Jim Messina (Op-ed at CNN) You can’t change Washington from the inside. President Obama was criticized for stating that simple truth during the campaign, but without Americans organizing in support of the issues they believe in, lobbyists and special interests will drive the agenda in Washington.
At this crossroads for our economy, we can’t afford business as usual. That’s why we’ve formed Organizing for Action, to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who voted for policies that will strengthen the middle class will be heard.
As we worked for change during the president’s first term, we saw special interests spend unprecedented amounts in an attempt to persuade Congress to vote against policies the American people voted for.
Jamelle Bouie: Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza chides President Obama for “crying wolf” on sequestration…. There’s no doubt the White House indulged in hyperbole during the debate over sequestration. But Cillizza is exaggerating the degree to which Obama’s rhetoric was overheated or overhyped…..
…. Sequester furloughs have already begun for some federal workers, and communities that rely on military bases and federal spending will see real hardship. Over time, if sequestration is allowed to run its course, more and more Americans will feel the consequences of sudden austerity.
Private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates “sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs …. Did Obama cry wolf on the sequester? No. And besides, it’s only been five days. We’ll see the effects of sequestration as time passes, and they won’t be good.
NYT Editorial: Unable to stop the sequester’s job-killing spending cuts, President Obama now says he wants to move past the endless wars of budget attrition. Though he still wants a long-term deficit deal, he said last week, it is time to turn to immigration, gun control, universal preschool, a higher minimum wage and voting reform.
But Republicans are not going to allow that pivot. Most are unalterably opposed to all of those initiatives, and want to keep their focus on cutting domestic programs and fighting off tax increases…. Paul Ryan will soon unveil his caucus’s 2014 budget, which will start to make good on the party’s ruinous plan to balance the budget in 10 years…..
Republicans are hoping to wear down their opposition with these eternal battles. But their proposals are too dangerous to allow that to happen.
Steve Benen: Maybe you agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s civil liberties arguments; maybe you don’t. Perhaps you see him as an ideal messenger for his message; perhaps you notice that he’s a strange conspiracy theorist who talks a little too often about Hitler and believes civil liberties end when a woman wants control of her own reproductive freedoms.
….. as Paul’s allies grew throughout the day, it was hard not to wonder whether at least some of his new-found friends endorsed him on the substance or whether “Stand with Rand” had become a temporary fad on the right, driven by Republicans who were simply happy to see President Obama’s national security agenda facing criticism, even if they happen to agree with President Obama’s national security agenda.
…. There’s room for a real debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security, and if Paul helps spark that conversation, I’d be delighted. But I’ll be eager to know just how much yesterday’s spectacle changed minds and how much of it was about putting on a show.
Will Femia (Maddow Blog): While Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks during oral arguments in the Voting Rights Act case left some of us scratching our heads about where he came up with the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” argument, Chad Flanders, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law, has an idea, tracing the phrase to a 1979 paper by then-professor Scalia…..
ThinkProgress: Meet 34 Corporations That Help Inflate The NRA’s Membership
….. A recent NRA promotion invited people to join at a discounted $25 rate. In addition to receiving an official membership card, a subscription to an association magazine, and free gun insurance, new members received a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shops, making the membership essentially free.
In addition to those incentives, members of the NRA and its business alliance receive a bevy of other discounts courtesy of the Association’s corporate affiliates. National and local companies provide discounts on everything from car rentals to identity theft protection. The companies get listed on the NRA’s site as corporate partners and can promote themselves as “NRA endorsed.” And, in some cases, the NRA gets a percentage of the profits.
ThinkProgress: As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.
Appointed in Oct. 2004, over a year into War in Iraq, the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was charged with being a watchdog over the use of funds provided for rebuilding the Iraqi state after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Those reconstruction and stabilization efforts wound up costing nearly $60 billion — or about $15 million per day — with up to $10 billion of that amount wasted, according to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
The examples provided of fraud and abuse of the system are staggering both in number and nature….
President Obama talks with Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for South Asia, left, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon in the Oval Office, Nov. 13 (Pete Souza)
10:0 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters (C-Span)
1:30: President Obama holds a news conference
2:45: President Obama and VP Biden attend a meeting with business leaders
McClatchy: President Obama assured labor unions and liberal organizations Tuesday that he’s firmly committed to letting tax cuts for higher incomes expire as scheduled at the end of the year….
Obama met with the labor and liberal groups for an hour at the White House, his first extended meeting with anyone from outside his administration since he won re-election a week ago. He told them he’s committed to raising taxes on higher incomes as he negotiates with Congress on avoiding the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases when Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year and automatic spending cuts negotiated during last year’s debt crisis kick in.
“President Obama today strongly reiterated his steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent finally end Dec. 31 and to protecting the middle class in the process,” said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org….
Dana Milbank: President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.
If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.
…. a large number of patriotic Americans, mostly from states won by Mitt Romney last week, have petitioned the White House to let them secede. They should be careful about what they wish for…..
Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.
…. would-be rebels from the red states should keep in mind during the coming budget battle that those who are most ardent about cutting government spending tend to come from parts of the country that most rely on it.