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06 Dec 2011 15:03


Politics: Gingrich campaign seeks to pay off debt by end of year

  • $1.2 million of debt to be paid by the Gingrich campaign source
  • » Less money, more problems: The relevance of this lies in the amount of debt relative to Gingrich’s opponents; he’s spent about $3 for every $2 he’s raised in contributions, and now that he’s surged into front-runner status, this ratio is hurting his ability to add staffers and purchase advertising. A possible culprit for the red ink on the Gingrich balance sheet? The early stages of his campaign, in which he was spending heavily on fancy hotels and $30,000 jet flights. Compare this to Mitt Romney’s campaign, which already has a thriving ground-game in place and is reporting zero debt, and one wonders whether Gingrich can raise the organization in time to keep contending.

26 Oct 2011 14:40


Politics: Obama backs plan to alleviate crushing student loan debt

  • $24,000 average student debt in 2009 source
  • » Way down in the hole: The above figure represents the average student loan debt for a graduate of a four-year, non-profit university, as measured in 2009 by the Institute for College Access & Success. In an economy that’s stifling the job prospects of even accomplished college graduates, finding yourself in this level of debt can feel a bit like you’ve been scammed. President Obama is today promoting his plan to tweak the Income-Based Repayment Plan for student loans with changes that were meant to take effect in 2014 (Obama wants 2012). The percentage of one’s discretionary monthly income that must be paid would be lowered from 15% to 10%, and all debt would be forgiven after 20 years, as opposed to the program’s current 25.

16 Aug 2011 21:39


U.S.: Out-of-context Perry quote leads to race controversy

  • controversy On Tuesday, Rick Perry gave a speech in which he referred to a “big black cloud” hanging over America. The propagation of this quote by Ed Schultz and ABC News led to charges of racism against Perry.
  • explanation Both the Ed Schultz edit and the ABC quotation excluded Perry’s full comments, wherein he makes it explicitly clear that the “big black cloud” to which he refers is the nation’s debt. Not, as Schultz claimed, the President. source
  • » There are several different elements to this. First and foremost, two respected media outlets provided a half-quote when they should have provided a full quote. The intent (if any) behind the ABC article is debatable—they later updated it to make Perry’s comments clearer—but Ed Schultz was being flatly disingenuous when he said that “[the] black cloud Perry is talking about is President Barack Obama.” It wasn’t, and that was clear in the original quote. However, it is legitimate to ask whether or not the phrase “big black cloud” was consciously chosen to evoke—however subconsciously—racial imagery. The whole strategy behind race-baiting is to suggest race with a veil of plausible deniability, and while it’s not at all clear that Perry was doing this, it’s at least a fair question to ask. What do you think?

28 Jul 2011 23:23


Politics: An update on the debt ceiling shenanigans

  • boehner’s bill falls short: After a chaotic day of vote-whipping, vote-delaying, and vote-switching, John Boehner has decided to postpone the vote on his debt ceiling bill. Despite multiple assurances that it would be brought to a vote before tomorrow, at the end of the day, Boehner didn’t have enough votes to ensure the bill’s passage (and he wasn’t going to embarrass himself by introducing a bill that was sure to fail). In an unusual alignment, conservative Tea Partiers and House Democrats all pledged to vote against the bill, albiet for different reasons. While the legislation has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, Boehner’s ability to shepherd it through the House is seen by many as the first real test of his leadership abilities. If he doesn’t eventually pass it, there’s a good chance he’ll (eventually) be deposed as Speaker. But it’s not over yet–sources say Republicans plan to tweak the bill a bit, and re-introduce it tomorrow.  source

25 Jul 2011 23:09


Politics: A little perspective on this whole deficit mess

  • This graph, courtesy of the New York Times, has been making the rounds today, and it’s worth examining. Note that health care reform, much-maligned by the right as deficit-killer, cost less than even the most inexpensive of George W. Bush’s policies (that policy being Medicare Part D). Note also that the Bush tax cuts alone added more to the deficit than all of President Obama’s new policies combined — and that’s including projected spending over the course of a theoretical second term.  source

19 Jul 2011 01:50


Politics: The Best Two Sentences of the Night

  • Responsibility without conviction is weak, but it is sane. Conviction without responsibility, in the current incarnation of the Republican Party, is raving mad.
  • George Packer • On how each party is handling the (possible) debt ceiling increase. source

15 Jul 2011 21:53


Politics: Republicans Senator: “We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves”

  • Maybe the debt ceiling was the wrong place to pick a fight, as it related to trying to get our country’s house in order…maybe that was the wrong place to do it.
  • GOP Senator Bob Corker • In a shockingly frank admission that the Republicans overplayed their obstructionist hand. The phrase “pick a fight” implies antagonism for antagonism’s sake which, if one reflects on the Republican party’s behavior over the last three years, would seem an appropriate implication. Another Senate Republican, Lindsey Graham, had a similar confession: “Our problem is we made a big deal about this for three months…we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves.” Yes, indeed. These confessions bode well for the prospects of a deal passing the Senate, but the House remains another question entirely. source

13 Jul 2011 23:20


Politics: GOP Senator sounds suspiciously socialistic

  • We give money away to a few people at the expense of the many.
  • GOP Senator Lindsay Graham • Pushing to close tax loopholes that benefit upper-income earners. While it seems obvious (to most) that we ought to close tax loopholes, Republicans in Congress have, for the most part, resolutely opposed any modification of the tax code that brings in additional revenue. To hear a prominent Republican say something like this is a faint glimmer of hope that maybe–and that’s a big maybe– Republicans will bend a bit on revenues; this could, in turn, translate into a deal to raise the debt-ceiling. Which would be nice. source

13 Jul 2011 22:34


Politics: Talk about drawing a line in the sand

  • I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.
  • President Obama • Toward the end of a budget meeting with Republicans. It’s not clear what policy he won’t yield on, but from the texture of the debate thus far, we’re guessing it’s the inclusion of revenue increases in the deal to raise the debt-ceiling.source

25 May 2011 14:10


Biz, U.S.: Bubble watch: Is the student loan market about to crash?

  • $24k average amount of debt a graduating college student has
  • $800B amount in outstanding student debt — with 30% of it securitized
  • 40% number of student loans that are in default after 15 years; not good source
  • » This is huge. To put it in perspective: Student loans are the nation’s largest source of debt – even more than credit cards. Tuition has risen faster than inflation, and lenders are quick to help students. That’s because until 2009 the government had a program in place that purchased loans that weren’t paid back. That sounds a lot like the housing market, right? Couple all of that with the fact that college graduates are having harder times finding jobs, and you don’t get a very good picture over the long-term.