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“Bush ‘Woefully Misinformed’ On Overtime Policy”: The Economy, In Other Words, Is Not Bush’s Strong Suit

With Congress unwilling to pass meaningful economic measures, President Obama’s recently unveiled overtime policy is one of the year’s biggest stories on the domestic economy. Jeb Bush, not surprisingly, doesn’t like it, but he may not fully understand it, either.

To briefly recap, under the status quo, there’s an annual income threshold for mandatory overtime: $23,660. Those making more than that can be classified by employers as “managers” who are exempt from overtime rules. The Obama administration’s Labor Department has spent the last several months working on the new plan, which raises the threshold to $50,440 – more than double the current level.

The policy doesn’t just nibble around the edges; its scope includes roughly 5 million American workers. NBC’s Kristin Donnelly reported the administration’s move constitutes “the most ambitious intervention in the wage economy in at least a decade.”

Campaigning in Iowa this week, Jeb Bush said the policy would result in “less overtime pay” and “less wages earned.” The Guardian did some fact-checking.

Numerous economists attacked Bush’s statement, calling him woefully misinformed. And several studies on the rule contradict Bush’s assertion that the overtime rules would “lessen the number of people working”.

Daniel Hamermesh, a University of Texas labor economist, said: “He’s just 100% wrong,” adding that “there will be more overtime pay and more total earnings” and “there’s a huge amount of evidence employers will use more workers”.

Indeed, a Goldman Sachs study estimated that employers would hire 120,000 more workers in response to Obama’s overtime changes. And a similar study commissioned by the National Retail Federation – a fierce opponent of the proposed overtime rules – estimated that as a result of the new salary threshold, employers in the restaurant and retail industries would hire 117,500 new part-time workers.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Ross Eisenbrey added that Bush “should be embarrassed about how misinformed he was.” Noting that the Republican presidential candidate also said Obama’s policy would also prohibit many bonuses, Eisenbrey added, “All of that is exactly wrong – and pretty much nonsense.”

On a surface level, it’s problematic that Bush would flub the issue so poorly, but it’s even more significant in the context of related confusion about economic policy.

Remember, the Florida Republican remains deeply committed to 4% GDP growth – a target no president has reached in the post-WWII era – despite the fact that the number was basically pulled out of thin air.

Bush picked the growth goal because, as he sees it, four is a “round number.” The fact remains, however, that this is “backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind.”

The former governor still sees himself as some kind of economic expert, thanks to Florida’s growth in the 1990s, but as we’ve discussed before, whether Bush is prepared to admit it or not, Florida’s economic growth during his two terms was the result of a housing bubble. In fact, Paul Krugman accurately described it as “the mother of all housing bubbles – and when the bubble burst (luckily for Jeb! just after he left office) it promptly wiped out 900,000” of the 1.3 million jobs created when Bush was in the governor’s office.

The economy, in other words, is not Bush’s strong suit.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 17, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Economic Policy, Jeb Bush, Overtime Pay | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Lot Like The Candidate Himself”: Inside The Mind Of A Trump Donor: ‘I Was Probably Drunk’

You learn a few things, calling the 63 individuals who donated more than $250 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—helping him pull in a total of $96,000 in the 29 days since his June 16 announcement, according to the financial disclosure he released Wednesday evening.

You learn, for instance, that President Obama, who is an African-born Muslim, wouldn’t help you if you were kidnapped in Iran, that not all undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists but many of them may be, that it’s unfair to expect billionaires to use their own money to run for office when less wealthy candidates aren’t expected to, and that the willingness to file for bankruptcy multiple times is a sign of a great businessman. But what you learn, most of all, is that the characters propelling America’s greatest political curiosity upward in the polls are a lot like the man himself.

The day started with Francine Aton, 62, Michigan, retired.

“You work for The Daily Beast—which is a more left-wing web-magazine,” she began. “I don’t want something to come out that’s slanted.”

Aton, who said she has a degree in journalism, has little patience for reporters and detects liberal bias in the most innocuous of statements.

Asked why she supports Trump (to the tune of $250), she said, “Because he speaks the truth, he’s honest, and he can’t be bought.” So she likes him, I said, because he’s wealthy and that means—“Listen to how you just slanted that question!” she cut me off. “Is Hillary wealthy? Yes, she is!” Well, what I meant was—“Just say what you mean! You’re slanting your story.”

I explained that all I was trying to do was figure out why she supports Trump. “Why do you support him?” she asked. Uh, I don’t, I said. “Donald speaks the truth. Thank you, goodbye.”

She hung up.

Next was Timothy Doody, 51, Colorado, real estate appraiser.

“I don’t know,” he said when I asked why he donated $500 to Trump. “I don’t know why I do half the things I do. I was probably drunk.”

He laughed. “I’m just kidding. I just think it’s refreshing…I just wanted to make a statement, that’s all.”

Doody explained that he’s a “conservative-leaning person” but a registered Democrat. Mostly, he sighed, “I just am fed up with politicians. I do know [Trump’s] negatives and I do know what he’s done as far as supporting Democrats via his corporations and supporting both parties.” But at the end of the day, Doody said, he liked that Trump could “rabble-rouse” and “make waves.”

Trump’s position on immigration, Doody admitted, was the central reason he made the donation, but he also believes Trump is the best person to repair the economy and to change the course of American foreign policy for the better.

And speaking of immigration, “The other candidates totally took his words out of context,” Doody said, referring to Trump’s claim that undocumented immigrants coming into America from Mexico are “rapists.” Doody said he listened to Trump’s statement “probably 10 times” to see if he had missed it, but in the end came to the conclusion that “he didn’t call all Mexicans rapists.”

In Trump’s absence, Doody guessed he could find another candidate to support. “Probably Ted Cruz, Governor Walker, maybe, and Rand Paul…I don’t understand Jeb Bush.”

Then came Damien Drab, 41, New York City, CEO of Loughlin Management, a company that “delivers a broad range of operational and financial consulting services with a results-oriented approach,” as opposed to all those consulting firms who strive for no results at all.

I told Drab I wanted to talk about his $500 donation to the Trump campaign. He laughed. “Good, I hope that helps with my golf club membership.”

Is he a member of a Trump golf club? “Uh, I can’t comment on anything, really,” he said. “I have one statement and that’s: Why should anyone use their personal money for public affairs?”

Further, Drab went on, it is “unfair” and “ignorant” to tell Trump he needs to use his personal wealth for his race when “everybody else who runs gets contributions.” Because “there’s no inherent personal wealth risk for people who run,” Drab said, there shouldn’t be one for a billionaire, either. Whether he needs the money is irrelevant, Drab argued, because “if you believe in Trump, you should contribute.”

Next was Mike McNerney, 73, California, funeral service provider.

“He’s the greatest thing running,” McNerney said when I asked about his $500 donation to Trump, which he called “just a show of support.”

“I think he’s gonna win,” he told me. “I think he has a pretty good chance. I mean, people are outraged at the way Obama Hussein has run this country.”

McNerney said he likes Trump “because he’s nonpolitical. He tells it like it is. He’s truthful, and he has more experience than being a short-term senator before he became president.” What kind of experience does Trump have, I asked. “At life and management, and I’m sure he has more foreign experience, which Obama Hussein has ruined.”

McNerney agrees with Trump on immigration “absolutely, 1,000 percent,” and believes those expressing disapproval of his statements are “manipulating the press for the benefit of opposition against any sensible immigration policy that comes along.”

I asked McNerney, who repeatedly referred to the president as “Obama Hussein,” if he thought Obama was Muslim. He said, “I know he is.” I asked if he thought Obama was born in America. He replied, “No, I don’t. Probably Africa.” Where in Africa, I wondered. “Wherever his father and his white mother were living.” Kenya? “You got it,” he said.

And Dr. Dane Wallisch, 64, Pennsylvania, radiologist.

“Why did I do it?” Wallisch said when I asked about his $2,700 check to Trump’s campaign. “I think he would be a very strong leader, and I think that’s what we need now. I have very similar beliefs to Donald Trump. I agree with him on just about everything.”

Wallisch agreed with Doody that “the immigration thing, I think, the media took that way out of context.”

He explained that having lived in Mexico for a time, he knows that the government there is corrupt. “Of course there’s good Mexican people, but there’s bad with the good,” he said. And the unsecured border, he told me, is “an open door for terrorists, as well.”

“Trump just speaks what’s on his mind and I like that,” he said. “I think it’s refreshing. It’s time people say what they felt rather than just what people want to hear.” Wallisch apologized for “getting on my soapbox here,” but admitted it was hard to avoid when talking about Trump. “I like him and I hope he becomes president.”

Why donate to a billionaire, though, I wondered. It’s not like he needs it. “True, probably true,” Wallisch said. “But that was my way of saying, ‘I support you.’”

Without Trump, Wallisch said he was sure he could find another candidate to support. “I think there’s a lot of good people running this year. I like Ben Carson—you know who Ben Carson is, right? I like Rand Paul, but he won’t make it. Scott Walker. Bush is all right, but three Bushes? I don’t know. Makes me a little leery.”


By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, July 17, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Immigration | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“A Big Staging Ground For The More Diffuse Fight”: The Supreme Court Didn’t Cure Republicans Of Homophobia

It’s tempting to imagine that the abrupt end to the fight for marriage equality will ultimately prove to be a godsend for frustrated Republicans. Same-sex marriage enjoys the backing of a huge, youthful political movement, and, before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide, it was becoming the kind of issue that could seal a politician’s fate with a huge swath of voters. In settling the debate by fiat, the Court might also have saved Republicans from having to wage the alienating opposition to marriage equality for several more years.

Though the Court had the power to end that fight mercifully, it could do nothing about the fact that many conservatives opposed marriage equality because they believe gays and lesbians are inherently defective, and thus couldn’t prevent the energy conservatives have spent battling marriage equality from spilling over into other issues.

Just this week, for instance, the Boy Scouts decided to change its longstanding policy and allow gay men to lead amenable scout troops. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who announced his presidential candidacy on Monday, responded by saying he liked things better the way they were before, because the blanket ban on gay scout leaders “protected children.”

There are two ways to interpret Walker’s statement, both of which speak to the view that same-sex marriage resistance is more than just an expression of concern for the traditions of a particular institution. If you believe that banning gay people from Boy Scouts “protects children,” then you either believe discredited caricatures of gay men as child predators or you believe homosexuality and homosexuals are unsavory things that children should be “protected” from categorically, like drug addiction or verbal abuse.

The movement to make the Boy Scouts a more tolerant organization may not be as large or public facing as the movement to force states to recognize same-sex marriages. But it’s still a big staging ground for the more diffuse fight over how our society should treat gays and lesbians generally. And because the question at hand doesn’t touch on the nature of the Boy Scouts as an institution, it’s much harder for conservatives to disguise deprecatory views of LGBT people themselves behind an alleged concern for institutional continuity.

Which is all to say, Republican politicians will still have plenty of opportunities to treat gays and lesbians like aberrant miscreants. The ongoing partisan disagreement over LGBT equality will gather at smaller focal points, but the overall political valence of the issue won’t disappear anytime soon.


By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor, The New Republic, July 14, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Boy Scouts of America, Homophobia, Republicans | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Republicans Desire To Claim A Scalp”: Why A Congressman Would Say, ‘This Interview Didn’t Happen’

By now, the basic outline of this week’s Planned Parenthood controversy is probably familiar to most news consumers. A right-wing group released a sting video – as right-wing groups are wont to do – featuring a Planned Parenthood official talking candidly about fetal tissue, which prompted a conservative uproar.

Soon after, we came to realize that the right-wing group edited the video in a misleading way– as right-wing groups are wont to do – and the “controversy” didn’t amount to much of anything. It’s not clear why the Washington Post put the story literally on the front page, since there are no credible allegations of wrongdoing. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum called it a “nothingburger,” adding, “In the end, this is just another sad attempt at a sting video that goes nowhere once you get beyond the deceptive editing.”

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards officially responded to the story yesterday, explaining that the organization did nothing wrong, though she acknowledged that the Planned Parenthood official featured in the sting video spoke with a “tone” that was “unacceptable.”

In theory, that should effectively end the controversy, such as it was, and since my wife works for Planned Parenthood – her work is completely unrelated to fetal tissue and she played no role in this report – I was prepared to look past it altogether. But a Roll Call article yesterday pushed the story in an unexpected direction: some congressional Republicans have known about the video for weeks.

Rep. Tim Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus and chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee looking into the video, said at a Wednesday news conference he’d seen the clip weeks before.

Asked afterward why he and others waited until this week to take action, Murphy struggled for an answer before abruptly ending the interview with CQ Roll Call, saying he should not be quoted and remarking, “This interview didn’t happen.”

Well, actually, it did happen, and members of Congress can’t talk to reporters, then retroactively pretend they didn’t.

In this case, Roll Call asked why the story, if it’s as scandalous as Republicans are now claiming, didn’t break immediately. If GOP lawmakers consider the revelations an outrage, why did some members say nothing for nearly a month?

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), before pretending the interview “didn’t happen,” said, “Um, I don’t know why. All I know is I saw it and he said he was going to post it eventually, so that’s all I know.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), one of Congress’ most strident opponents of reproductive rights, also said he first saw the video about a month ago, but also said nothing. “The hope was to have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media,” Franks argued yesterday.

It’s a curious argument. Republicans have spent the week characterizing this as a potentially criminal scandal, but when some far-right lawmakers saw the video weeks ago, they didn’t feel the need to do much of anything – they didn’t run to the GOP leadership to demand action; they didn’t call allies in conservative media; they didn’t hold a press conference to express outrage. If they genuinely saw the video as proof of illegal Planned Parenthood activities, notifying the “authorities” could have happened immediately.

But it didn’t. So what is this really all about? Consider this Politico report published overnight:

Republicans on Capitol Hill are betting the secretly filmed Planned Parenthood video — depicting an executive allegedly discussing the sale of fetal organs from terminated pregnancies — will give them cover to more aggressively push abortion issues without the political ramifications that have haunted the party in the past. […]

[Iowa Republican Steve King] was one of the first lawmakers to urge the defunding of low-income housing group ACORN, which went belly up following similar undercover videos suggesting criminal activity.

To this day, he keeps a tiny acorn in his pocket to remember his crusade. Now, he’s got his eyes on another organization. “This represents ACORN’s scalp,” King said off the House floor Thursday, pulling the acorn out of his pocket. “Ask me after the appropriations cycle and see if I have a talisman in my pocket for Planned Parenthood’s.”

Ah, there it is. Republicans don’t have proof of Planned Parenthood wrongdoing, but rather, have a desire to claim a “scalp.” When the GOP went after women’s healthcare in 2012, it backfired on the party, so Republicans hope a misleading video will offer new opportunities to try the same move again.

That’s the point of the GOP calls for investigations, hearings, and probes. That’s why Republicans are trying to use this story to raise money and advance their personal ambitions.

Those who were inclined to take the story seriously should probably adjust their perspective accordingly.

Postscript:  The video released by the Center for Medical Progress doesn’t show Planned Parenthood doing anything illegal, but whether the video itself was recorded illegally is a separate matter.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 17, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Planned Parenthood, Republicans, Steve King | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There Must Be Some Logical Explanation, Right?”: Republican Doublethink On Mass Shootings; Scott Walker Edition

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who recently joined the Republican primary carnival in an “official” way, says the government should reauthorize the Patriot Act in response to the murder of four Marines in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a 24-year-old gunman.

And he suggested that changing a policy that stops military personnel from carrying weapons in certain civilian areas would have prevented the attack. Those policies “are outdated,” Mr. Walker said on Fox News, because the United States is “at war and radical Islamic terrorism is our enemy.”

After a career criminal who had illegally entered the United States killed a San Francisco woman on July 1, Bill O’Reilly demanded that Congress pass a law that would impose mandatory sentences on people who repeatedly enter the country illegally and members of the right-wing Republican caucus in the House eagerly responded.

The idea was that such a law, along with another proposal to strip cities of federal funds if their police are not required to turn over all undocumented people to the federal government, would prevent shootings like the one in San Francisco.

This leaves me a little confused.

After any highly publicized killing – like the murders in Charleston, or Newtown, or in any number of other places — advocates of gun control call for greater restrictions on the sale and use of firearms. And people on the right, like Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Walker, reliably respond by saying that no law could have prevented those killings.

So, which is it? Can no law stop a determined person from killing another human being? Or can laws do that? It would be inconsistent, if not hypocritical, to take both positions, so there must be some logical explanation.

Mr. Walker and the Fox host Megyn Kelly tut-tutted about the fact that President Obama did not immediately call the Chattanooga killer a Muslim terrorist. They had no idea at the time whether that was true, but the point of the exchange was to attack Mr. Obama. They used it to revive another favorite talking point – that the president did not quickly label the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi as a terrorist attack (even though he actually did).

Oddly enough – or maybe not oddly at all – Mr. Walker called the murder of nine African Americans in a Charleston church a “racist” and “evil” act, but neither he, nor any other Republican candidate or public figure that I can find called it an act of terrorism, which is precisely what it was.

Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican presidential poser, called it “racial jihadism,” but that was mainly to deflect attention from the real motivations for the murders and toss that “jihad” word out there.

I’m sure there is a logical explanation for that, too.


By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog, The New York Times, July 17, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Mass Shootings, Scott Walker | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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