Posted by Ezra Klein on August 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

On the Republican convention stage tonight, you’re going to see a really large clock. But the clock isn’t for keeping time. The idea isn’t to stop speakers from going over their allotted time, or the convention from running late. It’s a debt clock. And the idea is to blame President Obama and the Democrats for the national debt.

But in doing so, the Republicans will end up blaming Obama for the policies they pushed in the Bush years, and the recession that began on a Republican president’s watch, and a continuation of tax cuts that they supported. They’ll have to. Because if they took all that off the debt clock, there wouldn’t be much debt there to blame him for at all.

The single thing you should look at to understand the debt clock and what it is — or isn’t — telling you is this graph from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It does something very simple. It takes public debt since 2001 — which is when we last saw surpluses — and breaks it into its component parts.

You can see it kind of looks like a layer cake. In fact, the folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities call it “the parfait graph.”

The top layer, the orange one, that’s the Bush tax cuts. There is no single policy we have passed that has added as much to the debt, or that is projected to add as much to the debt in the future, as the Bush tax cuts, which Republicans passed in 2001 and 2003 and Obama and the Republicans extended in 2010. To my knowledge, all elected Republicans want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Democrats, by and large, want to end them for income over $250,000.

In second place is the economic crisis. That’s the medium blue. Recessions drive tax revenue down because people lose their jobs, and when you lose your job, you lose your income, and when you lose your income, you can’t pay taxes. Tax revenues in recent years have been 15.4 percent of GDP — the lowest level since the 1950s. Meanwhile, they drive social spending up, because programs like unemployment insurance and Medicaid automatically begin spending more to help the people who have been laid off.

Then comes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s the red. And then recovery measures like the stimulus. That’s the light blue, and the part for which you can really blame Obama and the Democrats– though it’s worth remembering that Senate Republicans proposed and voted for a $3 trillion tax cut stimulus that would all have gone on the national credit card and added almost four times what Obama’s stimulus added to the debt.

Then there’s the financial rescue measures like TARP, which is the dark blue line. That’s almost nothing, as much of that money has been paid back.

If we didn’t have all that? If there’d been no Bush tax cuts, no wars, no financial crisis and everything else had been the same? Debt would be between 20 and 30 percent of GDP today, rather than almost 100 percent.

Now, the response you sometimes get to this graph is yes, that’s true, but Obama should have done more about the debt. But Obama has proposed a multi-trillion dollar deficit reduction plan. Republicans just refused to pass it. And, to be fair, he refused to sign their plan too. So the question then is less about what led to the debt and more about who has the right plan to get rid of it. I’ll get into that in a subsequent post.

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Powerless

August 23, 2012

Here I am…

 

 

 

Sitting at my desk

 

 

Don’t you know I have….

 

A lot of things to do

 

 

And I am…..

 

 

Powerless

 

 

Comcast is down

 

 

Said they will have things

 

Up and running by

 

 

 

Yawn……

 

 

4:15pm

 

 

What am I supposed to do

 

In the meantime

 

 

I want to be connected

 

 

I got emails

 

To shoot out

 

 

I have to check and see

 

Where the energy market is

 

 

Is it up?

 

 

 

Is it down?

 

 

 

People are depending on me

 

 

Gotta make things click

 

 

 

Yet……

 

I am powerless

 

 

 

It is amazing how dependent

 

We all have become….

 

 

 

We are all wired

 

 

 

Sometimes that can be taken in

 

The literal sense

 

 

Strung out

 

 

We are soooo tied into…

 

 

All these electric gadgets

 

 

 

How did we ever survive?

 

Before the:

 

 

Internet

 

 

 

 

Oops…..

 

 

We’re back on line

 

 

 

 

Gotta go

By ROLAND HWANG  | 8/22/12 4:30 AM EDT  As reported in Politico

With the darkest days of the recession behind us, Americans are looking to  better economic times. They also are looking forward to their politicians  working together to find solutions.

While there are many areas where different sides are far apart, there is a  very good news story expected from Washington this week. It’s an issue that  almost all Americans can get behind: higher fuel efficiency.

An agreement set to be finalized by the Obama Administration as  soon as this week promises that by 2025, new vehicles will get an average of  54.5 miles per gallon. This builds on standards already in place, which by 2016  will raise the average fuel efficiency of the new passenger vehicle fleet to  35.5 mpg.

The standards will be introduced incrementally. For consumers, this means  that in less than 15 years, everything from compact cars to pickup trucks will,  on average, burn about half as much gas as vehicles driven today. This saves  about $8,000 in costs over the life of a new vehicle.

This is Washington at its best, working to move America forward.

Republicans and Democrats, automakers and environmental groups supported the  stronger standard because it redirects hard-earned cash away from the gas pump  and back into your wallet. They also understood that the standard fortifies  national security and protects the environment.

And this agreement puts Americans back to work.

Thousands of new jobs are being created in the automotive industry, the  largest manufacturing employer in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor  Statistics, the auto industry has added more than 230,000 jobs since June 2009,  when the industry scraped bottom. Most of these jobs are in the manufacturing  sector, but U.S. auto dealerships are beefing up their payrolls as well.

Stronger standards give automakers a long-term roadmap to improve vehicle  efficiency.

By greening the Rust Belt, the U.S. can seize global leadership in  innovative, fuel-efficient technologies – a market historically dominated by  Europe and Asia.

The jobs that accompany this domestic expansion aren’t outsourced; they  remain at home.

In Saginaw, Mich., for example, a century-old auto supplier called Nexteer  Automotive recently added 650 employees to help manufacture electric power  steering components for pickup trucks. These components replace more  energy-intensive hydraulic systems. Electric power steering is a fast-growing  segment of Nexteer’s business, and automakers who want to squeeze more  efficiency from their fleet are driving the increased demand.

Outside the auto industry, job growth will expand even further – by more than  half a million jobs, many in discretionary sectors like services and retail – because money saved at the pump will be spent on things like tuition, new  clothes, or a vacation.

The benefits don’t stop there. Cutting energy use while driving also reduces  our dependence on oil. By 2030, the 54.5 mpg standard will slash oil imports by  one-third. This enhances national security and strengthens the economy by  investing money in the Midwest – not in the volatile Middle East.

Fuel efficiency standards also protect the environment by reducing carbon  pollution equal to taking 85 million cars off the road. This helps fight climate  change that leads to costly droughts and dangerous heat waves. Less pollution  also means a healthier populace and lower medical bills.

Washington responded to America’s demand for more fuel efficient cars. By  implementing a smart, tough standard, Washington showed that it is committed to  creating good jobs and continuing our economic recovery.

54.5 mpg is a standard that works for America.

Roland Hwang is the Transportation Program Director for the Natural  Resources Defense Council.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79949.html#ixzz24J7UKPjn

Do It

August 17, 2012

I was getting on the speed line

 

 

The other day and…..

 

 

I saw a sign for

 

 

Pierce College

 

 

 

Don’t dream. Do…..

 

 

 

That message hits…

 

 

 

Right to the point.

 

 

 

 

A real source of inspiration

 

 

 

For years Nike has been saying

 

 

Just do it!

 

 

 

I remember growing up

 

Looking around

 

Seeing my friends and classmates

 

And thinking

 

 

They are really lucky

 

 

They seem to be

 

 

Really on the ball

 

 

 

 

What do they have

 

 

That I don’t?

 

 

 

How do I get what they have?

 

 

 

 

What was the….

 

 

That?

 

 

 

Confidence….

 

 

A belief in oneself

 

 

 

 

At age 11 to 15

 

That was pretty lacking

 

 

Those are tough years…

 

 

Not just for me

 

 

 

But for most yon teens

 

 

 

I found my inner strength

 

Thru sports

 

 

 

Had some great coaches

 

Over the years

 

 

They believed in me

 

More than I believed in myself

 

 

They challenged me

 

 

Held me accountable

 

 

Inspired discipline

 

 

In my efforts

 

 

It was thru their efforts

 

That I was able….

 

 

To dream

 

 

To reach

 

 

Grow

 

 

And

 

 

Believe

 

 

 

My family also played

 

A big part…

 

 

For they always made me feel

 

 

Special

 

 

 

I am a firm believer

 

That if you are

 

 

Looking to achieve a goal in your life

 

 

You must first

 

 

 

Believe in your capabilities….

 

 

 

Focus on

 

What you are looking to achieve…

 

 

 

Thru discipline

 

 

 

 

Dedicate your efforts

 

 

Toward achieving that…..

 

 

 

Goal

 

 

 

 

Career

 

 

 

 

Outcome

 

 

 

 

View it thru your……

 

 

 

 

Mind’s eye

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

 

Go after it

 

 

 

 

 

Your efforts will be rewarded

 

 

 

 

 

You will succeed

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may….

 

 

Hit some bumps

 

 

Along the road?

 

 

 

Do not let that be a deterrence

 

 

 

 

A wise friend has told me that

 

 

 

Failure creates success

 

 

 

 

When you lose….

 

 

 

Don’t lose the lesson

 

 

 

 

 

You may follow your dreams

 

 

 

But…..

 

 

 

 

Don’t Just Dream……

 

 

 

 

Do…..

 

 

 

The world awaits you

 

For more insight you can email george@hbsadvantage.com

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

The Heat Goes On

August 11, 2012

Last month, I read

 

 

That the first 6 months

 

 

Of this year…

 

 

Were the hottest first 6 month period

 

 

 

Since they began keeping records

 

 

Back in the 1860s

 

 

 

 

Last week…

 

 

Ole Hurricane Schwartz

 

 

He back now

 

After double bypass surgery

 

 

 

Said that we had just experienced

 

The hottest July ever

 

 

 

I think that makes 7 months in a row!!!

 

 

 

My garden is struggling….

 

 

This year

 

 

Normally my cherry tomatoes

 

Are abundant

 

And they are……

 

 

 

Very juicy and sweet

 

 

 

Not this year….

 

 

 

All my cherry tomato plants…..

 

 

Died

 

 

 

From excessive heat

 

 

 

We probably got about

 

50 cherry tomatoes

 

 

Before they withered out on me

 

 

 

Our whole garden

 

Is weather beaten

 

 

 

Grant….

 

 

 

Did you water the garden

 

 

Yes Dad

 

 

 

How about the flowers

 

In the containers

 

 

Yes Dad

 

 

Well….

 

 

Maybe you should start

 

 

Talking to them

 

 

 

They don’t seem to be responding

 

 

 

 

Is this a phenomena?

 

 

 

Or can this be a result of…..

 

 

Global warming….

 

 

 

 

Hottest 7 months

 

 

Since they started keeping records…

 

 

 

 

Gives us something to think about

 

 

 

 

Until recently, Richard Muller,

 

 

Scientist and Director of the

 

Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Foundation

 

 

Was one of the world’s most dedicated skeptics.

 

 

 

 

However, his own research

 

Has finally caused Muller…

 

 

 

To change his position

 

Muller’s statement in a New York Times Op/Ed:

 

 

Call me a converted skeptic.

 

Three years ago

I identified problems in previous climate studies

 

that, in my mind,

 

threw doubt on the very existence of

 

global warming.

 

 

Last year,

 

following an intensive research effort

 

 involving a dozen scientists,

 

I concluded that global warming was real

 

And that the prior estimates

 

Of the rate of warming were correct.

 

 

I’m now going a step further:

 

                                                                                              

Humans are almost entirely the cause.

 

 

 

Wow!!!!

 

 

 

Pretty powerful statement

 

 

 

 

I know….

 

 

 

He’s only one person

 

 

 

Although….

 

 

He is considered to be

 

One of the world experts

 

In this field

 

 

And

 

 

He was always the one denying…..

 

 

 

The fact that Global warming existed

 

 

 

 

He changed his mind

 

 

 

Is the excessive heat

 

Over the last 7 months…..

 

 

 

A result of global warming?

 

 

 

I am not the expert in this field

 

 

But…..

 

 

I believe

 

 

This should begin to….

 

 

 

Raise the awareness on the topic.

 

 

 

Maybe we should all…

 

 

Start asking more questions?

 

 

 

What steps are being taken to

 

 

Insure the sustainability of our planet?

 

 

 

 

What is our contingency?

 

 

 

Do I hear a Plan B?

 

 

 

 

This is not a time to take sides

 

 

 

Are we going to continue

 

 

To Deny Global Warming

 

 

May be a possibility?

 

 

 

 

Are we willing to take

 

 

 

The appropriate steps

 

 

To insure

 

 

The Health and Welfare

 

 

Of future generations?

 

 

 

 

We were the generation

 

That sought to change the world

 

 

 

I don’t think

 

We had this sort of change..

 

 

In mind

 

 

 

This is our chance

 

 

To all work together

 

 

For the common good

 

 

 

Pay it forward

Dream On

August 6, 2012

Do you remember…..

 

 

 

Your Dreams?

 

 

 

My wife does not remember…

 

 

Her dreams

 

 

 

Does that mean….

 

 

 

She doesn’t dream

 

 

Or

 

 

She doesn’t recall?

 

 

 

I believe

 

 

We all dream

 

 

 

 

I am not sure

 

Why some people…

 

 

 

Can remember their dreams

 

 

 

While others…

 

 

 

Are unable to remember

 

 

Their dreams

 

 

 

I have had:

 

 

 

Running dreams….

 

 

 

Can’t catch me

 

 

 

 

Flying dreams,,,,

 

 

 

 

 

Just wish I knew how

 

To fly…

 

 

 

Then I’d be free

 

Like a bird

 

 

 

And fly high

 

In the sky

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever had a dream about…

 

 

 

 

Being told you have a test…

 

 

 

The next day?

 

 

 

 

I didn’t realize…..

 

 

 

I was even taking a class

 

 

 

 

What day was that class?

 

 

 

 

Why didn’t you tell me….

 

 

 

We were taking a class

 

 

Before they gave us….

 

 

 

A test?

 

 

 

 

Silly…..

 

 

Yea

 

 

I know

 

 

 

 

But dreaming

 

 

Can sometimes add…

 

 

 

 

Great insight!

 

 

 

 

Your mind never sleeps

 

 

 

It is always searching

 

 

 

 

Scanning insights

 

 

 

 

Dissecting situations

 

 

 

 

 

It may present a solution

 

 

 

Thru another setting

 

 

 

 

Did you ever wake up

 

 

And have an….

 

 

 

 

Ah Ha……

 

 

Moment?

 

 

 

 

All of a sudden….

 

 

Something that has been

 

 

On your mind

 

 

 

Is suddenly…

 

 

 

Put into perspective

 

 

 

 

Is this God working

 

 

Behind the scenes?

 

 

 

 

Much has been spoken about

 

 

Having to look inside

 

 

 

To find…

 

 

 

Your true self

 

 

 

Our dreams may present

 

 

Just a glimpse

 

 

 

 

Spreading my wings

 

For the dive

 

 

I’ll soar

 

Thru the breeze

 

 

With the greatest

 

Of ease

 

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

As reported in Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — In March, the commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Labor, Mark Butler, explained how the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund had gone broke.

“In an attempt to curry favor with Georgia businesses, Gov. Roy Barnes declared a ‘tax holiday’ before Barnes’ failed 2002 re-election campaign,” Butler wrote. “Businesses stopped paying into the trust fund. By the time we hit the Great Recession –- and many, many Georgians became unemployed through no fault of their own — the $2 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund had been reduced by $1.3 billion.”

“Plainly speaking,” Butler added, “Georgia had not saved for that rainy day.”

Georgia lawmakers agreed to much of Butler’s plan to restore the trust fund to solvency — cutting the duration of benefits in an effort to save money. The legislature also modestly increased the amount of wages subject to the state payroll taxes that fund the unemployment system.

While the cuts to unemployment benefits were relatively drastic, the tax cutting that preceded them was typical. Most states failed to make prudent decisions about funding their unemployment trust funds over the years, according to a comprehensive report from the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

States now owe $43 billion to the federal government, according to NELP policy analyst Mike Evangelist, and it’s likely lawmakers will rely more heavily on benefit cuts than tax hikes in order to get out of debt.

“Over the past 30 years, support for accepted norms in the UI program has been systematically eroded, with state lawmakers now more willing to go after long‐standing features of the program, such as the duration of state benefits or suitable work protections that were previously seen as untouchable,”  Evangelist wrote in the report.

Businesses pay both state and federal unemployment taxes for each worker on payroll — state taxes fund the first 26 weeks of benefits for laid off workers, and federal taxes pay for extra benefits that Congress puts in place during recessions. When a state unemployment trust fund runs dry, the state can borrow from the federal government to pay benefits. If a state borrows for too long, federal payroll taxes go up.

When under pressure to refill trust funds, it used to be that state lawmakers would seek savings by tightening eligibility rules. But this year Georgia joined six other states states that had cut the standard 26 weeks duration of benefits for the first time ever. While each state differed in how they cut benefits, Georgia put benefits on a sliding scale that goes up and down with the state’s unemployment rate. When the rate goes down, the duration of benefits could be as low as 14 weeks. The upper limit is 20 weeks.

The states were strapped for cash because tens-of-millions of additional people filed claims, but also because of tax cuts.

According to Evangelist, 31 states cut unemployment taxes 20 percent or more between 1995 and 2005. And from 2000 to 2009, the overall percentage of wages subject to state unemployment taxes fell to the lowest level in the history of the federal-state unemployment system. In 2007, states were collectively $38 billion shy of recommended trust fund reserves.

Doug Holmes, an unemployment insurance expert who advocates for businesses, suggested states would be unwise to try and meet funding thresholds “because to do so would require dramatic increases in state unemployment taxes that would place these states in an uncompetitive position to attract and keep businesses in their states.”

It’s unlikely states will want to hike taxes to pay for unemployment, Evangelist wrote in his report. “Realistically, it is unreasonable to believe that states will close this gap without doing further harm to the UI program’s ability to sustain unemployed workers and their families through periods of temporary job loss.”