Florida · Gov. Rick Scott

Rick Scott Claims Responsibility For Economic Recovery; Experts Debunk

rick scott economic recovery
MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 19: Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during a town hall meeting with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) at the Spelios Center | Getty

Is there something in our water supply that only affect right-wing nutters?

The Huffington Post

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is broadening the central message of his re-election campaign: Beyond claiming responsibility for Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession, he now blames the downturn on his predecessor and likely 2014 opponent, Charlie Crist, and former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Sink and Crist scoff at Scott’s claims, which don’t pass muster with economic experts, either.

“Poppycock” was Sink’s response; David Denslow, retired University of Florida economist, called Scott’s contentions “without empirical foundation.”

Scott has made his campaign message clear, before the race gets underway, in repeated speeches and daily news releases: He contends that onerous state taxes and regulations in place before he took office caused Florida’s job losses, and his own pro-business governing formula of lower taxes and cutting regulations has pushed Florida’s recovery ahead of the nation’s.

Economic data don’t back that up.

Economists say national economic policies and the business cycle have far more influence on the state’s economic condition than local or state tax or regulatory policies. They also say Florida doesn’t appear to be recovering faster than the rest of the country.

The state is recovering, but it still trails national averages in growth of personal and per-capita income and growth of its domestic product. Drops in the unemployment rate have occurred largely because workers have stopped looking for work, according to the state Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.


Continue reading here…

GOP Folly

Secrets of the right: Selling garbage to your fans

Secrets of the right: Selling garbage to your fans

I found the timing of  this article interesting.  This phenomena was reported  here…two years ago.  In fact, then Rep. Anthony Weiner targeted Goldline  back in 2010.


If the late social critic Eric Hoffer is correct in his often quoted (inaccurately, it turns out) adage that “every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” then the conservative movement is well onto the third phase of that life cycle.

Last week, preeminent conservative blogger and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson was busted hawking a pricey but dubiously valuable financial advice newsletter to his readers in an ad that turned out to be lifted from a previous ad for the same newsletter sent in the name of Ann Coulter a few years earlier. “I’m happy to support a good friend. Didn’t earn a penny,” he tweeted. Whether you believe that or not may depend on whether you know that his publisheronce offered to sell his endorsement, or if you believe, as Alex Pareene has often written, that the conservative movement is, among other things, an elaborate moneymaking venture by which the wealth of the rabid and gullible conservative rank and file is redistributed to already rich celebrities.

The truth is, peddling shady products to your most loyal listeners and readers is the rule, not the exception, and Erickson was just unfortunate enough to have someone notice him, and not the dozen other talkers or news outlets it could have easily been. From miracle health cures, to get-rich-quick schemes, to overpriced precious metals and seed banks, talk radio hosts and conservative news outlets are making a killing by trading their platform and credibility for the hard-earned cash of their unsuspecting listeners.

The most obvious example is gold, the precious metal conservative talkers encouraged their listeners to go all in on during the Great Recession (via the companies that pay them to say that and give them a cut of sales, naturally), but gold has since fallen more than 30 percent from its peak. If you bought when gold was near its high, you could have lost half your nest egg, and analysts say prices could fall another 50 percent. But poor financial advice aside, the real problem came in the particular companies the conservative luminaries ensured their listeners they could trust.

Glenn Beck is the most egregious, with his partnership with Goldline International, which also enjoys endorsements from Mark Levin and, until recently, Sean Hannity and others. Beck cut tearful promotional videos for the company, hawks them passionately on his radio and TV programs, and even designed a coin for the company this year (it reads “mind your business” on the front).

As it turns out, the company’s business model is built on systematically swindling its mostly elderly clientele by talking or tricking them into buying overpriced coins or just sending them different products than they bought, prosecutors in California alleged, leading the company to settle for $4.5 million in refunds to its customers. A judge instructed the company to foot the bill for a court-appointed monitor, who was supposed to ensure the company stopped its alleged “bait and switch” scam.

Not long after that, the company’s former chief compliance officer came forward to say the company was back to its old tricks. “Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made,” she said in a legal complaint filed late last year.

More here…

Ignored "Scandals"

5 Major Scandals The Media Isn’t Obsessing About

If it looks like Obama might have caused the scandal, then it’s NEWS…if not, it falls by the wayside.

Think Progress

This week, the national media has focused on the three different scandals surrounding the White House, devoting hours of coverage to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly targeting conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, the talking points Susan Rice used in the aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, and the Justice Department’s subpoena of phone records from the Associated Press as part of an investigation into a national security leak. The around-the-clock coverage comes even as a new Gallup poll finds that interest in the ongoing controversies is “lower comparable to major news stores in the past.”

And while these stories raise serious concerns about money in politics, embassy security, and freedom of the press, they aren’t the only problems impacting the American people. Here are five big stories the media isn’t obsessing about:

1. Carbon pollution reaches historic highs, threatening human existence. The concentration of climate warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm),” scientists estimate. “At the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280ppm,” said Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge.” The last time the Earth saw carbon dioxide levels that high, humans did not exist. The West Antarctic ice sheet also did not exist, and sea levels were as much as 82 feet higher than they are today. During an earlier period when CO2 levels were this high, temperatures were 5° to 10°F warmer globally.

2. The devastating impact of sequestration on kids, cancer patients and first responders. On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the budget deficit will shrink to its smallest level since before the Great Recession in 2013, and it will continue to decrease through 2015. But despite the smaller deficits, Republicans remain focused on spending reductions — even as the most recent round of cuts has kicked children out of preschool, left cancer patients without needed screeningsundermined public health and fire safety, and gutted programs that help low-income Americans in a variety of ways. Those cuts have also threatened to derail the economic recovery, which has sputtered along despite the headwinds created by a consistent focus on deficit reduction.

3. Massive cuts to food stamps for the most vulnerable Americans. The House Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill late Wednesday night that would cut federal food stamps by $20.5 billion — more steeply than any legislation since the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Earlier this week, the Senate Agriculture Committee also agreed to a $4.1 billion reduction. The program keeps hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans out of the deepest pits of poverty, and even as the Great Recession swelled SNAP rolls, the program continued to push its erroneous payments rates to record lows.

4. 1100 workers die in garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and most American retailers plan business as usual. Since a factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,100 clothing industry workers, American retailers have been hesitant to adopt safety plans that could prevent similar tragedies. Abercrombie & Fitch announced it would sign a safety upgrade plan that has been approved by six major European retailers and one other American company, but many other manufacturers — including Walmart and Gap — are holding out. Although some retailers fear the costs of upgrades, they could pass them on entirely to consumers and only raise prices by 10 cents per garment.

5. 4,000 gun deaths due to gun violence since Newtown. A crowdsourced effort to count every person killed by a gun in the United States since the Newtown tragedy is currently being hosted by Slate. As of this writing, the count is 4,150. The Senate rejected gun safety legislation in April and has not yet set a date for reconsidering the measure.

U.S. Politics

What caused the national debt? 6 culprits

I disagree with a couple of the following points, but overall, they sound about right.

The Week


1. The Bush tax cuts
The biggest culprit? The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under then-president George W. Bush, says the Associated Press. They have added an estimated $1.6 trillion to the national debt. It’s pretty clear, says Brian Beutler atTalking Points Memo, that Bush-era policies, “particularly debt-financed tax cuts,” make up “the lion’s share of the problem.” And they’re ongoing, so the tab for them builds every year.

2. Health care entitlements
Democrats “constantly harp” about the Bush tax cuts, says Peter Morici atSeeking Alpha, but those rates were in place in 2007, and the deficit that year was one-tenth this year’s budget shortfall of $1.6 trillion. So what has changed since then? Added “federal regulation, bureaucracy, and new Medicaid and other entitlements have pushed up federal spending by $1.1 trillion — $900 billion more than required by inflation.” And down the road, says Yuval Levin at National Review, our “health-entitlement explosion” will account for “basically 100 percent” of our debt problem.

3. Medicare prescription drug benefit
Another piece of the pie: George W. Bush’s addition of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. That has added $300 billion to the debt,according to the AP. Expanding entitlements like Medicare, or last year’s health-care reform package, is a particularly tempting way for Congress to run up debt, says Jagadeesh Gokhale at The Daily Caller. Since lawmakers don’t typically map out a revenue strategy to fund those benefits, they are “shielded from the political costs of actually paying for the new programs.”

4. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
The tab for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan comes to $1.3 trillion, another major chunk of new, unexpected spending over the last decade. “These wars cost us plenty,” says Nake M. Kamrany at The Huffington Post, and they “have to be financed with borrowing, which adds up to national debt.”

5. Obama’s economic stimulus
The 2009 stimulus package enacted by President Obama cost $800 billion. And the 2010 tax-cut compromise between Obama and Republicans, which extended jobless benefits and reduced payroll taxes, added another $400 billion to the debt. Add another $200 billion for the 2008 bailout of the financial industry, and the government’s efforts to soften the blow of the Great Recession amount to one of the largest chunks of the debt build-up. The “federal budget was one good year away from balancing” after 2007, says Tom Blumer at News Busters. But in the years since, Obama and Democrats in Congress put that goal out of reach.

6. The Great Recession
Some of the spending gap came from factors outside the control of Congress and the White House. As the government spent heavily to boost the economy, says the AP, it took in hundreds of billions less in tax revenue than expected, because the Great Recession eroded Americans’ income and spending.

Economic Inequality · Economy

Robert Reich on the Super Rich Getting Richer While Everyone Else Gets Poorer

Robert Reich
Image via Wikipedia

Robert Reich is the man whom I hope President Obama chooses to replace Larry Summers who is head of the White House’s National Economic Council, a position created by former President Bill Clinton during his presidency.

Robert Reich was then President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor.  Reich would be the ideal person to replace Summers.  Robert Reich is a progressive and knows his economics.  Obama decided to surround himself with a Wall Street alumni economic team.  I honestly hope that Reich and/or Paul Krugman will be called in to turn our economy around, to benefit “the people” and not Wall Street.

America Blog

At least we have a White House that understands the problem since he’s a Democrat and not just another run of the mill corporatist who is part of the problem. More from Robert Reich.

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).