Category Archives: Wall Street Journal

>Ethanol Suffers Rare Loss in Senate

>Wasn’t it just earlier this week that the Senate rejected the idea of ending subsidies for Ethanol producers? Evidently that rejection wasn’t the end of the debate and now by a large bi-partisan majority, the US Senate has by a vote of 73-27 decided that in the name of deficit reduction the country can no longer afford to give away $6 billion a year to an industry that hasn’t produced the savings at the gas pump that was expected when the tax breaks went into effect 3 decades ago.

The following excerpt is from a Wall Street Journal report that has just recently been posted online:

A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted Thursday to end more than three decades of federal subsidies for ethanol, signaling that other long-sacrosanct programs could be at risk as Democrats and Republicans negotiate a sweeping deficit-reduction deal.

The tax breaks, which now cost about $6 billion a year, had long been considered untouchable politically because of the power of farm-state voters and lawmakers. Iowa’s role as the site of the first presidential caucuses has further elevated the political potency of the biofuel.

The Senate voted to repeal a $6 billion tax credit for ethanol producers, a move that could signal the end of some federal subsidies as part of an eventual budget compromise. Joe White has details.

Presidential hopefuls made a quadrennial ritual of going to Iowa and pledging to support the tax breaks, tariffs and mandates that supported production of ethanol motor fuels from corn. This year, however, some Republican presidential candidates have pointedly refused to endorse ethanol tax breaks.

Thursday’s vote doesn’t by itself doom federal support for the corn ethanol industry. The House is expected to reject it on the grounds that changes to the tax code, under the Constitution, must originate there, and the White House says an outright repeal is too abrupt. But the 73-27 vote signals that in a time of fiscal challenges, programs that once appeared unassailable now could be vulnerable.

The ethanol vote was driven by a coalition of liberal lawmakers and fiscal conservatives—it was sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.)—who want to end subsidies for wealthy interest groups before slashing social welfare programs. They were opposed by a bloc of farm-state lawmakers seeking to fend off the repeal or slow it down.

The Senate action could also open the door to attacks on other tax breaks, such as those benefiting oil companies, in the interest of deficit reduction. Republicans have been wary of doing so, but 33 Republicans joined 40 Democrats and Independents in supporting Thursday’s repeal, which has the effect of raising taxes on oil refiners….

You can read more by clicking ….Here

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Filed under biofuels, corn growers, ethanol subsidies, flex fuel, high gas prices, Oil industry, US Senate, Wall Street Journal

ABC, CBS and NBC Verdict: Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ a Success (And CBS frets that the public refuses to see it.)

From the WSJBy BRENT BAKER From the Media Research Center

On the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s “stimulus” spending bill, ABC, CBS and NBC all eagerly corroborated the White House’s claims about how it “saved or created” many jobs and staved off economic disaster, though they all offered a range of numbers and definitions (ABC: “800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs,” CBS: “about 1.8 million” jobs “saved or created” and NBC: “1.6 to 1.8 million jobs have been created so far.”)

ABC and CBS touted anecdotes about companies and government agencies which asserted the spending had prevented layoffs or allowed them to hire new staff. ABC’s Jake Tapper cited buses for Santa Monica, construction jobs in Baltimore, “63,000 green jobs” (with a solar panel-maker’s CEO declaring “it is working and we’re proof of that”) and a school system superintendent who told Tapper the funding ” helped save 61 jobs and create 73 new ones.”

On CBS, Chip Reid began with how “this highway paving equipment company in California canceled plans to lay off 40 workers because of demand created by stimulus projects,” before trumpeting how “in Washington, D.C. about 20 people are working on this road project” where “manager Matthew Johns calls the stimulus a lifesaver.”

Though “many independent economists put the number of jobs saved or created at about 1.8 million,” Reid relayed that “to the great frustration of the White House, most Americans simply refuse to believe it. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, a mere 6 percent said the stimulus has created jobs.” Reid’s culprit: “That skepticism due in part to a relentless campaign by Republicans who say the stimulus is a bloated, big-government failure.” (The online “Political Hotsheet” echoed Reid’s theme: “On Stimulus, Perception Doesn’t Match Reality.”)

But, have no fear, Obama’s team “admits” they “haven’t been tough enough” in discrediting critics. Reid concluded:

The White House admits they haven’t been tough enough in responding to critics of the stimulus so they’ve started an aggressive new campaign, calling out dozens of Republicans they say are hypocrites — Republicans who voted against the stimulus but then went home and attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their states that create jobs.

As if the media haven’t been advancing Obama’s agenda. From the MRC’s Business & Media Institute: “Bias By the Numbers: Networks Celebrate Year of Strong Stimulus Support; ABC, CBS, NBC cite supporters of $787 billion bill nearly three times as often as critics,” which determined:

– ABC, CBS, NBC Still Biased in Picking Stimulus Spokesmen: All three broadcast networks promoted the stimulus prior to the vote. Afterward, ABC, CBS and NBC served as unofficial boosters of what NBC called “President Obama’s stimulus cavalry.” The networks favored pro-stimulus speakers 71 percent to 29 percent (269 to just 111).

– Nearly Half of All Reports Included Zero Criticism: Both NBC and ABC stories included no criticism roughly half the time. Overall, the networks cited criticism of the stimulus plan just 52 percent of the time (90 out of 172 stories). Instead government was depicted as fixing “rickety wooden bridges” and “performing much-needed maintenance on national parks.”

Only deep in their Wednesday night stories did CBS and NBC acknowledge any critics and how unemployment rose during 2009, with NBC’s Lisa Myers noting “critics also have ridiculed some projects as wasteful. $1.6 million for free water taxi rides, a million dollars to improve security on dinner cruises in eight cities and studies about how honeybees learn and the sex drive of rats on hard drugs.” She concluded, however, with how Obama has a solution — more spending:

The President acknowledged that despite progress, this doesn’t feel like a recovery to millions of Americans, so he’s pushing to spend another $100 billion this year to try to create more jobs soon.

The job success numbers cited by the three networks:

Jake Tapper on ABC:

The numbers are all over the map, but they all credit the stimulus with significant job creation: anywhere from 800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs. Where are those jobs? According to the White House, 354,000 are in manufacturing, such as building new buses for Santa Monica….262,000 jobs are in construction. Today, these workers are putting the finishing touches on a community health center in Baltimore….Then, there are 63,000 green jobs.

Chip Reid on CBS:

Many independent economists put the number of jobs saved or created at about 1.8 million.

Lisa Myers on NBC:

Many economists agree that the $787 billion package of infrastructure spending, tax cuts and aid to states has created jobs and helped pull the economy out of a deep recession. Three economic research firms estimate that 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs have been created so far, with more gains projected this year. And painful job losses have slowed dramatically.

The stories on the Wednesday, February 17 broadcast network evening newscasts:

ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer:

DIANE SAWYER: One year ago today, the brand new President Barack Obama rolled out a $787 billion economic stimulus to put the brakes on a plummeting economy. Today, he marked the anniversary by saying it worked, that it spared the country a depression, and created millions of jobs. But we wondered, how many, and where? We asked Jake Tapper to delve into the numbers.

JAKE TAPPER: President Obama said today because of the stimulus package about 2 million Americans are working who otherwise would not be.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So far, the recovery act is responsible for the jobs of about 2 million Americans who would otherwise be unemployed.

TAPPER: The numbers are all over the map, but they all credit the stimulus with significant job creation: anywhere from 800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs. Where are those jobs? According to the White House, 354,000 are in manufacturing, such as building new buses for Santa Monica.

STEPHANIE NEGRIFF, DIRECTOR TRANSIT SERVICES, BIG BLUE BUS: There’s going to be an immediate economic impact to our community by having these additional vehicles available.

TAPPER: 262,000 jobs are in construction. Today, these workers are putting the finishing touches on a community health center in Baltimore.

JOE HOLLAND, PRESIDENT, HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION COMPANY: It really allowed us to go out and hire people where we would have otherwise probably, you know, just would have stayed back and not done that.

TAPPER: Then, there are 63,000 green jobs. A year ago today, the President was looking at solar panels manufactured by Namaste Solar. Company President Blake Jones had been preparing for layoffs.

BLAKE JONES, CEO, NAMASTE SOLAR: We started cutting budgets, we started making plans for a bad 2009.

TAPPER: But in the past year, companies that received stimulus money have been ordering those solar panels and Namaste has hired 14 new employees.

TAPPER TO JONES, OUTSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE: What’s your message to all those Americans who are skeptical that the stimulus bill is creating jobs?

JONES: It is working and we’re proof of that.

TAPPER: In New York, Utica City school district got close to $12 million stimulus dollars. The superintendent tells us that helped save 61 jobs and create 73 new ones. But those new hires had to sign this document: “I am fully aware that the funding for this position will be eliminated in two years. Therefore, this position will end on June 30th, 2011.”

And Diane, about $166 billion stimulus dollars have not yet been officially committed to any projects. They’re going to go to, among other things, the Race to the Top education grant program, high speed rail and other transportation projects and health technology. Diane?

(Following Tapper, ABC ran a piece from Jonathan Karl on how “red tape” has slowed creation of jobs to weather-proof homes.)

CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: One year ago today President Obama signed a law he said would help put Americans back to work. The price tag for the so-called stimulus bill was $787 billion. So far, nearly $300 billion of that has been spent. But did the stimulus do the job? Our chief White House correspondent Chip Reid has tonight’s “Reality Check.”


Read More >>>Here

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Filed under ABC News, CBS News, Economic Stimulus Package, Job creation, NBC News, President Obama, Wall Street Journal

Political Wisdom: Republicans’ Budget Numbers Are ‘Ridiculous’

WSJ Washington Wire –  Sara Murray and Gerald F. Seib offer a roundup of today’s political analysis from the Web.

House Republicans released an alternative budget plan and The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber evaluates it in his ever-so-delicate way, saying, “When we last left Boehner et al, they were unveiling an alternative to Obama’s budget without any, you know, numbers. Now they’re finally releasing their deficit-reduction plans, and the good news is that there are some actual numbers involved. (Sorta.) The bad news (or the additional good news if you’re a Democratic operative) is that the numbers are ridiculous. According to the press release on the GOP.gov site, Republicans are proposing ‘in excess of’ $375 billion in cuts over five years. But the bulk of the savings–about $317 billion–comes from vague ‘discretionary spending limits,’ which amounts to saying you promise to cut spending by … promising to cut spending. There isn’t a single detail about what programs would be cut to get to that $317 billion figure–in fact, even though this item accounts for the vast majority of money saved, it takes up exactly two paragraphs in the 20-page document outlining the GOP’s plan.”

This sounds like the sort of games the Middletown GOP play when they try and craft a budget that will include a 9.2% (or Higher) tax increase.

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Bush’s Books: 95 read in 3 Years?

Can anyone believe this? I certainly can’t, it’s just to unbelievable to take seriously.

The presidential point man in charge of President Bush’s legacy project, Karl Rove, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Bush has read 95 books in the past 3 years!

However, Rove claims victory in their book reading competition, having read 110.

Writes Rove: “The president lamely insisted he’d lost because he’d been busy as Leader of the Free World.”

Now unless Mr. Bush has read “My pet goat” 95 times I find this highly unlikely. The President would have had to have read nearly six books a month over 3 years to reach the 95 books that Mr. Rove claims the president has read. 
After reading so many books when would have the president had time to read all of those daily briefings or newspapers that he must read. 
 After all, when asked by reporters over the years to name a book that he has read, President Bush has had a hard time naming anything other than the Bible. 
I agree with others on this one, I think that Mr. Rove is just a pathological liar trying to shed a new light on Bush’s legacy.

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Filed under 95 books, Karl Rove, Leader of the free world, my pet goat, pathological liar, political wire, President Bush, six books a month, the Bible, Wall Street Journal

Bush’s Books: 95 read in 3 Years?

Can anyone believe this? I certainly can’t, it’s just to unbelievable to take seriously.

The presidential point man in charge of President Bush’s legacy project, Karl Rove, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Bush has read 95 books in the past 3 years!

However, Rove claims victory in their book reading competition, having read 110.

Writes Rove: “The president lamely insisted he’d lost because he’d been busy as Leader of the Free World.”

Now unless Mr. Bush has read “My pet goat” 95 times I find this highly unlikely. The President would have had to have read nearly six books a month over 3 years to reach the 95 books that Mr. Rove claims the president has read. 
After reading so many books when would have the president had time to read all of those daily briefings or newspapers that he must read. 
 After all, when asked by reporters over the years to name a book that he has read, President Bush has had a hard time naming anything other than the Bible. 
I agree with others on this one, I think that Mr. Rove is just a pathological liar trying to shed a new light on Bush’s legacy.

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Filed under 95 books, Karl Rove, Leader of the free world, my pet goat, pathological liar, political wire, President Bush, six books a month, the Bible, Wall Street Journal

Bailouts for Bankers, Not a Cent for Autoworkers

John Nichols, The Nation

This is the part of our nation’s surreal economic crisis that seems particularly surreal:
The U.S. auto industry, which employs 3 million Americans in auto plants, parts and supplier networks and dealerships nationwide is broadly understood as being essential to maintaining America as an industrial force. It’s financial collapse, which even critics of moves to bailout the industry suggest is imminent, would devastate workers, retirees and communities in every state of the nation. Despite the grumbling from anti-union zealots, the auto giants have radically retooled in a manner that makes the cost of producing a vehicle at a unionized plant of General Motors, Ford or Chrysler roughly equivalent to the cost of running a car off the line at a non-union plant. And to top it all off: Auto plants actually produce something that most Americans consider to be useful.
Yet, proposals to provide what now seems to be a very small bailout — $25 billion — are currently stalled.
At the same time, the whole of the federal government is scrambling to buy as much as $50 billion in “toxic assets” — bad loans and other products of irresponsible financial practices that are of dubious value — from Citigroup, a global banking concern that makes money by charging working families exorbitant interest rates for credit. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[The move to protect the banking concern] would mean taxpayers could be on the hook if Citicorp’s massive portfolios of mortgage, credit cards, commercial real-estate and big corporate loans continue to sour.”
Perhaps, in some wild calculation of American interest, Citicorp is worthy of a bailout.
But what mad calculus would make Citigroup more worthy than the auto industry?
And why the urgency with regard to Citigroup and the casual disengagement with regard to the industrial giants that, for all their flaws and perils, remain what Barack Obama correctly described as “the backbone of American manufacturing”?
Something is fundamentally wrong with a federal government that offers bankers a bailout and autoworkers as cold shoulder.

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Filed under Americans, Auto Industry, bailout, Barack Obama, Citicorp, Financial crisis, John Nichols, The Nation, Wall Street Journal

>Bailouts for Bankers, Not a Cent for Autoworkers

>John Nichols, The Nation

This is the part of our nation’s surreal economic crisis that seems particularly surreal:
The U.S. auto industry, which employs 3 million Americans in auto plants, parts and supplier networks and dealerships nationwide is broadly understood as being essential to maintaining America as an industrial force. It’s financial collapse, which even critics of moves to bailout the industry suggest is imminent, would devastate workers, retirees and communities in every state of the nation. Despite the grumbling from anti-union zealots, the auto giants have radically retooled in a manner that makes the cost of producing a vehicle at a unionized plant of General Motors, Ford or Chrysler roughly equivalent to the cost of running a car off the line at a non-union plant. And to top it all off: Auto plants actually produce something that most Americans consider to be useful.
Yet, proposals to provide what now seems to be a very small bailout — $25 billion — are currently stalled.
At the same time, the whole of the federal government is scrambling to buy as much as $50 billion in “toxic assets” — bad loans and other products of irresponsible financial practices that are of dubious value — from Citigroup, a global banking concern that makes money by charging working families exorbitant interest rates for credit. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[The move to protect the banking concern] would mean taxpayers could be on the hook if Citicorp’s massive portfolios of mortgage, credit cards, commercial real-estate and big corporate loans continue to sour.”
Perhaps, in some wild calculation of American interest, Citicorp is worthy of a bailout.
But what mad calculus would make Citigroup more worthy than the auto industry?
And why the urgency with regard to Citigroup and the casual disengagement with regard to the industrial giants that, for all their flaws and perils, remain what Barack Obama correctly described as “the backbone of American manufacturing”?
Something is fundamentally wrong with a federal government that offers bankers a bailout and autoworkers as cold shoulder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Americans, Auto Industry, bailout, Barack Obama, Citicorp, Financial crisis, John Nichols, The Nation, Wall Street Journal