Over the last three months, the economy has created around 75,000 to 80,000 jobs per month. That slow growth has caused the Republicans to criticize President Obama's economic policies and make claims that they could somehow do better. Just how did we get here? How did this all begin?
Let's first take a little trip down memory lane. In 2001 and 2003, Bush and the then GOP controlled Congress cut taxes and claimed that these tax cuts would pay for themselves and create 200,000 jobs per month. Approximately 38% of the Bush tax cuts went to the top 1% of income earners.
As we all know now, the Bush tax cuts were a disaster. According to the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal, Bush had the worst jobs creation record since Herbert Hoover. Only 3 million jobs or 31,000 jobs per month were created during the Bush Presidency. (In contrast, 22 million jobs were created during the eight years of the Clinton Administration when tax rates were higher.)
The recession officially began in November 2007. Subsequently, the economy collapsed in 2008 and the U.S. faced it's most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. By the time President Obama took office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs per month.
President Obama responded by proposing and convincing the Congress to pass - with Senator Ben Nelson's support - the 2009 stimulus bill. This landmark legislation invested $831 billion in the U.S. economy. Something like $288 billion of the stimulus bill consisted of tax cuts for the American people. It was the biggest middle class tax cut in history.
How did the Republicans respond to this crisis? As we all know, they did everything they could to obstruct legislation that would create jobs - almost every Republican voted against the stimulus bill. Rush Limbaugh gave the game away in 2009 when he said that he wanted President Obama to "fail" and that he hoped the stimulus bill would "prolong" the recession.
As it turned out, the stimulus bill was a success. Three non-partisan sources have said that the stimulus bill prevented a Depression and ended the recession. The horrible job losses that President Obama inherited ended in early 2010, shortly after the stimulus bill took effect. Over the last 28 months, the economy has created more than 4.4 million private sector jobs.
Even though the economy is much better now than it was in January 2009, we Democrats know there is more work to do to continue to improve the economy. The economy continues to grow at a rate that is too slow.
Why does the economy continue to grow slowly? Just what is holding it back? Just how does President Obama plan to improve job growth? That will be addressed in part two of this series.
Nebraska House Republicans Vote To Raise Seniors' Medical Expenses, Strip Insurance Coverage From Thousands of Nebraskans and Raise Taxes
Today, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith voted for the 31st time to repeal Obama Care. For these out of touch Nebraska House Republicans with excellent taxpayer financed health insurance policies, this is just a political game. For thousands of Nebraskans, though,the repeal of Obama Care would be devastating.
Currently, 18,000 more young adults (age 26 and under) in Nebraska are now insured through their parents' health insurance policies. These Nebraska House Republicans have now voted 31 times to take this away.
Since this landmark law was enacted, 275,984 Nebraskans with Medicare have received free preventative care like colonoscopies or mammograms without co-pays. Early detection can save both lives and money. However, the Nebraska House Republicans voted to take this away.
Thus far, thanks to Obama Care, seniors in Nebraska have saved $24,948,340 in total prescription costs or an average $613 in savings per person. The Nebraska House Republicans just voted to raise seniors' prescription drug expenses.
Due to Obama Care, 266 Nebraskans previously uninsured because of a pre-existing condition are now insured. Fortenberry, Terry and Smith just voted to strip them of their insurance coverage.
For responsible small business owners who are struggling with rising health care costs, the federal reforms give tax breaks on insurance coverage. But the Nebraska House Republicans just voted to raise their taxes. As we all know, the Nebraska House Republicans favor middle class tax increases and only support tax cuts that largely benefit the wealthy.
Thanks to the landmark 2010 health care reform law, the insurance industry will soon be sending out rebate checks totaling $1.2 billion to policy holders and consumers. The rebates should average $127 for the people who should receive them. Apparently, the Nebraska House Republicans would prefer that the insurance industry keep this money, instead of going to Nebraskans.
It's obvious that the Nebraska House Republicans are primarily interested in protecting the interests of the insurance industry and not the citizens that they purport to represent. Their values are the values of Wall Street - not our values, not Nebraska values.
I call upon my fellow Democrats to work hard for our fine slate of Congressional candidates who will represent us - and not the large out of state corporations who finance the campaigns of Fortenberry, Terry and Smith.
ObamaCares -- In A Nutshell
The 2010 Health Care Reform law is the most significant piece of social legislation since the passage of Medicare in 1965. How does it work? How does it impact the average person?
1. Obama Care will ultimately insure an additional 30 million people or up to 95% of the population.
2. Beginning in 2014, consumers who don't have insurance are required to purchase health insurance. If you already have insurance through your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, a government retirement program or the Veterans Administration, this requirement won't affect you.
3. What this means is that only 6% of the U.S. population today will have to go out and purchase health insurance because of the individual mandate or face a penalty. People who can't afford to purchase health insurance will receive financial help from the government to buy policies. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that only 1.2% of the population will have to pay the penalty for failure to purchase health insurance.
4. Most of the health care reform law will be implemented in 2014, but the law already provides some benefits. Seniors are already saving hundreds of dollars per year on their prescription drug costs.
6.6 million young adults have insurance coverage because Obama Care allows children up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' plan. 50,000 people with pre-existing conditions already have coverage. Later this year, consumers will receive $1.2 billion in rebate checks from the insurance industry. The Republicans want to take away all of these benefits.
5. Beginning in 2014, all pre-existing conditions clauses will be banned. The insurance industry will no longer be able to cancel your policy if you get sick. The law will end arbitrary lifetime limits on coverage found in many policies.
6. Millions of small businesses are already eligible for a tax credit to help pay for their health care premiums. The credit will increase to cover 50 percent of premium costs in 2014. The Republicans in their zeal to repeal Obama Care want to take this away and raise taxes on small businesses.
7. Obama Care will expand States' Medicaid programs. Under the law, the U.S. government will cover 100% of the cost for states to expand their Medicaid programs, scaling that back to 90% by 2020.
(Currently, the U.S. government pays an average of 57% of the cost of the Medicaid health program.)
8. Businesses and individuals will purchase insurance through exchanges that will be a market where Americans can one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that's best for them, in the same way that Members of Congress and their families can. The exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the bargaining power and choices that large businesses currently have.
9. The law allows health insurance policies to be sold across state lines when both states agree and consumer protections are maintained. (The Republicans favor the sale of insurance across state lines without any consumer protections.) Without the consumer protections included in Obama Care, there would be a race to the bottom in which insurers would have an incentive to sell plans from the state with fewest consumer protections.
10. There are no $500 billion in Medicare "cuts" in Obama Care. The law does not take $500 billion out of the current Medicare budget. Rather, the bill attempts to slow the program's future growth, curtailing just over $500 billion in future spending increases over the next 10 years. Moreover, many of the "cuts" are in the Medicare Advantage program - which is an insurance industry boondoggle. As a matter of fact, Medicare spending will still increase.
11. There are no death panels.
Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.
The following link is for a table showing the specifics of the calculations that were made.
The source documents used to make the calculations can be found here:
Included are U.S. Forest Service documents obtained via a FOIA request for Deb Fischer’s Sunny Slope Ranch which show fees paid and actual grazing usage and on public lands, as well as UNL and USDA reports that were used to determine private grazing rental rates.
Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.
Harry Truman said, "If You Want To Live Like a Republican, Vote Democratic."
That's what Harry Truman said back during the 1940s when he was President. Why would Truman say such a thing? Does that hold true today? Those are good questions because the perceived conventional wisdom among many pundits in the mainstream media and the GOP is that Republicans are better for the overall economy than Democrats because they are allegedly more business friendly. However, as in many other instances, the conventional wisdom is wrong. The history of the last 50 years demonstrates that the economy performs much better for all Americans when a Democrat occupies the White House.
A recent report from Bloomberg News Services shows that since John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. increased by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures. Democrats hold the edge even though they occupied the Oval Office for 23 years since Kennedy's inauguration, compared with 28 for the Republicans. Through April 2012, Democratic presidents accounted for an average of 150,000 additional private-sector paychecks per month over that period, more than double the 71,000 average for Republicans. In other words, almost two-thirds of private-sector job growth in the past five decades occurred when we had Democratic Presidents.
What about the stock market? Has it performed better when we've had Republican Presidents since the Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street? The answer to that question is a flat no. Many people will probably be surprised to find out that stock investors do much better when Democrats occupy the White House. From a dollars- and-cents standpoint, it's not even close.
Another recent survey by Bloomberg News service indicates that, over the five decades since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 in 2012. A $1,000 stake invested in a fund that followed the S&P 500 under Republican presidents, starting with Richard Nixon, would have grown to $2,087 on the day George W. Bush left office. Similarly, investing $1,000 in funds that mirror the Dow Jones Industrial Average under the same conditions, Democratic investors would have had $7,550, versus $2,716 under Republicans.
Just what has led to this vast superior economic performance when we've Democratic Presidents? Is it just a bizarre coincidence as the Republicans would lead you to believe? (Was it just a coincidence that Nebraska won all of those football games in the Devaney-Osborne era?) I would submit that the superior economic performance is due to the vastly different strategies the two respective parties pursue regarding economic policy.
The Republicans aren't pro-business - they are pro-big business.
That's a big difference because what's in the interest of big business and the wealthy isn't what's good for the overall economy. The GOP strategy is to give the wealthy and corporations big tax cuts and relaxed regulation, and hope that something good happens down the road. That strategy clearly failed during the Bush Administration and it's apparent that Romney and the Republicans are promising more of the same if they should win the elections.
We Democrats recognize that 70% of economic activity is generated by consumer spending. If you want to have a healthy, growing economy, you need to have confident consumers with money to spend. That's why we believe economic growth begins with the middle class. Our support of middle class tax cuts, student loans, Pell grants and infrastructure projects increases middle class spending power and puts them in a position to purchase the goods and services produced by the so-called "jobs creators."
Harry Truman was right. History clearly demonstrates that if you want to live like a Republican, you should vote Democratic. What this means for all of us is that we need to get out and work hard for our excellent slate of Democratic candidates here in Nebraska. Our economic future depends upon the outcome of the 2012 elections.
Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.
I'm stunned and almost speechless. Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court voted by a 5-4 margin to affirm the constitutionality of Health Care Reform. In the most surprising development, Chief Justice Roberts voted with Breyer, Bader-Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan in finding that the individual mandate is constitutional under the Congress' power to tax.
What does this decision mean and what comes next?
This decision means that 6.6 million young people will be able to stay on their parents' health insurance policies, 50,000 people with pre-existing conditions will maintain their health insurance coverage, seniors will continue to receive discounts on their prescription drug expenses, and the insurance industry will be required to send out $1.2 billion in rebate checks later this year. This decision allows 30 million people to maintain hope that they will be covered by 2014.
In practical terms, the Supreme Court's land mark decision affirming Health Care Reform will help the mother with a child who has leukemia. The recent college grad who's unemployed and thinking about making a doctor's appointment. The grandfather who isn't sure if he'll be able to afford the prescription medication he needs. The middle-class family who isn't sure if they'll be able to keep their home if their medical bills broach the lifetime cap "Obamacare" eliminated.
What does this mean and what comes next? We have won an important battle but we haven't won the war. The GOP - in a rather startling flip flop - hoped to repeal Health Care Reform by judicial fiat. Apparently, the GOP didn't have a problem with five unelected judges in Washington with taxpayer financed health insurance policies winning a battle in the courts for them after they lost at the ballot box in 2006 and 2008. The bottom line here is that the GOP - instead of repealing Health Care Reform by relying upon unelected judges - must instead obtain the repeal of Health Care Reform by winning the elections this year. That's the way it should be.
Health Care Reform won't be fully implemented until 2014. I predict that once Health Care Reform is fully implemented, it will be successful and prove to be popular. That's why the GOP is so desperate to repeal it. The GOP is now in a race against time - this year's elections constitute their last chance to repeal Health Care Reform.
In order to preserve Health Care Reform, Nebraska Democrats must redouble our efforts to re-elect President Obama and elect Bob Kerrey, Korey Reiman, John Ewing and Mark Sullivan. If we are to finally provide access to health care and health insurance to all Americans, we must win these elections. The GOP has promised to make the repeal of Health Care Reform its first order of business in 2013 if they win the elections this year. Now let's get to work and preserve this great victory for the American people!
"Whenever men take the law into their own hands, the loser is the law. And when the law loses, freedom languishes." - Robert F. Kennedy
It must really sting that the Nebraska Republican Party lost Congressional District 2 to Obama under Nebraska's split electoral vote system.
Back in 1991, State Senator DiAnna Schimek worked to change Nebraska to a split electoral vote. As a result of her efforts, Nebraska is one of two states that allow for the electoral votes in a Presidential election to be split; the other 48 states vote as "winner takes all."
2008 marked the first time that Nebraska actually split our electoral vote for a Presidential candidate with Barack Obama taking a lone electoral vote from Congressional District 2 (Douglas county and part of Sarpy county) with the four other votes going to McCain. So it really chafes the Nebraska Republican Party that Democrats in Nebraska worked hard to ensure accurate representation by giving President Obama an electoral vote.
Since 2008, Governor Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Republican Party have been actively attempting to change Nebraska back to a "winner takes all state." Nebraska Republicans in the Legislature made it their priority to undo the split electoral vote with Legislative Bill 21 since they lost at the polls on November 4, 2008. Thankfully this partisan bill has been indefinitely postponed.
As the 2012 General Election approaches, the Nebraska Republican Party is worried that Mitt Romney is so weak that he'll lose one, if not more, electoral votes to Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Tuesday, Governor Dave Heineman whined about the unfairness of Nebraska's split electoral vote; complaining it's "totally inappropriate." Most Nebraskans wouldn't consider healthy competition unfair or the need to put in hard work to win to be "totally inappropriate."
Of course, Heineman's comments might carry more weight if the Republicans had actually bothered to complain in the nearly two decades after Nebraska switched to a split electoral vote.
Heineman went on to complain that the efforts to keep the current system were "partisan and political," yet he fails to acknowledge that Nebraska Republicans - including himself - have fought for the last year to change Nebraska to "winner takes all." How is this not partisan?
The split electoral vote means Nebraskans have fair and equal representation. The split electoral vote means Nebraska is a battleground state. The split electoral vote means that both the Obama and Romney campaigns could pour millions into the Nebraska economy. Given that Heineman has struggled to close budget gaps, why would he actively work to keep money out of Nebraska? This is nothing more than Heineman's partisan politics and a group of sore losers trying to change the rules at the last minute. Too bad they think their needs outweigh the good of Nebraska.
Bob Kerrey has accepted the first invitation to debate Deb Fischer, which would allow Nebraskans to discover who can best represent our state in Washington, DC.
So far, the media agrees on one thing about Deb Fischer following her surprise Primary win last Tuesday - no one knows who she is or what she stands for. Leading up to the Primary last week, Fischer did little campaigning on her own and slipped through the Primary due to the outside influence of $254,863 worth of negative ads paid for by billionaire Joe Ricketts, CEO of TD Ameritrade.
The proposed debate, sponsored by The American Legion Cornhusker Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Cornhusker Girls State on June 5th at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, gives Nebraskans an opportunity to examine Fischer's extreme right-wing voting record.
Fischer has been identified by a blog as being in the "96th percentile for conservatism in the officially nonpartisan Nebraska unicameral, and in the 93rd percentile of identified Republicans. That is, only 7 percent of Nebraska Republicans are more conservative than she in recent years."
If Fischer maintains this hard-core ideology and is elected to the US Senate, her views would place her somewhere near Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who is in favor of the Ryan budget, was against bailing out the auto industry, and wished to permit oil drilling & development in ANWR.
So who really knows Deb Fisher? Right now it's a small group of 79,000 voters from the Primary. These voters make up less than 7% of the voting electorate, and the main argument of the Primary election was to vote for "Anyone But Bruning." That's not exactly the way to reach people, discuss the issues, and be elected on merit. Most Nebraskans simply don't know Deb.
Accepting this invitation to debate will help Nebraskans see who Deb Fischer is. Does Deb represent Nebraska values or is she already bought and paid for by billionaire Joe Ricketts?
Two organizations concerned with voting rights have asked Secretary of State John Gale to exercise his statutory authority as the state's chief election officer to "inspect and review" recent actions in Douglas County that sharply reduce the number of voting locations.
Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps has cut polling places in half for the 2012 election.
"According to our analysis, Commissioner Phipps' polling place closings disproportionately impact low-income and minority populations' access to the polls," Gale was told in a letter sent Tuesday night by Adam Morfeld, executive director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, and Rebecca Gould, executive director of Nebraska Appleseed.
"These actions appear to have a discriminatory effect and impinge upon the fundamental right to vote," they wrote Gale.
The result is "overwhelming concern among community members that these changes are confusing and are likely to have the effect of disenfranchising thousands of Nebraska voters," their letter stated.
Morfeld and Gould told Gale they are formally requesting that he "initiate an official investigation" into the practices and procedures initiated by Phipps.
Gale, they noted, already has raised his own concerns in an e-mail communication to Larry Bare, who is Gov. Dave Heineman's chief of staff.
In that e-mail, Gale said the slash in voting sites "seems troubling" and expressed concern that Douglas County has fallen behind in recording registered voters.
"Those concerns also provide additional grounds for an investigation into not only voter registration practices, but also Commissioner Phipps' administrative practices as a whole," Morfeld and Gould told Gale.
"Fair and well-administered elections are critical not only to a representative democracy, but also to the public perception of the legitimacy of our elections," they wrote.
See the video here: http://www.kmtv.com/news/local/146029095.html
Lincoln, NE -- A warning from a top Nebraska government official - closing polling places in Douglas County will "likely cause voter confusion". Action 3 News has learned some of Nebraska's top officials questioned Dave Phipps' decision to cut so many polling places. The man behind the questioning email is responsible for overseeing the state elections. Why would he try to kick Liz Dorland out of the capitol when she went to ask about the email?
Liz Dorland had to run just to catch up with Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale.
Liz shouted, "Mr. Gale. I'm Liz Dorland with Channel 3. I want to ask you a couple of questions please about Mr. Dave Phipps and his decision to close half the polling places."
John Gale didn't stop when he replied, "You know I've told your News Director that I was not available for an on-camera interview."
Mr. Gale knows Liz went to talk with him about an email he wrote March 2nd to Governor Heineman's Chief of Staff. In it, he calls the decision to close polling places "troubling".
"If you interrupt me or interfere, I'll have to have you removed from the Capitol, but go ahead ask your questions," replied Gale.
Secretary Gale said he knew Phipps wanted to close polling places all over the county several months before he did it. Gale said, "I don't have the discretion or authority to override Mr. Phipps decision."
Secretary Gale emailed a letter as a "head's up" to the Governor's office, warning of possible problems. He explained, "Our concern was that in a presidential year it might cause undo confusion of voters and that they needed to make sure if they were going to do that that they did it right, and the public knew about it and they were well informed."
Dave Phipps responded, "No I think regardless of what type of election year this presidential or not it was the right thing to do."
Gale's email adds "a 50% drop in precinct numbers is pretty major in one year".
"He obviously thinks that was too drastic of a cut and I believe that was appropriate," said Phipps in response.
The email continues, Gale's office is "concerned about some of the management issues with Dave Phipps" . Governor Heineman's Chief of Staff replied to Gale with a simple "thanks".
Governor Dave Heineman said on Monday, "I let the election commissioners worry about the elections."
The Governor's office emailed this statement: "This email was sent as a heads-up and taken as such. No further action was taken."
Governor Heineman appointed Dave Phipps. Many, including State Senator Brenda Council believe it's time for Heineman to step in. Senator Council said, "This is his appointee and his appointee's performance is being questioned by a Constitutional Officer, the Secretary of State and he's revealing in this email how troubling it is."
If the Governor doesn't, Council warns frustration in the legislature could quickly change. "It can rise to the level of anger when you've been put on notice that it could create problems and nothing is done to stop it or in that regard to mitigate the damage that it would cause," explained Senator Council.
Vince Powers speaks for the Nebraska Democratic Party. "This is extremely serious. This is a scandal. They sat on it they knew it," said Powers.
The Nebraska Democratic Party is demanding the Governor step-in and fire Phipps. "The question is will the Governor come forward voluntarily and answer questions as to what did he do and if he didn't do anything why he didn't. or will it take the legislature or will it take the civil rights division of the justice department," Powers added.
The overriding question for Secretary Gale, can polling places be re-opened by the May primary? He explained, "I don't know if any significant changes at this point are even possible by the primary election."
It's an election that's now just six weeks away. So it all comes back to Governor Heineman.
He told Liz Dorland he doesn't have time to look at the problems this week. However, Governor Heineman will be in Omaha Wednesday morning at Omaha Country Club, located at 6900 Country Club Road. Liz will be there to speak with Governor Heineman and give it another try.