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13 Feb 2012 16:47


Politics: GOP caves on payroll tax cut; 10-month extension set to pass

  • 10 month extension of the payroll tax cut is likely to pass source
  • » Good news for Democrats:  GOP leadership has indicated that they’ll pass a 10-month extension of the payroll tax without any offsets in spending. Democrats had wanted to balance the tax cut, in part, with higher taxes on the rich; Republicans wanted to do so, in part, with cuts to unemployment benefits. Ultimately, they couldn’t agree, and so it will be passed with no offsets at all. Why is this good news for Democrats? Well, the GOP took a hard-line against the payroll tax cut–which largely benefits the middle-class–last December, making the once-benign policy a partisan issue. Democrats, by and large, were okay passing it sans offsets–the suggestion to pay for it via tax cuts on the rich was more a general effort to increase taxes on the rich–and so the fact that the extension is going to pass is a political and legislative win for Democrats. But the extension expires in ten months–right around the presidential election–so this fight is only over in the short-term.

01 Mar 2011 21:31


U.S.: Scott Walker’s deficit-cutting plan: Let’s cut everything, stat!

  • » The end result: Walker hopes to reduce the state’s structural deficit 90 percent to around $250 million – a deep, austerity-focused cut that may stop the deficit but could greatly hurt the state in the process, if you think that way. Walker, well, doesn’t. “I have often repeated references to our state’s constitutional lesson, that it is only through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people,” he said. Or, you could just raise taxes if you’re really that hard up about fixing this budget problem.

01 Mar 2011 10:26


Politics: Was Scott Walker’s union push an overreach of his power?

  • I think it’d be fair to categorize the proposal (to cut union bargaining) as an overreach. Maybe the biggest reason for that claim is the fact that he didn’t campaign on this.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor David Canon • Offering his take on Scott Walker, whose stance on unions is hurting his popularity among many. Many Wisconsin political scholars, even the ones more charitable to his position, agree that the overall end result doesn’t bode well for Walker’s long-term prospects, but may be motivated by something else entirely. “As for his political future, I’m not sure this is going to benefit him in the long run,” said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Thomas Holbrook. “I see it as more of coming from conviction and opportunity.” source

26 Feb 2011 11:24


Politics: Folks across the country protesting along with Wisconsin today

  • 50 states having pro-union protests in solidarity with Wisconsin source
  • » But will Obama join them? Probably not, despite, you know, this speech he made all the way back in 2007. Where are your comfortable shoes now, Barack?

21 Feb 2011 10:43


Politics: In partial defense of the Wisconsin State Journal’s bad photo editing

  • We’ve noticed a couple of our followers mentioning this pretty stellar Awl article about the situation in Wisconsin. This isn’t really about that, except indirectly. It mentioned this photo gallery using this phrase: “The Wisconsin State Journal, ran an entire photo journal titled ‘Saturday protests at the Capitol’—which contained photos only of the Walker supporters.” Now, we don’t like being critical of a publication we like (The Awl is cool), but this simply isn’t true. What we’re witnessing, conversely, is a bad case of photo editing which seems to emphasize the Tea Partiers above all else. There are a lot of photos of the Tea Party in this slideshow, either way, seemingly more than of the much larger crowd around them. source

21 Feb 2011 10:18


Politics: Cuts like a knife: Scott Walker says Dems are on “vacation”

  • Instead of stimulating the hospitality sector of Illinois’ economy, Senate Democrats should come back to the Madison, debate the bill, cast their vote, and help get Wisconsin’s economy back on track.
  • A statement from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker • Criticizing State Senators for taking a “vacation” instead of voting for the bill that would totally screw over their most important constituents. Walker is in no mood to compromise at the moment – even as unions have offered to take the cuts in efforts to retain their collective bargaining rights – which means that Democrats really have no incentive to return. Especially considering the continental breakfasts they’re probably eating right now! source

19 Feb 2011 21:23


U.S.: Are the Tea Partiers in Madison really that big a deal, anyway?

  • So how many Tea Partiers went to Madison today? While these crowds look reasonably large in size, they don’t appear to hold a candle to the 40,000+ union protesters going around Madison today. These arial shots seem to suggest much smaller crowds of Tea Partiers than pro-union folks. But guess which ones CNN decided to cover today? Take a guess. (photo from Americans for Prosperity’s Flickr stream) source

19 Feb 2011 15:43


Politics: Reader-submitted: One protester’s take on the Wisconsin issue

  • From someone who’s been there: Here’s a clip Tumblr user definitelynotcanon sent our way. Her friend Anna, who says in the clip that she’s never made a video blog, offers some perspective from the front lines of the protests in Madison, and wants to encourage better coverage of the entire issue. The important part is that the stripping of collective bargaining rights is the key issue here – not the current budget issue. We do have one point to make about all this: The part that she brings up about the special interest groups is actually inaccurate, as pointed out by Politifact. (It’s not spending on special interest groups, but tax breaks.) The heart of her argument still stands up, though. It’s OK though, because Ezra Klein has her back. After watching that, read this: source

17 Feb 2011 22:32


Politics: Is Scott Walker’s budget crusade a MacGuffin to hurt unions?

  • Is this whole Wisconsin budget mess ginned-up? That’s one of the threads flowing around the left end of the media spectrum, which suggests that Wisconsin’s budgetary problems have nothing to do with unions – and everything to do with stuff Scott Walker pushed through. They’ve been pointing to this report from the state’s fiscal bureau with this particular sentence: “More than half of the lower estimate ($117.2 million) is due to the impact of Special Session Senate Bill 2 (health savings accounts), Assembly Bill 3 (tax deductions/credits for relocated businesses), and Assembly Bill 7 (tax exclusion for new employees).” To make it clear, these are all things that Walker pushed through. These have nothing to do with unions. They’re intended as stimulus through tax cuts and incentives, however, not special interest-focused spending as a few have suggested. The overall result still leads one to question Walker’s motives, however – because, based on this evidence, that the union collective bargaining cuts could be at the benefit of his own initiatives, not strictly “balancing the budget.” (thanks mgolladwine) source

17 Feb 2011 19:55


Politics: Wisconsin Dems: “We were left with no choice” but to leave state

  • We were left with no choice … The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out.
  • Democrat Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach • Explaining why he chose to leave the state, and what it will take to get him back. He and every other Democratic state senator in Wisconsin left in protest of a GOP-backed plan to limit public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain for better wages, in a push to stop a deficit crisis. As a result, the GOP doesn’t have quorum – because 20 state senators need to be there, and there are 19 Republicans. This is the first such incident were an entire party left a state to avoid a vote since Democratic members of the Texas state senate and state house left the state to avoid a vote on redistricting – the same vote, mind you, that led to Tom DeLay’s corruption conviction. source