The (Almost) Daily Scoop

The Daily Scoop is where an article of interest from a variety of sources around the internet will be posted daily.

So feel free to check back often!

If you want to comment on any of these articles please indicate with one you’re referring to in your post by date or headline.

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June 9, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Health Care After the Supreme Court RulingQuantcast

LATER this month, the Supreme Court will rule on the Obama administration’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, deciding whether to uphold or strike down the entire law, or to keep some provisions.  No matter the decision, the political ramifications in this election year will be big.

But experts on health care policy say the practical effect of the court’s decision will probably be less earth-shattering than some people think. If the court takes what many observers believe will be the most likely route and strikes down the individual mandate — the requirement that virtually everyone purchase insurance — many more currently uninsured people are still likely to receive health coverage, they say.

Even if the law is struck down entirely — which could happen if the court decides that the other provisions are too intertwined with the mandate — many experts say that some changes the law has already set in motion will continue, probably more slowly, but possibly at a more urgent pace in reaction to the elimination of the federal law.

Gail Wilensky, a health economist who headed Medicare and Medicaid during the administration of the elder President Bush suggested that, while the individual mandate seems vulnerable to being ruled unconstitutional, striking down the entire law seems “highly unlikely, and to my way of thinking, highly undesirable, because I think it’s unnecessary.”

And if the law is upheld? More people will get coverage, but significant problems in the health care system will remain. Chief among them is the high cost of medical care.

“I think much of the transformation of the health care delivery system is moving forward, regardless of the court action,” said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan research foundation in New York. “How do we get more efficient? How do we keep people out of hospitals? People are kind of gearing up for this. That’s going to continue. Obviously, it will continue at a faster pace if some of the payments for quality and efficiency in the law continue, but we are already beginning to see a slowdown in hospital costs nationally.”

If the individual mandate is eliminated, but the exchanges remain, significant numbers of uninsured people are likely to purchase insurance anyway, said Amy Lischko, who served in Mr. Romney’s administration when he was governor and helped craft the Massachusetts health care overhaul. “PEOPLE are still going to purchase the insurance because it’s a better deal than before,” said Dr. Lischko, now an associate professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Still, some warn that the longer-term consequences of striking down the individual mandate could be more significant.

Read more…

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June 7, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 40 years after Watergate, investigative journalism at riskQuantcast

Investigative reporting has taken on every aspect of American society — from government, politics, business and finance to education, social welfare, culture and sports — and has won the lion’s share of each year’s journalism prizes. No matter how unpopular the news media may sometimes be, there has been, ever since Watergate, an expectation that the press would hold accountable those with power and influence over the rest of us. As Jon Marshall wrote last year in “Watergate’s Legacy and the Press,”Watergate “shaped the way investigative reporting is perceived and practiced and how political leaders and the public respond to journalists.”

Woodward and Bernstein’s techniques were hardly original. But, propagated by “All the President’s Men,” they became central to the ethos of investigative reporting: Become an expert on your subject. Knock on doors to talk to sources in person. Protect the confidentiality of sources when necessary. Never rely on a single source. Find documents. Follow the money. Pile one hard-won detail on top of another until a pattern becomes discernible. Just a few years ago, Dana Priest of The Post used similar methods to reveal the CIA’s secret overseas prisons in which terrorism suspects were aggressively interrogated.

We continue to live in perilous times, making investigative journalism as essential to our democracy as the Watergate stories were. However, the impact of digital media and dramatic shifts in audience and advertising revenue have undermined the financial model that subsidized so much investigative reporting during the economic golden age of newspapers, the last third of the 20th century. Such reporting remains a high priority at many financially challenged papers, which continue to produce accountability journalism that matters to their communities — but they have far fewer staff members and resources to devote to it. Meanwhile, much of the remaining investigative reporting on television stations and networks, which also are struggling to maintain audience and revenue, consists of consumer-protection and crime stories that drive ratings.

Read more…

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June 6, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: A few things we should all know about SolyndraQuantcast

Romney wrong on Solyndra facts

Last Thursday Romney held a surprise press conference at Solyndra’s shuttered headquarters. During his prepared statement, Romney said:

“An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the Administration had steered money to friends and family and campaign contributors.”

Romney then repeated the claim later in the press conference.

Small problem: No inspector general ever “concluded” such a thing, at least not based on any written reports or public statements.

Romney seemed to be referring to Congressional testimony offered up by Gregory Friedman, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy, from March 2011. In it, he said: “We currently have 64 open investigations associated with the Recovery Act… Schemes under investigation include the submission of false information in applications for funding, fraudulent claims for rebates, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, the directing of contracts and grants to friends and family, weatherization fraud to 7 include mischarging, and other attempts to fraudulently obtain Recovery Act funds.”

Not only did Friedman never specifically cite Solyndra, but his office never brought charges related to any “directing of contracts and grants to friends and family.” A spokeswoman for the DoE Inspector General’s office declined to say whether any such investigation remained open, except to say that it never made the type of conclusion asserted by Romney.

Read more…

Seven things you should know about Solyndra

Solyndra represents the ideological divide between the two parties on issues beyond energy.  With the issue not showing signs of fading away in the election, here are seven things you should know about Solyndra and the Department of Energy loan program that supported it.

1) It was started by Bush: The DOE loan program that funded Solyndra was actually started by President Bush in 2005. It was intended to provide government support for “innovative technologies.”

But the Bush administration never approved Solyndra’s loan, saying the application needed more work.

2) Congress thought there would be more failures: Two companies have declared bankruptcy under the loan program so far, out of the 33 projects funded. Congress was expecting more.

3) Solyndra wanted more: The company applied for another $468 million in funding shortly after its first DOE loan closed. The government did not award the second request.

4) Taxpayers aren’t the only losers: Private investors lost almost twice what the government did — nearly $1 billion.

While much has been made that the largest private investor was an Obama supporter, the second largest was a fund controlled by the Walton family — of Wal-Mart fame. Walton family members are noted Republican donors.

5) The renewables program is closed: The renewables loan program that funded Solyndra and other wind and solar ventures is now over. There is still $170 million available for renewables under a separate program that also handles nuclear power.

6) No smoking gun with Solyndra wrongdoing: Last week, Mitt Romney said an inspector general “looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had steered money to friends and family.”

That appears to be incorrect, as no evidence of undue influence peddling by the White House has been uncovered in an official, independent report.

7) Solyndra isn’t a typical solar company: Solyndra did not make regular, flat solar panels.

It made a more advanced, cylinder-shaped device designed to capture the sun’s rays on its entire surface — hence the company’s name.

It was the rapidly declining price of traditional, flat solar panels and silicon — mostly from China — that did the company in.

Read more…

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June 6, 2012

The Daily Scoop: NY Fed Judge Finds DOMA UnconstitutionalQuantcast

While this is encouraging seeing one more federal judge find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, it is also odd reading her reasoning. It interferes with the states’ rights to make determinations about domestic relations. Until the the late 1960′s many states had laws against interracial relationships and marriages. The Supreme Court ruled these laws unconstitutional in 1967. Given the history and the active banning of gay marriage in many states, have the states themselves shown they are not all that capable of ensuring those rights to equality provided within the US Constitution? 

A Federal judge in New York has joined several other judges across the country in striking down a section of the “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA that denies benefits to married same-sex couples.

Judge Barbara Jones ruled Wednesday in a case brought in federal court in Manhattan by a woman whose partner died in 2009. She awarded $353,000 to the plaintiff, Edith Windsor.

Lawyers for Windsor had argued that the law violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said the law fails because it tries to reexamine the states’ decisions concerning same-sex marriage. She said such a sweeping review interferes with a system of government that places matters at the core of the domestic relations law exclusively within the province of the states.

Read more….

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May 29, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Anti-Voter Fraud Laws result in Voter Fraud in FloridaQuantcast

EXCLUSIVE: Florida Telling Hundreds Of Eligible Citizens That They Are Ineligible To Vote

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) has ordered the state to purge all “non-citizens” from the voting rolls prior to November’s election. But that list compiled by the Scott administration is so riddled with errors that, in Miami-Dade County alone, hundreds of U.S. citizens are being told they are ineligible to vote, ThinkProgress has learned exlusively.

According to data from the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections obtained by ThinkProgress:

- 1638 people in Miami-Dade County were flagged by the state as “non-citizens” and sent letters informing them that they were ineligible to vote.

- Of that group, 359 people have subsquently provided the county with proof of citizenship.

- Another 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county.

- The bulk of the remaining 1200 people have simply not responded yet to a letter sent to them by the Supervisor of Elections.

You can see a similar letter sent to alleged “non-citizens” by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections HERE. (“The Supervisor of Elections… has received information that you are not a citizen of the United States.”) If recipients of the letter do not respond within 30 days — a deadline that is mere days away — they will be summarily removed from the voting rolls. The voters purged from the list, election officials tell ThinkProgress, will inevitably include fully eligible Florida voters.

Read more…

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May 28, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Anti-Climate Change Institute’s Dwindling Support

The Heartland Institute, the world’s most prominent think-tank promoting scepticism about man-made climate change, is getting a lot of heat. In recent weeks it has lost an estimated $825,000 in expected donations, a couple of directors and almost its entire branch in Washington, DC. At its annual shindig in Chicago this week, the institute’s president, Joseph Bast, said Heartland had “discovered who our real friends are.” The 100-odd guests who failed to show up for the “7th Climate Conference” were not among them.

The institute’s problems began in February when an American water scientist, Peter Gleick, published internal Heartland documents that he had obtained under a false name. They provided details of its accounts—including references to an anonymous donor who gave $8.6m between 2007 and 2011—and of a plan to send teaching materials denouncing global warming to American primary schools.

Read more…

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May 26, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Democrat Offers State Opt-IN for Single-Payer CareQuantcast

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) will soon introduce legislation that would allow states to use federal funds they’re receiving through Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care programs to build a universal single-payer system. Advocates are describing the bill as a “lifeline” for advocates:

It would create a mechanism for states to request federal funds after establishing their own health insurance programs…. It would, for the first time, create a system under which a Medicare-for-all program could be rolled out on a state-by-state basis. In California’s case, it would make coverage available to the roughly 7 million people now lacking health insurance.

“This is a huge deal,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica advocacy group. “This is a lifeline for people who want to create a Medicare system at the state level.”

The bill could warm the hearts of liberals who expressed frustration with the Affordable Care Act’s more moderate approach of building on the existing health care system and should also satisfy GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has sought to differentiate his 2006 health reform from Obamacare by rejecting a federal prescription for reform and promising to “pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens.”

Read more…

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 May 25, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Another former GOPer criticizes modern partyQuantcast

An increasing number of former Republican representatives and close associates are making their criticisms of the current GOP known. Is it too late to make much of difference this election cycle or will these voices make moderates and independents sit back and employ a bit more introspection into their own beliefs before making their final choices come November?

Former Republican Congresswoman Blasts Modern GOP, Laments Party’s Approach To Women’s Issues

Over her eight terms as a Congresswoman from Maryland’s Eight District, Connie Morella earned a reputation one of the strongest voices for women’s rights and reproductive choice in the Republican Party.  A bipartisan-minded moderate, she worked with members of both parties to shepherd the 2000 re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act through the House with a 415 to 3 majority.  Like former Sen. John Danforth(R-MO), she hardly recognizes her party today.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Morella expressed disappointment with the anti-women voting record of the 24-member Republican Women’s Policy Committee and the lack of bipartisan House support for the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act.

Read more…

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May 24, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Suppress the Vote!Quantcast

Ohio Republicans want to disqualify voters’ ballots for the mistakes poll workers make.

So much ink has been spilled on how vote suppression will affect the 2012 presidential election, one hesitates to write another word. Ari Berman has done terrific work uncovering the ways in which the new voting laws have aimed at suppressing the votes of elderly, minority, student, and other voters—particularly in swing states—who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice has an indispensible primer on the 22 new laws and two executive actions that will severely restrict voting in 17 states in November. These laws, often modeled on draft legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a consortium of conservative state legislators, will have the effect of disenfranchising millions of voters, all in order to address a vote fraud “epidemic” that should be filed somewhere between the Loch Ness Monster and the Tooth Fairy in the annals of modern fairy tales. As Weiser notes, none of this is casual or accidental: “If you want to find another period in which this many new laws were passed restricting voting, you have to go back more than a century—to the post-Reconstruction era, when Southern states passed a host of Jim Crow voting laws and Northern states targeted immigrants and the poor.”

Whether it’s onerous (and expensive) voter ID rules that will render as many as 10 percent of Americans ineligible to vote, proof of citizenship measures, restricting registration drives, cancellation of Sunday voting, or claims that voting should be a privilege as opposed to a right, efforts to discount and discredit the vote have grown bolder in recent years, despite vanishingly rare claims of actual vote fraud. The sole objective appears to be ensuring that fewer Americans vote in 2012 than voted in 2008. But as strange as the reasons to purge certain votes have been around the nation, things have grown even stranger in recent weeks in Ohio, where GOP lawmakers have gone after not only voters but the federal courts, in an effort to wiggle out of statewide voting rules.

First, some background: In 2010, a consent decree—an order issued by a judge setting out a voluntary agreement by the parties in a lawsuit—was entered into a federal lawsuit filed by the Northeast Coalition for the Homeless and then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The original lawsuit challenged a 2006 Ohio Voter ID law and other provisional voting laws that made it difficult for homeless Ohio citizens to vote. Among the things established by the consent decree was this: Poll worker error should not be the reason for tossing out otherwise good ballots.

That seems reasonable enough. While nobody has uncovered an epidemic of vote fraud, it’s true that a good deal of what goes wrong with elections is due to the human mistakes of poll workers. And presumably if those mistakes are not the fault of the voter, it makes no sense to reject that ballot.

But these and other provisions were challenged last month when Tom Niehaus, president of the Ohio Senate, and Lou Blessing, a state representative, filed an action in the Ohio Supreme Court calling the consent decree into question.

Read more…

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May 24, 2012

The Daily Scoop: My break with the extreme rightQuantcast

I worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity

By

I was always way ahead of the curve. And my exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them.

But no longer. That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.

Extremism in the defense of nothing

Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right.

When did I end up in bed with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber? Could it be because I did specialize in blowing things up while serving my country for four years as an airborne combat engineer? I also watched human beings blown up. I had friends and Navy SEALs I was in battle with blown up. My own intestines exploded on the first of my four combat embeds, three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Took seven operations to fix the plumbing. I later suffered other permanent injuries.

Yet now I find myself linked not only with the Unabomber, but also Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Or so says the Chicago-based think tank the Heartland Institute, for which I’ve done work. Heartland erected billboards depicting the above three declaring: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” Climate scientists now, evidently, share something in common with dictators and mass murderers. Reportedly bin Laden was scheduled to make such an appearance, too.

You see, I’ve published articles saying I do “believe in global warming.” Yes, I’ve also questioned the extent to which man-made gases have contributed to that warming and concluded that expenditures to reduce those emissions would be as worthless as they’d be horrifically expensive. No matter; just call me “Ted.” Or “Charlie.” Or “Fidel.”

Read more…

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May 23, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Romney promises 6% unemploymentQuantcast

During an interview with Time magazine Mitt Romney promised to reduce the unemployment rate to 6% within his first term as president. Let the celebrations begin! But wait… there may be a catch here. According to economic forecasts the current rate of growth already projects the unemployment rate will fall to 7% by 2015 and 5.5% by 2017. So Romney may well be correct, by the end of his first term in office (should he prevail) unemployment would drop to the level he promised. The one point he omits is he would have little to do to keep this campaign promise except to leave Obama’s economic policies intact.  It is also interesting he is touting 6% as a significant goal for a Romney administration to aspire to given his previous statements which make it clear anything above 4% was not worth celebrating.  In a separate, yet assuredly linked campaign stump speech, Paul Ryan stated Romney and the Republicans will “save this country”.  A wonderful prediction but given the current trends, it seems the country is already well on its way to being saved. 

Romney promises to bring unemployment down to 6%

(CNN) – After repeatedly pinning the president for the unemployment level, which now sits at 8.1%, Mitt Romney pledged he could cut the rate by two points if he makes it to the White House.

“I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we’d put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6%, and perhaps a little lower,” the presumptive GOP nominee said in a TIME interview published Wednesday.

The number marked the first time Romney had talked about a specific rate during this election cycle, although he listed 5.9% as the number he would strive for in his 59-point economic plan released in September.

Read more…

Additional Romney Budget Plan Posts

The Daily Scoop: Romney’s severely conservative budget promises

The Daily Scoop: Romney plan raises taxes on poor families

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May 8, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Ryan Budget May Cut Economic DataQuantcast

Starting in the early 1990s, the U.S. Census Bureau asked Congress for extra funding each year so it could better analyze the services sector, which was quickly replacing industrial activity as the biggest driver of the U.S. economy. In 2003 the bureau requested more funding to survey financial, real estate, and other companies on a quarterly basis, rather than wait to take their pulse with its Economic Census, which gathers data on business every five years.

Every year, Census asked for the extra funds; every year, Congress denied them the money, leaving the Census Bureau largely blind to the health of a sector that made up more than half the total economy.

Finally, in early 2009, after the real estate-fueled financial crisis, Congress gave Census what it had been asking for—an extra $8.1 million. In the view of many, it was too late. “That’s a grand example of how nickel-and-diming statistics agencies can screw up the economy,” says Andrew Reamer, a research professor at the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy and a member of the BEA’s advisory committee. “The government saved $8 million, but how many trillions were lost as a result of not being able to see the crisis coming?”

That extra data, says Reamer, would’ve revealed just how quickly certain parts of the economy were slowing down.

These agencies have always had to fight for more funding. Now they may have to fight just to keep their budgets intact. As part of $19 billion in nondefense discretionary cuts in Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget—recently passed by the House of Representatives—the agencies are likely to get less funding.

Read more…

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May 8, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Government’s 1st Monthly Budget Surplus in 3 YearsQuantcast

As the budget battles in Washington begin anew, it seems the importance of tax revenue for repairing the national debt problems has been quite clearly illustrated. It’s also worth postulating, with the regaining of virtually all the jobs lost under the Obama Administration does it not stand to reason that putting people back to work where they contribute to the tax base is the best way to reduce the debt spending? Would it not be a wiser choice for Republicans from the local, state & federal levels to heed this logic, halt their attempts to slash everything to the bone and instead focus on job creation through investment in the country’s future? It would seem the strategy subscribed to by the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress has, and is, working.  Is it not time for the GOP to swallow a bit of pride, acknowledge this reality and come together to continue down the past to recovery rather than hindering as has been the case for the past 3 1/2 years? 

By Michael Ono | ABC OTUS News

The Congressional Budget Office has reported a monthly budget surplus of $58 billion,  which would be a first in nearly three years.

The improved numbers are attributed to a 10 percent increase in tax revenue.  The month of April coincides with tax season which typically results in a yearly surplus, but hasn’t happened since the 2008 financial crisis when tax revenue fell.

“It is a clear signal that the government’s fiscal situation is finally moving definitively in the right direction,” said Mark Zandi who is the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics.

Next month’s report will likely show a budget deficit, but the small surplus is an important milestone in the nation’s struggle to fend of a future debt crisis.

Some economists argue that a rush to curb the deficit through immediate spending cuts could harm the economy in the short term.  Britain recently announced that it fell back into recession, with some blaming the drop in gross domestic product on harsh austerity measures.

“It goes to how important economic growth is to addressing our fiscal problems,” said Zandi.

The other school of thought says that a massive budget deficit is too risky because the interest on the debt could grow to become unmanageable.

Lawmakers will likely have to find a way to cut the deficit over the long run.

“Policymakers have a lot more work to do to establish fiscal sustainability,” said Zandi.

The conventional wisdom is that Congress will address the long-term problem after the election is over.

Referenced from YahooNews!

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May 6, 2012

The Daily Scoop: The Group Attempting to Swift-Boat ObamaQuantcast

Two articles about an attempt to “Swift-boat” the President for the bin Laden mission. The first is about one group, entitled “Veterans For A Strong America”, staffed by one person, supported by such individuals as the Koch brothers and Karl Rove is seeking to use military personnel to criticize Obama’s claim to this accomplishment.  The second is an editorial that goes into some more detail and includes comments from both sides. As one commentor to the Think Progress piece suggested, perhaps a group of pro-Obama veterens should be formed calling itself “Veterans For Reality”  

What Everyone Should Know About The Secretive Group Trying To Swift Boat Barack Obama

A secretive right-wing group, Veterans For A Strong America, is attempting to do to President Obama what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did to Sen. John Kerry in 2004. And they aren’t shy about it. The group’s leader and sole employee, Joel Arends, told Mother Jones, “Yes, it’s the swift boating of the president.”

Arends said his goal is to take “what’s perceived to be [Obama's] greatest strength” — the successful raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound — and make it “his greatest weakness.” The effort started this week with a web video attacking Obama for taking too much credit.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Arends refused to discuss any information regarding how the group was financed or its leadership.

Read more…

Will Navy SEALs swift-boat Obama over the bin Laden raid?

A backlash is growing to the victory dance over the terrorist’s death, fueling concerns that Obama’s biggest foreign policy success could be turned against him

Many Navy SEALs are not happy that President Obama is “taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden,” says Toby Harnden at Britain’s The Daily Mail. Quoting retired and active SEALs, both on the record and off, Harnden makes the case that many SEALs resent Obama for using the group as “ammunition” in his re-election campaign. Some U.S. commentators dismissed the report as a conservative hatchet job, but others aren’t so sure, saying Republicans could use the SEALs’ alleged complaints to undercut Obama’s most visible foreign policy success…

Maybe he deserves to be swift-boated: “When you take too much credit, you open the door to blowback that gives you too little,” says Paul Mirengoff at Powerline. The SEALs’ reaction to Obama’s “campaign of self-congratulation” was utterly predictable, and the president’s real problem is that he doesn’t have much else to brag about.

But Obama is not going to back down: Mitt Romney’s campaign is trying to “push what amounts to a ‘Navy Seals for Truth’ pitch,” but it can’t hide the fact that Mitt is weak on this issue, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Romney says “even Jimmy Carter” would have ordered the raid on bin Laden, but his past statements, in which he played down the possibility of sending troops into Pakistan, legitimately call into doubt what Romney would have done.

And he shouldn’t cave to Republican bullying: The so-called outrage over bin Laden is a transparent effort “to intimidate Democrats into not mentioning” his death at all, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast.

Read more…

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May 5, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Romney’s economics vs Swing State GovernorsQuantcast

As Mitt Romney struggles to maintain his “Obama has Failed” message, swing state governors tout their states’ growing employment opportunities. Romney’s campaign stops in Ohio and Virginia this week took place amidst such positive economic news as Ohio’s unemployment decreases from  8.8% to 7.5% and Virginia’s unemployment figures showing a slight decrease in March to 5.6%. One must wonder what alternative strategies the Republican candidate’s campaign staff has waiting in the wings should the economy continue to improve throughout the summer months.

Romney’s economic message seems at odds with some GOP governors’

“Welcome to Ohio,” Mitt Romney told President Obama with more than a dash of sarcasm in an open letter on the eve of Obama’s rally Saturday in Columbus. “I have a simple question for you: Where are the jobs?”

Romney got an answer to that question last week from Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Campaigning for Romney outside the capital, the Republican governor could hardly have strayed further off message as he painted a bright picture of economic recovery in Ohio just as Romney was trying to do the opposite.

“We have a website called Ohio Means Jobs and there’s probably about 80,000 jobs listed on there where there are openings,” Kasich told college students meeting with him and Romney.

“Really?” a student asked in astonishment.

In scanning the website, Kasich said, “you’re going to find a lot of real exciting opportunities.”

Kasich is not the only Republican governor whose off-key boasts of a local jobs recovery have undercut the party’s presumptive presidential nominee right before a Romney speech portraying the economy under Obama as dismal.

Virginia Gov.  Bob McConnell offered the latest variation on Thursday as he introduced Romney at a rally in Portsmouth, Va.

“Welcome to the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast,” McConnell said.

As the audience cheered, Romney paused, then smiled and clapped his hands four times.

“That’s good news,” he muttered, ignoring the head wind that any good news on jobs creates for his campaign in a crucial swing state like Virginia.

“Now as good as that is,” McConnell continued, “imagine how much better off we’re going to be with President Mitt Romney.”  [Yes, how much better? Given the obvious improvements is it worth changing strategies and leaders midstream?]

Read more…

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May 3, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Is Climate Change Hitting Home?

After a year of freakish and destructive weather, Americans are finally waking up to the dangers of climate change

By

The Williams River was so languid and lovely last Saturday morning that it was almost impossible to imagine the violence with which it must have been running on August 28, 2011. And yet the evidence was all around: sand piled high on its banks, trees still scattered as if by a giant’s fist, and most obvious of all, a utilitarian temporary bridge where for 140 years a graceful covered bridge had spanned the water.

The YouTube video of that bridge crashing into the raging river was Vermont’s iconic image from its worst disaster in memory, the record flooding that followed Hurricane Irene’s rampage through the state in August 2011.  It claimed dozens of lives, as it cut more than a billion-dollar swath of destruction across the eastern United States.

New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they’re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization and their own lives. After a year with a record number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters, seven in ten Americans now believe that “global warming is affecting the weather.” No less striking, 35 percent of the respondents reported that extreme weather had affected them personally in 2011.  As Yale’s Anthony Laiserowitz told the New York Times, “People are starting to connect the dots.”

Which is what we must do…

Read more…

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May 3, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Study; Fracking Waste May Migrate to Aquifers Faster than PredictedQuantcast

A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the  Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground  could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have  previously predicted.

More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and  mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground  Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more  than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the  fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked  nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology  is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats  to the environment.

But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and  fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could  allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

Read more…

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May 1, 2012

The Daily Scoop: UK MP’s – Murdoch ‘not a fit person’ to lead News CorpQuantcast

Will the US be next to take on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire?

Rupert Murdoch “is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”, MPs have said.

The culture committee questioned journalists and bosses at the now-closed News of the World, as well as police and lawyers for hacking victims.

Its report has concluded that Mr Murdoch exhibited “wilful blindness” to what was going on in News Corporation.

But the committee was split six to four with Tory members refusing to endorse the report and branding it “partisan”.

Conservative Louise Mensch called it “a real great shame” that the report’s credibility had potentially been “damaged” as a result, with the report carried by Labour and Lib Dem members backing it.

News Corp said in a statement it was “carefully reviewing” the report and would “respond shortly”, adding: “The company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologises to everyone whose privacy was invaded.”

The BBC News Channel’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the report was much more damning than had been anticipated and directly questioned the integrity and honesty of Rupert Murdoch.

Read more…

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April 29, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Is this the rise of the Norquistian GOP?Quantcast

Amidst the hard shifts within the Grand Old Party building from the 1994 ”Contract With America” midterm victories and culminating with the 2010 Tea Party inspired gains  are we bearing witness to the rise of the Norquistian Republicans? Fueled by a massive economic crisis the smoldering flames ignited, spreading with full force through cable commentary networks and across the conservative blogosphere, this new crop of highly conservative Republicans roared into the federal legislature on a mission to wrangle control out of a demonized “big government’s” hands. It seems the old GOP guard is being led by the tail, pulling them into long forgotten realms of extremism. The article here lays open the author’s interpretation of the madness into which the Republican Party has apparently fallen.

Are the Republicans mad?

They are radical, not unhinged, and there is method in the apparent madness

WHAT happens to a two-party political system when one party goes mad? That is the question posed in a powerful and angry new book by two scholars at two respected think-tanks, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. The book’s cheery title is “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” (Basic Books), and its argument is encapsulated in its subtitle: “How the American constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism”.

The think-tankers’ thesis is that America’s political parties have become as vehemently adversarial as the parties in a parliamentary system. But whereas a parliamentary system allows the majority to rule while the minority bides its time, America’s separation of powers seldom gives one party the power to rule unconstrained. So the emergence of parliamentary-style parties in America is a formula for “wilful obstruction” and gridlock.

This diagnosis has become commonplace since the tea-tainted tide that swept a stroppy Republican majority into the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 2010, bringing on said gridlock. Indeed, Messrs Mann and Ornstein spotted the trend in an earlier book about Congress, “The Broken Branch”, in 2006. The added twist now is their claim that the Republican Party has become “an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

To put this another way, consider the case of Grover Norquist, the boss of the mighty advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which has enormous influence on the party. He is also flogging a new book, called “Debacle” (Wiley). The debacle he has in mind is not the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed; it is the response of Barack Obama, which he believes “made things worse” and led to “the worst recovery on record”.

Coming from a man whose professed aim in politics is to cut the federal government down to a size small enough to drown “in a bathtub”, these conclusions are as surprising as rain in April.  Norquistian Republicans are happy to plead guilty to the charge of holding “the inherited social and economic policy regime” in contempt. They can hardly wait to tear down an inheritance they blame for a freedom-trampling federal government wallowing in debt. As for the polarisation of the parties, Mr Norquist argues that there is no compromise to be found between a party that wants to go one way and another that wants to go precisely the opposite way.

Read more…

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April 27, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: GOP For Gabby Giffords’ Seat “Health care Privilege You Earn,’ Not A Right”Quantcast

Jesse Kelly, the Republican nominee in Arizona’s 8th congressional district best known for holding fundraisers with M16 automatic rifles, told an elderly gentleman at a campaign stop yesterday that health care is a “privilege” that people must “earn”, not a right.

Kelly, who is running to fill Gabby Gifford’s vacated seat — made the remarks while meeting with voters at the La Cholla Country Club on April 23rd.

Whether or not you agree with Kelly’s belief that health care is just a privilege, it is still a reality that far too many Americans die each year because they can’t afford access to the health care they need or receive uncompensated care that is financed by those who have insurance.

Read more…

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April 27, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Health Insurers to Pay $1.3 billion in rebates to customersQuantcast

Before the Affordable Car Act, insurance companies spent a large percentage of consumers’ premiums on non-medical costs  (called the medical loss ratio) such as high pay for management, administrative costs, marketing and of course profits for shareholders. However, now with the implementation of the health care reform these companies are required to devote at least 80% of  those premium dollars to customers’ health care. If this does not occur then the difference is returned to individual in the form of premium discounts or rebate checks beginning this year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study reported below those rebates will total ~ $1.3 billion dollars. One has to wonder, how many of those recipients were rooting for the Supreme Court to throw the law out.

(Reuters) – Health insurers will pay $1.3 billion in rebates to consumers and employers this year under a provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law that penalizes plans that devote too little of their premium revenues to health services, an independent study showed on Thursday.

The study, published by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said the data illustrated some of the tangible benefits that consumers and employers could expect from the embattled 2010 law if it survives two major legal and political election-year challenges.

The rebates, which are due by August 1, stem from premiums paid in 2011 on plans representing nearly 16 million beneficiaries. But Kaiser, a nonprofit healthcare research group, said most of the money is expected to go to employers rather than consumers.

If the law were overturned or repealed, insurers would no longer be required to comply with the rebate provision.

“While the health reform law as a whole continues to divide the American public, there are tangible changes taking place that benefit consumers,” said Kaiser President Drew Altman.

“Greater regulatory scrutiny of private insurance is improving value and helping to get excess costs out of the system,” he added.

Kaiser found that some of the biggest rebate payouts are expected in states, including Texas and Florida, where the law faces some of its stiffest opposition from Republican politicians and other conservatives.

Read more…

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April 26, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Call for Obama Travel Probe shows GOP DesperationQuantcast

As the Republican Party and conservative media continually criticizes President Obama for his official versus campaign travel, their tactic seems to actually reveal cracks in their confidence to overtake the White House. The claim is the President’s use of Air Force One blurs the line between campaign and official business. But they neglect to remember the use of official modes of transport by every other sitting US President seeking re-election in recent memory. Did we hear calls for investigations during George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign? Did we hear them about Clinton’s? How about George HW Bush’s or Reagan’s? There may have been some musings but calls for investigations? Nope. What makes this time different? Well we have a Republican Party which has shifted itself into the extreme Right corner of the political spectrum, a party that has all but disregarded the needs of the country deciding instead to focus on it’s own desire to regain goverment control and a Democrat in the Oval Office. All that remains is match to set it aflame.  This attempt to bring fomal investigations upon a sitting president over the means of his travel during a campaign season illustrates a growing desperation within a party which has become way too eager to take control.

Republicans request investigation of Obama travel

(CNN) – President Barack Obama isn’t just playing politics – he may be committing fraud on the taxpayer’s dime, the Republican National Committee charged on Wednesday.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the committee requested an investigation into Obama’s recent travel – including trips this week to Iowa and North Carolina – alleging those trips were more political than official.

The White House and Obama For America, the president’s reelection campaign, go to great lengths to distinguish between official and campaign activities, as do elected officials and their reelection efforts at various levels of government.

But Obama’s recent speeches, the RNC said in the letter, were “events widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies.” The committee’s case sees supporting evidence in a list of the states Obama has visited this month, including the general election battlegrounds of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.

It’s a blurry line, to some extent.

“This speech was high on class warfare, slogans, and divisive campaign-style rhetoric,” the letter said of a recent official event earlier this month in Florida. [The same could be said about the State of the Union Address thisyear]

Responding to the letter, White House Spokesman Eric Schultz maintained the president’s travel was part of his “official responsibility” to leave Washington and hear from citizens about major issues.

“This week’s travel has been part of the President’s official responsibility to get outside of Washington, DC, hear from students, and discuss stopping interest rates on their loans from doubling in July – just like Friday’s trip to Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia to meet with troops, veterans, and military families is likewise part of the President’s official responsibilities. When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other Administrations have followed,” Schultz said in the statement.”

Republicans may see the opposite spin in the pushback from another Obama reelection official.

There’s no doubt that Governor (Mitt) Romney has an advantage,” campaign senior adviser David Axelrod told reporters, referencing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. “He hasn’t had a job in six years, and he famously jokes that he’s unemployed, but he’s been running for president for six solid years. And he’s got every day, 24 hours a day to run for president. Now we don’t have that. We don’t have that advantage.

Read more…

Related Articles:

“Jetting Around” Obama’s Vacation Record

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April 25, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Jindal reshaped Louisiana’s school system with ALEC’s blueprintsQuantcast

Gov. Bobby Jindal has remade the Louisiana public schools system with impressive speed over the past legislative session. Last week, he signed into law a suite of landmark reform bills that will likely change the direction of public education in Louisiana forever. But not all change is good, and critics say both Jindal’s agenda and the strategy to move it come right from the playbook of conservative advocacy group ALEC, in an effort to revive Jindal’s national political profile.

But not all change is good, and education advocates have deep concerns about the efficacy of Jindal’s overhaul, and the interests that have pushed it.

The bills all sprinted through the state legislature. Committee hearings were conducted at a breakneck speed, Democratic lawmakers complained, and members were asked to vote on amendments they didn’t actually understand. When the House took up a bill changing teacher-tenure rules, it ran the session past midnight, refusing to break until they called for a vote.

ALEC’s 2010 “Report Card on American Education” (PDF) suggested that lawmakers overwhelm their opposition in exactly this manner. “Do not simply just introduce one reform in the legislature—build a consensus for reform and introduce a lot,” the report authors told ALEC members.

One new law Jindal moved in this fashion will make Louisiana among the most aggressive states in the nation for pushing charter schools and publicly funded vouchers for private institutions.

Jindal’s set of reforms hews closely to the model reform legislation set out by ALEC, which advocates for the privatization of traditionally public services, like health care, prisons and education. ALEC and Jindal’s school agenda is driven by a conservative ideology that believes private markets can help introduce efficiency and healthy competition into public institutions. As ALEC’s education report card in 2010 laid out, “Families need a market for K-12 schools. The market mechanism rewards success, and either improves or eliminates failure.”

Read more…

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April 25, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Durable U.S. Recovery at HandQuantcast

Almost three years after it began, the U.S. recovery may strengthen as autos and housing begin to reemerge as mainstays of growth.

“The traditional engines that tend to give you a recovery are kicking in now,” Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein LP in New York, said in an interview. “We’re seeing confirmation of sustainability from all sides. That’s a real business cycle.”

Over the past two quarters, measures normally associated with early stages of lasting rebounds, including hours worked, employment, consumer and business sentiment, household spending on durable goods and residential investment, have picked up in tandem, said Carson.

Household spending led by durable goods like automobiles, as well as gains in homebuilding, may account for more than half of the first-quarter advance in gross domestic product, according to Carson. Those two areas contributed 1.7 percentage points to the 3 percent gain in gross domestic product at an annual rate in the fourth quarter and probably made a similar contribution in the past three months, he said.

That marks a shift from the period following the recession. Exports and business investment accounted for about 70 percent of the 2.4 percent growth seen in the first nine quarters of the recovery, compared with a historical contribution of about 20 percent in rebounds spanning the past five decades, according to Carson, who worked as an economist at the Commerce Department.

Read more…

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April 23, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Who’s Mitt beholden to?Quantcast

Mitt Romney’s contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure is increasingly troubling. Whether it involves the details of his personal finances or the identity of his big fundraisers, the presumptive Republican is setting a new, low bar for transparency — one that does not augur well for how the Romney White House would conduct itself if he were elected.

First is the matter of tax returns. Mr. Romney’s campaign, belatedly and under pressure, released a single year’s worth of tax information in January along with a summary for the 2011 return. Now, with a Friday afternoon release conveniently timed for minimum news coverage a week ago, it announced that the candidate had filed for an extension.

The campaign insisted that Mr. Romney was delaying because some of the companies in which he had invested had yet to report their earnings. This explanation would be a lot more palatable if Mr. Romney had demonstrated any inclination to live up to the standards of most previous presidential candidates — including, most notably, his own father, George Romney, who released a dozen years of returns when he ran for president in 1968.

Then there is the mystery of Mr. Romney’s bundlers. Candidates such as Mr. McCain, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, among others, voluntarily did the right thing and revealed the identity of these major fundraisers. Mr. Romney, despite the undeniable importance of these individuals, has declined to follow that practice. The candidates know full well to whom they are indebted. Perhaps Mr. Romney can explain why the public isn’t entitled to the same information.

Read more…

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April 20, 2012

The Daily Scoop: The Economy & the Election: How Bad for Obama?Quantcast

The headline on the lead  story in Thursday’s Times reads: “In Wariness on Economy, Poll  Finds Opening for Romney.” Citing the findings from a Times/CBS News  opinion survey carried out earlier this week, the article went on to say that a  lingering concern among Americans “about their own financial circumstances is  allowing Mitt Romney to persuade voters that he could improve their economic  prospects more than President Obama.”

On the face of it, this is highly encouraging news for the presumptive G.O.P.  nominee. In our straitened times, it is a rarely challenged truism that economic  concerns dominate elections. Now that we are well into the third year of a  recovery, however weak, from a deep recession, the incumbent should be getting  some credit.

If he isn’t, if voters still think somebody else could do a better job of  improving their lot, his electoral prospects would appear to be grim—much  grimmer than the conventional wisdom among political professionals, pundits, and  speculators would indicate. (On the betting site Intrade, Obama is still the  strong favorite  to defeat Romney.)

But is that the full story? Not quite. A close look at the Times/CBS  News survey, and other recent polls, reveals a complicated and ambiguous  picture. Yes, there are some positive signs for the G.O.P. and worrying ones for  the White House. But the trends are still going in Obama’s direction. What the  poll really reinforces is just how critical what happens to the economy in the  next few months will be.

Read more…

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April 18, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Science, religion and policy – Part 1Quantcast

The Daily Scoop will delve into a controversial area today. Spurred by the direction a recent discussion took and coupled with the discovery of the article here examining some intersections of religion, policy and science, the debate between Theory of Evolution and creationism will be the theme today. The article here gives some insight into the recent Tennessee bill that was seen by many as an open door to bring intelligent design (or creationism) into the classroom, to be taught along side scientific theory. The author provides some good insight into the minds of the legislators who presented the bill and their astonishment over the controversy it created. It’s well worth reading along with the linked companion article it refers to at the beginning. The second part of today’s Daily Scoop is a video about a landmark court case in Dover, Pennsylvania involving the teaching of intelligent design in the high school there.

From the Economist:

MY COLLEAGUE wrote a characteristically thoughtful post on the non-binarism of scientific and faith-based belief systems. As it happens, my piece in this week’s paper is about Tennessee’s newly enacted law protecting teachers “from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner”. I spent a large part of last week discussing this bill with scientists and civil-libertarians, many of whom see the bill as a Trojan horse for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design; with the bill’s supporters in Tennessee’s legislature, who seem genuinely amazed that the bill has stirred controversy; and with a representative from the Discovery Institute, whence the bill’s inspiration came. In this battle generally—that is, in the battle over whether humans evolved through natural selection or were created ex nihilo by God a few millennia back, and in the battle over whether the latter theory has a place in science classrooms—I side with the first camp.

But I found it difficult not to feel a measure of sympathy for the bill’s sponsors, Representative Bill Dunn and Senator Bo Watson, both of whom seemed genuinely surprised by the furore it had caused.

Read more…

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April 18, 2012

The Daily Scoop:  Science, religion and policy – Part 2 [Video]Quantcast

Continuing with today’s theme Part 2 is the 2007 award winning, NOVA documentary about the landmark court case challenging the Dover, Pennsylvania school district’s policy advocating intelligent design. The documentary includes numerous interviews with the small town’s citizens from both sides of the issue delving into their deeply held beliefs and feelings. It also tells the story of the court case and the breadth of evidence from both sides. While long, it is truly worth watching.

If there are problems viewing the video or if it is slow try watching it HERE.

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April 17, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: Group behind VoterID & Stand Your Ground Laws Backs DownQuantcast

Under pressure from activist groups and corporate sponsors, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on Tuesday announced a reorganization plan that will shutter its Public Safety and Elections Committee, which encouraged passage of “Stand Your Ground” laws and other controversial measures.

The reorganization drew muted cheers from groups on the left that have for years been waging a campaign against ALEC, which describes itself as advocating “free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism.”

The move comes after half a dozen major corporations — including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Intuit and McDonald’s — announced they had decided not to renew membership in the group, which drafts “model bills” for state legislators.

In addition to backing Stand Your Ground legislation, ALEC has drawn criticism for laws requiring voters to show identification, tough immigration proposals and resolutions calling for an end to the regulation of carbon emissions.

Read more…

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April 17, 2012

The Daily Scoop: A huge student loan scamQuantcast

With the help of Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., for-profit colleges are massively ripping off U.S. taxpayers Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill with the impressive, everybody-can-get-behind-this title “Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act.” Sponsored by the ultra-conservative North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, the bill ostensibly took aim at an issue close to small-government-loving hearts: intrusive federal regulation of for-profit colleges — fast growing, highly profitable outfits like DeVry University or the online-only University of Phoenix.

The for-profit educational sector is an industry almost entirely subsidized by the federal government. Around 70-80 percent of for-profit revenues are generated by federal student loans. At the same time, judging by sky-high dropout rates, the for-profit schools do a terrible job of educating students. The Obama administration’s efforts to define a credit hour and require state accreditation were motivated by a very understandable desire: to ensure that taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when federal cash pays for a student’s education. In contrast, Foxx’s legislation is designed to remove that taxpayer protection. So here’s a more accurate title for her bill: “The Protecting the Freedom of For-Profit Schools to Suck off the Government Teat Without Any Accountability Whatsoever Act.”

One would imagine that Republicans, who theoretically oppose government involvement in the private sector, and are always looking for ways to cut government spending, would approve of efforts to seek greater accountability for taxpayer funds. But as it turns out, Foxx herself is benefiting from the waste and abuse of federal tax dollars. Among the top 20 financial contributors to Foxx in the 2011-2012 cycle are the Association of Private Sector Colleges/Universities, the Apollo Group (owner of the University of Phoenix), and Corinthian Colleges. Since federal student loans comprise the vast majority of the revenues of those for-profit schools, it follows that their campaign contributions to Foxx are also made possible by U.S. taxpayers.

Read more…

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April 16, 2012

The Daily Scoop Xtra: Romney to cut Depts of Ed & HousingQuantcast

While Mitt Romney and his wife Ann revel in the “gift” that was Hilary Rosen’s comment about stay-at-home moms and the presidential candidate’s attempts turn the “war on women” around on the Democrats by asserting more women lost jobs under Obama, he fails to comprehend the impacts of those government cuts on the very voting block he’s attempting to attract. Cuts in the Departments of Education and Housing & Urban Development will result in additional job losses for women who have already suffered from previous cuts in education, primarily teaching, and civil services. Additionally, Mr. Romney does not appear to consider what further cuts in Department of Education budgets will do to the growing problem of student loan debt. Significant cuts in department funding will reduce grant and loan funds available to students amidst rising tuition rates, requiring them to borrow more from private lenders with higher interest rates. 

Beware the Hot Mic! What Mitt and Ann say when they think only wealthy donors are listening.

The maxims of the 2012 race are multiplying. The latest: Somewhere a microphone is always hot. On Sunday, Mitt Romney was unknowingly overheard at a Florida fundraiser by reporters for the Wall Street Journal and NBC News giving his wealthy backers a sneak preview of his presidential plans. He outlined some of his theories for cutting the bloated federal government, including eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development and trimming the Department of Education. He also floated the idea to the upscale crowd of removing the mortgage interest deduction for second homes as well as ending the state income tax deduction and state property tax deduction, tiny but specific steps on how he would remove loopholes in the tax code to pay for his tax cuts. He and his wife, Ann Romney, also delighted in the political “gift” given to them last week by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Read more…

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April 16, 2012

The Daily Scoop: For Most, Choice of Stay-at-Home Mom Is No Luxury

By Susan Saulny

The layoff notice was not a complete surprise. At the shipping center in Denver where Jeanine Maez filled mail orders, the trend had been toward paperless transactions.

But how Mrs. Maez reacted to being unemployed in 2004 was a revelation, even to herself: she decided not to look for a new job in favor of staying home full time with her five children, the youngest of whom, a son, is 11.

“The years of ‘winging it’ with my husband in terms of taking care of the kids had been too hard, and I was tired,” she said. “And my youngest son, who is autistic, needed his mama.”

To make ends meet, Mrs. Maez, 44, sold her car, paid off her credit card debt and disciplined herself to spend more modestly on clothes and household goods. Her husband, a private investigator, took a second job selling insurance. “Whatever it takes to make a buck,” she said. “My sweet honey struggles a lot to make it work for us.”

In multiple ways, Mrs. Maez is the face of stay-at-home motherhood in America, where 65 percent of married women who stay home with children under 18 years old live in households that earn less than $75,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the United States Census Bureau.

The political storm over stay-at-home mothers took off last week when the Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “never worked a day in her life,” and it raises the question of just who is the modern stay-at-home mom.

Read more…

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April 12, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: VA Speaker & Ex-ALEC Chair Belittles Woman’s Intelligence [Video]

During an exchange between ProgressVA’s  executive director, Anna Scholl, and Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R) where Scholl presses the Speaker on financial relationships between Virginoa legislators and the, now infamous, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Howell reacts by belittling Scholl’s intelligence saying,

I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.

More on this story HERE.

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April 12, 2012

The Daily Scoop: US grabs lead over China in clean energy race

Despite the opposition, the accusations of corruption associated with Solyndra and unyielding obstinance against any energy policy paradigm shift, the US has taken the lead once again in the realm of clean energy investment. This increase in private investment provides a glimmer of hope that the private sector is recognizing the benefits of shifting away nonrenewables. With renewables representing much larger share of energy production in Europe than they do in the US, perhaps this private sector investment will motivate politicians in Washington to take note and renew the tax credits & government investment for new clean energy business ventures to maintain our country’s competitiveness.

By Kerry Sheridan | AFP

The United States has regained the lead in the clean energy race, investing $48 billion last year to surpass China, which held the world’s top spending spot since 2009, said a study Wednesday.

The US surge in private investment was a 42 percent increase over 2010 and saw Washington maintain its lead worldwide in both venture capital and research and development cash, said the Pew Charitable Trusts annual report on clean energy.

However, the US boom was largely driven by expiring tax incentives, highlighting “a persistent phenomenon in which the country fails to deploy into the marketplace the clean energy innovations it creates in the laboratory,” it said.

The Pew report, which focused on private investment in Group of Twenty (G20) nations, also found that total worldwide private investment rose 6.5 percent over 2010 to a record level of $263 billion.

“Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and India were also among the nations that most successfully attracted private investments last year,” it said.

Germany ranked third in 2011 after soaring to second place in 2010 as it ramped up both solar and wind power. Private investment dropped five percent last year compared to 2010.

“Germany now obtains more energy from renewable sources than it does from nuclear power, coal, or natural gas,” said the report, adding that Italy has also surged, surpassing Germany’s deployment of 7.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar.

Read more…

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April 11. 2012

The Daily Scoop: U.S. Tightens Rules on Livestock Antibiotics Use

Farmers and ranchers will for the first time be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals, federal food regulators announced on Wednesday. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans.

The Food and Drug Administration has been taking small steps to try to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, but federal officials said that requiring prescriptions would lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics, which are given to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem for years and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences.

Read more…

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April 10, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Clean Air Helps the Economy

Environmental regulation doesn’t kill jobs; it creates them

In December, the Obama administration approved long-overdue environmental regulations requiring U.S. power plants to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic metals. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or air toxics rule, is expected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths a year and have many other health benefits. And yet conservative members of Congress oppose it.

Why? Because they say it will “kill jobs.” This is a familiar tactic for politicians opposed to any sort of regulation. Conservatives have been scarily disciplined in appending the job-killing label to all regulations, both old and new.

As somebody who has been on the front line of this particular battle, I’m afraid to say that the tactic seems to have resonance. Of course, it has also been a disaster for those interested in a true assessment of regulation’s impacts on the economy. I’m not a regulatory expert, but I am a macroeconomist and thus know what does and does not impact overall job growth. Textbook macroeconomics indicates that, from the perspective of job creation, the best time to enact regulations that may require costly investments is precisely when the economy is depressed.

Read more…

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April 9, 2012

The Daily Scoop: The Best Watchdog Journalism On Fracking

Here are a series of articles compiled by ProPublica on the issue of fracking in the US from 2004 to 2012. Well worth reading through.

Halliburton’s Interests Assisted by White House

Los Angeles Times, October 2004

Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?

ProPublica, November 2008

State Oil and Gas Regulators Are Spread Too Thin To Do Their Jobs

ProPublica, December 2009

Game Changer

This American Life, July 2011

Find the full list here….

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April 6, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: The Kochs’ very bad weekQuantcast

Coming on the heals of Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers exodus, the Koch brothers are experiencing their own particularly troubling public relations crisis, as if they there were ever in good standing with the left-leaning side of the political spectrum. Along with the burgeoning problems they have come face to face with here in this piece, the brothers’ affiliated organizations  are coming under fire for their questionable dealings with federal and state representatives.

From a damning documentary to a federal investigation, the arch-conservative brothers find themselves in hot water.

Were there a way for a few billion clams to wipe a week off the calendar, one imagines that Charles and David Koch, the multibillionaire principals of Koch Industries, would like to see the final week of March 2012 vaporized, at least in the public mind. For the Kochs, it was a week of bad news: a new documentary about their political activity and corporate negligence was making a splash — on the same day a story broke announcing an FBI investigation of two Wisconsin groups tied to Americans for Prosperity, the political ground organization they founded and fund.

Things got even worse the next day, Friday, March 30, when the billionaire brothers learned that a federal court handed down a decision that may ultimately require certain nonprofit groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, to reveal their full donor list, and the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who wrote a devastating profile of the brothers last year, reported on the Kochs’ involvement in a barrage of anti-Obama ads sponsored by a tax-exempt nonprofit called the American Energy Alliance, which may also now be required to reveal its donor list.

On the very same day, another federal court struck down portions of Wisconsin’s controversial law that stripped collective bargaining rights from most of the state’s public employees – a law championed by Americans for Prosperity, and rammed through the state legislature a year ago by the AFP-supported Gov. Scott Walker.

Read more…

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April 6, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Europe Baffled by US Health Care Reform DebateQuantcast

Only in America could there be a firestorm controversy over providing access to health care for 30 million plus U.S. citizens. At least this is the general perspective shared by much of Europe as to WHY the Affordable Care Act’s provisions are opposed so fervently here in America. As many know Europeans enjoy universal health care coverage. It has become as engrained into their social fabric as Medicare and Social Security has here. As a result they are utterly confused as to why there is a debate over this issue. The articles here provides a small glimpse into the confusion our neighbors across the Pond are experiencing over this perculiar political battle over health care.

Europe Is Baffled by the U.S. Supreme Court

Europe is scratching its head over possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. As the judiciary and the Obama administration trade legal barbs over the high court’s authority, the idea that health care coverage, largely considered a universal right in Europe, could be deemed an affront to liberty is baffling.

“The Supreme Court can legitimately return Obamacare?” asks a headline on the French news site 9 POK . The article slowly walks through the legal rationale behind the court’s right to wipe away Congress’s legislation. “Sans précédent, extraordinaires” reads the article. In the German edition of The Financial Times, Sabine Muscat is astonished at Justice Antonin Scalia’s argument that if the government can mandate insurance, it can also require people to eat broccoli. “Absurder Vergleich” reads the article’s kicker, which in English translates to, “Absurd Comparison.” In trying to defeat the bill, Muscat writes, Scalia is making a “strange analogy [to] vegetables.”

Read more…

Perhaps the British newspaper The Independent summed up the situation best when it stated;

With the stroke of a judicial pen, unelected judges would have voided the most important piece of health legislation since the Medicare and Medicaid Acts in 1965, and destroyed the boldest effort yet to give America what is taken for granted in every other industrial country: universal health coverage.

Additional Article:

‘Obamacare’ at the mercy of the supreme court

If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?

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April 5, 2012

The Daily Scoop: A journalism-free news mediaQuantcast

As television news broadcasts have evolved public understanding of what constitutes journalism has changed significantly. From the days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings cable news has brought us into the era of pundit commentary delivered by those who have little or no experience in journalism, its ethics, nor its responsibility to provide accurate, objective, Fair and Balanced reporting. Should we be concerned? Many already are. Below are two, yes, opinion pieces addressing these very concerns. The first is written by Alexa Kravitz, journalism student at the University of Maryland which appeared in the American Journalism Review and second, based on Kravitz, delves deeper in subject.

No Experience Necessary?

Many political talk shows are hosted by non-journalists. Is there a problem with that?

MSNBC President Phil Griffin certainly doesn’t think so. His hires on the liberal-leaning network include non-journalists Rachel Madow, Lawrence O’Donnell, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry. His rival Fox features such non-journalist mainstays as Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

Griffin isn’t shy about vocalizing his strong opinions on the issue. “I’m sorry, I don’t care about journalists,”he said in an interview with Tampa Bay Times media writer Eric Deggans. “I want fair minded, smart people who understand the world, who can interpret it and if they’re journalists, great. This notion that somehow you have to have done something to earn so-called journalist credentials? Stop.”

But critics fear that the proliferation of hosts with no grounding in journalistic ethics and traditions comes with a steep price.

Read more…

A Journalism-Free News Media

The very definition of “journalist” is being reimagined by those aiming to enrich themselves. And, of course, all this is happening as the relatively few genuine journalists left in America are periodically lambasted for the horrific crime of actually reporting real news and questioning power.

But for all of these trends, none is more disturbing than recent moves to challenge the the basic assumption that journalism is even necessary anymore. In an economy that fetishizes synthetic derivatives rather than tangible products and in a political cauldron that periodically manufactures notions of “post-partisan,” “post-racial” and “post-industrial” utopias, the ascendant notion in the media industry is that news organizations and American democracy can survive and thrive in a “post-journalism” era — one that wholly removes journalism from the news media.

Read more…

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April 4, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: The torture memo Bush tried to destroyQuantcast

A document advising the Bush administration against torture has resurfaced, despite his best efforts to hide it.

In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

The memo argues that the Convention Against Torture, and the Constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, do indeed apply to the CIA’s use of “waterboard[ing], walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement.” Zelikow further wrote in the memo that “we are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here, even when the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.” According to the memo, the techniques are legally prohibited, even if there is a compelling state interest to justify them, since they should be considered cruel and unusual punishment and “shock the conscience.”

The importance of the memo lies in its revelation that there was real, serious debate inside the Bush administration about how to interrogate captured terrorist suspects.

Read more…

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April 4, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 5 Years After Crisis, No Normal RecoveryQuantcast

So many write attempting to compare the Great Recession’s recovery to other more “normal” recoveries from “normal” downturns. Those are like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. The most accurate economic crisis to compare this one to is the Great Depression and its recovery. As a result, other comparisons are simply inaccurate in their conclusions. This article provides an in-depth assessment of the current economic situation and how we may need to rethink how recoveries from severe crises are judged.

With the U.S. economy yielding firmer data, some researchers are beginning to argue that recoveries from financial crises might not be as different from the aftermath of conventional recessions as our analysis suggests.

Their case is unconvincing. It is mystifying that they can make this claim almost five years after the subprime mortgage crisis erupted in the summer of 2007 and against a backdrop of an 8.3 percent unemployment rate (compared with 4.4 percent at the outset of the financial crisis). Our research makes the point that the aftermaths of severe financial crises are characterized by long, deep recessions in which crucial indicators such as unemployment and housing prices take far longer to hit bottom than they would after a normal recession. And the bottom is much deeper. Studies by the International Monetary Fund concluded much the same.

We have suggested that the concepts of recession and recovery need to take on new meaning. After a normal recession (which for the average post-World War II experience in the U.S. lasted less than a year), the economy quickly snaps back; within a year or two, it not only recovers lost ground but also returns to trend.

After systemic financial crises, however, economies of the postwar era have needed an average of four and half years just to reach the same per capita gross domestic product they had when the crisis started. We find that, on average, unemployment rates take a similar time frame to hit bottom and housing prices take even longer. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, economies on average needed more than a full decade to regain the initial per capita GDP.

After the Fall,” a 2010 paper written by one of the authors of this article and Vincent Reinhart, a former Fed official who is now chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, added evidence that in 10 of 15 severe post-WWII financial crises, unemployment didn’t return to pre-crisis levels even after a decade. Read more…

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April 3, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Gloat YetQuantcast

Conservative intellectuals are feeling giddy. Last week they feasted on the veritable mauling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli by the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices. (In truth, Verrilli was only questioned by four of the conservatives—Justice Clarence Thomas, true to form, didn’t speak. But we know where his vote lies.) I tell the students in my class at the City College of New York that “five” is the most powerful number in the nation. For as we have seen, five votes on the Supreme Court can pick a president—voters notwithstanding—and five votes could redefine our understanding of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution—precedents notwithstanding. So maybe the conservative celebration is merited. Yet it is also plausible that an element of hubris has overtaken the right.

Because, in this moment of conservative glee, there are a few things—indisputable facts—that should not be forgotten, factors that might yet transform glee into a moment of hubris as Justice Anthony Kennedy (the likely swing vote) and Chief Justice John Roberts (a slightly less likely swing vote) actually confront the case. Read more…

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March 31, 2012

32, 299 UFO Sightings, 352 Deaths by Lightning, 9 Possible Voter Frauds… PRICELESS

Since Republican victories in 2010 numerous state legislatures have instituted a large number of voting laws designed to address a virtually nonexistent problem. The instances of voter fraud in the United States is miniscule as a percentage of the voting public. Many of those instances are attributed to clerical errors rather than intentional acts. Despite this, 34 states have passed new voting rules. This leads to the question, if voting fraud is virtually nonexistent then what is the motivation to spend so much time, effort and money to curtail it? Read more…

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March 30, 2012

The Daily Scoop: The Most Revealing Reporting on Our Healthcare System

QuantcastAs the country waits for the Supreme Court to issue its verdict on the health-care reform law, ProPublica writers Blair Hickman and Cora Currier rounded up some of the most revealing reporting on the issues. They’re grouped roughtly into articles on high costs and those on insurance.

Read more…

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March 30, 2012

Fact Check: Oil price ad battles; Big Oil vs. DNC [Video]Quantcast

The Washington Post subjects the oil price blame-game ads to their Pinocchio Scale. The video blow is only Part 1. Expect more the longer oil prices remain stubbornly high and as the election year progresses.

The pro-oil American Energy Alliance and the Democratic National Committee exchanged barbs this week over the president’s energy policies, providing a preview of the hard-hitting rhetorical campaigns and rapid-response reactions that will take place as the general election nears.

AEA claimed that it will spend $3.6 million airing the 30-second advertisement in eight states “in the largest effort of its kind in AEA’s history.”

The American Energy Alliance ad mostly recycled and consolidated a number of claims we’ve already fact-checked, but it’s easy to see why this group dragged them back out. The price of gas is at the forefront of voters’ minds, and it’s likely to stay that way until November, with economists predicting that prices will remain high through the summer.

Delve into the facts….

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March 29, 2012

Romney: Uninsured with preexisting conditions should be denied coverageQuantcast

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday insisted that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law should be overturned and that people with preexisting conditions should be denied coverage if they had never had insurance before.

During an appearance on NBC’s Tonight Show, host Jay Leno told Romney that he knew people that had never been able to get insurance before “Obamacare” was passed.

“It seems to me like children and people with preexisting conditions should be covered,” Leno noted.

“People with preexisting conditions — as long as they’ve been insured before, they’re going to continue to have insurance,” Romney explained.

“Suppose they were never insured?” Leno asked.

“Well, if they’re 45 years old, and they show up, and they say, I want insurance, because I’ve got a heart disease, it’s like, `Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you’re well, and if you get ill, then you’re going to be covered,’” Romney replied.

“I know guys that work in the auto industry and they’re just not covered because they work in brake dust,” Leno pressed. “And then they get to be 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing.”

“But people who have had the chance to be insured — if you’re working in an auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure all their employees — you look at the circumstances that exist,” the candidate explained. “But you don’t want everyone saying, `I’m going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you have to find rules that get people in that are playing by the rules.” Read more…

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March 28, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Why EPA’s new carbon rules won’t have much impact

Much has been made of late about new EPA rules regarding coal-powered powerplants and an apparent ban on any new facilities in the future. The article here dispells some of inaccuate claims and rumors.

Washington Post: On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its first-ever rules on carbon-dioxide emissions from new power plants. These rules are part of the EPA’s program to tackle global-warming pollution. But what sort of impact will they actually have? Not a whole lot — at least for the foreseeable future.

First, a quick refresher: These latest carbon rules are the third step in the EPA’s ongoing effort to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The first two phases involved setting stricter fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. Today’s rule, which falls under the New Source Performance Standard portion of the law, sets rules for power plants that haven’t been built yet. Read more…

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March 26, 2012

The Daily Scoop: GOP support for Individual Mandate in their words

If one were to remove all the partisanship restraining effective policy, the public could take solace in the realization their leaders could reach compromise and address the issues facing this country.

 Read more and see a full list of the legislators who previously supported an individual mandate.

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March 25, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Frum – George and Mitt Romney & the Death of Moderate GOP

If Austin Powers were unfrozen in 2012 from his 1960s cryogenic freeze, there’s one political headline that would make him feel immediately at home: “Romney Struggles With Republican Party Conservatives.”

In 1966, George Romney tried to beat them.  read more »

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March 24, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Health-care reform – Succeeding by failing

EZRA KLEIN’S latest Bloomberg column nicely captures the oddity of the American debate over health-care reform. Mr Klein notes that the plan for Medicare reform in Paul Ryan’s latest budget plan is hard to distinguish from Obamacare (which turned two years old today). That might seem ironic if Obamacare weren’t basically the policy Republicans had been defending for years as an alternative to Democratic single-payer proposals. The result is a peculiar sort of convergence even as the two parties try to push the health-care system in different directions.

….. if the Republicans knock down Obamacare, one way or another, Democrats will push a Medicare-for-everybody single-payer plan.

Read more…

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March 23, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 38% of Americans think there’s too much religion in politics

Americans may be more religious than their peers in other Western countries, but  they have their limits when it comes to mixing religion and public life.  According to a new survey conducted by Pew, a 38% plurality of Americans for  the first time say there’s too much expression of faith in politics. That figure  has increased dramatically in the last decade, especially in the last two years,  and currently includes almost half of Democrats and independents. Even roughly a  quarter of Republicans, up from 8% in 2001, feel the same way. Read more:

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March 22, 2012

The Daily Scoop: The Great Renewable Energy Race

Global investment in renewable energy climbed to a record $260 billion last year, and the race for clean power is just getting started.

We reported last week how new solar and wind technologies are approaching price parity with traditionally cheaper coal- and gas-burning power plants. Today, the world’s regions go head-to-head. Click here for Bloomberg’s Interactive Graph

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March 21th 2012

The Daily Scoop: Obama uses sign language at impromptu greeting with student

This speaks volumes about the character of this man who obviously at some point felt it worth while to learn at least the basics of communicating with those in the deaf community.

President Obama was shaking hands with supporters after an energy policy event on March 15 with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley when he had an impromptu sign language exchange with a deaf man that was caught on video.

The website Distriction was first to report on the candid exchange, which was captured on video by a 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student named Stephon, who is deaf. As Obama made his way down the line of supporters, Stephon used American Sign Language to tell the president, “I am proud of you.” In the video, you can see Obama momentarily pause at the unexpected greeting. But he quickly responds by signing, “Thank you.” A second deaf student then signs, “I love you.” Obama smiles back at the student and shakes her hand before continuing down the line. Read more…

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March 19th 2012

The Daily Scoop: Behind the brewing voter ID war

Every election cycle, voter ID laws cause controversy. But the 2010 Republican wave in state government and aggressive pushback from the Justice Department have combined to create a clash that could end at the Supreme Court.

The fight over voter ID is almost entirely along party lines.

Republicans argue that voter ID is a necessary protection against voter fraud while Democrats counter that fraud is used as an excuse to suppress turnout among elderly, poor and minority voters who may have more difficulty obtaining proper ID. (Evidence of widespread fraud is scant.)

Here’s an update on where it stands, across the country. Read more…

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March 18th 2012

The Daily Scoop: Santorum’s Dubious Obamacare Cost Claim

If you’re looking for a possible roadmap for Rick Santorum‘s campaign in the week ahead, he provided one in his stump speech in Osage Beach, Mo., on Friday.

“You know what people are going to be talking about this week and next week?” Santorum asked the crowd of a few hundred on Friday. “Obamacare. Why? Well, the Congressional Budget Office this week just came out with their new numbers. And I know you’re gonna be shocked to hear this, but it’s twice as expensive as what President Obama said.” ….using the CBO’s numbers. “Believe it or not, remarkable,” he said. “It’s almost 2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.”

Except you might not want to believe it, because Santorum’s twice-as-expensive claim is “absolutely untrue,”according to FactCheck.org, a project for the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“We wouldn’t blame anyone for being confused by the CBO report,” FactCheck.org noted in its analysis, but it pointed out that the bill’s cost is now, by a more accurate count, “about half a percent lower than originally estimated” — not twice as high. FactCheck.org says the confusion comes from an “an inappropriate apples-to-grapefruit comparison” seized upon by Republican lawmakers “misquoting” the CBO’s report. Read more…

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March 16th 2012

The Daily Scoop: Americans Love-Hate Relationship with Regulations

Americans have increasingly turned against the idea of “government regulation” since the beginning of the Obama administration. According to the latest Pew Research Center survey, 52 percent of Americans believe that government regulation of business usually does more harm than good, while just 40 percent believe it’s “necessary to protect the public interest”—the complete reverse of public opinion at the height of the financial crisis.

But when you drill down to specific rules and industries, a strikingly different portrait emerges: The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that government regulations of the food industry, car safety, workplace safety, prescription drugs, and even environmental protection should either be strengthened or be preserved as they are, with only a small fraction believing they should be reduced. Read more…

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March 13, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Dirty little secret of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries

Here’s a simple fact that has been lost amid Mitt Romney’s newfound love of grits, Newt Gingrich’s desire for gun racks on Chevy Volts and Rick Santorum’s insistence that the South is a home game for him: None of the top three Republican presidential contenders are “of” the South in any meaningful way.

“The south is not just a place, it is, as they proudly tell you, a state of mind,” said Republican consultant Alex Castellanos. “The North is defined by reason, the South embraces romance and the heart. The North is relativist, the South lives by absolutes. When the South is right, it is absolutely right. When wrong, it is absolutely, tragically wrong.” Read more…

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March 12, 2012

The Daily Scoop: What the Frack is in That Water?

Environmentalists have repeatedly pressed regulators to compel oil and gas companies to report what chemicals they use in the drilling and fracking process. Drilling companies add these chemicals to perform particular functions (for example, to prevent corrosion or give the fluid the right consistency), or leave them in because they’re too expensive to remove. According to a 2011 congressional report, many of the chemicals used can pose a serious health risk. No one knows the exact makeup of the frack mixture, drilling muds and other stuff used at well sites (which change from well to well), but this list breaks down the main ingredients revealed so far. Click on the chemical name for more detailed information. Read more…

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March 9, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Anthropocene: The Age of Man (& Woman)

This postulation has been around for a number of years already but this Time Magazine article came to my attention and perked my interest once again. It does present a intriguing question. Given our spread across the planet, into virtually every ecosystem and our subsequent alteration of the environment, could the human race bring about change of such significance that this time in Earth’s history could be credibly referred to as the Anthropocene?  

Welcome to the Anthropocene. It’s a new geological epoch, one where the planet is shaped less by natural forces then by the combined activity, aspirations—and emissions—of more than 7 billion human beings:

For a species that has been around for less than 1% of 1% of the earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, Homo sapiens has certainly put its stamp on the place. Humans have had a direct impact on more than three-quarters of the ice-free land on earth. Almost 90% of the world’s plant activity now takes place in ecosystems where people play a significant role. We’ve stripped the original forests from much of North America and Europe and helped push tens of thousands of species into extinction. Even in the vast oceans, among the few areas of the planet uninhabited by humans, our presence has been felt thanks to overfishing and marine pollution. Through artificial fertilizers–which have dramatically increased food production and, with it, human population–we’ve transformed huge amounts of nitrogen from an inert gas in our atmosphere into an active ingredient in our soil, the runoff from which has created massive aquatic dead zones in coastal areas. And all the CO2 that the 7 billion-plus humans on earth emit is rapidly changing the climate–and altering the very nature of the planet.

Human activity now shapes the earth more than any other independent geologic or climatic factor. Our impact on the planet’s surface and atmosphere has become so powerful that scientists are considering changing the way we measure geologic time. Right now we’re officially living in the Holocene epoch, a particularly pleasant period that started when the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago. But some scientists argue that we’ve broken into a new epoch that they call the Anthropocene: the age of man. “Human dominance of biological, chemical and geological processes on Earth is already an undeniable reality,” writes Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric chemist who first popularized the term Anthropocene. “It’s no longer us against ‘Nature.’ Instead, it’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be.”

…the Anthropocene is here whether we want it or not. It’s evident every time you look out the door and see a landscape that has been utterly transformed by the human presence. As Crutzen puts it, the question now is about responsibility—whether we have the wisdom and maturity as a species to manage the planet permanently, instead of simply treating it as an exhaustible collection of raw materials.

The truth is that we don’t really have much choice, though. Humans are ascendant in the Anthropocene, more successful than any other species that has ever lived on the Earth. We rule the planet, but we remain dependent on it. That’s a humbling thought.

See Poll here at the end of the original post

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March 8, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 1 in 5 US families struggle to pay medical bills; half say can’t pay a cent

ATLANTA — A survey shows 1 in 5 Americans say their families are having trouble paying their medical bills. Worse, half of those who are struggling say they are unable to pay a single dime toward those debts.

The survey of 52,000 people was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from January through June of last year. It’s the first time the government agency has looked at the issue in such a comprehensive way.

Peter Cunningham, who studies the issue for an independent health policy research group, says it may be the largest such study ever done on the matter.

Lower-income people struggled the most. They were three times more likely to have difficulty paying their medical bills over the past year.

The statistic of 1 in 5 who struggle with medical bills was reported by Cunningham and his colleagues in a smaller study in 2007 at the start of the recession. That figure remained the same in their 2010 survey, and that’s surprising since the ranks of the unemployed and uninsured grew by millions. However, he and other experts believe there’s something else at play here: Many Americans are likely just cutting back on doctor visits, prescription purchases and other health care spending.
Read more…

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March 7, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Wisconsin Bill-Single Mothers Contribute to Child Abuse

In Wisconsin, a state senator has introduced a bill aimed at penalizing single mothers by calling their unmarried status a contributing factor in child abuse and neglect.

Senate Bill 507, introduced by Republican Senator Glenn Grothman, moves to amend existing state law by “requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

The bill would require educational and public awareness campaigns held by the board to emphasize that not being married is abusive and neglectful of children, and to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

Saying that people “make fun of old-fashioned families,” Grothman — who has never been married and has no children — criticized social workers for not agreeing that children should only be raised by two married biological parents, and told a state Senate committee that he hopes the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention board, of which he’s a member, could “publicize something that’s politically incorrect but has to be said in our society.”

In “How The United States and The State of Wisconsin Are Working to Encourage Single Motherhood and Discouraging Children in 2-Parent Families,” he wrote that the government urges women not to get married by making programs like low-income housing assistance, school choice, WIC, tax credits, and food stamps more attractive than marriage.

His solution? Restrict the types of foods that can be purchased with food stamps, make Section 8 housing more cramped and limit the value of assets owned living there to $2,000, and eliminate school choice, among other things. Read more…

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March 6, 2012

The Daily Scoop: How the Catholic Church almost accepted birth control

There is something truly baffling about the 2012 presidential candidates hotly debating Planned Parenthood and birth control. These battles were fought — and won — half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world.

The move toward mainstream acceptance of contraception began in the early 20th century and accelerated in the 1940s. In 1942, the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Abraham Stone explained at the time that “planned parenthood” signaled “the need for individual couples to plan their families and for nations to plan their populations.”

As the birth control movement became mainstream, it still took several years for the nation’s leaders to endorse it. In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared: “I cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or government activity or function or responsibility. . . .

Just a few years later, President John F. Kennedy — a Democrat and the nation’s first Catholic president — supported family-planning programs as part of foreign aid. Even Eisenhower, JFK’s Republican predecessor, eventually came around, admitting in the mid-1960s: “Once as President, I thought and said that birth control was not the business of our federal government. The facts changed my mind. . . . Governments must act. . . . Failure would limit the expectations of future generations to abject poverty and suffering and bring down upon us history’s condemnation.”

For the next two decades, every American president promoted contraception as an essential part of domestic and foreign policy. Even the Catholic Church considered lifting its prohibition on contraception — and almost did. Read more…

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March 2, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Why the GOP Has Auto-Bailout Blues

It’s been clear for a while that the long Republican primary fight is  damaging the GOP in ways that won’t be easily repaired before the fall election.  Michael Scherer has nicely laid  out the potential effect on the Hispanic vote. Rick Santorum’s derision of  contraception and colleges must be reminding suburban women of what they dislike  most about the GOP. And the constant crossfire of name-calling and attack ads  has driven up the candidates’ disapproval ratings to painful levels.

Tuesday’s results in Michigan suggest there’s another issue to add to this  collateral-damage list: the auto bailout. Perhaps the most striking fact from  the exit polls there was the fact that four in ten primary voters said they  supported the Obama Administration’s 2009 intervention to rescue the big  automakers. I’m not aware of specific polling on that question in Ohio, the big  prize in next week’s Super Tuesday extravaganza, but the number is likely to be  about the same; Ohio is second only to Michigan in its economic reliance on car  makers. Read more…

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March 1, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Energy Policy; Romney vs. Obama

Today, on the Daily Scoop, we’re looking a two perspectives on gas prices and energy prices. From North Dakota, Mitt Romney criticized the President’s energy policy prior to Obama’s speech in New Hampshire where he touted the accomplishments of his administration’s actions.

What is your assessment of the current situation?

Romney Delivers Counter Argument to Obama’s Energy Speech FARGO, N.D. – On the same day President Obama will deliver a speech on energy in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney pivoted his stump speech to focus on that very subject, accusing Obama of not understanding energy, much like he often accuses him of not understanding the economy.

“This is a president who does not understand energy. He is the problem; he is not the solution. Read more…

Obama fervently backs his energy policy in New Hampshire speech NASHUA — President Obama, in his second visit in about three months to the election battleground state of New Hampshire, fired back today at intensifying criticism from his Republicans rivals over his energy policy and rising gas prices.

Stating that his administration has helped decrease foreign oil dependence and stepped up domestic oil production, Obama said rising gas prices are a function of global markets, including instability in the Middle East, particularly Iran, that no president can fully control.

Obama reiterated his argument that the nation must recommit itself to an all-of-the-above approach, meaning a commitment to both exploration drilling for fossil fuels and developing new sustainable forms of energy. Read more…

Additional Articles:

Obama, chart in hand, presses his case on gas prices

Romney: Obama shouldn’t take credit on domestic energy

Obama Presses to End Subsidies for Oil and Gas Companies

Obama Hails Progress on Energy Policy

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February 29, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Stimulus Is Maligned, but Options Were Few

It was the winter of 2009 and the United States economy was shrinking. In the last three months of 2008 the economy had contracted at an annual rate of 8.9 percent, the sharpest decline in more than half a century. It shrank at a 6.9 percent rate the next quarter. By February 2009 the country had lost more than five million jobs.

We know what President Obama did. In February, he pushed Congress to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an $831 billion fiscal stimulus package aimed at creating demand for goods and services to reignite growth and stop the downward spiral.

Since then, Republicans have condemned the legislation as an unmitigated disaster. “These policies have made our economic woes worse,” the House speaker, John Boehner, wrote earlier this month on the third anniversary of the bill’s enactment.

The attack hardly fits an economy that appears finally to be gathering steam. By the end of last year the economy had recovered to its peak size in 2007, before the recession. Employment is growing at a steady, though modest, clip. The jobless rate is 8.3 percent, down from 10 percent at its peak in October 2009.

Perhaps more intriguingly, the Boehner attack suggests a question: Were there other plausible choices? And would they have fixed the economy sooner?” Read more…

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February 28, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Five myths about Medicare

Because of Medicare’s size and growth, the health-care program has taken center stage on the campaign trail and in Capitol Hill discussions about the federal budget deficit. Medicare covers almost one in six Americans and comprises about 15 percent of the federal budget, but it is often misunderstood. Let’s take a few minutes to separate fact from fiction. Read more…

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February 26, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Better-educated Republicans doubt climate change; believe Obama’s Muslim

I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republican ones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established. Read more…

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February 24, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Stocks Return More With Democrat in White House

While Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street, stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House. From a dollars-and-cents standpoint, it’s not even close.

The BGOV Barometer shows that, over the five decades since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 at the close of trading yesterday. Read more…

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February 22, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Harder for GOP to claim healthcare reform is a job-killer

Whatever happened to the dread horror of job-killing uncertainty? Just last year, the talking point was all the rage, unanimously chorused by GOP pundits, politicians and economists looking to hammer President Obama for a stalled-out economy.

The argument was simple: Employers were refusing to hire because they feared the “regulatory uncertainty” flowing in the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank bank reform law. Terrified that the future implementation of these reforms would crimp their profits, employers laid low. A policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation provided the smoking gun: He argued that job growth slowed dramatically almost immediately after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in April 2010 — “this suggests,” he wrote, “that businesses are not exaggerating when they tell pollsters that the new health care law is holding back hiring.”

Less than a year later, however, references to the intersection between regulatory uncertainty, healthcare reform and the labor market have plummeted. There’s a very obvious reason for that: The private sector has added over a million jobs over the last six months while the unemployment rate has fallen steadily.

And yet nothing fundamental has changed on the regulatory front… Read more…

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February 21, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Birth control as election issue? Why?

“The way the American democratic system works is very peculiar,” says [D.G.] Hart, who teaches history at Hillsdale College in Michigan.

“But I don’t know that this [election cycle] is any worse than any other period when religious and racial preferences were expressed as cultural preference,” when a presidential election becomes an even more pointed referendum on what kind of society we want to construct.

He notes a disconnect among Republican voters between what the law currently requires and permits and “what people think Obama is requiring, and their perceptions go a long way to motivating them. You might think we would be better, and it is surprising that these cultural matters keep coming up this way. Read more…

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February 20, 2012

The Daily Scoop: How (and How Not) to Jumpstart an Economy

With a healthy dose of 20/20 hindsight Michael Grabell presents a quality assessment of the Stimulus Bill’s impacts and the lessons we can learn from its implementation mistakes.

The polarized rhetoric of the 2012 election cycle presents voters with a false choice of whether the government can create jobs or should just get out of the way. The real debate should be about which policies work and which don’t.

I spent three years reporting on the $840 billion stimulus plan that the Obama administration pushed through Congress in 2009. My conclusion: government can create jobs — it just doesn’t often do it well. Read more…

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February 18, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Muzzling of federal scientists targeted by campaign

Reports of ghosts from the George W. Bush administration sighted within the Canadian federal government.  Accusations swirl around their lobbying of government officials to censor public-funded scientific research.

CBC News – Canadian government scientists are still being hampered from talking to the media about their taxpayer-funded research and that’s bad news for the public, say groups representing both journalists and federal scientists.

The groups appealed to delegates at an international meeting of scientists in Vancouver on Friday, arguing that democracy depends on citizens having access to research so they can make informed decisions about government policy. Read more…

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February 17, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Foreclosure abuse rampant across U.S., experts say

(Reuters) – A report this week showing rampant foreclosure abuse in San Francisco reflects similar levels of lender fraud and faulty documentation across the United States, say experts and officials who have done studies in other parts of the country.

  • An audit of ~400 foreclosures in San Francisco found 84 percent of them appeared to be illegal
  • 4,500 of 6,100 mortgage documents examined from Guildford County, North Carolina, last year created between January 2008 and December 2010 showed signature irregularities indicating illegal practice of “robosigning”
  • An audit of loans issued in 2010 conducted in Essex County, Massachusetts, found 75% of the assignments were invalid & a further 9% questionable.
  • Due to loan repackaging it became unclear as to whether those performing foreclosures actually owned the properties being foreclosed on.
  • Essex County audit could only find the current owners of the mortgages studied in 287 out of 473 cases.
  • In the San Francisco study, of the foreclosure sales studied between January 2009 & November 2011, 45 & were sold to entities improperly claiming loan ownership.

“It is not impossible that there are homeowners who are alleged to have defaulted on loans to which they never fully agreed to and, further, are being foreclosed upon by lenders that might not even own such loans,” the report stated.”

  • One factor for this high rate of illegal foreclosures may be due to a lack of judicial oversight. California is a “non-judicial” foreclosure states
  • In judicial foreclosure states such as New York, some judges have been taking banks to task for submitting faulty foreclosure paperwork.
  • Yet, according to Yale Law School housing expert foreclosure fraud had been as rampant in judicial states as non-judicial ones.

“This number around 80 percent is not a number we have not seen before,” professor Brescia said, referring to both the issuing of faulty loans during the housing bubble and the foreclosure crisis that followed. “There have been a very high level of irregularities across the country.”

Read more…

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February 16, 2012

Vilified on the campaign trail, government rules often create as many jobs as they kill.

When the Obama Administration announced tough new pollution regulations for power plants last year, the industry loudly protested. They say electricity prices will spike 12 percent, dozens of plants will close, and thousands of workers will lose their jobs. “This rule is the most extensive intervention into the power market and job market that EPA has ever attempted to implement,” says Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents the utility Southern Co. He argues the regulation will “undermine job creation in the United States.”

Tell that to Cal Lockert, the vice-president of Breen Energy Solutions, a Pittsburgh manufacturer of equipment that absorbs acid gases to keep them from spilling out of smokestacks. Lockert spends his days persuading power companies that he can help them bring some of their oldest, dirtiest plants in line with the federal requirements. Read more…

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February 13, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Religion vs. Vaccinations

The Superiority Complex of Vaccination Foes

Another fight is erupting over public education and vaccination requirments, this time in Queens. Unlike with most anti-vaccination situations, the objections aren’t coming from people whose faith in organic foods purchased at yuppie-tested enviroments are better disease prevention than vaccines, but from people returning to Old Faithful, the God card. The schools tolerate religous nuts who deprive their children of basic disease prevention most of the time, but if there are communicable diseases going around, unvaccinated kids have to go to keep the situation from getting worse. Now the parents are pitching a fit, unwilling to actually take responsibility for the faith they claim to hold so dear. Read more…

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February 11, 2012
The Daily Scoop: Romney’s severely conservative budget promises

This article from the Washington Post is the second analysis of the fiscal plans Mitt Romney would implement should he be elected to occupy the White House. The first examination of his previously released plan by the Tax Policy Center was posted here on January 7th. The results were not altogether positive.  Unfortunately, for the presidential candidate, these more recent federal budget ideas unveiled at the 2012 CPAC conference did little to alleviate concerns for their viability, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities findings.

Romney’s severely conservative budget promises

In his speech to CPAC, Mitt Romney repeated a promise that he’s delivered repeatedly on the campaign trail. “Without raising taxes or sacrificing America’s critical defense superiority, I will finally balance the budget.” That sounds pretty good. It sounds really good, in fact. And then you look at the numbers.

Romney has, essentially, made four significant fiscal promises: He has pledged to cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP. He has pledged to cut taxes to about 17 percent of GDP. He has pledged to a floor on defense spending at 4 percent of GDP. And he has pledged to balance the budget. Read more…

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February 10, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Why People Believe Misinformation, Even After It’s Corrected

These days we are bombarded with information, much of it incorrect, and long after the political campaigns are over a lot of it will still be buried in the part of our brain where we store our memories. And new research shows that the more intensely we believe something to be true, the more likely it will resurface in the future, even if we have learned it was false.

Cognitive psychologist Andrew Butler of Duke University, a memory and learning specialist, hopes to figure out a way to help us purge our brains of false data, and he’s a little encouraged. But it’s probably not going to be easy. Read more…

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February 8, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Teen Pregnancy, Contraception & Religious Perceptions

Once again the Daily Scoop is offering multiple interrelated articles. Today, we are looking at 3 articles that examine the current controversies circling around the Health and Human Services rules for contraception provisions inclusion in employer insurance policies, including religious-based universities and hospitals but exempting churches.

The first article details the findings of newly released study which illustrates the effect of increased contraception use among teens and the decrease in abortion and pregnancy rates for the same groups. The second compares perceptions of the contraception “battle” in the media, in Congress and the general public. And the third reports on the current actions the House of Representatives is preparing to take on the contraception rules.

Teen pregnancy, abortion rates at record low, study says

(Reuters) – Birth and abortion rates among U.S. teens fell to record lows in 2008 as increased use of contraceptives sent the overall teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level since at least 1972, a study showed on Wednesday. Read more…

Why White House sees political opportunity in the contraception battle

The controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood—and subsequent reversal— continues. Catholic leaders are blasting the health reform requirement that insurance plans to cover contraceptives. Commentator Mark Shields joined other liberals in blasting the provision, saying it could have “cataclysmic” fallout for President Obama come November. Read more…

Boehner Calls HHS Contraception Mandate an ‘Attack on Religious Freedom,’ Pledges Congressional Action

House Speaker John Boehner today called the Obama administration’s move to compel nearly every employer to offer insurance that covers contraceptive services “an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.”

In an uncommon floor speech today, Boehner spoke out against the Department of Health and Human Services’ ruling that would require faith-based employers, including Catholic charities, schools, universities, and hospitals, but not the church itself, to provide insurance coverage for services including sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and devices, and contraception. The speaker, himself a Catholic, said he believes the regulation is unconstitutional. Read more…

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February 7, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Obama & Job Creation

Today, the Daily Scoop has two job creation information resources for your perusal. The first is an interactive Job Creation graph from 2007-Present. It’s worth exploring as it illustrates the timing of particular policy inception and unemployment trends. The second is an article about President Obama’s National Economic Council Director, Gene Sperling and how he and the White House managed a precarious economic balancing act throughout these difficult years.

Click here for the interactive graph: Job Creation 2007-Present

Gene B. Sperling: Obama’s jobs creator

Just before 1:30 p.m. Aug. 3, a frustrated President Obama gathered Gene B. Sperling and the economic team in the White House and told them to design a jobs package he could offer the American public.

Obama had spent much of the year locked in negotiations with Republicans over the national debt, with little to show for the effort but a sagging approval rating. He had wanted to argue publicly for ideas to create jobs, but hesitated in the midst of negotiations. Liberal critics reprised a familiar critique of the Obama White House: that it too often bows to political constraints and forfeits what’s right for what’s possible or easy. Read more…

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February 4, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Seniors Saving On Rx Drugs As A Result Of Health Reform

The Affordable Care Act has produced $2.1 billion in prescription drug savings for nearly 4 million seniors and people with disabilities who were enrolled in Medicare Part D in 2011, a new Obama administration report finds. The savings are the result of a provision in the health care law that provides a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs and 14 percent discount for generic brands to Medicare beneficiaries in the so-called “doughnut hole.”  Seniors can expect greater savings as the law completely closes the coverage gap over time. Read more…

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February 3, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 5 Myths about Planned Parenthood

By Clare Coleman

I was a Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive, supervising a network of clinics in New York state, during the early days of this terrible recession. We ran deficits, cut hours, closed centers and laid off staff members. In a recession, things get very difficult — more and more people are in need, while government funds lag and donations dwindle. But still we did not turn patients away, even if they could not pay. At the same time, we had to fight political battles to preserve women’s rights to basic care and information about their sexual health.

Amid the debate, let’s address some of the misperceptions about this nearly 100-year-old health-care organization. Read more…

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February 3, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Meet the woman who got Komen to defund Planned Parenthood

After the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, attention has focused on its Vice President for Policy, Karen Handel. She joined the group last January after a failed run for governor in Georgia, where she had advocated defunding Planned Parenthood.

But there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. It’s her group that issued a report last fall, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” that led to a probe by the Energy and Commerce Committee. And it’s that investigation that puts Planned Parenthood in violation of Komen’s new policy that bars funding of groups under investigation. Read more…

UPDATE: As of this morning the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has reversed their decision to eliminate their funding to Planned Parenthood. They clarified their previous position which was not to provide funding to organizations under investigation, which Planned Parenthood is by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Their new position is that “… disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.

The pressure exerted by those who support Planned Parenthood, and all their services to low income families, over the last 24 hours illustrates the loudest voices from the far edges of the ideological spectrum do not represent the views of the majority.

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January 31, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Obama’s energy plan: The winners, and winners

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — President Obama’s half dozen energy proposals will, by and large, benefit nearly all players in the energy space and result in lower prices for consumers, analysts say.

  • Analysts say the combination of Obama’s plans truly represent an “all-of-the-above” approach.
  • Natural gas, out off all the different energy players, natural gas seems to have won the most.
  • The oil industry, Obama offered new leases in the Gulf of Mexico and pledged to open 75% of the country’s resources for drilling, which reflects a prior commitment made by the President.
  • Oil and natural gas production has jumped 14% and 10% respectively, according to the Energy Information Administration.j
  • For renewables technologies like wind and solar, Obama called for extending tax credits that basically give these firms a 30% subsidy.
  • Electricity from solar and wind has risen three-fold since Obama took office, according to those industries’ trade associations.
  • Coal and nuclear are the only two fuels that didn’t garner an outright mention but the bipartisan Policy Center’s Bledsoe said the administration is on track to give the final OK on an $8 billion loan guarantee for a new nuclear plant in Georgia sometime in the next few weeks.
  • The consumer: While prices for oil, which trades globally, remain relatively high, natural gas prices have plummeted, largely as a result of production increases.
  • EIA estimates the country’s oil production will grow another 20% by 2020 & due to that and higher fuel efficiency standards the United States will go from importing 49% of its oil in 2010 to 38% by 2020.
  • “Ultimately, consumers will be the beneficiaries of these policies,” said Mayer Brown’s Valera. “And when the consumer at large wins, businesses of all type win.”

The President has restated previous commitments and offered new policy plans that appeal to both political parties. These policies can be reached if professionalism prevails to take advantage of this out-stretched hand for long  awaited compromise.  While many of us with ever-present environmental concerns for continued oil & gas development this balanced approach to the country’s overall energy policy is the pragmatic solution.

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January 31, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Panetta cites key intelligence on bin Laden raid

This article calls into question once again the claims by proponents of torture that its methods played a significant role in the finding bin Laden and subsequent attack on his compound. 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is acknowledging publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the U.S. in advance of the successful Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May.

Panetta told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” in a profile to be broadcast on Sunday, that Shakil Afridi helped provide intelligence for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Read more…

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January 30, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Why Gingrich would lose debate with Obama

Newt Gingrich is basing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, in large part, on one premise: He is the candidate best equipped to debate President Obama.

If he becomes the nominee, Gingrich asserts, he will challenge the president to seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, three hours apiece. He says the president’s ego would compel him to accept, but if he doesn’t, Gingrich promises, “I’m going to say, ‘The White House is now my scheduler,’ and wherever he goes, I will show up within four hours to take apart whatever he said — that’s how Lincoln got Douglas to debate.”

It’s easy to dismiss Gingrich’s challenge as a gimmick, just some red meat to excite GOP primary voters, and not a challenge Obama would ever accept. But what if he did? What if the president and the former House speaker dueled in a series of open, nationally televised debates? An honest look at Gingrich’s record suggests that the results could differ markedly from the fantasies of Team Newt. Read more…

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January 28, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Microbubbles Cut Cost of Algae-Derived Biofuel

Some positve news on the biofuel front.

Algae naturally produce oil. When it’s processed, that oil can be turned into biofuel, an alternative energy source. There’s just one snag—harvesting the oil from algae-filled water is prohibitively expensive. But researchers have come up with an effervescent solution: bubbles smaller than the width of a human hair can help reduce the costs of collecting algae oil.

So-called microbubbles are already used for water purification—they surround contaminants and float them out of the liquid. Similarly, in water containing algae, bubbles can float the algae to the surface for easy collection and processing.

The research builds on previous work that used microbubbles to grow algae more densely and thus increase production. This time, however, the researchers produced the fizziness with a new method that uses far less energy, and is cheaper to install. The study is in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering. [James Hanotu, HC Hemaka Bandulasena and William B Zimmerman, Microflotation performance for algal separation]

Although microbubbles improve algae harvesting in the lab, they still have to work at larger scales. The researchers are planning a pilot program for an algae biofuel plant, in the hope of making really green energy. 60-Second Science from Scientific American

Partha Das Sharma Weblog

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January 27, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Supply-side economics at core of Gingrich plan

With the economy at the core of the presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich has received help from a group of relatively unknown economic thinkers — including two former advisers to Herman Cain — who share an unwavering faith in the school of thought known as “supply-side economics” that rose to prominence more than three decades ago.

Unlike Mitt Romney, who long ago surrounded himself with mainstream Republican economists, Gingrich has turned to more zealous advisers who believe the only true solution to healing the nation’s deficit is to spur economic growth through sharp tax cuts, reduced regulation and a tight rein on monetary policy, rather than focusing too keenly on spending cuts.

Read more…

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January 25, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 2 Studies – Global Abortion Rates & Teen Pregnancy

Today, the Daily Scoop includes two studies that illustrate the overall need for increased education, awareness and availability of contraception. The first article compares abortion frequencies and related health impacts from countries with abortion bans and little to no family planning & contraception education versus those where abortion is legal and family planning is available.

The second discusses recent CDC study findings which illuminates general misconceptions of contraception and possibilities of becoming pregnant on the part of teen mothers.

Abortions Are More Common in Countries that Outlaw Them

Abortion rates are higher in countries where the procedure is illegal and  nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, with the vast majority in  developing countries, a new study concludes.

Experts couldn’t say whether more liberal laws led to fewer procedures, but  said good access to birth control in those countries resulted in fewer unwanted  pregnancies.

The global abortion rate remained virtually unchanged from 2003 to 2008, at  about 28 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, a total of about 43.8 million  abortions, according to the study. The rate had previously been dropping since  1995.

About 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008, and another 8.5  million women had serious medical complications. Almost all unsafe abortions  were in developing countries, where family planning and contraceptive programs  have mostly levelled off.

Read more…

CDC: Many teen moms didn’t think it could happen

ATLANTA (AP) — A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant.

In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third who didn’t use birth control said the reason was they didn’t believe they could pregnant. Read more…

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January 23, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Fracked: The Debate Over Shale Gas Deepens

Is shale gas good for us or not? Most of that argument has been over the  potential risks that hydrofracking for shale gas might pose to water  supplies—risks that were highlighted again this week when the Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA) came to Dimock, PA, to test groundwater in the area. You  might know Dimock from the anti-fracking film Gasland—a group of  residents have claimed for years that fracking poisoned their water supply, and  federal involvement indicates there may be more at stake. Read more…

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January 20, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Michigan Dems Unveil Plan To Finance Free College Tuition; Eliminate Corp. Tax Credits

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) spent his first year in office trading in the welfare of thousands of vulnerable Michiganders in order to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Hoping to refocus priorities in 2012, the state’s Senate Democrats have released a new plan that puts Michigan students ahead of wealthy corporations.

Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, Michigan’s high school graduates will be eligible for free tuition at one of Michigan’s community colleges or universities, where the median tuition level is currently around $9,575 per year. The program will be funded entirely by eliminating $3.5 billion in tax credits and loopholes and putting that money towards students. Read more…

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January 19, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Health Care Spending Levels Off

The nation’s health care bill rose by less than 4% in both 2009 and 2010. In 50  years, health care spending has never increased at such a slow pace. Could this  mean that, after a half century of eye-popping inflation in health care  expenditures, efforts to rein in costs are actually working? Read more…

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Posted on January 17, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Inequality in 2012 by the Numbers

Martin Luther King Jr. was an outspoken advocate for the poor and less fortunate. At the time of his death, he was organizing a cross-racial Poor People’s Campaign that raised many issues still important today. Many Americans—particularly communities of color and young people—continue to lack access to economic opportunities and this must be addressed if we are to truly carry on Dr. King’s work.

This by-the-numbers piece takes a look at how many Americans are still struggling to find a way out of poverty, find employment, and gain both health care and education not only for themselves but for their families.

  • 46.2 million: The number of Americans in poverty in 2010.
  • 76.7 million: Number of people in families who were living below $44,000 for a family of four (two times the federal poverty line).
  • 39.1: Percentage of African American children less than 18 years old in poverty.
  • 12.4: Percentage of white children less than 18 years old in poverty.
  • 13.1 million: Total number of unemployed Americans.
  • 42.5: Percentage of people unemployed for at least 27 weeks in December of 2011.
  • 49.1 million people under 65 didn’t have insurance in 2010.
  • 41: Percentage of those under 65 in poverty without insurance.
  • 32 million: Number of people who will gain insurance under the Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.
  • 66 million: Number of people who could be insured under Medicaid by 2019. Under the Affordable Care Act, it’s anticipated that Medicaid will expand in 2014.

Read more…

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January 14, 2012

The Daily Scoop: EPA map lets you find out who’s polluting in your town

As the EPA has slowly been crafting its new rules to regulate global-warming emissions, one of the crucial first steps has involved getting a basic sense of where the pollution’s actually coming from.

Back in 2009, the agency required all large greenhouse-gas emitters — any power plant, refinery, or other facility that puts out more than 25,000 metric tons per year — to report their emissions. And today the EPA has unveiled a interactive online map that lets people check out the major polluters in their area (the emissions data are all from 2010). Read more…

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January 12, 2012

Climate Change 101: Climate vs Weather

One consistant observation noted when climate change debates break out is the use of weather by the opposition, (or deniers)  as ”evidence” that global warming (more accurately climate change) is not real. This usually comes in the form of “the coldest winter on record” or “the most snowfall in a decade”. But therein lies the inherent misunderstand of what climate change actually is. Below is a simply visual by Ole Christoffer Haga which illustrates the difference between these two terms often used interchangeably albeit inaccurately.

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January 12, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Fed survey shows economy ended 2011 with strength

WASHINGTON (AP) — The final weeks of 2011 were among the economy’s strongest as Americans shopped and traveled more, ending the year with a shot of optimism for 2012. That’s the bright picture the Federal Reserve sketched in a survey released Wednesday. It said all but one of its 12 banking districts experienced some growth from late November through the end of the year. Read more…

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January 11, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Once struggling U.S. auto market now industry bedrock

(Reuters) – Welcome to an unlikely beacon of hope for the global auto industry — Detroit. Executives arriving this week for the Detroit auto show find a U.S. car market that has morphed from meltdown three years ago to a safe haven as concerns grow about the stability of other big economies, from Europe to China. Analysts and executives expect 2012 U.S. auto sales to grow 4 percent to 9 percent, the third consecutive annual gain. Read more…

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January 9, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Unintended issues; Fiscal conservatism trumped by social variety

JANUARY is a busy month in capitals across America. New laws are implemented; Congress and legislatures reconvene, hoping to pass more. If one’s political party is in the minority, this is a terrifying prospect. For opponents of abortion, the outlook could hardly be sunnier. As of January, for example, abortion providers in Arkansas must follow new rules for inspections. Beginning this month, Utah and Nebraska bar private health plans from covering abortion. These laws follow an avalanche of abortion measures, passed last year, that are already in effect. As politicians return to capitals, more restrictions may come.

Last year saw a surge in social conservatism. Read more…

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January 7, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Romney plan raises taxes on poor families
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney’s tax plan would increase taxes on low-income families while cutting taxes for the middle-class and the rich, according to an independent study released Thursday.

  • On average, households making less than $20,000 would see their taxes increase by more than 60%
  • Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 would get small tax cuts, averaging 2.2%
  • People making more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging 15%
  • Overall, Romney’s plan would reduce tax revenues by $180 billion in 2015, adding to the federal budget deficit
  • Will repeal tax increases on wealthier individuals as part of the health care reform
  • Allows Stimulus Bill tax cuts expire {which target low-income families with children; expanded tax credit for college students; a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit for families with 3+ children, & a more generous child tax credit for low-income families}…
  • but makes the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Read more…

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January 5, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Bush tax cuts, stock market widen income gap

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The rich have gotten richer, thanks to the stock market and the Bush tax cuts, a recent report has found.

After-tax income for the top 1% of taxpayers soared 74%, on average, between 1996 and 2006. The top 0.1% benefited even more, nearly doubling their income over that decade. By comparison, the bottom 20% of taxpayers saw their income fall by 6%, while the middle quintile experienced a meager 10% gain.

Read more…

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January 3, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Can U.S. Learn from Canada’s Fracking Boom?

Early last year, deep in the forests of northern British Columbia, workers for Apache Corp. performed what the company proclaimed was the biggest hydraulic fracturing operation ever. The project used 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand to frack 16 gas wells side by side. It was “nearly four times larger than any project of its nature in North America,” Apache boasted. As furious debate over fracking continues in the United States, it is instructive to look at how a similar gas boom is unfolding for our neighbor to the north.

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December 30, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing

The Obama administration’s counterterrorism accomplishments are most apparent in what it has been able to dismantle, including CIA prisons and entire tiers of al-Qaeda’s leadership. But what the administration has assembled, hidden from public view, may be equally consequential. Read more…

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December 28, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans – Bloomberg Markets Magazine

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts. Read more…

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December 18, 2011

The Daily Scoop: 2011′s Most Courageous Politicians

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again … who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

This quote is the bases for Time Magazine’s Teddy Awards for the most courageous politicians of the year. President Obama, at the top of the list, is accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, Republican Senator Tom Coburn, former governor and GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

Read more…

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December 17, 2011

The Daily Scoop: 3 Articles – Why the Rich do not Create Jobs

Today, The Daily Scoop offers 3 articles, well 2 articles and a rebuttal to those who continue to present arguments in favor of Trickle-Down economics. The first, entitled, Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators is by Nick Hanauer a millionaire venture capitalist who founded the Seattle-based firm Second Avenue Partners, which helped launch more than 20 companies, including Amazon.com.

The second is a summarization of the Hanauer’s article which elaborates on a few other perspectives. The third is a rebuttal offered to those who cite the Giants of Silicon Valley as evidence that the rich do indeed create jobs.

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December 14, 2011

The Daily Scoop: 12 Ways to Make Congress Work

The No Labels action plan to change the rules and fix what’s broken.

No Labels is a group of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who want our government to work again. Our 12-point plan to Make Congress Work can be implemented in just 24 hours to start reducing gridlock and hyper-partisanship.

Read more…

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December 12, 2011

The Daily Scoop: U.S. Economic Data Surprising Forecasters

// In light of a growing body of evidence illustrating a strengthening economy the consistent criticism of the President’s “failed policies” begins to lose credibility. If the economy continues along this trajectory it will become increasingly difficult for Republican campaign strategists justify maintaining a focus on Obama’s economic failures. If this approach is no longer valid, what major issue will they turn to? Bloomberg – U.S. economic data are outperforming expectations by the most in nine months, a trend Federal Reserve officials may incorporate into their policy statement tomorrow. Read more…

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December 8, 2011

The Daily Scoop: States Reassess Opposition to Health Insurance Exchanges

As more information becomes available and studies contribute to the understanding of the Affordable Health Care Act many are seeing its benefits to consumers and small businesses. Recent studies illustrate how many markets are dominated by one or two insurers which severly limit consumer choices. The health insurance exchanges will inject much needed competition into those markets providing choices many do not have under the current system. From Washington Post: In Georgia, like many other Southern states, opposition to the new federal health-care law runs deep. Yet a conservative committee of experts has, without rancor, outlined a plan to give the state a health insurance exchange, a cornerstone of the legislation enacted last year. Read more…

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December 7, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Gasoline: The new big U.S. export

// NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The United States is awash in gasoline. So much so, in fact, that the country is exporting a record amount of it.The country exported 430,000 more barrels of gasoline a day than it imported in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is about twice the amount at the start of the year, and experts and industry insiders say the trend is here to stay. Read more…

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December 6, 2011

The Daily Scoop: OECD report cites increasing income inequality in U.S.

// This current Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report along with the Congressional Budget Office’s report examining income gaps in the U.S. strains the credibility of the Republican Party’s and Grover Norquist’s anti-tax political stance. These two reports challenge the viability of such policies which benefit the highest income brackets and the adherence to the “no taxes on the job creators” platform.Income inequality in the United States is rising and is now greater than in all developed countries other than Chile, Mexico and Turkey, according to a new report.The report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicates that income inequality has increased in almost every developed country in the last 30 years, and has continued to rise since the global financial crisis. Among the few countries where inequality has decreased in the last 30 years are Ireland, France, Greece and Turkey.In the United States, the average income among the richest 10% is 14 times greater than the average income among the poorest 10%, up from a 10 to 1 ratio in the 1980s. The countries where the ratio between the incomes of the top 10% and the bottom 10% is the lowest — around 5 to 1 — are Denmark, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Norway. Read more…

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December 5, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Some Cities Object to Being Carved Up by Redistricting

// There are no guard towers, or Checkpoint Charlies, or even walls. But scores of American cities, counties and metropolitan areas are being divided again — splitting apart families, neighbors and, most important, voters with similar interests and needs — as states engage in the once-a-decade process of drawing the lines of new Congressional districts.And mayors and local officials in many places are none too happy about it. Read more…

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November 30, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Speaker Boehner; Letting Payroll Tax Cuts to Expire May Hurt Economy

By Pat Garofalo at Think Progress  on Dec 1, 2011

Today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was asked during a briefing whether he believes that allowing the payroll tax cut to expire would hurt the economy. He simply replied, “I’m not an economist”. Later, Boehner came around to admit that an extension would help boost the economy. To help Boehner out, several actual economists have said that letting the cut expire would, in fact, hurt growth and destroy jobs. Read more…

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The Daily Scoop: We, the People, Can Work It Out

// A little bit o’ humor against an otherwise nerve-racking politcal backdrop.

From Time Magazine and Larry Doyle;
All we need to do is sit down together and have a reasonable discussion based on mutual respect and a shared willingness to sacrifice. We are so screwed…
Read more…

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November 23, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Costly U.S. health system delivers uneven care: OECD

An illuminating study examining the costs within the US health care system versus the quality of care received. It will be interesting to see how Congress will reconcile this report’s findings with the calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act given the reform’s effort to address those very issues the study finds lacking in the current system.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care, according to a new study that found first-rate treatment for cancer but insufficient primary care for other ailments.

The study, released on Wednesday by the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, said Americans pay more than $7,900 per person for healthcare each year — far more than any other OECD country — but still die earlier than their peers in the industrialized world. Read more…

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November 21, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Five myths about your gasoline taxes

An interesting opinion piece discussing and challenging certain perceptions of what the gas tax is meant for and how it is spent.

(CNN) — A perpetual deadlock in Congress has resulted in eight extensions of the national transportation bill, causing roads to crumble, bridges to fall, and transit to break down. Come March 2012, politicians will once again enter into a political debate about funding American mobility. Without a fiscal safety net in place, the Highway Trust Fund will go broke. Read more….

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November 15, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Congress pushes back on healthier school lunches

One has to ask what the US House is contemplating when an action like this is taken given the growing childhood obesity rate in this country and the disturbing rise in diabetes. What is the chamber’s argument against these standards beyond a goal to reduce government control? When does addressing the long-term health of the nation’s children override pledges to reduce the size of government? When does shortsighted political gamesmanship give way to substantive solutions to national problems? When will that time arrive?

In an effort many 9-year-olds will cheer, Congress wants pizza and french fries to stay on school lunch lines and is fighting the Obama administration’s efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools.

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. These include limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. The legislation would block or delay all of those efforts.
Read more…

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November 14, 2011

The Daily Scoop: New poll shows majority favor individual mandate

As many have already heard, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from the multiple lawsuits opposing the Affordable Care Act but a recently released CNN/ORC International Poll has received less attention. The poll indicates a significant shift in the public’s perception of the individual mandate showing now a majority now support it.

“According to the poll, 52% of Americans favor mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June. The survey indicates that 47% oppose the health insurance mandate, down from 54% in early summer.

“The health insurance mandate has gained most support since June among older Americans and among lower-income Americans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “A majority of independents opposed the measure in June, but 52 percent of them now favor it.””
Read more…

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November 13, 2011

The Daily Scoop: George Washington’s Foresight for the Debt Panel

This is an interesting opinion piece discussing how the country’s founders’ foresight is still very applicable to the issues of today. This foresight goes beyond Washington as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and others still have much we can all learn from.

New York (CNN) — The clock is ticking in Washington on the bipartisan super committee, those 12 members of Congress tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.

More than 140 of their colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are encouraging them to be bold and go bigger — reaching $4 trillion of deficit reduction in order to put the U.S. on stable long-term fiscal footing and avoid another round of downgrades.

But if their colleagues’ counsel isn’t persuasive, there’s an additional voice the super committee could find inspiration from — the original founding father, George Washington.
Read more….

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November 11, 2011

The Daily Scoop: The Economist Debates – Subsidies for Renewables?

This is a debate on The Economist website discussing the proposal that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels. Read through both sides of the arguement and vote for which side you view as correct.
Read more….

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November 10, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Presidential Candidates Slip on Econ 101

CNN Money

Every 2012 contender attended college. They all graduated. They went to schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Texas A&M, Morehouse, Penn State and Emory.
But decades have passed since these Presidential candidates first stepped onto campus as freshmen. Is it time for an Econ 101 refresher course?

America’s Econ 101 professors say yes. Read more…

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November 7, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Mississippi personhood amendment poised to pass

What would be the impacts of a precedent such as this? What would the effects on women who choose to use birth control? What are the implications for affordable birth control and those who use it for other hormone control purposes? What would this do for responsible family planning?

<Washington Post> A new poll underscores just how close Mississippi is to passing the country’s first “personhood” law, which would define life as beginning at conception. Public Policy Polling finds that, hours before tomorrow’s vote, 45 percent of voters supported the amendment, while 44 percent opposed it.

Read more…

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November 2, 2011

This article is a couple of months old, found while doing some peripheral research but definately still worthy of posting. It gives us a view of what to expect from the state health insurance marketplace exchanges set up through the Affordabel Care Act. If other companies like Walgreens step into the health insurance arena it will prove quite advantageous to those in real need of affordable coverage.

Walgreens Plans to Sell You Health Insurance

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, is planning to start selling health insurance to customers this fall.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens  will sell health insurance products with different price ranges and coverage levels from coast-to-coast through a private health insurance exchange, according to people familiar with the matter. Read more…

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November 1, 2011

Michele Bachmann: “Under Barack Obama’s watch, we have expended $805 billion to liberate the people of Iraq and, more importantly, 4,400 American lives.”

During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Oct. 28, 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., sought to blame President Barack Obama for the costs and lives lost in Iraq.

How does Politifact rate this comment? Read more….

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October 30, 2011

The Daily Scoop “FACT CHECK: GOP lawmakers spin funding tall tales”

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s an outrageous tale: The federal government spends one out of every $10 in transportation aid on wasteful projects such as refurbishing a giant roadside coffee pot and constructing turtle tunnels.

But it’s not exactly true.
To make their case, lawmakers have exaggerated and misrepresented some projects that have received aid. Read More….

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October 29, 2011

 The Rebirth of Renewable Energy

(CNN) — Renewable energy is generating a lot of political heat. The bankruptcy of solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra, after a half billion dollar loan from the Federal government, has set off a hot debate on Capitol Hill. And a group of American-based solar companies are demanding 100% tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels. They charge that China unfairly competes by subsidizing the Chinese industry, which Beijing resolutely denies.

All this, however, is occurring against a larger backdrop. Around the world renewable energy is going through a rebirth. More…

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October 25, 2011

Things that make ya go hmmmm….??

Paul Ryan to slam Obama for ‘politics of division’

Washington (CNN) – As President Obama continues a swing out West on Wednesday to push his economic proposals, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan plans to launch a blistering response in a speech in Washington.
Ryan will argue the president is practicing “the politics of division” and will say Obama needs to reverse course from a “path of debt, doubt, and decline,” according to a Ryan aide familiar with the remarks. More…

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October 24, 2011

Obama to offer help for students buried in debt

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The White House announced on Tuesday two new measures the Department of Education will start offering in January to help college graduates climb out of their student loan debt hole. More…

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