?) celebrities to help them:
“Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this. But we also recognize the opportunity – the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries.
And one writer notes:
“To me the most striking detail was that NOM had budgeted $120,000 for a project to locate children of gay households willing to denounce their parents on camera.
“Whenever I hear NOM described as “pro-family” from now on, I will think of that fact.”
This week, we learned that Florida is a place where you can kill people and not be charged.
President Obama, addressed the ongoing investigation into the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. “I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” Obama said. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Obama said it is “absolutely imperative” to investigate every aspect of the case. “All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how something like this happened,” Obama added.
In other Obama news:
The Atlantic asks: Might President Obama be the most fiscally conservative president in modern history?
In Virginia, Obama’s favorables have come up while Romney’s have gone down.
Gay Marriage Watch:
Word is, Obama’s top political advisers have held serious discussions with leading Democrats about the upsides and downsides of coming out for gay marriage before the fall election. And there are calls for gay marriage to be added as an official plank to the Democratic Party platform.
Republican Campaign Watch:
Oh sure, the Democrats were quick to jump on this week’s “Romney-is-an-etch-a-sketch” gaffe, but Rick Santorum also might have gone too far by saying it would be better to vote for Barack Obama than an Etch A Sketch candidate like Mitt Romney. He’s now trying to walk it back.
Oh, and Santorum will win Louisiana’s primary on Saturday, but it won’t affect the final outcome.