Nation editor-at-large and host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.
Yesterday, when President Bush made a visit to ColorCraft, Va. to tout the benefits of the economic stimulus package for small-business owners, he should've stuck around longer to talk to the workers--who were forced this week out of rising gas prices to switch to a three-day workweek in an attempt to save fuel.
Back in January, the watchword was "targeted and timely--to get money back into the economy." This week, a new CNN poll finds that fully 73% of Americans will use the rebate to pay off debt, or will save the money. Only 21% of those polled intend to actually make new purchases. At this rate, if the White House ever bends on their unwillingness to support extension of unemployment insurance or low-income heating subsidies, it'll be well into spring, and the rebate checks will be arriving. By then, they won't be a stimulus, but a lifeline.
The NYT weighs in today on the freeze of the FEC, which is currently being held in a state of partisan abeyance (making the will-he-won't-he, did-he-didn't-he arguments about both Obama and McCain's public campaign financing commitments pretty much moot).
Also worth checking out is this piece last month from Ryan Grim, which details how partisanship deadlock has managed to freeze the nation's broader regulatory system in its tracks.
To name just a few regulatory boards currently incapacitated other than the FEC: the Council of Economic Advisers (home now to just one member), the National Labor Relations Board (only two out of five members serving), the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (likewise), and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (one short of a quorum).
From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Tomato producer quits, blames Congress.
"No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor," says Keith Eckel, the largest producer of Pennsylvania's fresh-market tomatoes.
Reminds me of hearing Sen. Feinstein last month talk about her experience with the issue in my home state of California. Years ago, her office contacted every single welfare office in the state to try and increase the number of U.S. citizens working in agriculture. None of the offices, she recalls, were able to recruit even one worker to head out to the fields.
Not that, as conservative canard would have it, the average U.S. worker--or, as the implication goes, the average black worker--is lazy. Agricultural work is seasonal and temporary, not to mention generally removed from urban centers where jobs with low barriers to entry are urgently needed in the first place. And nationally, the scope of the problem might be reduced if compensation was higher than, say, the average $13,000 that farm workers in a state like Florida can expect to make annually.
Ackerman takes a look at the efforts by the Bush administration to commit US troops to Iraq well into the future. I think it might be a good idea for Obama and Clinton to issue a joint statement saying the flat-out will not abide by any such agreement.
I was just on a conservative talk radio show where the host accused the Obamas of being Marxists. Really! I told him I spend my whole time on the left and I literally know one Marxist. One! It's a fascinating trope of conservatism that despite the fact Marxism is more or less dead as a political movement they feel the need to keep red-baiting all these years later. What's up with that?
You really couldn't script this race any better: Jon Powers is a 29-year-old Iraq Veteran and substitute teacher who founded a nonprofit to serve Iraqi orphans. He's running to fill the just-vacated seat of Tom Reynolds (R-New York) -- who, among the many blushes of his career, voted for the Iraq War, voted against a series of 9/11 Commission recommendations to improve homeland security, and for years turned a blind eye to Mark Foley's proclivity for underage pages.
Powers faces a likely opponent in the self-financed millionaire, Jack Davis, who dismisses Powers' chances accordingly: "He's 29 years old, and he's never had a real job." (Because serving in Iraq and working as a substitute teacher don't count.)
With Reynolds' retirement, the tally of Republicans who have declined this year to run for reelection has hit 29.
Run, Powers, run!
"Moost unusual." That was how CNN chose to headline its coverage of anti-war coverage last week--a slightly more subtle variant of the newscast's ultimate message: "Wow, get a load of these freaks."
"There was a lot of dress-up among protesters," the anchor intones sardonically. And later, bemusedly: "This bike-riding protester played chicken with a bus!" Much of the footage is trained on one woman in New York, who is seen alternately engrossed in a sing-song chant, "Shock and awe!" and haranguing protesters for their opposition to the war.
No sign of the veterans who came out in force to protest, or the many family members who have lost loved ones in the conflict.
Meanwhile, Dick Cheney reminded the country yesterday that while a $3-trillion war is hard--especially for those who have sacrificed family members--it's "obviously" hardest for President Bush. After all, said Cheney, "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans...the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."
In related news, the film Stop Loss debuts in theaters this week.
That's what Paul Krugman rightly wants to know. For months I've been struck by the jarring disconnect between the finance blogs I read, where people are basically screaming at the top of their lungs that the sky is falling, and the campaign blogs, where the financial crisis hardly makes an appearance. I think there are three (non mutually exclusive) reasons. One, which Krugman mentions, is that the crisis is deeply bewildering and the optimal policy is incredibly unclear. Two, there's probably some legitimate concern about the negative effect of a presidential candidate pointing out that the sky is in fact falling. Three, the candidates are largely funded by Wall St. and don't want to bring up the dreaded R word, regulation.