Ryan and Romney’s Secret Plan to Cut the Deficit – and why Romney opposes it

Reprinted from New Economic Perspectives

By William K. Black

My favorite scene from  The West Wing is the episode in which the President’s press secretary is recovering from a root canal and Josh Lyman decides to handle a press briefing.  Lyman is a young whiz kid who believes he is the smartest guy in the room, but the briefing goes disastrously.  Lyman has to explain to the President that he has, sarcastically, told the press that the President has “a secret plan to fight inflation.”  The press, fed up with Lyman’s arrogance, has decided to report Lyman’s statement about the secret plan without noting the sarcasm.  Worse is still to come, for upon questioning Lyman about the incident, the President asks in exasperation:  “Are you telling me that not only did you invent a secret plan to fight inflation but now you don’t support it?”

At Thursday’s VP debate, Representative Ryan renewed his claim that he has a secret plan to cut the deficit while cutting all tax rates by 20 percent and not eliminating any tax deductions for which the middle class are large recipients.  Oh, and Romney has also promised to increase military spending.

Romney is reprising the three contradictory budgetary promises that President Reagan made during the 1980 campaign.   Reagan’s OMB Director David Stockman admitted no plan could produce the three promises.  Stockman’s job was to lie in order to cover up the fact that the administration had no plan that could simultaneously (1) cut taxes, (2) end the budget deficit, and (3) increase military spending.  Stockman invented the “magic asterisk” to hide the truth from the public.

There is, of course, no Ryan plan.  There cannot be a Ryan plan because mathematicians are not like historians.  The cruel joke about historians is that while God himself cannot change history; historians can.  It is perhaps because they can be useful to God in this regard that he tolerates their continued existence and frequent errors.  Mathematicians are useless to God, at least in the non-exotic realms of mathematics relevant to budgets, because they are so good at exposing errors and when they do so the error is beyond dispute.  (Econometricians are God’s favorites among the quants.)    No budget plan could meet all (or even most) of the policy constraints Ryan and Romney have promised they would obey.  It is mathematically impossible.  Romney and Ryan’s primary lie is that they have a secret plan to cut taxes, cut the deficit, and increase military spending.

Ryan claimed during the debate that he could not tell the voters the plan because then it would not be secret and this would somehow prevent a bipartisan agreement to adopt the secret plan after the election.  On September 30, 2012, however, Ryan told Fox News he could not tell them his secret plan because “it would take me too long to go through all the math.”

Ryan’s secondary series of lies is required to cover up the primary lie.  He cannot keep his cover up lies straight.  He tried out the first version (“it would take me too long to go through all the math”) on Fox, the most Republican turf in media, and was ridiculed.  His handlers developed a new lie to cover up the primary lie that there is a secret plan to reduce the deficit.  Ryan’s handlers think their new lie is clever bit of alchemy, transmuting the “lead” of Ryan and Romney’s constant refusal to give any facts about their (non-existent) secret plan into the “gold” of bipartisanship.

But the ultimate kicker is that if Ryan actually had a plan to cut substantially the budget deficit Romney would oppose it.  Romney explained why in his May 23, 2012 interview with Mark Halperin in Time magazine.

Halperin: Why not in the first year, if you’re elected — why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you’d like to see after four years in office?  Why not do it more quickly?

Romney: Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%.  That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression.  So I’m not going to do that, of course.”

If Ryan actually had a secret plan that slashed social spending and tried to reduce the deficit dramatically the plan would be an austerity program as self-destructive as the European austerity program that gratuitously threw the Eurozone back into recession and the periphery into depression.  Romney has stressed that adopting such a plan   “is by definition throwing us into recession or depression.  So I’m not going to do that, of course.”  It’s a good thing that Ryan doesn’t really have a secret plan to reduce the budget deficit, because it would cost millions of Americans their jobs by throwing us into a recession or depression.  Paul Krugman’s recent column explains how the House Republican budget calls for extreme austerity of the nature that Romney accurately warns would throw our nation “into recession or a depression.”

Ryan is the architect of this House Republican budget.  The House Republican budget is not a plan, but a fantasy.  It assumes that governmental spending cuts will cause a huge increase in economic growth, but as Romney admits it would do the opposite.  Recessions or depressions cause budget deficits to grow massively as tax revenues fall precipitously.  If you hate budget deficits avoid austerity like the plague.  Romney admits that the House Republican budget would produce the Ryan Recession of 2013.


Bill Black is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He spent years working on regulatory policy and fraud prevention as Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention, Litigation Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and Deputy Director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement, among other positions.

Bill writes a column for Benzinga every Monday. His other academic articles, congressional testimony, and musings about the financial crisis can be found at his Social Science Research Network author page and at the blog New Economic Perspectives.

Follow him on Twitter: @williamkblack

“Eye Of The Sparrow” — A Bad Lip Reading of the First 2012 Presidential Debate

A Suggestion For Grass Valley City Council Candidates & Members

By Don Pelton

Jeff Pelline, in his Sierra Foothils Report a few days ago, wrote about  City Council candidate Howard Levine’s position on various local issues, including his support for re-opening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. I’ve spent enough years, in an effort with others, to research all aspects of this issue, including its inadequacy as a business proposition, that I’m inclined now to the view that anyone who supports re-opening the mine must not be acquainted with all the facts.

Here are the comments I appended to Jeff’s posting, encouraging current council members as well as candidate hopefuls to study the issue more fully:

I hope that if Howard Levine is elected to the council, he will reconsider his support for re-opening the Idaho Maryland Mine.

Now that Emgold’s application has fortunately expired, the council should critique its own role in allowing such a poorly-crafted business proposal to drag out for nearly a decade, not only wasting valuable community resources, but preventing a more viable project for that site to be considered in its stead.

We expect the council, at the very least, to recognize a viable business proposal when it sees one, but its handling of the Emgold fiasco suggests that it still has some important lessons to learn in this regard.

It’s tempting to say that the council should be able to evaluate a proposal on its business merits altogether aside from its environmental impacts. But in truth the environmental impacts of a proposal are integral to its economic viability. It’s not clear to me that this fundamental aspect of doing business in the Sierras is well-understood by the current council, much less by hopefuls like Howard Levine.(See the work of Steve Frisch’s Sierra Business Council for a good understanding of this issue).

Among the council’s biggest mistakes with Emgold was its failure to obtain a competent economic viability study of the project proposal contained in Emgold’s application. The 2005 study conducted by the SF Bay Area consulting group Bay Area Economics, an organization that had no experience with evaluating a mining project, was not adequate.

The council should immediately establish, with community feedback, some ground rules and guidelines for a minimally-acceptable application for mining within city limits, since the impacts of such a development will profoundly affect Grass Valley’s character and business climate.

There are good arguments for prohibiting mining altogether within city limits. The council should be willing to hear and consider these arguments.

After some years working with others to critique Emgold’s application, I have come to the conclusion that the biggest overlooked fact about the idea of re-opening the IMM is its monstrously huge scale. Few really grasp this.

The underground extent of the IMM is about the same as the city of Grass valley itself (~3200 acres). It runs under the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, under the Basin, and out to the Y juncture of 174 and Brunswick.

This geographical extent, as huge as it is, is exceeded by its potential sphere of harm (including hydrologic uncertainty about well failures, etc). This is all copiously documented in the work of CLAIM-GV (Citizens Looking At Impacts of Mining in Grass Valley).

A common misunderstanding is that the mine — if reopened in the heart of downtown Grass Valley — would have limited impact, potentially affecting only those who live in close proximity to it.

Because of its scale, every resident in Western Nevada County effectively lives in close proximity to IMM.

My suggestion to Howard Levine and all other council hopefuls, as well as to the current council members, is to start this self-critique by reading Tom Grundy’s excellent and widely published article on the weaknesses of Emgold’s application. It was published in the Union, in Yubanet and in my own Sierra Voices, which I shamelessly plug here:

Will Grass Valley Learn From Its Mistakes With Emgold?

Wikipedia vs the Truth

As a former graduate student in US History, where “primary sources” (original documents, letters, contemporaneous reports, eyewitness accounts, etc.) were the most authoritative, followed by “secondary sources” (non-contemporaneous writings, histories, etc.), I found this article  in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse fascinating.

Professor Messer-Kruse, an expert in labor history, located some original source materials in the matter of the 19th century Haymarket Massacre that settled some longstanding questions, but — as it so happened — contradicted the generally-accepted conventional histories of that affair, including the Haymarket Wikipedia entry.

The good professor found that his attempts to correct the incorrect information in Wikipedia invariably got removed by the Wikipedia cops within minutes.

He persisted until they threatened to label him a Wikipedia “vandal,” at which point he retreated and waited a few years until his own book (itself a secondary source, you might notice) was published.

Read Professor Messer-Kruse’s account of his experience, here:  “The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia


Additional Resources

 

 

8 Facts That Prove Our Government Is Not Going Broke

Reprinted from Alternet

By Les Leopold

The Republicans are out to shred our social safety net — and they’re using debt as their excuse.

Pete Peterson, the billionaire former private equity mogul, is quietly funding a noisy bus tour to whip up debt hysteria across the land. The “Ten Million a Minute Tour” headed by the Peterson Foundation’s former CEO, David M. Walker (and featuring such economic soothsayers as Alan Greenspan and Ross Perot) will end this week in Washington, DC after traveling coast to coast to alert America about the myriad of alleged dangers posed by government debt and deficits.

Really, it should be called the “Million an Hour” cavalcade because that’s about how much Peterson and company made, in part, through obscene tax loopholes designed for private equity firms and hedge funds. If there really is a debt problem, then Peterson and his fellow tax-evading financial moguls have contributed mightily to it.

But America does not face a debt crisis. Nor are we likely to face one in the next 100 years. In fact, we are the last country on Earth that needs to worry about its public debt.

What’s really behind the debt histrionics is a relentless effort by these Very Important People to use a trumped-up crisis to shred the social safety net and bring forth their bleak vision of a dog-eat-dog society where government provides for no one (except the super-rich). Unfortunately, many liberals are also buying into a “debt crisis” that doesn’t exist.

It’s time to inoculate ourselves from deficit hysteria. The first step is recognizing that virtually everything we read and hear about government debt and deficits is misleading, manipulative or just plain wrong. So, here’s your handy guide to the eight biggest lies.

But first, some basic definitions and facts:

  • Deficits are how much the government budget goes into the red in a given year. The red ink is covered by the sale of government bonds to investors here and abroad.
  • The national debt is the total amount of what the U.S. owes on those government bonds. If we have deficits year after year, then the debt gets larger year after year.
  • The projected deficit for this fiscal year is over $1 trillion.
  • Our total government debt is more than $16 trillion as of Oct. 1, 2012.

1. Isn’t it extremely dangerous to have such a large government debt?

Supposedly, the danger point comes when investors no longer will buy our debt at reasonable interest rates because they fear we won’t pay it back. Are we there yet? Are we getting close?

Let’s start with a look at debt as a percentage of our nation’s annual economic activity (gross domestic product or GDP). The chart below shows our national debt as a percentage of GDP hit an all-time high of 121 percent during the depths of World War II and recently began sharply rising again in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash. In 2011 the debt/GDP percentage reached 102.9 percent. Most forecasts suggest it is now leveling off.

 

Click to enlarge.

We can also compare ourselves to other large economies. Here’s a list from theInternational Monetary Fund.

  • Government Debt as a Percentage of GDP, 2011

    China 25.8%
    France 86.3%
    Germany 81.5%
    Japan 229.8%
    United Kingdom 82.5%
    United States 102.9%

What’s going on here? First off, China’s percentage is artificially low because it buries a good deal of public debt in opaque provincial and local government loans and land giveaways. And then you have Japan. Why isn’t everyone screaming about Japan’s debt? Because investors consider its economy to be strong, steady and safe. They’re happy to lend to Japan at very low interest rates. And where is the safest haven in the world? Here in the USA. Investors are willing to lend us money at almost no interest rate at all.

Here’s the rub. Debt is only too high if the underlying economy is shaky. Investors all over the world are betting that the U.S. is the strongest, most stable nation right now, and over the long haul. They expect our economy to grow which automatically will shrink the debt ratio. It’s simple math. Economy up, debt down as a percentage of the economy (all other things being equal).

Despite what you hear from nearly every media outlet and every politician, investors do not see our debt as dangerously high. They are more than willing to pour money into the most stable, dynamic economy in the world – one that is both safe now, and likely to grow in the future.

2. Aren’t we’re in danger of becoming the next Greece?

Greece is in a heap of trouble even though its debt-to-GDP ratio (169.8%) is far below Japan’s (229.8%). With an unemployment rate of over 25 percent, Greece’s economy is shrinking rapidly. The more it shrinks the more it has to borrow to pay back previous loans and to balance its budget. But it can’t borrow unless it cuts its budgets. To cut its budgets, it has to lay off public employees and cut its social safety net, which further increases unemployment and shrinks its economy. Unless you’re in love with retsina, this is not a great time to be living in Greece.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Greece’s recovery is that it doesn’t have its own currency. If Greece did, it could let the value of that currency fall, which would make its economy more competitive. Obviously, both the US and Japan have their own currencies. Also, the U.S. and Japanese economies are much, much richer, stronger and diverse than Greece’s. Therefore, there is no chance – none whatsoever — that the U.S and Japan will face Greece’s debt problems. Anyone who makes that comparison is either a fool or a demagogue hoping to skewer popular social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

3. Won’t cutting the national debt make the economy grow?

When economic calamity strikes, we humans seem instinctively to hoard our remaining resources. (Once we had belts, we tightened them.) But complex modern economies are not like families. Economies mired in major recessions require spending, not austerity, to function properly. As John Maynard Keynes noted two generations ago, when an economy is in a depression, the worst thing you can do is pay down government debt, precisely because families and businesses already are belt-tightening so much. Instead you need to run up even more debt to make up for the demand we lose when households “tighten their belts.” If major governments move to austerity during hard times, the recession grows deeper.

You want proof? Look at Europe today, where a real-time austerity experiment is in progress. Led by Germany, each European nation is cutting back on social services and increasing taxes. The net result: The 17-nation Eurozone is falling back into another recession with unemployment now rising to 11.4%. As the New York Times reports:

Greece had an unemployment rate of 24.4 percent in June, the latest month for which data were available. Spain still had the region’s highest jobless rate, at 25.1 percent, and an even bigger problem among young people. Nearly 53 percent of Spaniards younger than 25 were classified as unemployed in August.

There is no way in hell that cutting government debt will put America back to work. Instead it will send our economy into a nosedive. We’ve already unnecessarily unemployed more than 650,000 public employees due to self-destructive cuts in local, state and federal budgets. It would have been far, far, better for the government to borrow more to put America back to work.

4. But isn’t it ominous that the rating agencies took away our AAA rating?

Ludicrous, not ominous.

Rating agencies were first established to help investors judge the ability of corporations to repay their debts (corporate bonds). At first the rating agencies were paid by investors who wanted the information. But, a new business model emerged — agencies were paid by the corporations and banks who were selling bonds in question. No one seemed to care much about the obvious conflict of interest until the recent Wall Street crash. Then we painfully discovered that these “independent” rating agencies made tens of millions of dollars doling out AAA ratings on every piece of toxic trash that investment banks paid them to rate. Then when the crash hit, the rating agencies had to reclassify thousands of mortgage-back bonds from AAA to junk. In short, the rating agencies are best viewed as pet poodles for the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks and investment houses.

Rating agencies also evaluate debt offerings by governments and government agencies so that investors can decide how much risk to take on. The lower the rating, the higher the risk, and therefore, the higher the interest rate for the government offering. Fair enough.

But when it comes to rating major economic powerhouses like the U.S., Japan or Germany, what the rating agencies say is meaningless. When the U.S. “lost” its AAA rating, it was supposed to signal a rise in risk and therefore a rise in the interest rates the U.S. would be forced to pay investors to hold its debt. Instead, U.S. government bond rates went down as investors poured more money, not less, into buying our debt.

So why did the rating agencies bother to offer what obviously was a meaningless downgrade? Because again, they were acting as Wall Street poodles, hoping to tip government policy toward debt reduction and away from making Wall Street pay for the unconscionable mess it created. It’s amazing to watch highly educated politicians genuflect before these bogus ratings. It’s theology, not economics.

In short, the cut in our AAA rating should be viewed for what it really is: a political act to help Wall Street support the Republicans, submarine new financial regulations, and redirect the debate away from increased taxes on Wall Street and the super-rich.

5. Isn’t China buying up most of our debt and doesn’t that put us at its mercy?

The U.S. imports more from China than it exports to China. This produces a trade deficit (not government debt). In the first six months of 2012 we imported $235 billion worth of goods from China but exported only $61 billion to China for a net trade deficit of $174 billion. (There are many reasons for this imbalance, but a big one is that China keeps its currency artificially undervalued, which in turn, keeps its products cheap and ours more expensive. That makes it very hard to compete.)

Since China wants to do something with all those extra dollars, it buys U.S. government bonds. How much of our debt does China now own? About 8 cents of every dollar of outstanding U.S. debt. Other U.S. agencies like the Social Security Trust Fund and the Federal Reserve own about 30 cents of every dollar of our debt, and individual investors, corporations and other countries own the rest – about 62 cents of every dollar of debt. (See U.S Treasury Department andBusinessinsider.com.)

Yes, China is the biggest foreign player, but it’s not about to make trouble. It couldn’t even if it wanted to. China needs us to buy its goods or its economy will collapse. (Think for a minute about the trade. We get real goods and China gets paper…or rather little electronic signals in a currency account. It’s not clear who’s getting the better of that deal.)

In the end, large global economies are joined at the hip. China will buy our debt because it has no other choice. It has no interest at all in roiling the U.S. debt markets. If we go down, they go down.

6. Isn’t the debt caused by runaway entitlements?

Now we’re getting down to what this debt debate is really about. The austerity folks don’t want to tighten just any belt. They want to shred our social safety net. Debt is their excuse. Instead of making an open and honest case for a dog-eat-dog society, the social Darwinists (with Paul Ryan their new leader) make the utterly untruthful claim that so-called entitlements are driving up debt.

With a little addition, we can see how bogus this claim really is.

About a decade ago we were running a yearly surplus, meaning that each year we were paying down our national debt, not adding to it. Then stuff happened.

  • The Bush tax cuts (continued by Obama under severe Republican pressure) cost $250 billion a year in revenue.
  • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added another $300 billion a year in unfunded expenditures.
  • The Wall Street crash (which destroyed 8 million jobs in six months) led to a total of $350 billion a year in lost tax revenues and increased expenditures for the unemployed.
  • The bailout/stimulus rescue of the economy cost an additional $300 million a year for two years.

As the bottom black line on the graph below shows, instead of our current trillion dollar deficit, we’d be very close to a balanced budget were it not for Wall Street’s reckless greed, the unnecessary wars, and tax cuts for the rich. And we’d get there without shrinking social programs.

 

Click to enlarge.

7. Isn’t this Obama’s fault?

As we just reviewed, Obama is not the cause of the rising debt. The tax cuts, the unfunded wars, the Wall Street crash and the bailouts started on Bush’s watch. Obama did indeed push the stimulus through, but that was a good move for our economy not a bad one. Furthermore, it was too small, not too big. (And Obamacare, over the long haul, is roughly neutral when it comes to the national debt.)

Obama, however, is not blameless. He should be faulted, not for running up the debt, but for not running it up more! Instead of kowtowing to deficit mania he should have visited unemployment line after unemployment line to make the case that Congress must allocate the funds needed to put America back to work.

With long-term interest rates at record lows (2.81% for 30 years) we could easily afford to borrow more to rebuild our infrastructure, weatherize all public buildings, provide free tuition for college students, and finance a host of other public programs that would move us to a full employment economy. And Obama could even make the case for funding much of it through a financial transaction tax on Wall Street’s casinos, as well as increased taxes on the super-rich. Of course, the Republicans wouldn’t go along with it. But the Communicator-in-Chief could have done more to educate the public that jobs, jobs and more jobs should come first. No talk of debt reduction, no “Grand Bargains” with the Republicans, until unemployment comes down to 5 percent! (And by then the debt/GDP ratio would be rapidly declining anyway because of economic growth.)

8. Won’t our kids be forced to shoulder the debt we leave behind?

Yes, this is a real tearjerker. Who among us wants to pawn off our debts onto our kids? A sad thought, if were true. But it’s not. Government debt, unlike our mortgages, is rarely repaid in full. Instead they roll over. The cost to taxpayers is the interest we pay on the outstanding debt and the refinancing of it. With the global economy at stall speed there is no danger in the foreseeable future of rising interest rates.

What about in 30 years when our darlings are at the helm? The answer depends on the economy, not on debt. If we borrow cheaply now to put our people back to work, if we invest fully in funding higher education, and if we build up our crumbling infrastructure and tend to the environment, then we’ll leave behind a prosperous economy. Debt will shrink over time as the economy grows. And more revenues will come in as our people go back to work.

However, if we become obsessed with debt and deficits, and slash to the bone the programs that develop future prosperity, we’ll leave behind a faltering economy and an even bigger environmental mess.

Debt hysteria is like a pandemic that quickly cripples logical thinking. Once infected, Very Important People with Very Impressive Degrees sound like fools.

Let’s hope there’s a cure…and soon.


Les Leopold is the executive director of the Labor Institute and Public Health Institute in New York, and author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It (Chelsea Green, 2009).


Disaster by Design? What’s Wrong with the “Thrive” Movement

Reprinted from Yes! Magazine

By John Robbins

A popular new film claims that a secret elite create our most troubling problems to advance a “global domination agenda.” Why Amy Goodman, Vandana Shiva, and other progressives are calling it “dangerously misguided.”

Thrive is the name of a controversial film that asks, and attempts to answer, some of the deepest questions about the nature of the human condition and what is thwarting our chances to prosper. Lavishly funded, it features appealing imagery, beautiful music, and interviews with many leading progressives, including myself. Yet ten of us have signed a statement formally disassociating ourselves from the film.

In my case, the decision was especially difficult because there are aspects of Thrive I find inspiring, and its makers, Foster and Kimberly Gamble, are old friends. Why have Amy Goodman, Deepak Chopra, Paul Hawken, Edgar Mitchell, Vandana Shiva, John Perkins, Elisabet Sahtouris, Duane Elgin and Adam Trombly, as well as yours truly, gone to the trouble of signing our names to this public statement? The statement reads as follows:

“We are a group of people who were interviewed for and appear in the movie Thrive, and who hereby publicly disassociate ourselves from the film.”

Thrive is a very different film from what we were led to expect when we agreed to be interviewed. We are dismayed that we were not given a chance to know its content until the time of its public release. We are equally dismayed that our participation is being used to give credibility to ideas and agendas that we see as dangerously misguided.”

“We stand by what each of us said when we were interviewed. But we have grave disagreements with some of the film’s content and feel the need to make this public statement to avoid the appearance that our presence in the film constitutes any kind of endorsement.”

In Thrive, the Gambles have attempted to address some of the crucial challenges of our times. I appreciate their idealism, commitment, and passion. And I agree with them about some things they state in the movie and on their website—such as that the political system is depraved, the Federal Reserve has been used to consolidate economic power, fiat currency tends to produce financial corruption and ever-increasing debt, the tax system is unfair, and enormously powerful economic interests often collude with one another to deceive and defraud the public. I stand with them as they promote the labeling of genetically engineered foods and an end to the spending of enormous sums on war. I appreciate their support for local and organic agriculture, their passion for credit unions and local banking, and their opposition to governmental invasion of privacy. They recommend many action steps that I support.

But I do not agree with some of the core conclusions they draw. Nor do the other signers of the statement of disassociation from Thrive. Duane Elgin, one of the signers, says that Thrive “is idealistic, naive, narrow, shallow, and focuses attention away from more productive areas of engagement.”

At the very heart of the Thrive message is what it calls the Global Domination Agenda. Foster Gamble explains:

A small group of families are actually controlling virtually every sector of human endeavor… Their agenda… (is) to take over the lives of all people across the entire planet… to collapse the economies throughout the European Union… to devalue the dollar to almost zero… and to create a one-world government, with them in charge.

The Thrive movie and website also state that this “small group of families” is developing plans to radically reduce the world’s human population to make us “easier to manage.”

Could this be true?

There is no doubt that staggering wealth and power is today concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority. The combined net worth of the world’s richest thousand or so people—the planet’s billionaires—is almost twice that of the poorest 2.5 billion. I believe this disparity to be nothing less than an indictment of our civilization.

It is also certain that networks exist among the most powerful that enable a remarkably few people to shape the world’s economy, to determine what is known and what is not, which views are accepted and which are not, and what priorities and policies will prevail. More than most of us realize, they decide whether we will live in war or peace, and how our treasure will be spent. And they have proven to be eminently successful at enriching themselves, often at the expense of the common good. Exposing the global power elite is tremendously important work. And this, Thrive purports to do.

But the Thrive movie and website are filled with dark and unsubstantiated assertions about secret and profoundly malevolent conspiracies based on an ultimate division between “us” and “them.”  “We” are many and well-meaning but victimized. “They,” on the other hand, are a tiny, greedy and inconceivably powerful few who are masterfully organized, purposefully causing massive disasters in order to cull the population, and deliberately destroying the world economy in order to achieve total world domination.

This way of thinking has an allure, for it distracts and absolves us from the troubling truth that the real source of the problem is in all of us, and in the economic systems we have collectively produced. If the ills of the world are the deliberate intentions of malevolent beings, then we don’t have to take responsibility for our problems because they are being done to us. Thinking this way may provide the momentary comfort of feeling exonerated, but it is ultimately disempowering because it undermines our ability to be accountable for the way our own thoughts and actions help to create the environmental degradation and vast social inequity of the world in which we live. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”

Thrive refuses to see these shades of grey and insists on attributing to the powerful a level of diabolical malevolence that makes the villains in James Bond movies seem like Mother Teresa.

For example, Foster Gamble says that the Japanese earthquake that caused the tsunami that wreaked havoc on the nuclear plants in Fukushima was deliberately created by those seeking absolute world domination, in order to punish the Japanese for not acceding to their wishes. The catastrophic earthquakes that devastated Haiti and Chile in 2010, he says, were also intentionally created. According to this view, these earthquakes were not the result of tectonic stresses and geologic processes. They were intentional acts perpetrated by a ruling elite with unimaginably sinister intent.

There are many things that are terribly wrong in our world, and some of them are dire. But holding these tragedies up as the deliberate acts of a tiny group of families seeking total world domination via a global police state distracts us from the arduous work of confronting the true challenges before us.

For example, as an environmentalist, I heed the monumental evidence that global warming may be one of the most serious threats faced by humanity and many of the other species on this planet. Yet Foster Gamble and the Thrive website strongly recommend a film called The Great Global Warming Swindle, which states that man-made global warming is a “lie” and “the biggest scam of modern times.”

The Thrive website opens its climate change discussion with this question:

How does the premise of man-made global warming relate to the banking elite’s effort to transcend national sovereignty, establish global governance and create a global tax to fund their dominance?

The insinuation is that the idea of human-caused global warming is being fabricated as an excuse to create a global police state and a tax basis for tyranny. If this is true, just about every scientific expert in the world has been taken in by the hoax. A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 97 percent of scientific experts agree that “anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases have been responsible for the unequivocal warming of most of the Earth’s global temperature in the second half of the 20th century.”

It has been painful for me to witness personal friends of mine become caught up in seeing global warming as a lie, and just about everything on earth as part of a vast demonic conspiracy. When I wrote Foster Gamble to voice my disappointment with many of the ideas in the film and website, he wrote back, encouraging me to study the works of David Icke, Eustace Mullins, Stanley Monteith and G. Edward Griffin.

Who are these people, in whose worldviews Thrive has its roots?

David Icke, who is featured prominently in Thrive, is well-known for advocating utterly bizarre theories, and claims that the entire world is run by a secret group of reptilian humanoids who drink human blood and conduct satanic rituals. In a recent interview, Icke seemed to be competing for lunatic of the year. “What I’m explaining now,” he said, “is that the moon is not a heavenly body but a construct.”

One of the signers of the statement of disassociation from Thrive, former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, has grounds to disagree. As the lunar module pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the moon’s surface.

he rest of Thrive’s primary sources aren’t much better. The late Eustace Mullins was the author of a book titled Hitler, An Appreciation. Stanley Monteith, who happens to be a neighbor of mine, has long been involved with Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, and professes that the environmental movement is a pretext for the effort to create a global police state. He and G. Edward Griffin have long been members and officers of the John Birch Society, a far-right political organization that first came to public attention when one of its founders, Robert W. Welch, proclaimed that Dwight Eisenhower wasn’t the genial war hero and popular president he seemed, but rather “a conscious, dedicated agent of the international communist conspiracy.” Welch co-founded the John Birch Society along with Fred Koch, the father of today’s notorious Koch brothers.

Both Thrive and the John Birch Society view government, in Welch’s words, “as always and inevitably an enemy of individual freedom.” And both see a small group of families, including the Rockefellers and Rothschilds, as behind an utterly malevolent conspiracy seeking total global domination. The Thrive website features this statement from the second president of the John Birch Society, Larry McDonald:

The drive of the Rockefellers and their allies is to create a one-world government…all under their control… Do I mean conspiracy? Yes I do. I am convinced there is such a plot, international in scope, generations old in planning, and incredibly evil in intent.

These are only a few of the ultra-right wing sources whose ideas and agendas pervade Thrive. Another is the economist Ludwig von Mises, whose words and beliefs are cited frequently and sympathetically on the Thrive website. Many Americans first learned of von Mises when Michele Bachmann, seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, said she read his books at the beach. Von Mises’s brand of laissez-faire capitalism is hardcore. In his eyes, nearly all government intervention in the economy is strictly verboten, and taxes are a crime against freedom.

Buoyed by lush visual effects and lovely words, the Thrive film has been attractive to many who know how often we are deceived and exploited by the powers that shouldn’t be. But what is the revolution Thrive would bring? Both the Thrive movie and website call for the end of taxation, even for the rich. Thrive’s goal is a world in which public schools and welfare programs, including social security, have been terminated. Instead of police, we have private security forces. As Foster Gamble puts it, “private security works way better than the state.”

That may be true for the rich who can pay for it. But who, I might ask, would pay to protect low-income communities if all security was privatized?

Eventually, if Foster Gamble had his way, there would be no taxes, no government, and everything would be privately owned, including roads. “It’s clear that when you drive into a shopping center you are on a private road, and almost without exception it is in great shape,” explains the Thrivewebsite, as though a free market unfettered by concern for the 99 percent would somehow magically meet the needs of all.

I am saddened to see Foster Gamble, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, so oblivious to the realities of those who do not share his privileges. If all roads are privatized, how will the poor get anywhere?

To Foster Gamble’s eyes, any form of government that depends on taxation, including democracy, is unconscionable. He writes on the Thrivewebsite:

Democracy…which is born of and sustains itself by taking people’s hard-earned money, whether they like it or not, and calling it “taxation”—is in and of itself a violation [against life].

While Foster Gamble finds democracy abhorrent because it depends on taxation, Amy Goodman, one of the signers of the statement repudiatingThrive, has long been the host of what may be the most significant progressive news institution of our time, Democracy Now.

How, you might be asking, did those of us who have signed the statement of disassociation from Thrive ever allow ourselves to be filmed for a movie that advances such ideas? The answer is simple. We were grievously misled about what the film would be.

I want to underscore that although I think the Gambles are promoting a destructive agenda, which they kept secret from those of who were interviewed for their film, I do not think either Foster or his wife Kimberly are sinister or malicious. I have known them to be kind people who mean well, and I have long considered Kimberly one of my closest friends. But I have found it necessary to speak out in this way because some of the ideas at the heart of Thrive strike me as frightening and misguided. They most certainly are not ones that I or the other signers of the disassociation statement can condone.

In my view, the deregulation of the economy and the demolition of government programs that Thrive proposes would take us even further in the direction of a winner-take-all economy in which wealth would concentrate even more in the hands of the financial elites. This is something that I and the other signers of the statement repudiating Thrivefind deeply abhorrent.

As one of the signers, evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, writes that, “without community, we do not exist, and community is about creating relationships of mutual benefit. It does not just happen with flowers and rainbows, and no taxes.”

The signers of the statement of disassociation from Thrive do not deny the evil in the world. It is here and it is real. But as one of the signers, Paul Hawken, writes, “The suffering and the despoliation of the world cannot be healed by the us/them divisions that inform Thrive.”

Our hope is not blind. We see the enormous peril our world is in today. Ours is the hope that remains open to miracles while investing the sweat and perseverance to lend the universe a hand in creating those miracles. It is the hope that is borne from knowing that it is far too late, and our situation far too serious, to indulge in the luxuries of pessimism, paranoia, and finger-pointing.

The state of the world is perilous. But it is not too late to love, not too late to work to realize our dreams, and not too late to believe in ourselves and in each other.

In the end, we are all in this together. Each step you take to lessen the amount of fear in yourself and the world brings us closer to a world reflective of the beauty that exists—sometimes buried and other times apparent—in each of us. Every act you take that increases the amount of trust and compassion in your relationships helps us move from a world created by privilege to a world created by community.


John Robbins is author of Diet for a New AmericaThe Food Revolution, and eight other bestsellers including the newly released No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution. He is the recipient of the Rachel Carson Award, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, the Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, and Green America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. To find out more about his work, visit www.johnrobbins.info.

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Bill Moyers on ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)

What is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)?

How has it been working quietly behind the scenes for decades to wield influence over legislation in statehouses throughout the United States?

Why is California’s 3rd Assembly District Representative Dan Logue a member of ALEC?

Here’s a description of ALEC from alecexposed.org:

Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations — without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

The following excellent segment on ALEC is from a recent Bill Moyer’s report (the first 30+ minutes):
Additional Resources:

Will Grass Valley Learn From Its Mistakes With Emgold?

By Tom Grundy

Now that Emgold’s application to re-open the Idaho-Maryland mine has been withdrawn due to lack of funds, our community has a new set of questions to face. Will we learn from our mistakes? Will we do it right next time?

The thing is, Emgold was never serious about being a ‘good community partner’. They never were completely honest with the city and its residents. If the company had put the concerns of the community first — or second, or third — the numbers would have never been rosy enough to lure the few investors that it actually did.

Shell Game

Emgold used us. Our community was nearly sold a bill of goods, and that should concern us all. Emgold never had anything remotely resembling a solid business plan. Emgold hoped that our community — blinded by a down economy and a desperate search for ‘jobs at any cost’– would be too distracted to actually give the economic and environmental reviews any critical thought. Emgold was way too close to being right.

Some selected examples of Emgold’s tactics:

There was never any profit sharing, royalty payment, or other payment-per-ounce-extracted in the plan for Grass Valley.

The only direct income to the city would have been from property taxes and sales tax from locally-sold finished ceramics products; there is no such thing as a gold tax.

The most recent project description would allow Emgold to scale ceramics production all the way down to zero if the ceramics did not sell. Yet, half of the project’s total jobs, all of the direct sales tax, and much of the property tax were from the ceramics plant.

Emgold made the claim that they could sell enough finished ceramics products from inside city limits to tile nearly five thousand large houses per year, every year, for the life of the project. The other 90% of the ceramics would be sold in other areas.

These figures, provided by Emgold, were used as ‘assumptions’ in the economic analysis. That analysis was never given a critical look by the city. No underperformance scenarios were investigated. The city failed its duty to determine if this project ever actually presented a ‘reasonable economic use’ of the land and of our resources.

Emgold’s press releases and investor updates for the past several years have been full of blatant inaccuracies, including persistent mention of the Idaho-Maryland project as being in the ‘advanced stages of permitting’ when, in fact, the permitting process does not begin until after the environmental review is finished. The project was never able to get past the first part of the environmental review.

Emgold has repeatedly insisted that they voluntarily elected to redo the project description, triggering a second Draft Environmental Impact Review, when, in fact, it was the city council that mandated the rework. Mayor Lisa Swarthout, August 25, 2009: “It’s not up to Dave [Watkinson; Emgold CEO], it’s up to us.” Watch the video for yourself.

Emgold continues to cite a 2006 survey of Grass Valley residents, noting that 72% were in favor of the project. The full question with the 72% response (out of only 338 total respondents) was:

“Provided that appropriate environmental safeguards are in place, would you support allowing the Idaho Maryland gold mine to reopen?”

That survey, of questionable validity from the start, took place more than two years before Emgold failed the first stage of environmental review.

Golden Shell Game

In an Emgold promotional video from 2009, their CFO stated that Emgold “passed the DEIR with flying colors” — another attempt to lure investors that had not done their homework. The video was taken offline in 2010.

So, what happens next? Emgold, or any other company, could file a new application at any time. Will Grass Valley be ready?

Will we demand a real economic analysis that looks at underperformance scenarios and doesn’t rely on ‘assumptions’? Or, will we blindly go down the same path of spending another decade of time and energy on a joke of a project with no real business plan?

If we’re really still sitting on top of a ‘world-class gold asset’ as Emgold says, shouldn’t we keep our standards high and insist on a better deal – economically, socially, and environmentally?

Corporations like Emgold are legally obligated to be motivated only by profit. That will not change any time soon. Why would we think that the next applicant would be any more serious about being a “good community partner” than Emgold was this time around?


Tom Grundy lives in Nevada City and has been active in educating the community about the dangers of Emgold’s application to re-open the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

Romney Told 27 Myths In 38 Minutes

Reprinted from ThinkProgress.Org

By Igor Volsky

Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

CLICK FOR MORE LIES

1) “[G]et us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs”. Romney’s plan for “energy independence” actually relies heavily on a study that assumes the U.S. continues with fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration. For instance, he uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” Since he promises to undo the Obama administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, he would cut oil consumption savings of 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

2) “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amounts to $5 trillion over the decade.

3) “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” If Romney hopes to provide tax relief to the middle class, then his $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work.

4) “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

5) “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong.” The studies Romney cites actuallyfurther prove that Romney would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction.

6) “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

7) “And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate; 54 percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate….97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half of all the people who work in small business.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.

8) “Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.” Oil production from federal lands is higher, not lower: Production from federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007. And the oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, that it hasn’t begun exploring or developing.

9) “The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined.” This is not even close to being true. When Obama took office, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Now the national debt is over $16 trillion. That $5.374 trillion increase is nowhere near as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

10) “That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.” That study, produced by a right-wing advocacy organizationdoesn’t analyze what Obama has actually proposed.

11) “What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.” Romney’s plan to shift the country to a territorial tax system would allow corporations to do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the United States. This encourages American companies to invest abroad and could cost the country up to 800,000 jobs.

12) “I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, you’re going to get what you got last year, plus inflation, plus 1 percent, and then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best.” Sending federal Medicaid funding to the states in the form of a block grant woud significantly reduce federal spending for Medicaid because the grant would not keep up with projected health care costs. A CBO estimate of a very similar proposal from Paul Ryan found that federal spending would be “35 percent lower in 2022 and 49 percent lower in 2030 than current projected federal spending” and as a result “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” “To maintain current service levels in the Medicaid program, states would probably need to consider additional changes, such as reducing their spending on other programs or raising additional revenues,” the CBO found.

13) “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare…. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake. There’s that number again. Romney is claiming that Obamacare siphons off $716 billion from Medicare, to the detriment of beneficiaries. In actuality, that money is saved primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction.

14) “What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare.” Here is how Romney’s Medicare plan will affect current seniors: 1) by repealing Obamacare, the 16 million seniors receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving $3.9 billion on prescription drugs will see a cost increase, 2) “premium support” will increase premiums for existing beneficiaries as private insurers lure healthier seniors out of the traditional Medicare program, 3) Romney/Ryan would also lower Medicaid spending significantly beginning next year, shifting federal spending to states and beneficiaries, and increasing costs for the 9 million Medicare recipients who are dependent on Medicaid.

15) “Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice. They get to choose — and they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them.” The Medicare program changes for everyone, even people who choose to remain in the traditional fee-for-service. Rather than relying on a guaranteed benefit, all beneficiaries will receive a premium support credit of $7,500 on average in 2023 to purchase coverage in traditional Medicare or private insurance. But that amount will only grow at a rate of GDP plus 1.5 percentage points and will not keep up with health care costs. So while the federal government will spend less on the program, seniors will pay more in premiums.

16) “And, by the way the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or Senator Wyden, who’s the co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.” Romney has rejected the Ryan/Wyden approach — which does not cap the growth of the “premium support” subsidy. Bill Clinton and his commission also voted down these changes to the Medicare program.

17) “Well, I would repeal and replace it. We’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation. And there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world.”Romney has previously called for full repeal of Dodd-Frank, a law whose specific purpose is to regulate banks. MF Global’s use of customer funds to pay for its own trading losses is just one bit of proof that the financial industry isn’t responsible enough to protect consumers without regulation.

18) “But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank… We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.” The law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.

19) “And, unfortunately, when — when — when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost.” Obamacare will actually provide millions of families with tax credits to make health care more affordable.

20) “[I]t puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.” The Board, or IPAB is tasked with making binding recommendations to Congress for lowering health care spending, should Medicare costs exceed a target growth rate. Congress can accept the savings proposal or implement its own ideas through a super majority. The panel’s plan will modify payments to providers but it cannot “include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums…increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co- payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria” (Section 3403 of the ACA). Relying on health care experts rather than politicians to control health care costs has previously attracted bipartisan support and even Ryan himself proposed two IPAB-like structures in a 2009 health plan.

21) “Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey and Company of American businesses said 30 percent of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage.” The Affordable Care Act would actually expand health care coverage to 30 million Americans, despite Romney fear mongering. According to CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, 3 million or less people would leave employer-sponsored health insurance coverage as a result of the law.

22) “I like the way we did it [health care] in Massachusetts…What were some differences? We didn’t raise taxes.” Romney raised fees, but he can claim that he didn’t increase taxes because the federal government funded almost half of his reforms.

23) “It’s why Republicans said, do not do this, and the Republicans had — had the plan. They put a plan out. They put out a plan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside.” The Affordable Care Act incorporates many Republican ideas including the individual mandate, state-based health care exchanges, high-risk insurance pools, and modified provisions that allow insurers to sell policies in multiple states. Republicans never offered a united bipartisan alternative.

24) “Preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.” Only people who are continuously insured would not be discriminated against because they suffer from pre-existing conditions. This protection would not be extended to people who are currently uninsured.

25) “In one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives.” The $90 billion was given out over several years and included loans, loan guarantees and grants through the American Recovery Act. $23 billion of the $90 billion “went toward “clean coal,” energy-efficiency upgrades, updating the electricity grid and environmental clean-up, largely for old nuclear weapons sites.”

26) “I think about half of [the green firms Obama invested in], of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.” As of late last year, only “three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”

27) “If the president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military.” Romney is referring to the sequester, which his running mate Paul Ryan supported. Obama opposes the military cuts and has asked Congress to formulate a balanced approach that would avoid the trigger.

UPDATE: Romney has now admitted that number 26 was not true.

Gov Brown Vetoes Bills Protecting Farmworkers, Domestics. Signs Bill for Reagan Statue

This from the Naked Capitalism blog:

“California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown stopped a bill granting overtime, meal breaks, and labor protections to domestic workers. He also vetoed a bill implementing farmworker protections. But don’t worry, Brown had the time to sign a bill building a statue of Reagan in the Capitol.”

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