2008 reasons to elect a progressive president in 2008
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  • Economy

    1. Until the Democratic Congress took action, it was over ten years since the federal minimum wage has been increased. We need a President who understands that it is unacceptable to give an American working a full time job with no vacations just $10,712.00 per year.

      (Source: A Congress with Marie Antoinette Values: The Politics of the Minimum Wage, Ralph Nader, CounterPunch, July 6, 2006)

    2. The right wing economy of media placement was exposed in January, 2005, when it was revealed that the Bush Administration paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the Republican Party's education policies in his newspaper columns and broadcast appearances. For 240,000 dollars of public money, Williams agreed to also influence other journalists to promote the Bush Administration's policies in 2003 and 2004.

      Some members of Congress have pointed out that it is illegal for the federal government to use taxpayers' money to create programs of propaganda. They called for an investigation. So, the question became whether the Bush Administration would buy some more members of the media to argue against such an investigation. Of course, with the secretive nature of the Bush White House, no one could ever know for sure.

      A delicious irony is that Armstrong Williams is one of those people who keep insisting that the media has a liberal bias. Maybe he categorizes all journalists who have not been bought off by the Bush Administration as liberals. (Source: USA Today, January 6, 2005)

    3. Republicans rail against estate taxes, encouraging people to hold onto the hope that they can establish their descendants with advantages over other people in a kind of new aristocracy. Helen Keller, on the other hand, had the wisdom to remember that, with the passage of time, all family lines fall and rise and fall again. "There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his," she noted. The best way to provide for our children, and their children, is not to gamble on hopes of vast riches to pass down in an inheritance, but rather to work for the sure thing of building an economically just society in which all people, regardless of the fortune into which they are born, have a reasonable chance of success, and protection from the worst consequences of failure.

    4. As of the end of 2004, the administration of George W. Bush had spent $250 million dollars on public relations agencies to promote its policies. That's a quarter of a billion BILLION dollars on public relations for itself.

      A full 40% of those public relations contracts were awarded non-competitively just handed out like candy. No bidding meant that the federal government didn't even try to get a good deal on this propaganda. It's a dishonest way for the President Bush to try to get the American people to like him, but in practical terms, it's a mighty expensive approach too. (Source: House Committee on Government Reform, January, 2005)

    5. For the 250 million dollars of public money that the Bush administration spent by the end of 2004 on public relations efforts designed to promote itself, the Bush administration could have hired more than 7,000 of the workers tossed out of their jobs at the time by the same corporations who, while moving their headquarters and factories overseas, managed somehow to shower Bush with big fat political contributions. It could have paid those workers America's median income not fancy, but no small shakes.

      Unfortunately, the Republicans in the White House valued creating the false appearance of a job well done over the creation of employment for American workers who know how to do their jobs right. (Source: House Committee on Government Reform, January, 2005)

    6. In early 2005, America learned that the Republicans in the White House had just plain lost 8.8 billion dollars of money they flew over to Iraq. Everyone knows that 8.8 billion dollars is a lot of money, but just how much money is it?

      Before 2005, three media personalities were discovered to have been bribed by the Bush Administration to push Republican policies on TV and in newspapers across America. If you average out the amounts paid to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus, you get a purchase price of 114,000 dollars each.

      So, if we divide the 8.8 billion dollars that Bush lost track of in Iraq by the 114,000 dollar average that the Bush Administration pays to newspaper columnists in order to buy favorable coverage before an election, the resulting number will tell us how many more journalists the Bush Administration could have bribed to push Republican policies - if that 8.8 billion dollars had not been lost.

      It turns out that if George W. Bush had not lost track of that 8.8 billion dollars in Iraq, he could have used that money to buy off 77,192 American journalists. Why, I think that's every single journalist in the country! I mean, with all 50 states, that would be 1,543 journalists in every state. I don't think there are that many reporters, columnists and editors in America. So, basically, if Bush hadn't gone and lost that 8.8 billion dollars in Iraq, he could have bought out the entire American press corps and had lots of money left over!

      Hey - wait a minute. Maybe that 8.8 billion dollars wasn't lost after all. Have you turned on your TV or read a newspaper recently? (Source: CNN, January 30, 2005)

    7. Kitty Calavita pointed out an letter in the July 4, 2006 New York Times pointing out that Republican politicians in Congress have given their strong support to legislation that would repeal estate taxes for the ultra-rich, raising the exemption threshold for estate taxes every year to keep pace with inflation. At the same time, Calavita points out, Republican politicians in Congress have raised their strong opposition to adjusting the minimum wage to inflation. Instead, Republicans prefer to let the working poor earn less and less for their work each year as inflation exacts its toll.

      That's the Republican moral priority for you: for the ultra-rich, inflation adjustment to maintain advantage. For the working poor, no inflation adjustment, strengthening disadvantage.

    8. The Republicans have taken a lot of trouble to tell young Americans that Social Security is an old person's issue. Their idea is to pit generation against generation, preventing young activists from getting cooperating with senior citizens to defend Social Security from Republican plans to privatize it for Wall Street profit.

      It's in almost no one's interest, other than financial elites, to fall for that divide-and-conquer approach. Social Security is important for all Americans, not just old people. First of all, everyone's going to be old some day, unless they die first. Secondly, Social Security is not just for old people.

      Social Security also provides protection to people who get disabled, and to young families who have a working member become disabled or die. Take me, for example. I'm just setting up a young family, and as I have put in some good years of work (not coming from a third generation wealthy family like the Bushes), I can rest assured that if something happens to me, my wife and kids will get some financial support to compensate for the sudden lack of my income.

      Social Security is for everybody. Don't let the right wingers tell you differently.

    9. Republicans have been trying to convince young Americans that there's just no way that they're ever going to get Social Security benefits. Their goal is to try to put young Americans against old Americans, hoping that the young Americans will get all uptight about having to pay into the Social Security fund.

      The fact is that the mantra the Republicans encourage young Americans to repeat - "By the time I retire, Social Security is going to be completely gone" - is completely bogus. Say you're 27 years old today. You'll retire in 38 years - that's the year 2044. Guess what? By the estimates of the Congressional Budget Office, even if the economy remains completely stagnant, and no one in government does anything to improve the solvency of the Social Security fund, Social Security will still be there when you retire - unless we allow Republican attack dogs to destroy it. (Source: ThereIsNoCrisis.Com, 2005)

    10. The raging economic denial of the Republican Party was put on prominent display during the 2005 State of the Union Address. President George W. Bush, who had personally directed the federal government into record-breaking budget deficits, had the gall to sermonize that the government should spend wisely or not at all. That's like a raging drunk telling someone slowly sipping their first martini that they're a sinner.

    11. Recently, the issue of illegal immigration has been twisted for political purposes by right wingers in the Republican Party and Democratic Party alike. These right wingers emphasize the cultural threat of foreigners, especially Hispanic foreigners, to anglo-American culture. They have shamefully promoted the interests of one cultural identity, that of English-speaking Americans over all others. In their minds, it's an electoral strategy that can't fail. After all, the majority of Americans do speak English as their only language. That's a big voting bloc, and so the right wingers are willing to ignore the rights of the minority of Americans who speak languages other than English, trying to force official business to be conducted in English only. (Source: Lou Dobbs, CNN, July 26, 2006)

    12. The fact that the right wingers are using the issue of illegal immigration to stir up ethnic hatred among Americans should not obscure the fact, however, that the status quo of illegal immigration causes real problems. American workers and immigrant workers alike suffer when they are employed illegally by bosses eager to save money and escape laws that protect workers.

      The problem isn't really illegal immigration. The problem is illegal subemployment. It's the availability of illegal subemployment by greedy American bosses that encourages people to risk their lives crossing the border through the scorching desert, in airtight shipping containers, or through document fraud. The lawbreaking bosses who engage in subemployment of immigrants undermine the American economy and keep wages artificially low.

      Wouldn't you know it, the Republican right wing has done a terrible job of dealing with illegal subemployment of immigrants. In fact, after gaining control of the federal government, the Republicans seem to have worked to make illegal subemployment easier. The statistics show a flagrant Republican disregard for the law in this respect. For the eight years that Bill Clinton was President of the United States, the yearly average number of punishments for bosses breaking the law by subemploying undocumented immigrants was 698. Under George W. Bush and the Republican Congress, that average has fallen drastically, to just 80 punishments per year during Bush's first term in office, and only 3 fines for subemployment against criminal bosses in 2004.

      Progressives will hold criminal bosses to account, punishing them when they break the law. The right wingers have proven that they are willing to just look the other way and allow illegal subemployment to continue.

      (Source: Lou Dobbs, CNN, July 26, 2006)

    13. George W. Bush and the Republicans go on and on about how Americans can be trusted to make the right decisions regarding retirement investment options. One of the problems with this kind of argument is that in the market, regardless of the awesomeness of everybody's decisions, by design not everybody can win in a relative sense. For every person who buys a stock when it's the right time to do so, there's somebody who has sold the same stock at the wrong time. So while a particular person's individual decision-making skill may be great, not everybody can win overall on a relative basis. When you think about people overall, which is what policy decisions are about, you can't expect overall relative gains for everybody. So individual-level decision-making acumen is irrelevant in this regard.

      Another problem with this line of argumentation begins with the note that although not everybody can win in a relative sense in a stock market, of course in an absolute sense everybody (or at least most people) can be better off investing in the stock market if overall the value of the stock market rises because of gains in productivity and profit. But everybody (or at least most people) can lose, too, if decreased productivity and less profit lead to overall drops in the value of the stock market. This second sort of macro-level variation overall in the value of traded companies isn't due to citizens making the right kind of investment decisions or the wrong kind of investment decisions. It's due to changes in productivity and profit that aren't the direct result of investment decisions. So individual decision-making acumen is irrelevant for social security policy in an absolute sense, too.

      If we trust individuals to be good decision-makers, that should apply not just to markets like the stock market but to politics too. If we go down this road, it sure seems that a whole lot of individuals have decided that Bush's policy path regarding social security privatization isn't a good idea. If Bush and the Republicans really think that individuals are good decision makers, and if they really trust people to make the right decision as they say, then why don't they respect that and drop their misguided social security proposal?

      Furthermore, if Bush and the Republicans trust people to make the right decisions, then why are they trying to keep people from making their own decisions about who they want to marry? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people from making their own decisions about when and how they want to die? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people (women people) from deciding whether a medically-appropriate prescription drug is also ethically appropriate for them? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people (women people again, I sense a theme) from deciding what to do with their own bodies? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people from deciding what kind of sex to have? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep young people from getting factual information about sex they seek in the course of making sexual decisions? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people from deciding for themselves what kind of movies they want to watch, what kind of books they want to read or what kind of art they want to look at? Why are Republican politicians trying to keep people from living their lives they way they want to as long as they aren't hurting anybody else?

    14. The next time you see a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker, remember this: The Republicans' version of supporting the troops included proposing a federal budget that would more than double the co-payment charged to veterans for prescription drugs and would institute a new fee of $250 for using government health care. (Source: New York Times, February 7, 2005)

    15. Back during the 2005 State of the Union Address, George W. Bush offered this unexpected line: "Our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims."

      Frivolous asbestos claims? How many people do you know who have lost jobs or have had their wages lowered because of frivolous asbestos claims? How many times have you heard anyone complain about the economic burden they're suffering under because of frivolous asbestos claims? If you're like most people, you've never heard a peep or felt a moment's worry about a crisis of frivolous asbestos claims.

      However, if you're someone who works for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the corporation run by Dick Cheney before he became George W. Bush's Vice President, you've probably heard quite a bit about supposed frivolous asbestos claims. You see, KBR entered into bankruptcy because of claims by people who had been harmed by asbestos because of KBR's negligence.

      Were those asbestos claims frivolous? Not according to the people who were hurt, and not according to the courts that heard the cases. Halliburton, and their people in the Bush White House, think that the cases were frivolous, though... because they made the corporation lose money.

      It's time that we have a President who does not believe that the profits of abusive corporations and the state of the American economy are one and the same. (Source: Boston Globe, February 4, 2007)

    16. Here is what the right wing vision for the economy has brought us:
      - Median hourly wages have declined
      - At the same time, the productivity of American workers has increased
      - Corporate earnings are at their highest level in 40 years

      Under a right wing President, the harder that Americans work, and the more profits they make for their bosses, the less money they bring home themselves.

      Investment bank UBS calls this situation a "golden era". If you agree with that assessment, by all means vote for another right wing President. If you don't, then it's time for you to support a progressive candidate for President in 2008.

      (Source: New York Times, August 28, 2006)

    17. The right-wing politicians in control of the 109th Congress had a job. It's a duty they as members of Congress are charged with by the highest authority in the nation, the United States Constitution: as Article I Section 8 states, to "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." This is done through the appropriation of money to fund government programs, a task which the Congress must complete each year for the continued provision for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. To fail in this regard is for the Congress to fail in its Constitutional duty. To purposefully choose not to appropriate funding for government programs is a derogation of duty and a violation of members' oath of office to support the Constitution.

      Yes, the right-wing politicians in control of the 109th Congress had a job and a duty to pass appropriations bills. But they openly declared their intention in November of 2006 to let those appropriations bills go without being passed. Why? Because they don't want the Republican Party to be labeled as a party that spends money. Says the spokesman for South Carolina Republican Senator James DeMint, "The last thing Republicans need is an end-of-Congress spending spree as our last parting shot as we walk out the door." So, because they think it looks bad, they're just not going to pass the spending bills at all.

      Progressives believe that although government is not always a source of good, it can be a source of good, and it should be a source of good. Progressive members of Congress take their duty to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States very seriously, and are therefore more inclined to take their Constitutional duties seriously. Put simply, progressives are more inclined to do their jobs, and to do them well.

      We need in place a more progressive Congress that will do the hard work of good government rather than slack off and make excuses about the political expediency of inaction. But we also need a president who use the power of the bully pulpit to publicly hold Congress to account when it fails to complete its work. The current occupent of the Oval Office, George W. Bush, is not so inclined. We need to elect a progressive President to put a stop to the right-wing slacker mentality and make government work again. (Source: Associated Press, November 21, 2006).
    18. In 2005, Rick Santorum, Republican Senator of Pennsylvania, introduced legislation that would prohibit the National Weather Service from offering its already existing free forecasting service in regions where some business has decided to offer similar services for a fee.

      What an odd Republican ethic, that above all else, the Government must not be allowed to do anything, or be helpful, if it interferes with someone else making money. Thus, for right wingers, the economy of a few overcomes the welfare of the many.

    19. One of the most fundamental differences between progressives and right wingers is that progressives recognize the problematic connection between trade and pollution. Right wingers have an ideological fascination with market-based solutions, and so tend to regard trade as a purely positive thing. Progressives have a more sophisticated, nuanced understanding of trade. While progressives support economic development, they do not give such support unconditionally. Rather, progressives seek the kind of economic development that provides economic benefits without causing harm in the non-economic aspects of people's lives.

      Douglas Barasch, Editor-In-Chief of the magazine OnEarth, reflects the progressive view of trade as he observes the impact of oceanic shipping on the quality of the air we breathe. "Ninety percent of international trade still travels by sea, in immense, hulking freighters that run on the lowest grade, most polluting form of diesel fuel," he writes. "In the ports of California's San Pedro Bay, which are the largest in the United States, thousands of container ships pull into harbor every year, belching dark smoke and choking the families that find themselves choicelessly living next door." Progressives like Barasch believe that it's important to solve these problems, and that it's not adequate to automatically accept the suffering they cause as the price of prosperity.

      While progressives concern themselves with non-economic effects of economic development, right wingers tend to dismiss such concern as inappropriate. The right wing view of business is that it should only be evaluated according to its economic success. We need a President who has a more balanced model of economics in mind. That's why, in 2008, it will pay off in the long term to elect a progressive President. (Source: On Earth, Spring, 2007)

    20. Compare the difference between the right wing vision for work and the environment and the progressive vision for work and the environment. In the right wing vision, Americans work as hard as they can for as long as they can, and reap economic benefits that outweigh the sacrifice. Progressives want a more balanced approach, so that work can be sustained over a long period of time, with people working a bit less so that they can enjoy aspects of their lives outside of work.

      A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that this difference in attitude has a strong impact on the economy and on the environment. The study looked at the impact of American work habits and European work habits. Europeans, who have a more relaxed, progressive attitude about work than Americans, work 22 percent fewer hours per week. If the Europeans were to change to accomodate the demands of right wingers pushing for maximum labor resource utilization, the energy consumption of Europe would increase by about one third. Because of the increased energy consumption, energy costs would rise for everyone in Europe, for business and personal use alike. Pollution would increase as well.

      If America could adopt a more progressive approach to work, then we would have cleaner air and lower energy costs. A good place to start would be to place a progressive in the top job in the country, as President of the United States.

      Work less. Breathe more. (Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research, December 20, 2006)

    21. Progressives are working to develop and promote sustainable strategies for economic strength. Those strategies require recognizing the reality of environmental threats like global warming.

      In March, 2007, former Vice President Al Gore visited the Council of Institutional Investors in order to urge members of the group to look beyond short term gains in order to adapt a new kind of financial analysis that incorporates environmental sustainability. It's an idea that makes economic sense, regardless of its appeal to eco-conscious Americans. After all, economic development that cannot be sustained because of environmental damage is economic development sure to fail in the long term.

      Unfortunately, a right wing political agenda adopted by many business executives promotes a defensive denial of the impact of environmental factors upon business success. That attitude is as bad for investors as it is for ecosystems. (Source: Associated Press, March 20, 2007)

    22. Everyone knows the old saying that the first thing a person ought to do when trapped in a deep hole is to stop digging. Well, maybe everyone but George W. Bush's right wing economic advisors know that saying.

      America is in a deep hole when it comes to the federal budget deficit, but in the budget proposed by George W. Bush for 2008, the hole is made even deeper. The Congressional Budget Office has found that the budget makes changes that will increase the size of the deficit by 1.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years, when compared to what would happen if no budget policy changes were made.

      In other words, if only President Bush would agree not to change anything at all in his proposed budget, the American people could have 1.4 trillion dollars less in debt. But, because of his dedication to right wing economic ideology, President Bush won't make that simple choice.

      In 2008, we need to choose a new President who will not allow economic ideology to interfere with America's financial solvency. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2, 2007)

    23. Even when adjusted for inflation, the amount of money that the Bush White House is spending on the war and military expansion is greater than it was during any time during the Cold War. Even during the height of the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the United States did not spend as much money on its military as it does under George W. Bush.

      Not since World War II did the United States spend so much on its military budget. During World War II, America fielded massive armies, navies, and created a massive system of air power. The budget expansion under George W. Bush has only brought us a weak military force unable to deal with relatively minor insurgent foes. (Source: ScrippsNews, March 20, 2007)

    24. I don't like right wing ideology, but that doesn't mean I refuse to read what right wingers have to say about the issues. It's important to keep abreast of the ways that right wingers adjust their rhetoric to promote their wacky agenda. It's also entertaining.

      For example, if I didn't read right wing political material, I never would have come across presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's kooky idea for blending Republican economic theory with Buck Rogers gee-whiz adventures in outer space. Gingrich thinks that it's very important for the United States to keep on spending people into outer space, but not to have the government do it, and not in order to promote scientific research, or the welfare of the human race. No, Newt Gingrich wants to scrap NASA, and replace it with tax credits for space tourism: "There ought to be tax credits for manufacturing in space and tax credits for developing commercial flights into near space for space tourism."

      Tax credits for manufacturing and tourism in outer space? Why tax credits? To encourage small businesses to send rocketships into orbit?

      Oh, I get it! Newt Gingrich is promoting the Wallace and Gromit plan for economic recovery and space exploration. Why if that wacky Englishman and his dog could build a rocket ship to go to the moon to have a nice cheese and crackers holiday, so could you, if only the government would give you a tax credit to help you pay for the initial construction. Sure. That's the ticket... into orbit. (Source: Newt Gingrich on Future Endeavors in Space, DraftNewt.org)

    25. Right wingers like to say that progressives are anti-business, but that's just nonsense. Progressives are pro-business. What we're against is business being done the same old way without change. Progressives favor innovation and efficient use of natural resources in business.

      Some business owners insist on doing things the way they've always done them, opposing progressive innovations out of hand. Other businesses, however, understand how the progressive approach to business can make them more money and earn them more customers.

      For example, right now, I'm on a business trip to Southern California, staying at an independently owned hotel. When I entered the room, I was pleased to see that all the lamps use long-lasting flourescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. The flourescent bulbs reduce costs for the hotel because they last a long time but also because they use less energy to create the same amount of light as old-fashioned bulbs. Because they use energy more efficiently, the flourescent light bulbs are also good for the environment.

      What's more, the hotel makes customers like me feel comfortable. The new light bulbs are a signal that give me the positive impression that the hotel is willing to try new things to be less wasteful, reduce the cost of a stay, and improve customers' experience. So, I'm more likely to consider staying in this hotel again when I'm back in this area.

      Progressives have understood for a long time that being more respectful to the environment is a business opportunity. Being pro-environment is being pro-business. That's why we need to elect a progressive President in 2008.

    26. There's been a lot of news lately about Republican Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, who is being investigated for covert corruption involving legislative action to promote a land deal in which he stood to benefit. But there's no need to look in locked file drawers and under rugs for evidence of Rick Renzi's pro-corruption behavior in Congress. Corruption, the use of power for purposes of self-promotion, occurs every day in corporate America, as corporate executives award themselves ever-more-ludicrous pay packages. Corporate executives even give themselves "golden parachutes" of multi-million-dollar financial awards when they are fired for poor performance. That's the abuse of power. That's corruption. Legal corruption, maybe, but corruption nonetheless.

      In April, 2007, members of the House of Representatives cast a roll-call vote on H.R. 1257, a law to simply permit shareholders in a public corporation -- a.k.a. the owners -- to cast an advisory, non-binding vote approving or disapproving of executive pay packages. H.R. 1257 also allows shareholders to vote their non-binding approval or disapproval of Golden Parachutes. Who would not support the idea of the owners of a corporation being able to publicly express their position on executive pay and severance packages? Only those who have an interest in keeping executive pay and severance packages hushed up. Only those who want to hide the extent of executive corruption and the extent of shareholder discontent with that corruption.

      Rick Renzi voted against this bill when it came up for that roll call vote. Rick Renzi wasn't alone, either: a number of conservatives in Congress prioritized self-awarded executive perks above voice for corporate shareholders. Why are so many conservative politicians interested in hushing up executive pay and severance packages? Everyone has their rea$on.

      Thankfully, there were enough progressive votes to counter the pro-corruption Renzis in Congress and pass the bill. Hopefully, it will pass the Senate as well. But then it will have to pass across the desk of President George W. Bush, who has repeatedly sided with corporate executives and against shareholders, workers, and consumers. All the good work of a progressive Congress on corporate governance can be negated with the stroke of a regressive president's pen. And that's another reason we need to make sure we vote for a progressive president in 2008. (Source: Library of Congress)

    27. Early in 2007, the missile defense system that the United States is spending millions of dollars to build in Europe failed a crucial test, even though the test was set up in optimum conditions. The test was scrubbed because the military officers running it knew that the missile defense system could not possibly destroy an incoming nuclear missile unless the trajectory was of a certain height. The test target missile failed to act like the easy target it was supposed to, and behaving unpredictably, could not be destroyed.

      This failed test was just another in a tradition of decades of failed tests. The truth that no one in Washington D.C. wants to talk about is that the technology for a missile defense system that works does not yet exist. The billions of dollars the United States is spending to build the system is money wasted on pure fantasy.

      A subsequent announcement made the failure of the missile defense system became even more profound. Russia announced that it is developing a missile that will be able to evade the American missile defense system. So, even if the Americans ever develop the technology to get their missile defense system to work as designed, it won't really protect anyone from Russian nuclear missiles.

      Building the missile defense system is an obvious waste of billions of dollars. So, why do so many politicians support the program? It all comes down to money. The billions of dollars that are being spent on a missile defense system that will never work doesn't actually disappear when the federal government spends it. All that money is flowing into the politically-connected corporations that are being hired to design and build the imaginary missile defense system.

      A lot of people are making a lot of money for themselves from the missile defense fantasy. A portion of that money is being returned to politicians in the form of campaign contributions, to encourage the political will to keep the fantasy economy going.

      Any genuine fiscal conservative would call for an immediate end to spending on the failed missile defense program. But, wouldn't you know it - not one of the Republicans running for President in 2008 have done so. In fact, I don't know of a single Republican politician who has the integrity to oppose the wasteful missile defense fantasy. (Source: Media With Conscience, May 29 2007)

    28. Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson likes to portray himself as small government conservative. His record in the United States Senate, however, doesn't support that claim.

      For one thing, he voted in favor of the single largest, most wasteful, unnecessary and unpopular big government program in recent history: The invasion and occupation of Iraq. Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been thrown away into the misadventure, which is projected to add trillions of dollars to the federal budget deficit. Yet, Fred Thompson still supports the spending.

      Fred Thompson's big government spending ways go back a lot farther than that, of course. Back in 1995, he outdid every previous attempt at big government spending. Fred Thompson tried to put pork barrel spending into the Constitution of the United States of America.

      The ultimate chutzpah of Fred Thompson's attempt to create what another senator called "constitutional pork" is that he tried to insert that spending into a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment. The committee report on the proposed amendment shows that Senator Thompson wanted to create an exemption in the Constitution that protected the federal subsidy of his favorite homestate pet project from budget cuts, the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA was subsidized by about 70 million dollars in spending from the federal government every year.

      When it came to the idea of balancing the federal budget, Fred Thompson expected budget cuts to apply to everything and anyone other than himself and his own projects. We can expect this same attitude from Fred Thompson if he becomes president: Sacrifices are for other people to make, not Fred Thompson. (Sources: Boston Globe, September 28, 2006; Washington Post, February 23, 1995; Congressional Record, February 23, 1995)

    29. Back in 1999, the Republican Senate was engaged in an out-of-control binge of pork barrel spending and creation of tax loopholes designed to cater to the tastes of special corporate interests. Describing this spending binge, Senator John McCain said, "Republicans promised to change this kind of behaviorÉ but I think it's fairly obvious that hasn't been the case. Now we're going to see this big thick tax code on our desks, and the fine print will reveal another cornucopia for the special interests, and a chamber of horrors for the taxpayers."

      Right in the thick of the special interest binge was Fred Thompson, who arranged to have tax loopholes inserted into Senate legislation just hours the legislation was presented to the Senate Finance Committee. These changes were made after a request by lobbysts for the American Council of Life Insurance, and financially benefitted an insurance company from Tennessee, Fred Thompson's home state.

      As this example illustrates, Fred Thompson's record in the Senate is one of working for the interests of corporate lobbyists, not the interests of his constituents. (Source: Washington Post, July 24, 1999)

    30. Ron Paul's extreme free market anti-government ideology leads him into some pretty dark territory. For example, back in 2001, Ron Paul was busy supporting the propaganda push that helped Enron cheat California residents out of huge amounts of money.

      Enron used fake energy shortages, and the resulting rolling blackouts, to pressure California to accept higher energy prices and less government regulation of the energy industry. The truth was that Enron was working with other energy companies to purposefully create the appearance of a crisis when one didn't really exist.

      Ron Paul helped this crooked scheme along in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in which he claimed,

      "We have an energy crisis in California created by the bureaucrats and the politicians. As prices skyrocket and a crisis is declared, it is later said that prices are now down and there's less of a shortage or crisis. But it's the market process that worked because the prices skyrocketed rather than skyrocketing prices becoming the justification for abandoning the market process."

      Ron Paul was just plain wrong. There was no energy crisis, except one artificially created by business. Bureaucrats and politicians in California were not to blame. Manipulation of market prices by big business was to blame.

      Ron Paul couldn't see the truth because his political ideology assumes that government is bad and the market processes of business are good. If there's a problem, Ron Paul's knee jerk reaction is to blame a bureaucrat somewhere. So, when there were rolling blackouts in California, Ron Paul's knee jerked, and he blamed the people he always blames.

      It also was awfully convenient for Ron Paul that Enron was centered in his home state of Texas. It's easier for a Texas Republican like Ron Paul to claim that the problem with energy lies not with California, not in dirty business dealings in his own back yard.

      In 2008, we need to elect a President who can get beyond ideological hangups and regional bias to serve the economic interests of the American people as a whole. The record shows that Ron Paul would not be that President. (Source: Congressional Record, September 10, 2001)

    31. Search back a few years in the Congressional Record, and you can find some truly kooky ideas. Many of these kooky ideas even came from politicians who have become candidates for President in the 2008 election.

      Here's an example: In the summer of 2001, both Democrat Bill Richardson and Republican Ron Paul declared their adoration for the glorious nation of Kazakhstan. They called themselves "Crazy for Kazakhstan". Really. Those are the words that they used: "Crazy for Kazakhstan".

      What were they talking about? Ron Paul entered into the Congressional Record an article that Bill Richardson wrote under the title "Crazy for Kazakhstan" for the right wing newspaper The Washington Times on July 30, 2001. Ron Paul declared that he agreed with Bill Richardson's ideas about the strategic importance of Kazakhstan, and urged his colleagues to read the article and support legislation to establish permanent trade relations with Kazakhstan.

      Part of Bill Richardson's argument was that control over access to Kazakhstan's oil ought to be a dominant factor in American foreign policy in the region

      "With the discovery of the massive Kashagan oil field in the Kazak portion of the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan is poised to become a major supplier of petroleum to the Western World and a competitor to Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It is critical that we continue to facilitate western companies' investment in Kazakhstan and the establishment of secure, east-west pipeline routes for Kazak oil. This is the only way for Kazakhstan to loosen its dependence on Russia for transit rights for its oil and gas and secure additional, much needed, oil for the world market.

      American policy in the region must be based on the complex geopolitics of Central Asia and provide the support required to enable these countries to reach their economic potential. We must continue to give top priority to the development of Kazakhstan's oil and gas industries and to the establishment of east-west transportation corridors for Caspian oil and gas."

      In a time when it has become clear that America needs to wean itself from oil in volatile foreign countries, Ron Paul and Bill Richardson don't appear to be credible candidates for leading such an effort. Just before the time when the consequences of America's meddling in the larger region for the sake of oil would become terribly clear, Ron Paul and Bill Richardson were advocating increasing American energy dependence upon the region's oil resources.

      Bill Richardson and Ron Paul may talk a lot now about decreasing American dependence on foreign oil. However, they're both on the record as promoting American dependence on foreign oil, and getting the United States mixed up with the glorious nation of Kazakhstan. (Source: Congressional Record, August 1, 2001)

    32. Here at Irregular Times, The Green Man wrote an article two years ago about the plight of the ocelot in Texas, where habitat suitable for the native wildcat has shrunk down to next to nothing. Only about 100 ocelots still survive in Texas, in one tiny corner of the state right next to the border with Mexico.

      It's been hard enough for the ocelot to hang on to this tiny piece of territory, but it's about to get an awful lot smaller. The Department of Homeland Security is planning to build a big wall along the border of Mexico, right through the middle of a population of ocelots. The cats already find it difficult to cross the border to maintain breeding contacts throughout the population, due to severe degradation of their habitat. Now, they will find it impossible, and the population will be cut in two, with each side suffering even more from a lack of genetic diversity, and the diseases that result from inbreeding.

      The impact of the border wall on the ocelot is made the more tragic when one considers that many Texas locals on the American side of the border don't think that the wall is necessary in the first place. When asked about whether he supported the border, one resident commented, "Welcome to the United States of Paranoia."

      The local economy will take a significant hit if the anti-immigrant wall tips the ocelot population into extinction. On the American side of the border, 150 million dollars is brought into the area every year by visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the ocelot and other wildlife.

      In a time when environmental degradation and Homeland Insecurity go hand in hand, we need a more progressive vision for how to manage our nation's edges. (Sources: Dallas Morning News, July 25, 2007; Dallas Morning News, July 26, 2007)

    33. "People have access to healthcare in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room." — George W. Bush, July 2007

      Emergency room visits for people who need primary healthcare end up being unnecessarily expensive because emergency departments are deployed with equipment and staff to respond to high-acuity medical problems, equipment and staff that are wasted on the treatment of health conditions that are less acute. Studies involving the introduction of community health centers to provide primary care to the uninsured have shown that they can actually save hospitals money because they reduce emergency room care. At the individual level, people who do not receive preventive health care can end up needing expensive care in emergency rooms when they develop preventable conditions needing further treatment.

      Even simply from an economic point of view, and ignoring the issue of compassion, George W. Bush's "just go to an emergency room" suggestion just doesn't make sense. But Bush's ideological blinkers won't let him see that. In the future, let's try to choose national leaders who aren't similarly blinkered. (Sources: Boston Globe July 19 2007; Betty Smith-Campbell, "Emergency Department and Community Health Center Visits and Costs in an Uninsured Population," Journal of Nursing Scholarship 37(1): 80-86 (March 2005); Million-Dollar Murray, New Yorker February 13, 2006)

    34. Mitt Romney declined the invitation of CNN to participate in a presidential debate this September. Why? Because of a "heavy fund-raising schedule."

      Everyone has their priorities. Mitt Romney seems to consider getting money from a few powerful people to be a higher priority than reaching out to a large number of regular people. Maybe, for his base, his strategy, and his approach to politics, the higher priority on the rich and powerful makes sense. But is that where your priorities lie? (Source: New York Times July 28 2007)

    35. One of the big differences between progressives and right wingers is that right wingers work to protect high powered investors, while progressives use their power to invest in workers.

      Someone like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demonstrates this difference in her policy on taxation of Wall Street income. Hillary Clinton isn't a perfect progressive, but when it comes to her policy on carried interest income made by high powered investment fund managers, she's on a good progressive track. The classification of carried interest made by these managers as income that's not subject to ordinary levels of taxation allows the fund managers to get away with paying just 15 percent on their income, while the rest of us pay a full third of our income or more.

      Commenting on this double standard, Senator Clinton states, "Our tax code should be valuing hard work and helping middle class and working families get ahead. It offends our values as a nation when an investment manager making $50 million can pay a lower tax rate on her earned income than a teacher making $50,000 pays on her income. As President I will reform our tax code to ensure that the carried interest earned by some multi-millionaire Wall Street managers is recognized for what it is: ordinary income that should be taxed at ordinary income tax rates."

      Hillary Clinton is right, and other Democratic presidential candidates, like John Edwards and Barack Obama agree with her. You won't find a single Republican candidate for President supporting the effort to make investment fund managers pay their fair share, though. They're counting on campaign donations from these Wall Street investment fund managers, and can't manage to break themselves free of their compounding influence. (Sources: Boston Globe, July 14, 2007; HillaryClinton.com, July 13, 2007)

    36. The United States has long been one of the world's greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. All but the most stalwart Flat Earth believers now recognizes that those emissions have led to dramatic climate change that has already brought crisis to peoples around the world, and will wreak even greater devastation in years to come.

      Oxfam, a humanitarian relief organization, has calculated the likely costs for dealing with the impact of global climate change in what it terms "the developing world" - a nice term for the Earth's more impoverished nations. The projected cost is at least 50 billion dolla

      rs per year.

      In the face of the 50 billion dollar annual need for adjustments to prevent humanitarian disasters as a result of climate change, how much have the wealthy nations of the Earth, the top greenhouse gas producers, given so far? 48 million dollars.

      The United States has a moral obligation to help people who face harm as a result of its industrial pollution. In 2008, we need to elect a President who takes this obligation seriously. (Source: Oxfam, May 29, 2007)

    37. If someone asked you to think of a company that gives its customers a lot of control, what are the chances that you would name your health insurance company?

      It's not the company I'd pick. Last year, when I went to my doctor to try to take care my sleep apnea, caused by a physical problem that makes it difficult to breath through my nose, my health insurance company sent me a letter saying that it would not pay anything for the surgical procedure to correct the problem. Why? The health insurance company decided, in direct contradiction to the doctors who had examined me, that my sleep apnea was a form of mental illness.

      Most people have similar stories about the companies that provide their health insurance. Sometimes, health insurance companies deny coverage for merely troublesome conditions, like mine. Other times, health insurance companies tell people that they won't be able to get treatments needed to save their lives. Whatever the problem, it's clear to most Americans that health insurance companies take control for themselves, often removing patients' access to health care.

      Rudy Giuliani, apparently, is not like most Americans. He seems to think that health insurance companies give people oodles and oodles of control over medical decisions. That's why he thinks that the solution to the problems in America's health care system is to pretty much keep things the way they are.

      Yesterday, Giuliani released his presidential campaign's health care plan for America. He promised that it would provide Americans with "full access to and control over their health care decisions."

      CNN took a look at Rudolph Giuliani's plan, and concluded that it directs people to "private health insurance" - the same insurance companies that already exist, and currently give people so much trouble.

      How could Rudy Giuliani possibly believe that private health insurance plans give their members "full access to and control over their health care decisions"? Giuliani is an extremely wealthy man. When the Federal Election Commission asked Giuliani to report his net worth, Giuliani admitted to "between $18.1 million and $70.4 million". For Giuliani, it's no big deal if his health insurance company refuses to pay for a medical procedure. He can just pay for it himself.

      Apparently, Rudolph Giuliani's health care plan is based upon the presumption that all Americans have the luxury of paying for whatever medical expenses their insurance companies decide not to cover. America cannot afford to have another President with such a distorted vision of reality. (JoinRudy2008.com, July 31, 2007; CNN, May 17, 2007; CNN July 31, 2007)

    38. Reading a report from the Des Moines Register about a speech given by Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback, I had to stop and read a few sentences over and over again, just to try to understand what Senator Brownback was saying. Here's one of those sentences:

      "The Republican presidential candidate said encouraging poor, unwed parents to marry with welfare incentives and publicly celebrating religious faiths would help fight poverty and crime."

      I knew right away that something was profoundly weird about Sam Brownback's proposal for encouraging marriage, but the problem is so profoundly personal that it took me a while to realize what it was. The problem with Senator Brownback's idea is that it assumes that loving couples will refuse to get married just because they can't get a big welfare check from the government if they do.

      Think about it. If a friend of yours came up to you and told you, "My boyfriend says he thinks we ought to get married so that we can get a big welfare check from the government," what would you say back to her? I know that I would tell her not to get married, and to dump her boyfriend right away. Anyone who will ask someone else to get married so that the couple can get a big government handout isn't worth getting married to.

      A couple that marries for the sake of a welfare check will probably not be very happy in their marriage, and won't stay married for long. Maybe they'll have a child before they get divorced, though. Then the couple will have to bring in enough money to maintain two households, and that welfare check won't be there to help them out.

      It's sad that Sam Brownback thinks that people get married for the sake of getting extra money from the government. Most people that I know don't think about marriage that way. The people I know think that a marriage needs to have love at its heart in order to be successful.

      The really sad thing is that Sam Brownback thinks that allowing people who love each other to get married should not be allowed, if these couples are not heterosexual. He thinks that loving homosexual couples will ruin the institution of marriage, but that a government program to bribe young couples to get married will make the institution of marriage stronger.

      If you agree with that cockamamie idea, then you'll probably vote for Sam Brownback in the 2008 Republican primary. If you don't, then you ought to vote for a progressive candidate for President instead. (Source: Des Moines Register, August 7, 2007)

    39. There's something else that's bothering me about presidential candidate Sam Browback's social ideas, as reported yesterday by the Des Moines Register. The Register reported that, at a campaign rally, Brownback "said encouraging poor, unwed parents to marry with welfare incentives and publicly celebrating religious faiths would help fight poverty and crime."

      Sam Brownback wants to use the power of the presidency to create public celebrations of religious faith. His idea is that if the government sponsors public celebrations of religion, then poverty will fall.

      The facts contradict that idea. George W. Bush has used his power as President to promote public celebrations of religious faith more than any other President in living memory, and perhaps more than any other President in the history of the United States. Yet, according to the Census Bureau, the number of people living below the poverty level has increased almost every single year that George W. Bush has been office.

      In 2000, the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency, there were 31.6 million Americans living below the poverty line. In 2001, that number increased to 32.9 million. In 2002, it went up to 34.6 million. In 2003, the number was at 35.9 million. In 2004, the number was 37 million. In 2005, the number was down slightly, but only from 37 million to 36.9 million Americans living in poverty.

      During that time, it wasn't just the raw number of Americans living in poverty that increased. The poverty rate increased too. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, on the other hand, both the number of Americans living in poverty and the poverty rate went down.

      The facts show that using the President's power to create public celebrations of religion does not reduce poverty. Sam Brownback should have checked the facts before making his claim, but he didn't. He was hoping that his audience would just accept it on faith. (Source: Des Moines Register, August 7, 2007; Census Bureau; Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic, Origin: 1959 to 2005)

    40. Remember the $100 screwdrivers that the Department of Defense bought back in the 1980s? Oh, boy, that was rich. Sure glad we fixed that.

      On the other hand, maybe that problem isn't as fixed as we thought it was. This year, it was discovered that a small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to a Texas base, U.S. officials said.

      News reports of the fraud read, "The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida."

      This is what happens when politicians play a "patrioticker than thou" game with the Department of Defense budget and procedures. (Source: Bloomberg News August 16, 2007)

    41. When news leaked out that members of the Commerce and Treasury Departments were brought to the Bush White House for Republican Party political briefings, White House spokesman Tony Snow tried to spin it off, saying
      "To be briefed on what the goals of an administration are, if you are a representative of the administration, is useful. ... It's perfectly legitimate for the White House to say, here are our goals, here are our objectives, this is what your executive branch is doing.... I daresay that this is hardly unusual in this administration."

      Despite Tony Snowe's reassurances, it turned out that therewas more to the story than that, as McClatchy reports:

      Top Commerce and Treasury officials appeared with Republican candidates and doled out millions in battleground congressional districts and states after White House political briefings detailing GOP election strategy.... Cabinet members and other political appointees aren't permitted to spend tax money with the aim of benefiting candidates.

      Commerce and Treasury political appointees later made numerous public appearances and grants that often correlated with GOP interests, according to a review by McClatchy Newspapers. The pattern raises the possibility that events were arranged with the White House's political guidance in mind."

      It doesn't take much imagination to see the way that the economy of ideas has been operating within the Republican White House. (Sources: Cox Washington Bureau July 24 2007; McClatchy Newspapers August 17 2007)

    42. When you vote in the 2008 presidential election, remember the 77-year-old woman in Memphis, Tennessee whose dead body was found, baking, at one hundred and one degrees in her apartment this summer. She had an air conditioner, but it had broken long ago, so that she had switched her air conditioner from cooling to just blowing the fan, pumping more hot air in from outside.

      Her death, one of 47 so far due to a heat wave in the South this week, shows how global warming becomes fatal when mixed with poverty. In spite of the fact that Memphis had a heat index above one hundred degrees every single day for a month and a half by the time she died from the heat, she was unable to get a working air conditioner that would have saved her life. The abnormally high temperatures of this summer combined with the all-too-normal economic poverty afflicting people in Memphis, left her unable to adjust to the change in climate.

      Right wing politicians have been saying for years that global warming is no big deal, that it's not anything that we need to do anything about, and that the problem doesn't even really exist. Maybe if the right wing had listened to progressives twenty years ago and agreed to take action to prevent global warming, that woman in Memphis would still be alive. (Source: Associated Press, August 18, 2007)

    43. When people hear the phrase "Living the American Dream", they think of things: A house, a car, a VCR. The American Dream seems to have become to own a lot of stuff, to become wealthy. In the view of the American Dream, possession is at the heart of the American identity.

      Progressives have another view. I call it the the American Promise. The American Promise was made by the Constitution of the United States of America, and updated with each amendment to the Constitution.

      The American Promise is not for the power of wealth. The American Promise is that the USA will make it possible for people to live in liberty and equality.

      It's a promise that has often been denied. It's a promise that is now in danger of being forgotten. It's a promise that still can be kept.

      Voting for a progressive presidential candidate in 2008 is one step in a long campaign to rebuild the American Promise.

    44. Republicans talk a lot about how great the American health care system works just great, and how important it is to keep the system of private health insurance. The statistics make a different statement.

      Today, the Census Bureau reports that the number of Americans who have no health insurance at all increased from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million people in 2006. That's 2.2 million more Americans without any health insurance to deal even with catastrophic medical conditions, in just one year.

      Right wingers favor staying the course, but progressives favor taking bold moves to address the heart of the health care problem. America must not go on like this, but America will go on like this unless a we elect progressive President in 2008. (Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006; August 28, 2007)

    45. Right wingers tell us that we don't have to worry about the economy, that everything is under control, but the Census Bureau tells a different story. The Census Bureau reports that, between 2005 and 2006, for the third year in a row, the median income of full-time workers got smaller in the United States. This decrease took place for both men and women.

      Americans are working just as hard as ever, but they're making less money. That's the reward that the Republican economy has brought us. Let's turn it around, end the right wing economics that aims to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, and vote progressive in 2008. (Sources: CNN, August 28 2007; Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006; August 28, 2007)

    46. If you know someone trying to sell their home, then you'll understand the gravity of this particular reason to elect a progressive President in 2008. The glut of homes for sale hit a 16-year record high in July 2007.

      People are enduring real suffering as a result. Hard working Americans who have invested massive amounts of money and work in their homes are seeing that investment erode at an alarming pace, as prices plunge down below what they had paid for the houses not too long ago.

      George W. Bush and the Republicans promised us what they called an "Ownership Society". That's not what they delivered. What they've brought us is an ownership bust, in which people cannot afford to live in their own homes any more.

      Go back 16 years, to the last time that the number of houses on the market was this high, and the year was 1991 - when George W. Bush's father was President of the United States. It took a progressive President to lead America out of the last housing bust, and it's going to take another progressive President to get us out of this new one. (Source: CNN, August 28, 2007)

    47. Just how tight is the economy? And who is that going to bite in the 2008 elections? In early September, 2007, a representative of the NRCC (the National Republican Congressional Committee) gave me a call and asked if I'd be willing to contribute $75 to help elect more Republican politicians to House and Senate in 2008. I said that I wasn't in a position to make such a contribution today, but that I certainly would appreciate another call a few weeks from now to check on back with me on that. I didn't say that I wanted a callback so I could waste more of the representative's time, and thereby more of the NRCC's money, but that's not the information she asked for.

      Before the NRCC representative hung up, I chatted with her a bit and asked her how it had been going for her in the last week or two. Were there a lot of people who weren't in a position to give money? She said, well, yes, a lot of people had said money was pretty tight right now, and so there hadn't been a lot of contributions, even from people who had given money to the Republicans before. "Some other things have made contributions a bit slow right now too," she said obliquely before we politely said good bye and hung up the phone.

      Yes, budgets are getting tight all over, even for the NRCC and its political clientele of the well-to-do.

    48. Just how far out of touch with the demands of the average American is the leadership of the Republican Party? George W. Bush's Press Secretary just announced he has been forced to resign because he just doesn't make enough money for his family to live on. Said Tony Snow, "I ran out of money. And I made the decision not to say to my wife and kids, you know, we've finally saved up all this money and done these things, and you're just going to have to give them away so Daddy can work at the White House. We took out a loan when I came to the White House, and that loan is now gone. So I'm going to have to pay the bills."

      Tony Snow's salary as the Republican White House Press Secretary? $168,000 a year. Wouldn't you like to be that far out of money? (Sources: White House Press Briefing, August 31 2007; Chicago Tribune, August 31 2007)

    49. The unjust stagnation of worker pay has been confirmed by a new study released in August by the Economic Policy Institute. The Institute found that, while worker productivity has risen by almost 20 percent since the year 2000, the real median hourly wage has risen only 3 percent. In other words, while the Republicans have controlled the government, American workers have been working more efficiently for their bosses, but have been unjustly deprived of compensation for creating extra wealth for their employers.

      The right wing government set up by the Republicans does not have control of all of the factors that lead to this growing economic injustice in America, but the right wing government does contribute to it, through policies that encourage concentration of wealth in the hands of top investors at the expense of working Americans.

      It doesn't have to be this way. In the second half of the 1990s, America saw a distribution of wealth that, while still not truly just, was more equitable than what we see now.

      In 2008, America has a choice, to embrace the cheating of the American worker, or to give working Americans a fair deal, and elect a President who will push for government policies that encourage employment relationships where workers are justly compensated for the wealth that they create. (Source: Economic Policy Institute, September 3, 2007)

    50. Many of the presidential candidates have recognized the problem of the mortgage crisis, with a record number of foreclosures, plunging home values, and a credit crunch that threatens the integrity of investments, is draining the Federal Reserve, and could bring the American economy into recession or even depression. Barack Obama is the one presidential candidate who is doing something to confront the crisis - now.

      In an article in the Financial Times of London, Barack Obama writes, "At a time when non-bank lenders were offering new kinds of mortgage, the federal government should have made sure it was all being done on the level. Instead, our government failed to provide the regulatory scrutiny that could have prevented this crisis."

      Elsewhere, Obama explains, "For six years, the President and Congress have allowed lending industry lobbyists to block sensible regulations that could have prevented this crisis in the first place. Now, after many Americans have seen their homes, their credit histories, and their financial well-being jeopardized the President is finally offering a proposal that helps a small fraction of homeowners. These are welcome steps, but the President's proposal does not go far enough. I have called for a plan that will help far more struggling borrowers avoid foreclosure, crack down on unscrupulous lenders with new penalties and disclosure requirements, and reduce the influence of lobbyists so that we will not face a crisis like this ever again."

      Barack Obama has introduced a bill in the United States Senate to deal with these problems. It is called the Stop Fraud Act. If passed, the Stop Fraud Act will do the following:

      - provide the first federal definition of mortgage fraud
      - increase funding for related federal and state law enforcement programs
      - create new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud - require industry insiders to report suspicious activity
      - provide for credit counseling to homeowners and tenants with the aim of avoiding foreclosures
      - require the Government Accountability Office to evaluate and report to Congress on various state lending practices

      Barack Obama has the vision to see the fundamental corrupt forces that have driven the mortgage industry to exploit vulnerable Americans and endanger the economy. He says, "If we really want to make sure this never happens again, we need to end the lobbyist-driven politics that made it possible."

      That's the sort of idea you will never hear from Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson. For one thing, Fred Thompson doesn't seem to even be aware of the predatory mortgage crisis. If Thompson does know about it, he doesn't care much. Fred Thompson's entire campaign web site only mentions the word mortgage once, and that's to warn that giving people the Social Security benefits they have worked for might make it difficult for young people to get a mortgage some time in the mythical future. That's right - Thompson blames Social Security for mortgage problems.

      Thompson certainly never addresses the corruption of lobbyists buying influence in Washington D.C. on behalf of mortgage companies. There's a reason for that. Fred Thompson is a corporate lobbyist himself, and has been for decades. He's part of the problem. (Sources: Fred Thompson Speech to the Lincoln Club Annual Dinner, August 3, 2007; Financial Times, August 29, 2007; BarackObama.com Community Blog, August 31, 2007; Fact Sheet, Protecting Homeownership & Cracking Down on Mortgage Fraud, BarackObama.com)

    51. Fred Thompson's lack of insight into the practical matters of government was clearly showing last night, as he chose to announce the official beginning of his campaign for President by chatting with Jay Leno. Thompson got all tangled up in his rhetoric, and wasn't able to keep his right wing ideology on straight.

      On the one hand, Fred Thompson said that "We must do everything in our power" to keep American soldiers fighting in Iraq. On the other hand, Thompson suggested that he wanted to cut government spending.

      What he forgot is that the fighting in Iraq one of the main reasons that government spending has gone up so fast. Basically, Fred Thompson said that he wants to continue fighting in Iraq without having to pay any money to do so.

      Anyone think that's a good idea? Fred Thompson and his Republican allies still haven't done the math to figure out that his plan to keep on throwing money at Iraq while cutting government spending just doesn't add up.

      Progressives know better. They want to bring Republican spending under control by ending the money drain of keeping the occupation of Iraq going year after year after year without results. (Source: Reuters, September 6, 2007)

    52. Back in 2004, George W. Bush and his Republican supporters promised that, in a second Bush term, the economy of the USA would make back all the jobs that were lost during Bush's first term. That promise has yet to be realized. In fact, there has been some backsliding. In August, 2007, for example, economists predicted that there would be 100,000 new jobs in the United States.

      Instead, the economy lost 4,000 jobs. That slip, when gains were expected, has led many economists to increase their estimates of the likelihood of an economic recession next year.

      Fewer jobs for more people - we can expect more of this economic stagnation if we elect another supply side right wing President in 2008. (Source: US News and World Report, September 10, 2007)

    53. The decline of the American economy during the presidency of George W. Bush cannot be blamed on lazy American workers. The productivity of American workers has continued to increase, even as the economy in general has languished.

      One measure of the increasing workload on ordinary Americans is the time of the day at which Americans begin their work day. Since the year 2000, the number of Americans who leave their homes for work before 6:00 in the morning increased by millions.

      Working Americans are up at the crack of dawn doing their part. It's the right wing economic elites that are leading this economy down the tubes.(Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    54. Traditionally, when the United States enters a presidential campaign season, advertising revenues go up, as presidential candidates and supportive independent political groups place campaign ads in huge numbers. In 2007, presidential campaigns raised amounts of money to spend on advertisements that exceeded previous records by far. So, media in the USA ought to be seeing their advertising revenues swelling.

      Ad revenues are not swelling. In spite of expected trends, ad revenues are shrinking. That's not just an abstract loss. It shows that publishers are making less money, and when publishers make less money, media outlets close down. When media outlets close down, there are fewer public voices using freedom of the press. The public sphere suffers when there is a diminished variety of voices. (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    55. Yet one more sign of economic trouble that has emerged under Republican government stewardship comes from Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

      On September 12, 2007, Bernanke declared that the U.S. Current Account Gap, which measures trade between the United States and the rest of the world, including financial accounts, shows a collective deficit that is unsustainable. The likely eventual result? The American government will have to finance its tremendous debts at rates like those of predatory mortgage lenders. (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    56. The longer the right wing Republicans use their power over government, the more American workers get the shaft. The diminishing quality of health care available for American workers under George W. Bush's presidency are reflected in diminishing worker satisfaction with their health care benefits. In 2003, sixty percent of American workers were satisfied with their health care benefits. In 2006, the amount of satisfaction in their health care plans by American workers had declined to 54 percent. That's well beyond the margin of error in the study of worker attitudes by Sibson Consulting. (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    57. As American workers' satisfaction with their health care benefits has declined during the latest Republican presidency, there has not been a compensation in other areas. Workers in the United States are expressing a similar diminishment in satisfaction with their retirement - from 56 percent satisfaction in 2003 to just 42 percent satisfaction in 2006. As with the decline in satisfaction with health care benefits, the decline of satisfaction with retirement benefits far exceeded the Sibson Consulting's Rewards of Work study margin of error. (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    58. In 2007, the average cost of health insurance premiums hit a record high, leading Drew Altman, President of the Kaiser Family Foundation to comment, "Health insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many employers and working people in the country. We're seeing this more and more every year." (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    59. The increase in the average cost of health insurance during the presidency of George W. Bush is not just a phantom of inflation or increasing wages. Since the day that George W. Bush became President of the United States back in 2001, the increase in the cost of health insurance has far outpaced both worker wages and inflation.

      Bush and his Republicans promised back in the year 2000 that they would fix America's problems with health insurance, and they had plenty of opportunity, with a strong majority in Congress as well as the presidency. They failed. (Source: USA Today, September 12, 2007)

    60. The price of oil on the New York markets hit a new record high of $80.20 a barrel in Septemeber 2007, and winter's on its way. Isn't that a great thought to keep you warm and toasty? (Agence France Presse, September 13, 2007)

    61. Is the GOP the party of fiscal discipline? That's not what Alan Greenspan suggests in a new book which describes the spending by the administration of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress as "out of control". Alan Greenspan, who became Chairman of the Federal Reserve before George W. Bush took the White House, but was praised and reappointed by Bush, says that the Republicans in the Bush White House, "little value was placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of long-term consequences".

      Too bad Alan Greenspan didn't speak out while he was still in office, and had some degree of influence. The Republican presidential candidates of 2008 went along with the economic irresponsibility of the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress, so if you want four more years of out of control spending, vote for one of them. If you want to bring balance back to the government's role in the economy, vote for a progresive. (Source: Forbes, September 15, 2007)

    62. The lack of reflection that Republican politicians often suffer from was exhibited by Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes this week, when he released his policy position on health care reform. Keyes wrote,

      "Part of the problem with our present system, which I think has contributed to skyrocketing costs, is the fact that we have a third-party-payer system. You go home after you get the service, and you don't even know what it costs. If we bought cars that way, what do you think would happen to our car industry?"

      Think about the kind of experience that's typical of car sales. Hidden costs. Bickering. High pressure tactics. Dishonest concealment of problems. Are those the kind of ethics we want in our health care system?

      Alan Keyes and his Republican allies seem to think that making health care more like buying a car is a good idea. For those of us who want something better, let me suggest voting for a progressive alternative in 2008. (Source: AlanKeyes.com)

    63. Those who believe that right wing Republican leadership of the country will bring us a solid economy need to deal with this unfortunate statistic: In July, 2007, housing prices fell at their fastest rate in 16 years. Think back 16 years, now. The year was 1991& and America had been suffering under Republicans in the White House for eleven years. The Republicans couldn't blame Jimmy Carter for that economic disaster, and the Republicans can't blame Bill Clinton for the economic disaster American homeowners are suffering from now. (Source: Financial Times, September 25, 2007)

    64. Right on the heels of the news that July 2007 housing prices fell at the fastest rate they'd fallen since 1991, we learned that that the sales of homes from homeowner to homeowner fell 4.3 percent from July to August, taking the rate of sales to a five-year low. America is not weaker under George W. Bush. America is being run out of house and home. (Source: New York Times September 25 2007)

    65. To round out news that housing prices have fallen their fastest since 1991, and that sales of existing homes have moved to a five year low, we now have news from the Commerce Department that sales of new homes have descended to a seven year low.

      Americans are holding back or being held back. (Source: Reuters September 27 2007)

    66. Republicans are always preaching their faith in the inherent wisdom of market forces, telling us that if government just got out of the way, free enterprise would come in and do a much better job. It's that ideology that has led the government to hire Blackwater, a company of mercenaries, to supplement the American military in Iraq.

      Blackwater's work in Iraq has actually helped the American occupation of Iraq turn sour. In one memorable event, four Blackwater mercenaries were dragged from their vehicle, beaten to death, burned to the consistency of charcoal, and then strung up on a bridge, with video cameras documenting the attack so that the American public could see it on TV.

      Why did that attack take place? Why were the Blackwater mercenaries so vulnerable? Market forces.

      A new report reveals that Blackwater corporate headquarters was told that its vehicles were vulnerable to attack, but chose to do nothing about it in an attempt to make a bigger profit from its Iraq operations than its competitors. Blackwater hoped to force its competitors to give armored vehicles to Blackwater employees by skimping and leaving Blackwater teams clearly vulnerable to attack. People at Blackwater headquarters hoped that this tactic would force its competition to give up their contracts to operate in Iraq, so that Blackwater could make even more money.

      If all you care about is money, then unrestrained market forces are the way to go. We have seen, in countless images like those of the corpses of the Blackwater mercenaries, the human cost that has come with the Republican faith in market forces. Progressives believe in a more balanced economic approach, in which human costs have as much weight as financial ones. (Source: Washington Post, September 28, 2007)

    67. Right wing columnist George Will writes: "When affluence in the material economy guarantees that a large majority can take for granted things that a few generations ago were luxuries for a small minority (a nice home, nice vacations, a second home, college education, comfortable retirement), the 'positional economy' becomes more important."

      You know, a quick review of the statistical abstract of the United States reveals that only 36.2% of Americans aged 25 years or older have a 2-year college education or more. You might think this is due to the older generations gaining less education, but even among those aged 25-44 the percent gaining an associates' degree or more is just 39%. That's a minority, not a large majority.

      And do you know where your second home is? I seem to have misplaced mine.

      The sad thing is that in today's political environment, George Will represents the set of Republican so-called moderates in his skewered perception of the world. It's time we brought ourselves back to reality. (Source: Washington Post October 10, 2007)

    68. October 17, 2007 - 4:18 pm.

      I'm writing this under the effects of PPS Post-Plasma Syndrome. Dizzy, cold and tired. When I was living in Tucson, Arizona, I used to go to Centeon BioServices to sell my plasma twice a week. $15 the first plasma extraction of the week, and $20 the second plasma extraction of the week. For a while, I had it worked out so that I'd spend $30 a week on groceries, and make a net $5 on the input-output system. That was before I started dating someone who had nutritional standards. I sold my plasma for six years, but was able to stop in 2000 when I moved a rung up the economic ladder.

      Today I started selling my plasma again, and I'm kicking the PPS with ramen.

      Am I better off than I was eight years ago? Not economically, no. And I know I'm not alone in this. There are a very few Americans who have reaped massive economic gains, offsetting a much larger of us who are struggling to get by. In 2008, you'll have to pardon me if I don't vote for the candidate telling me the tiny set of Americans raking in massive amounts of income needs another break.

    69. In October 2007, the head of the International Monetary Fund described the state of anxiety that the global economy is in, with increased risks and uncertainties. What's to blame? The IMF blames the weak U.S. economy. One of the IMF's economists explained, "We still do not know the full extent of the decline in the house market and the subprime problems of the U.S. economy."

      The weakness of American right wing economics isn't just threatening the U.S. economy. It's threatening the economic status of communities around the world.(Source: Associated Press, October 22, 2007)

    70. The culture of corruption within the Bush Administration has been revealed yet again, as a congressional committee is having to race to gather information about public safety before Bush Administration officials destroy it. The Science and Technology Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has sent a letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin demanding that he stop the destruction of information about a recent survey of airline safety.

      In an earlier letter, written by NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Luedtke denied a request, through the Freedom of Information Act, for the results of the survey on the grounds that letting the American public know about the results of the survey, "could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey." The financial interests of corporations is not legitimate grounds for the denial of a Freedom of Information Act request for information. It seems that Administrator Luedtke cares less about the law, however, than protecting corporate interests.

      It appears that NASA is doing more than just keeping public information about airline safety from the general public, however. NASA also seems to be attempting to thwart congressional oversight of its activities, in violation of federal law. Right after a telephone conference between congressional staff and NASA officials, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the airline safety survey to send all information about the survey to NASA headquarters, and then to delete all of its files on the subject.

      Why would NASA tell the contractor to delete all information about the survey of airline safety, unless it was trying to prevent anyone from seeing that information? Ordinarily, the contractor would keep the files, for reference in future work on similar projects.

      Before I step on another airplane, I want to know what's in the files that were sent to NASA, and then deleted. How about you? Ask yourself this basic economic question: Are the financial interests of commercial airline companies worth you and your family riding on airplanes that are unsafe? If your answer is no, then the course of action you must take is clear. Purge the federal government of its Republican-appointed corrupt officials. Vote to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Sources: House Committee on Science and Technology; Reuters, October 22, 2007)

    71. Republicans like to portray themselves as members of the party of fiscal responsibility, but the record of Republican budget management in the federal government is rotten through and through. For example, when asked the simple question, "Whatever happened to the 1.2 billion dollars in federal money given to DynCorp International to train Iraqi police?", the Bush Administration could only answer, "We don't know." That 1.2 billion dollars has just disappeared. No one knows exactly where it went.

      The reason is that the State Department, as run by Republican appointees like Condoleeza Rice, has become either incompetent or uninterested in paying attention to keeping track of federal spending. A review of conditions within the State Department found "an environment vulnerable to waste and fraud".

      If you want that waste and fraud to keep on going, then vote to put another Republican in the White House in 2008. Otherwise, search for a progressive candidate instead. (Source: Reuters, October 23, 2007)

    72. You know that drawl that President Bush likes to use to let people know that he's just an ordinary kind of guy? …just an ordinary kind of multimillionaire, son of a former President, aristocratic secret society member kind of a guy?

      Well, the next time they get the chance, I'd like to see the White House press corps ask President Bush exactly what part of Chicago that drawl comes from. You read that right - what part of Chicago.

      It seems that when President Bush filed his taxes in 2005, he and his wife Laura wrote down on their tax forms that they live at P.O. Box 803968, Chicago, IL 60680.

      I sure feel ashamed of making fun of the way that the Bush family owns so many really big houses. I wonder: Where do Bush's kids stay when they home come to visit? Do they have to rent out Box 803968 next door?

      All the Sons of Confederate Veterans who voted to put that Chicago drawl-talkin' Bush back in office in 2004 will be especially outraged to hear that Bush's Post Office Box Home is officially listed under the name of the Northern Trust Company. Would General Lee approve?

      Here's a little thing I can't figure out: If Bush's official residence in 2004 was a post office rented out by a bank in Chicago, how come he got to vote in Texas? Isn't that election fraud? See, I don't own four or five different homes in different states, so I'm not very familiar with the law on this matter, but I've been told that you have to vote where you declare legal residence. Didn't Bush want the chance to help Alan Keyes defeat Barack Obama in the 2004 senate election?

      Someone is telling me that the Bushes don't really live inside the Post Office Box in Chicago that they list as their place of residence. I'm told that the Post Office Box is just listed as the Bush's residence for tax purposes. See, Chicago is where Bush's trust fund is located, so…

      …so, the President of the United Sates, who was born rich, and makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and is given free room and board by the American people, and has run up historically unprecedented public debts to help his friends, is pretending to live in a little box in Chicago so that he can shave a few dollars off the amount of money he gives back to the American people in return for his privileges.

    73. As chair of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has uncovered a glaring example of what can happen when children get caught in the for-profit health care system favored by right wing politicians.

      In Maryland, a 12 year-old boy named Deamonte Driver died recently from brain infection. The infection started in a tooth that, although severely decayed, went untreated. The reason: Deamonte Driver's family could not afford to buy private health insurance.

      The Driver family relied upon Medicaid, but Medicaid relied in turn upon a private health corporation: UnitedHealth Group. UnitedHealth Group, driven by the need to make profits, did not provide dental care to Deamonte Driver. In fact, in Maryland alone, 10,780 children who are supposed to be served by companies like UnitedHealth Group have not been able to see the dentist for at least four years. The reason isn't that the families of those children don't want their kids to go to the dentist. The reason is that UnitedHealth Group has exaggerated the number of dentists it provides to serve children on Medicaid.

      Right wing ideologues say that market forces will serve the collective good, but it's clear to see that they are not serving children like Deamonte Driver. That's why progressives favor taking the profit motive out of the health care system, focusing instead on the providing basic health services to all Americans, who will in turn be better able to contribute to society. (Source: House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, October 22, 2007)

    74. Republicans say that they oppose government handouts. The truth is, however, that Republican politicians support some of the most outrageous government handouts there are. Just this year, for example, 163 Republican members of the House of Representatives came together to vote in favor of handing out land to mine operators for as little as two dollars and fifty cents per acre.

      It's Real Estate Welfare, and Republican politicians love it.

      Of course, the value of the land being handed out as Welfare by the Republicans is worth a lot more than just $2.50 per acre. In many cases, valuable minerals such as silver and gold are waiting under the land, just waiting to be taken up and sold for a fortune.

      Of the three Republican presidential candidates who are in the House of Representatives, two voted to keep Real Estate Welfare going. Tom Tancredoand Duncan Hunter voted against a bill that would stop the $2.50 per acre handouts of American land.

      What about Ron Paul? Ron Paul didn't even bother to show up. Once again, when duty called, Ron Paul was not on the job. (Sources: Library of Congress; Associated Press, November 1, 2007)

    75. In a time when the national home price index has dropped 4.4 percent in just one year, the situation is even worse in many locations. In California, for instance, homeowners are expected to face a double-digit percentage decline in the worth of their homes by the beginning of 2009.

      That's a substantial impoverishment of American land and housing that the next US President will have to face. We must not confront this housing crisis with a new President cut out of the same cloth as the President who presided over the the march straight into the disaster. (Sources: Reuters, October 30, 2007; Reuters, October 29, 2007)

    76. "Are you better off than you were before Bush?" is one important question to ask as you head off to the polls, but a more nuanced question to ask might be, "Who is better off than they were before Bush?" The answers to this question, and the lack of any plan to address the consequences of those answers, say a lot about the economic policy priorities of George W. Bush and his administration. So over the next few days, we'll look at a series of occupations and (using publicly-available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) see how well or how poorly they've fared during the Bush years, measured according to hourly income. At the end of this series, we'll look at trend data for the complete set of 646 occupations for which hourly income has been tracked from 2001, the first year of Bush's administration to 2006, the last year for which occupational income information is available. All figures are adjusted for inflation, measured in 2006 dollars.

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chief executives' mean income in 2001 was $51.77 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $59.02 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, chief executives' mean income was $69.50 per hour worked. Even after adjusting for inflation, that's an average increase of $10.48 an hour -- an increase of 17.8%.

      On the other hand, musical instrument repairers and tuners' mean income in 2001 was $15.73 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $17.93 in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, however, musical instrument repairers and tuners' mean income was $15.31 per hour. Even in nominal non-inflation-adjusted terms, that's a drop of $0.42 cents an hour income. But adjusting for the effect of inflation, people who repair and tune musical instruments lost $2.62 in income per hour of work.

      Who's better off under the Bush administration? Who's worse off? Look for more comparisons over the next week. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    77. The essence of economy is choice. Economies are not just shaped according to the resources that are available. They are also formed according to the decisions people make about how to spend the resources that they have.

      When George W. Bush decided to slash $100 million dollars from the budget of Head Start preschool education programs, it wasn't just a choice not to spend money. It was a choice not to cut the budget in other places.

      Instead of cutting $100 million dollars from the Head Start budget, President Bush could have chosen to close the illegal prisons at Guantanamo Bay. The budget of the Guantanamo prisons is about $125 million per year. Bush could have preserved the educational opportunities of tens of thousands of American children and saved taxpayers $25 million as an extra benefit.

      Instead, George W. Bush decided to support Guantanamo's criminal economy of torture. (Sources: National Education Association, October 24, 2007; Albuquerque Tribune, June 30, 2007)

    78. When it comes to the Republicans' efforts to hand over the Social Security money it's currently caretaking to Wall Street financial speculators, I'm willing to make a special deal. I'll be willing to go along with the Republicans' Social Security scheme on just one condition: That President George W. Bush goes along with it too. I'll let Bush and his Republican followers play games with the Social Security money I have saved up if he's willing to submit to the rules of the game that the rest of us will have to play with.

      Here's what I mean: I will lend my enthusiastic support to Bush's Social Security privatization agenda if Mr. Bush will agree to live on nothing but Social Security after he retires. Also, if he dies prematurely, I want Mr. Bush to agree to give his wife and children only what they would receive from Social Security as a death benefit. Additionally, Mr. Bush ought to agree that if he becomes disabled, he and his wife will live only on the disability benefit that Social Security provides.

      It's a straightforward exchange: If President Bush wants the rest of America to cope with the consequences of his ill-conceived investment schemes for Social Security, then Bush ought to be willing to do the same. Is it so odd that Bush hasn't made such an offer yet?

    79. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public relations managers' mean income in 2001 was $30.90 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $35.23 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, PR managers' mean income was $44.35 per hour worked. That's a real average increase of $9.12 an hour an increase of 25.9% even after adjusting for inflation. PR managers have done very well under George W. Bush.

      On the other hand, baggage porters and bellhops' mean income in 2001 was just $10.59 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $12.07 in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, however, the mean income of these folks who lug luggage around was $10.37 per hour. Even in nominal non-inflation-adjusted terms, that's a drop of $0.22 cents in hourly income. But adjusting for the effect of inflation, they lost $1.70 in income per hour of work. That's a drop of 14.1% in real income for people doing the same hard work.

      Under the right wing Republicans, America's economy has benefitted those who manipulate opinion while harming the livelihood of those who do the real hefting. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    80. Are you better off now than you were before the Republicans grabbed the White House? If you're among America's many product demonstrators and promoters (the people you see in convention halls) you're likely doing much worse than you were before 2000.

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of product demonstrators was $12.45 per hour worked back in 2001, when the Bush administration was just getting started. That's equivalent to $14.19 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, product demonstrators' mean income was $12.39 per hour worked. That's a nominal decrease of 6 cents per hour in income, but taking inflation into account it's a real decrease of $1.80 an hour a decrease of 12.7%. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    81. As of November, 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are 303,321,214 people living in the United States.

      That's a big number, but it's not as big as numbers can get. Not by half. There's another big number I'm thinking about today: $2,400,000,000,000. That's 2.4 trillion dollars, the amount that the Congressional Budget Office will be spent over the next ten years on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Both wars were wars of choice - unnecessary. That's common knowledge about the war in Iraq, though fewer people remember that Afghanistan offered to turn over Osama Bin Laden to U.S. custody, through a third country, without a fire being shot. The war in Afghanistan has been not only unnecessary, but it has been ineffective, as the Taliban and Al Quaida continue to operate in the country, inflicting their vicious standards on the population there. The U.S.-sponsored government is even inviting members of the Taliban to enter into key positions. Alternative solutions were not explored. War was begun in a needless rush.

      So, what could America have gotten if we hadn't committed that $2,400,000,000,000 to war? There are many possibilities. For this morning, let me suggest to you the most basic one: $7,912.40.

      The government could have handed out a check for seven thousand, nine hundred twelve dollars and forty cents to every man, woman and child living in the United States, even the little bitty babies, if it weren't for the decision to go to war. That's $31,649.62 for a family of four.

      If you'd put that amount of money in the bank, you'd have earned even more money in interest during the years that the USA has been stuck in losing wars instead. All that money could have been reinvigorated the economy in positive ways, instead of being spent on bombs and bullets whose value disappears once they are unleashed.

      All the money we're spending on war in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought no victory, and no additional security. All that money spent for nothing. What could you have done with the eight thousand dollars instead? (Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, November, 2007; Associated Press, October 24, 2007)

    82. A darkly amusing corner of the economy of fear was exposed to view when it was discovered that in Texas, Homeland Security funds went to buy a trailer to haul lawn mowers to lawn mower races.

      George W. Bush had declared, "We'll do whatever it takes to defeat terror." Who knew he had a secret plan to protect the American people through government sponsorship of lawn mower races? That's certainly an interesting manifestation of what the Republicans call "fiscal conservatism". (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, January 8, 2005)

    83. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people who work as rock splitters in quarries was $13.92 per hour of work back in 2001, when the Bush administration was just getting started. That's equivalent to $15.87 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, quarry rock splitters' mean income was $13.91 per hour worked. That's a nominal decrease of a penny per hour in income, but taking inflation into account it's a real decrease of $1.96 an hour a decrease of 12.3%. The people who make a Fred Flinstone living splitting rocks in quarries are not doing better under George W. Bush.

      On the other hand, the average income of people who worked in management of marketing departments in 2001 was $37.70 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $42.98 per hour in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, the mean income of these people who watch people who come up with advertisements had risen to $51.74 per hour. In nominal terms, that's an increase of $14.04 in income per hour worked. And even after adjusting for the effect of inflation, the marketing management's personal income rose by $8.76 in income per hour of work. That's a rise of 20.4% in real income. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    84. Fred Thompson, who has spent the last few decades working as a corporate lobbyist fighting against things like coal mine safety, is still serving his corporate clients even now that he's a Republican presidential candidate.

      Oh, he's not on the payroll of corporations as a lobbyist in quite the same way as before. Instead of getting consulting fees to act as a lobbyist for corporations, Fred Thompson now is getting campaign contributions arranged by corporations in return for Thompson's work as a presidential candidate, promoting their corporate interests.

      In his lastest corporate lobbying effort on the campaign trail, Fred Thompson is now giving speeches about how important it is to give special tax breaks to corporations like the ones he's worked for as a lobbyist. Thompson says that he wants to cut corporate taxes by 20 percent.

      So, under Fred Thompson's plan for a new America, corporations will pay less in taxes than the workers who produce wealth for the corporations. The corporations will become more profitable, but tax revenues will go way down, causing the federal budget deficit to increase.

      And who's going to have to pay off the lion's share of the new, even bigger federal budget deficit, under Fred Thompson's plan? American workers, that's who.

      If you want an America in which corporations get to slack off and enjoy special indulgences from the federal government while working Americans have to pull even more weight, then Fred Thompson's the man for you. (Source: Concord Monitor, November 6, 2007)

    85. Even as the rest of America has been suffering economically, corporate CEOs have enjoyed a gravy train from the government of George W. Bush. With special tax breaks for their super-high personal incomes, government handouts to their corporations, and lax enforcement of regulations designed to keep the American people safe from corners cut in corporate greed, the CEOs are simply swimming in cash these days.

      It should come as no surprise then, that most corporate CEOs want to keep the money flowing in their direction. In a survey of CEOs by USA Today in November 2007, 59 percent of CEOs said that they wanted another Republican president.

      Chances are that you're not a corporate CEO. Don't vote for their interests. Vote for yours. Elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: USA Today, November 13, 2007)

    86. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people who work as forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists was $17.19 per hour of work back in 2001, when the Bush administration was just getting started. That's equivalent to $19.60 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, the fire inspectors and prevention specialists' mean income was $17.21 per hour worked. That's a nominal increase of two pennies per hour in income, but taking inflation into account it's a real decrease of $2.39 an hour a decrease of 12.2%. The woodsy owls, doing what is indisputably important work to save natural resources and human lives, are not doing better under George W. Bush.

      On the other hand, the average income of people who worked as administrators of administrative service units in 2001 was $26.67 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $30.40 per hour in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, the mean income of these people who are the bosses of people who help other bosses boss other people had risen to $35.02 per hour. In nominal terms, that's an increase of $8.35 in income per hour worked. And even after adjusting for the effect of inflation, the administrative administrators' personal income rose by $4.62 in income per hour of work. That's a rise of 15.2% in real income. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    87. The more you look at it, the more the economic values of the Republican government resemble the supposed values of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart brags about its low prices, but wherever it goes, it devastates the locally owned businesses that are the foundation of the area economy. That means that, even for people who don't work at Wal-Mart, wages go down - if workers are even able to keep their jobs. As locals earn less money, their homes go into disrepair, and the business tax base of the community dwindles. Before too long, community resources wither, and people have no choice but to go to Wal-Mart for the supplies they used to get in their own downtown shops. At the end of the process, the prices that Wal-Mart offers are just as expensive, if not more expensive, than those of the old local stores, when calculated as a portion of income.

      Wal-Mart gains control over the local economy, but it gives very little back. In fact, though Wal-Mart once boasted at the amount of American-made products it sold, most of its products are now produced overseas. The brutal demands that Wal-Mart makes of its suppliers in order to get its low prices have forced many American companies out of the competition, or been forced to transform themselves into little more than conduits for goods manufactured in foreign countries. The huge majority of Wal-Mart products are made in foreign sweatshops. China alone makes components for 70 percent of the stuff sold by Wal-Mart.

      In the Republican scheme for the U.S. economy, corporations like Wal-Mart get special subsidies, and the government replicates the empty promises of Wal-Mart: Low prices and high quality. In the end, neither promise is kept. The tax burden of the average American working family has gone up since 2000, though it's been shifted around in a trick shell game. At the same time, the basic needs that government used to provide have shrunk to the size of a peanut. In the meantime, workers are asked sacrifice, as the Republican elites push to keep their wages low and refuse to provide meaningful healthcare.

      The Republican vision for America is the same vision that drives Wal-Mart: Creating the United States of Cheap. Both Wal-Mart and the Republican government have rejected the value of quality American workmanship in favor for a short-term, cheap boosts. If they are not stopped, both Wal-Mart and Republican government will lead all of America to become more like Arkansas, where government is either too corrupt or too powerless to stand up to big business, and where the standard of living is infamously low.

    88. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people who work as tank car, truck and ship loaders was $16.29 per hour of work back in 2001, when the Bush administration was just getting started. That's equivalent to $18.57 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, the loaders' mean income was $16.44 per hour worked. Taking inflation into account, that's a real decrease of $2.11 an hour a decrease of 11.5%. The people who work loading goods and services for consumers across America are being paid less for the same work, and are not doing better under George W. Bush.

      On the other hand, the average income of people who worked as financial managers in 2001 was $36.26 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $41.34 per hour in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, the mean income of these people who help other people manage wealth had risen to $48.77 per hour. In nominal terms, that's an increase of $12.51 in income per hour worked. And even after adjusting for the effect of inflation, financial managers' personal income rose by $7.43 in income per hour of work. That's a rise of 15.2% in real income.

      Who's better off in Bush's America? Who's worse off? Look for more pairings to come. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    89. Right wing politicians accuse progressive government programs to be to blame for poverty. They claim that people become poor the more that government tries to lift them out of poverty. Is it true?

      There's one easy test for these right wing economic claims: Have the Republicans, who in general support right wing economic policies of cutting and eliminating government antipoverty programs, been able to succeed in reducing poverty more than the Democrats, who in general support progressive economic policies involving government antipoverty programs?

      Let's take a look at what state governments have been able to do about poverty, and compare between red states and blue states. Blue states are those where the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, won in the 2004 presidential election. Red states are those where the Republican candidate, George W. Bush, won in the 2004 presidential election.

      The Food Research and Action Center has gathered a lot of interesting statistics about the state of the real economy as experienced by the American people, and compiled them into a State of the States report. Among those statistics are the poverty rate and child poverty rate for each state.

      The national poverty rate is 13.3 percent. The national child poverty rate is 18.5 percent. Blue states, on average, do a great deal better than the national average, with a poverty rate of just 11.06 percent and a child poverty rate of just 15.02 percent. Red states, however, have done worse than the national average, with a poverty rate of 14.15 percent and a child poverty rate of 19.40 percent.

      Imagine that: In Republican-voting red states, about 2 out of every 5 children live in poverty.

      Those red states have had years and years and years of state governments led by right wing politicians to enact right wing economic theory and cut back on government antipoverty programs. If right wing economic theory were right, and government were to blame for creating poverty, then the red states would be ahead of the blue states in terms of the rate of poverty among children and adults. The facts show clearly that they're not. The red states are doing worse than the blue states. Right wing economic policy does a just plain rotten job in fighting poverty. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    90. There's something especially important to note in the statistics of poverty around the United States. At the national level and at the state level, the rate of child poverty is higher than the general rate of poverty. That's true for every state in the USA. That means that when poverty rates rise, they rise even more for children than they do for adults.

      In red states that voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election, child poverty rates are on average more than five percent higher than the general poverty rates. In blue states that voted Democrat in the 2004 presidential election, child poverty rates are on average less than four percent higher than the general poverty rates.

      The failure of right wing economic policy to hold poverty in check has been brutal in its impact on Americans' day-to-day lives, and the brunt of that impact has been borne by America's children. The relative success of progressive economic policy in fighting poverty has, on the other hand, brought special benefits to America's children, where it has been applied.

      Forget the abstract theological and ideological concepts of family values the right wing tries to get people to focus on. When it comes to practical values for the family, progressives deliver, and right wingers don't. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    91. You know, George W. Bush has told so many lies during his two terms as President that his new ones can tend to overwhelm our memory of the old ones. So for the record, here's a Classic Bush Lie from way back in term #1. Way back, even before the war in Iraq utterly trashed the federal budget, George W. Bush had already driven America into deficits from the surpluses of the Clinton Era. George W. Bush went around giving over a dozen speeches in which he recalled his promise to maintain a balanced budget unless one of three conditions arose: a war, an emergency or a recession. "Never did I dream we'd have a trifecta!" Bush would say, and his audience would laugh. But that little get-me-off-the-hook anecdote wasn't true. Bush was on the record in the 2000 campaign saying that his plan to cut taxes would somehow preserve budget surpluses even in the event of a recession. Lie, lie, lie. Back in 2002, Bush was just getting started. Now the whole country is wading deep in untruth. (Sources: Washington Post June 25 2002; Spinsanity May 12 2002)

    92. One might be forgiven for thinking that the trend in which white-collar wages improve over time while blue-collar and service-sector wages decline over time is a long-trend phenomenon carried over from the days before the Bush administration. But if one thought that, one would be wrong.

      Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) National Compensation Survey from 1993 to 2001 the beginning to the end of the Clinton administration show that, in constant inflation-adjusted dollars, the average hourly wage of occupations classified by the BLS as "white-collar" rose by 68 cents an hour. The average hourly wage of occupations classified by the BLS as "service" sector jobs rose by 20 cents an hour. The average hourly wage of occupations classified by the BLS as "blue-collar" rose by seven tenths of a cent an hour. There is an inequity in the rate by which wages rose across the three sectors adjusted for inflation, a 4.7% rise for white-collar workers, a 3.0% rise for service-sector workers, and a mere 0.08% rise for blue-collar workers. But the wages declined for no group during the Clinton years.

      What's more, heading into the years of the Bush administration wage gains were accelerating for all three groups. During the second term of the Clinton administration, from 1997-2001, when adjusting for inflation wages increased by 5.5% for white-collar workers, by 6.0% for service-sector workers, and by 3.2% for blue-collar workers. The rising tide was lifting all boats it was even lifting service workers by a faster rate than white-collar workers.

      Not even the conservatives at NewsMax deny the existence of wage stagnation and decline for blue-collar and service-sector workers during the Bush years. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics June 19 2002; NewsMax July 31 2007)

    93. At the beginning of George W. Bush's occupation of the White House, the federal debt was projected to be nearly eliminated by 2008. That was the projection if we had stayed the course set during the Clinton administration. But with years of Republican tax cuts for the rich and supplementary appropriations for a war that began as a choice, the federal debt reached $9,086,714,640,576 on the morning of November 9, 2007. How much is 9.087 trillion dollars? In order to get $9.087 trillion dollars all in one place, you'd have to make a stack of $1 bills 626,690 miles high. That's a stack of bills reaching out to the moon, and then back to the Earth, and two thirds of the way back to the moon.

      (Source: Fact Sheets for House Consideration of the 2005 Budget, House Budget Committee, Democratic Caucus, March 23, 2004; National Debt Clock; Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

    94. Look in the corporate consolidated media and you'll see lots of articles about African-American economic success. These anecdotes may be true in themselves, but the larger picture shows something quite different. A new study, released in November 2007, indicates that the ethnic economic divide has grown larger since the 1970s, not smaller. In 1974, median African-American incomes were 64 percent of mean European-American incomes. Thirty years later, mean African-American incomes were just 58 percent of mean European-American incomes.

      What's to account for this change? The last three decades have seen the dominance of right wing economic theory. As much as the right wing likes to tell fables of people picking themselves up by their bootstraps, it's clear that their economic elitism has busted the bootstraps of many.(Source: USA Today, November 13, 2007)

    95. Voters in Tennessee ought to have second thoughts about their support for the Republican presidential candidate in 2000 and 2004. Having a proponent of right wing economic policy in the White House hasn't done much for the Tennessee economy. Tennessee's poverty rate and child poverty rate are both well above the national average. The right wing's favored approach of neglecting the government's responsibility to confront poverty, and just hoping out that everything will turn out all right in the end, has led to widespread economic failure across the state. In 2008, Tennessee has the opportunity to start to turn things around - by supporting a progressive President instead of just another in a string of right wing failures. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    96. As these many economic reasons to vote progressive in 2008 show, there's much less for many Americans to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. As if to kick us when we're down, inflation in foods traditionally used for Thanksgiving is rising just as real wages for many Americans are declining. Turkey prices will be up almost a dollar per pound this year. Egg prices are up 45 percent. Dairy prices are up 15 percent. Wheat prices are up ten percent. Next year, it might be a good idea for Americans to start growing their own green beans for the casserole. (Source: USA Today, November 13, 2007)

    97. This autumn, I started to look at a series of pairs of occupations (using publicly-available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) to see how well or how poorly they fared during the Bush years, measured according to inflation-adjusted hourly income in 2001 and 2006. Let's consider now the complete set of 645 occupations for which average hourly income has been tracked from 2001 (the first year of Bush's administration) to 2006 (the last year for which occupational income information is available). Below is a scatterplot which shows both the percent change in inflation-adjusted hourly income for an occupation from 2001 to 2006 and the average hourly income of that occupation in 2001 for each of these 645 occupations.

      Percent Change in Average Hourly Income from 2001 to 2006 in the 
USA by Initial Income in 2001 for 645 Occupations

      Now, some of the dots for the occupations overlap one another because there's an area in which most occupations reside. Plus, there's got to be a quick and handy way to summarize the pattern of those dots. I've plotted the best-fit line as determined by ordinary least squares regression. (It turns out, if you're curious, that there's no large qualitative difference in the shape of the line if I allow it to take a curved shape.) The equation that describes the best-fit line is

      % Change in Income from 2001 to 2006 = -6.4929 + (0.3361 * 2001 Hourly Income)

      and that can be interpreted in the following way (please remember that all dollar amounts are in $2006 to adjust for inflation). If we imagine an occupation in which people are paid $10/hour on average in 2001, we'd predict that the occupation's average hourly income would have changed by (-6.49 + (0.3361*10)), or (-6.49 + 3.361), or -3.13% from 2001 to 2006. That's a decrease. If, however, we imagined another occupation in which people worked for $50/hour in 2001, we'd predict that the occupation's average hourly income would have changed by (-6.49 + (0.34*50)), or (-6.49 + 17.00), or +10.51%. That's a large increase. Another way to put it is that for every additional $3 in 2001 average hourly income earned by an occupation, the amount by we'd expect the average hourly income for such an occupation to increase from 2001 to 2006 would go up by an additional 1 percentage point.

      This best-fit line is the line which minimizes error. But as you can see from the graph, there's some variation in how well the line matches with actual occurrences (this is known as heteroskedasticity). For lower-earning occupations, there's a lot of variation, with some occupations doing quite a bit better and some occupations doing fairly worse. But as we go up in income, there quickly become fewer occupations with a loss of average hourly income from 2001 to 2006. The really high-earning occupations of 2001 all did really well in gaining further income during the period between 2001 and 2006. In other words, low-earning occupations may do well or poorly (although the large number of lowest- earning occupations tend to lose and the moderate number of moderate-earning occupations tend to make only modest gains), but very high-earning occupations make uniformly large percentage gains.

      You may be wondering whether there's some additional effect, perhaps of classic supply and demand. Perhaps the occupations which had people flooding into them during the years of 2001 to 2006 experienced income loss, and perhaps the occupations suffering from fewer numbers of people to fill jobs experienced income gain. But no: when I introduced variables to account for changes in the sizes of occupations over the period, their effect was substantively indistiguishable from zero and did not alter the main effect of the 2001 income level for an occupation.

      There's something interesting and important going on here. It has substantively and unevenly affected Americans' lives. The causes of this change need to be identified, the sources of variation within this effect need to be clarified, and the impact of this change on our economic and social fabric needs to be talked about. That conversation isn't happening. We aren't even collectively aware of the problem. All we know is that the people charge in Washington, DC keep telling us the economy's going great, while the people who are working low and moderate-wage jobs keep saying that they aren't better off. It's time for a new administration with the courage to begin a national discussion about the growing income divide in our country and what we might want to do about it.

    98. New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate of any state in the entire country. So, when it comes to economic policy, the people of New Hampshire seem to understand something that Americans in other parts of the country don't. They used that understanding in 2004, when they voted against George W. Bush.

      New Hampshire's vote wasn't a fluke. The five states with the lowest rates of poverty in the United States all voted against George W. Bush in 2004. It seems that the states with the greatest success in fighting poverty all know better than to give credence to right wing economic theory. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    99. All around the world, and right here in the United States too, people are facing severe water shortages. Yet, at the same time, there are special water bars being set up around the USA that sell super luxury water.

      What's luxury water? It's water. Of course, it's not just any water. It's water that is sold at an extremely high price. One company sells bottles of its water at the price of 40 dollars for a 750 milliliter bottle. Thats 5 cents per millileter& of water.

      Is it especially pure water? Perhaps, but at most grocery stores, a gallon of distilled water, the purest water a person can get, is sold for under one dollar.

      This designer water is being sold at such a high price, not really because it is of superior quality, but rather because it allows the people who drink it to make a social statement: That they have enough money to drink water that costs 40 dollars per bottle.

      The company that sells the 40 dollar per bottle water explains that their brand is "strategically positioned to target the expanding super-luxury consumer market. It's couture water that makes an announcement like a Rolls Royce."

      Right wing economic theory calls this sort of thing a manifestation of the inherent wisdom of a free market. Progressives call it wasteful, pretentious and profoundly unwise.

      It's not that progressives want to make it illegal to for people to spend their money on gaudy things like 40 dollar bottles of water. However, progressives do hold to a high code of economic morality: When some people are struggling to get any water to drink at all, it is an ugly and immoral act to spend 40 dollars for a bottle of water.

      Put a right winger in the White House, and you'll have a President who celebrates wasteful extravagance. Put a progressive in the White House, and you'll have a President who urges people to think about the moral dimensions of how they spend their money. (Source: blingh2o.com)

    100. In 1975 the Northern Mariana Islanders voted to join the United States, and since then residents have enjoyed U.S. citizenship and lived under U.S. law -- with two important exceptions. First, the importation of Asians as "guest workers" without citizenship rights has been permitted. Second, the U.S. minimum wage laws exclude this part of our country.

      These two loopholes have led to dismal conditions in the islands. By 1999, more than 33,000 "guest workers" lived in the islands, a number greater than that of citizen residents. Their status is less one of "guest" and more one of wage slavery -- workers are required to pay up to $10,000 in "fees" for the privilege of leaving their jobs. These foreign workers live behind barbed-wire fences, eat infested food, sleep on cots in dormitories that they are forced to pay more "fees" for, work "off the clock" hours that they aren't paid for, all the while working in unsafe conditions for far less than the U.S. minimum wage.

      Democrat George Miller proposed multiple bills over multiple Congresses that would phase in the U.S. Minimum Wage, require good working conditions and wages as a condition for tariff forgiveness, and require U.S. standards of labor be met for the awarding of a "Made in the U.S.A." label. Sounds simple and decent, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this bill struggled for years, going nowhere. Why? The Republican Party was in control the Congress, and the Republican Party blocked it. (Source: Jim Hightower, If the Gods Had Meant us to Vote, They Would Have Given us Candidates)

    101. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people who work as hoist and winch operators was $17.37 per hour of work back in 2001, when the Bush administration was just getting underway. That's equivalent to $19.80 in the value of dollars in 2006, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. By 2006, their mean income was $17.56 per hour worked. Taking inflation into account, that's a real decrease in hourly pay of $2.24 an hour a decrease of 11.3%. These workers are significantly worse off under George W. Bush

      On the other hand, the average income of people who worked as financial managers in 2001 was $65.89 per hour worked. That's equivalent to $75.11 per hour in the value of dollars in 2006. By 2006, the mean income of these people who help other people manage wealth had risen to $88.53 per hour. In inflation-adjusted terms, that's an increase of $13.42 in income per hour worked. Surgeons are doing much better in the Bush years. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    102. Alabama has a long history of supporting right wing politicians. The economic condition of Alabama, however, suggests that the voters of Alabama ought to consider a change of direction.

      As indicated in the Food Research and Action Center's 2007 State of the States Report, Alabama is being crushed under the weight of a high poverty rate. With a general poverty rate of 17 percent and a child poverty rate of 24.8 percent, Alabama's burden of poverty is much higher than the national average.

      With one in four children in Alabama living in poverty, the prospects for Alabama's future are not bright either - unless Alabamans abandon their attachment to right wing economic ideology that clearly hasn't worked for them. The 2008 presidential election is coming just in time for Alabama to support a progressive candidate for President who will replace right wing neglect with an effort to use the power of government to lift Alabamans out of poverty and into a state of genuine opportunity. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    103. Fred Thompson shows two of the worst Republican traits in his plan to change promised Social Security benefits for a generation of working Americans who have already been putting money into the Social Security system for years.

      1. Fred Thompson's plan would reduce the Social Security benefits young Americans just forming families now have been promised. By connecting benefits to the cost of goods rather than to income earned, Fred Thompson's plan would provide most Americans with less.

      2. Fred Thompson's plan is sketchy on the particulars to prove that the plan would provide any benefit whatsoever. Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times writes, notes that Thompson's proposals for price-indexing of Social Security "offered no estimates of what sort of savings that might lead to," and criticizes the proposal overall for a "general lack of details".

      Social Security is too important to put into the hands of a vague, sloppy thinker who is willing to break promises with the working people of America. One thing about Social Security reform is certain: Republicans like Fred Thompson cannot be trusted to implement a reform that we can trust. (Source: Baltimore Sun, November 10, 2007)

    104. In the fall of 2003, John Ashcroft ordered federal prosecutors broadened his rigid pursuit of the death penalty to all federal criminal cases, ordering prosecutors to seek the maximum available penalty in all cases and avoid plea bargains if possible. This rigid approach not only insulted the professional judgment of prosecutors, turning them into Ashcroft automatons, it also shoved cases into trial that may not have belonged there, costing the budget aplenty. (Source: Washington Post September 22, 2003)

    105. Who's doing better during the Bush years? Not ambulance drivers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people working as dishwashers in America was $10.05 an hour back in 2001. Adjusting for inflation, that would be equivalent to an hourly wage of $11.46 in 2006. But ambulance drivers didn't keep pace in the time between 2001 and 2006. By 2006, dishwashers were making just $10.54 an hour. If you don't take inflation into account, that sounds better. But it's not, because inflation saps the value of the dollar. We need ambulance drivers to do their work to help people in trouble and get them to the hospital with speed and safety. But they're making less money doing that important work. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    106. It's a central conundrum for single parents of young children that in order to get a job, the kids have to go to child care. But often, child care costs more than any job that a single parent might find, or at least so much that it's not possible to pay for child care and rent and food. In 2001, George W. Bush tried to cut funding for low-income child care. While child care costs rose in 2002, George W. Bush proposed increasing the work hours required for single parents on welfare -- with no increase in the funds to help single parents find child care. (Sources: New York Times March 26, 2001 and USA Today April 8, 2002)

    107. There's the economy, and then there's the economy. Some people try to understand the economy by looking at the value of stock in big oil companies. Others look at the items like the news summarized by the Food Research and Action Center: In Arizona, one in five children are living in poverty.

      That rate of child poverty is above the national average, and far above the blue state average of just 15 percent. In recent presidential elections, Arizona has been voting as a red state - for the Republican candidate. However, it's clear that Republican economic ideology, with its emphasis on reduced government assistance in the battle against poverty, just isn't working for Arizona.

      In 2008, voters in Arizona ought to vote for their own economic self-interest. For the sake of their economy, and brighter opportunities for their children, Arizona needs to help elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    108. Dishwashers aren't doing better during the Bush years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income of people working as dishwashers in America was $7.25 an hour back in 2001. Adjusting for inflation, that would be equivalent to an hourly wage of $8.27 in 2006. But dishwashers' wages didn't keep pace in the time between 2001 and 2006. By 2006, dishwashers were making just $7.78 an hour. If you don't take inflation into account, that sounds better. But it's not, because inflation saps the value of the dollar. Dishwashers are working just as hard today as they did at the beginning of the Bush years. But they're making less money for that hard work. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for 2001 and 2006)

    109. One of the fundamental moral lessons of growing up is that grownups need to pay their own way. By this standard, the United States, as a nation, seems to be reverting back to childhood.

      The American dollar is dropping in value, and the reason, says economics professor John Cole, is that the USA isn't paying its own way. "We're running internal deficits, which we're asking foreigners to fund for us, and then we keep pumping dollars to those people so that they can send us cheap goods. This depreciation of the U.S. dollar is in lieu of the United States... paying our own way."

      How has this situation come about? Deficits have resulted directly from right wing policies: Unnecessary wars, huge tax breaks for the rich, and gigantic government handouts to corporations in what can only be called Big Business Welfare. It's time for America to grow up, and stop funding these wasteful policies. (Source: USA Today, November 13, 2007)

    110. No one disputes that the people of Kentucky know how to work hard. Kentuckians are willing to put in a hard day's work for a good wage. The problem is that a job with a fair wage isn't available for most people in Kentucky. Rich Republican politicians may say that all that people need to do to lift themselves out of poverty is to get a job, but the working families of Kentucky know better. They're working, but too many of them remain poor in spite of their work.

      The poverty rate in Kentucky, 16.8 percent, is among the highest in the nation. Kentucky's child poverty rate is much higher than the national average too. The many children living in poverty across Kentucky - more than one quarter of the state's child population - certainly are not to blame for their situation. Yet, right wing economic theory offers them no real assistance, beyond the advice that they should hope for better luck than their parents enjoyed.

      Kentucky has voted Republican in recent presidential elections, with the idea that tough-sounding Republican economic policies would help Kentucky's economy grow stronger. That just hasn't happened. Right wing economic policies have left Kentucky in its poor state, fending for itself.

      In 2008, Kentucky has the chance to vote for something different. While right wing politicians advocate government inaction, progressives support government programs to reduce poverty. The time is right in 2008 for Kentucky to wise up to the right wing shell game, and vote for a progressive presidential candidate instead. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    111. In 2007, the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that focuses on health care issues, surveyed residents of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States to find out about public perceptions of the status of their countries' health care systems.

      In response to the survey, Americans reported having to skip taking medications, avoid seeing a physician or neglect to obtain suggested therapies because of lack of money more often than people from the other countries. One fifth of American respondents also reported having trouble paying medical bills, a higher rate than in any other country surveyed.

      The other countries surveyed have universal health care systems, something that progressives in America support. The Commonwealth Fund survey shows that, in terms of the economics of health care, the United States has been placed far behind other countries because of its continued use of employer-based health care favored by the right wing. (Source: Commonwealth Fund, November 1, 2007)

    112. Progressives believe in the rich! They are intelligent, resourceful people who can make it without another Bush handout. Too many politicians of both parties seem to think the contrary: that the rich are so tender, vulnerable and wimpy that they’ll collapse and wither away without special giveaways. Let’s stop infantilizing the rich. Let’s recognize the rich for robust, empowered people they are.

    113. For the newspapers and TV channels, the finance reporters focus on the ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrials Average, though most Americans work for a living, and don't make their primary income through stock investments. Underlying this daily up and down is a persistent problem: Republicans and their right wing allies in the Democratic Party have driven government spending out of control with their unnecessary luxury item of choice: War.

      Luckily for us, the Government Accountability Office looks beyond the drama of daily fluctuations. It looks at current spending and taxation and creates projections of "The Nation's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook". The latest update to America's fiscal outlook is grim, reporting, "the long-term fiscal outlook remains essentially the same and is clearly unsustainable ever-larger deficits lead to a federal debt burden that ultimately spirals out of control."

      A federal budget that eventually will spiral out of control: That's what war has brought America. (Source: Government Accountability Office, The Nation's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook August 2007 Update)

    114. The problem Louisianans have is that, when it comes to politics, they don't usually have more choice than to pick between a right wing Republican and a right wing Democrat. In Louisiana, both political parties hew to the right, and both political parties are plagued with corruption. That's why, in Louisiana, it's especially important for voters to pay attention to the policies promoted by a political candidate, and not just the party label that candidate carries.

      A right wing candidate, for example, will promote the trickle down economics that provide subsidies to corporations and tax write-offs to the wealthy while failing to help the working families who are truly in need. Right wingers believe that welfare is only for the wealthy, and that the poor will only stop being poor when all government anti-poverty programs are destroyed.

      Progressives, on the other hand, see quite clearly that the right wing economic approach is a path to disaster - just the sort of economic disaster that Louisiana is suffering from. Whereas states that had the wisdom to vote against George W. Bush are enjoying relative success in the effort to contain poverty, Louisiana has a poverty rate that is above the national average. About one in five residents of Louisiana are living in poverty.

      Take a look at the conditions Louisiana's children must endure, and the news gets worse. More than one in four children in Louisiana are living in poverty.

      Right wing economic policy has not worked in Louisiana. In fact, it's kept huge numbers of people living in poverty. In 2008, Louisiana has the chance to live under a new kind of national leadership. If a progressive President is elected to the White House, Louisiana will finally have the chance to appeal to a leader who understands that fighting poverty requires investment, not neglect. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    115. George W. Bush hugged AIDS babies in Africa in the summer of 2003 and promised $3 billion a year for 5 years. Later that summer, his budget only asked for $2 billion (Source: New York Times, August 26, 2003).

    116. According to a recent study by the Department of Agriculture, 35.5 million Americans often have to struggle to get enough food to eat. That number is in addition to the number of homeless Americans, which are estimated at between 2 million and 3.5 million.

      If it costs five dollars to provide a basic meal, with 1,095 meals per year, it would cost 19.4 billion dollars to feed for an entire year the 35.5 million Americans who are currently struggling to find enough to eat. How much is that? It's just eight tenths of one percent of the amount of what the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are costing - even given a conservative estimate of the cost of war. (Sources: PBS Now, February 2, 2007; CBS News, November 15, 2007)

    117. Multiple studies have shown that the well-being of children in a nation (or in a state within our nation) is negatively associated with the degree of income inequality in that nation (or state), even controlling for absolute income. Progressives are more interested in lowering our national income inequality. If we're interested in the well-being of our nation's children, we'd be well advised to elect a more progressive government. (Sources: Child wellbeing and income inequality in rich societies: ecological cross sectional study, British Medical Journal November 16 2007; Social Science and Medicine April 2006; The problems of relative deprivation: Why some societies do better than others, Social Science and Medicine November 2007; Inequality in income and mortality in the United States: analysis of mortality and potential pathways, British Medical Journal April 2006; Adolescent Birth Rates, Total Homicides, and Income Inequality In Rich Countries, American Journal of Public Health July 2005)

    118. Be glad you had turkey for Thanksgiving. A couple of days after the holiday this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that ninety six thousand pounds of tainted beef were recalled from grocery stores in in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia. Thanks to the recall, only two people got sick.

      What if there had been no recall? What if there had been no U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service?

      That's how right wing economic ideologues would have it. They preach against government regulation of big business. They say that business ought to be free of regulation, so that there can be a free market of goods and services. They say that, in a free market of goods and services, everything will take care of itself.

      How, though, would a free market take care of the problem of beef tainted with E. coli? How, if there isn't any independent system for testing and tracking meat, a system that isn't motivated by profit to sell the meat, would customers be able to make a free and informed choice of whether to buy beef that's swarming with E. coli instead of beef that's free of the deadly bacteria? Would people just have to make the choice not to buy beef at all, given the possibility of it being tainted?

      There's no real solution from right wing economic theory on problems like this - just pie in the sky abstractions. No free market system has ever adequately protected the public from food-borne diseases. The current system of government regulation in the United States is not perfect, but it's the closest thing to perfect protection that has ever existed.

      In fact, the problems that do exist within the current system come from market pressures, not deficiencies in regulation. The pressure to create economies of scale has led to livestock feeding and meat processing environments that are inherently risky and encourage the proliferation pathogens.

      When it comes to problems like E. coli tainting massive amounts of American beef, the free market is part of the problem, not part of the solution. We need to elect a President who knows better than to indulge in free market fantasies. (Source: Associated Press, November 25, 2007)

    119. If a person had to locate a stronghold for right wing ideology, that stronghold would be Mississippi. If there has ever been a time when right wing ideology has not dominated Mississippi's government, it certainly doesn't come leaping to mind. Democrats and Republicans alike in Mississippi are beholden to right wing interest groups, ideologically and economically.

      If the right wing agenda for society were at all productive, in comparison with the progressive agenda that Mississippi so strongly rejects, Mississippi would be prospering. However, the statistics show with as much clarity as anybody could ask for that prosperity is the last thing that Mississippi can claim as a product of its political system.

      The overall poverty rate in Mississippi is 21.3 percent, and the child poverty rate in Mississippi is even greater, at 30.9 percent. Both are more than half again as large as the national average.

      Mississippi is not just failing to prosper. It is drowning in poverty, thanks to its history of right wing politics. America as a nation must not continue to follow the example of Mississippi in national politics. In 2008, it's time to return to a brighter, progressive vision that will provide a better life for all Americans, and help those states, like Mississippi, that are failing to live up to America's standard of a decent way of life. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    120. One penny per pound is all that they wanted. The migrant farm workers who pick tomatoes in Florida are making the same amount of money per pound of tomatoes picked as they made in 1980. That's an injustice, given that the value of the dollar has descended dramatically since then. Workers who pick tomatoes are paid just 56 dollars for picking two tons of tomatoes.

      Imagine how you would feel after being paid just 56 dollars for picking and carrying two tons of tomatoes. Then imagine how you would feel if the tomato growers you worked for refused to pay you just one penny more per pound of tomatoes. The growers could have passed that cost on. The average American can afford to pay a penny more per tomato. Yet, the growers refused to budge.

      People who work picking crops like tomatoes deserve better pay for the work that they do to feed us. America needs a farm bill that's designed to help agricultural workers like them, but no such law will be signed into law until we get a progressive in the White House. (Source: St. Petersburg Times, November 25, 2007)

    121. Take away all the strong moral reasons to vote progressive, and there's the relatively simple matter of practical benefit. Which political ideology brings more reliable economic prosperity - the right wing economic ideology, or the progressive vision for America?

      Take a look at the state of Montana's children, and the lesson is clear.

      Montana's political identity has leaned to the right for a long time. Recently, Montana's political contribution to the national scene has included Electoral College votes to send George W. Bush to the White House both in the the 2000 and 2004 elections.

      That political philosophy has served Montana's children quite poorly. The rate of child poverty in Montana is 20.1 percent. That means that one in five children in Montana are living in poverty.

      If you think that's good enough, then I suppose you ought to vote for the right wing political agenda that has brought Montana's children to such a vulnerable position. Otherwise, the choice is clear. Vote progressive in 2008. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    122. Isn't it lovely how our government loves to give out important bad news just when people aren't paying attention? While you were eating turkey this Thanksgiving, the following bit of not-so-cheery economic news was released. Put it next to the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator.

      If you were hoping that the crisis of Americans getting kicked out of their homes for being unable to make their mortgage payments would be just a phenomenon of 2007, you were hoping in vain. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that the number of home loan defaults should be even higher in 2008 than it was in 2007.

      The dream of home ownership has turned into a nightmare for huge numbers of Americans, and they're being kicked out into the street. Instead of just shrugging our shoulders and declaring that it's all somehow part of the genius of the marketplace, we need to elect a progressive President who will act through progressive economic policies to help people get through this crisis. (Source: Reuters, November 21, 2007)

    123. In the Republican Party presidential debate of November 28, 2007, Fred Thompson made the comment, "We've all had people we've hired that in retrospect turned out not to be a good decision."

      What alternative reality of America is Fred Thompson talking about? Most Americans have never hired anyone beyond the level of a babysitter. Most Americans just don't have the economic power to have hired so many people that they've been able to get petulant about unworthy employees. Many Americans have never hired anyone at all in their lives.

      No, Mr. Thompson, we've not all hired people that we had the privilege to get testy about later. (Source: CNN, November 28, 2007)

    124. In the Republican presidential debate of November 28 2007, Fred Thompson declared that in his time as a Senator, "I never met a tax I liked." Well, all the things our government does are funded by taxes. Some of them a person may not like, but some are undeniably essential. When Fred Thompson declares his opposition to all taxes, he declares his opposition to all government programs. Fred Thompson declares his opposition to the Centers for Disease Control. Fred Thompson declares his opposition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fred Thompson declares his opposition to the continued existence of the Congress, the Supreme Court and the Presidency itself. You can't have any of these things without taxes, and Fred Thompson declared, "I never met a tax I liked."

      The alternative is that Fred Thompson is in favor of letting the fairies fund the government. (Source: CNN YouTube Debate of Republican Presidential Candidates, November 28 2007)

    125. From 2000, the year in which George W. Bush grabbed the White House, and 2006, the last full year for which data is available, the U.S. trade deficit with China has risen by 277 percent. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics)

    126. The extent of the U.S. trade deficit is shown in humiliating detail when it comes to our nation's economic relations with Azerbaijan. In every year of the Clinton Administration, the United States had a trade surplus with Azerbaijan. That is to say, Azerbaijan bought more American goods than Americans bought goods made in Azerbaijan. However, George W. Bush just couldn't sustain that record of success.

      In 2006, the United States slipped into a trade deficit with Azerbaijan of 485.1 million dollars. In 2007, America's outperformance in trade by Azerbaijan worsened dramatically. Just by September, 2007, the United States had built up a trade definict with Azerbaijan of 815.6 million dollars. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics)

    127. North Carolina is not regarded as a toss-up state. It's a strong red state, and has been in the right wing of American politics for generations - in fact, for the entire history of the United States.

      If you were to look for a state as a test for how well right wing economic politics provides for the people, North Carolina would be among the top contenders. Right wing politicians have had hundreds of years to work their way with the economy of North Carolina.

      The results have not been good for North Carolina's children. The poverty rate for North Carolinians in general is higher than the national average, but there's an even greater gap between the child poverty rate on the national level and the child poverty rate in North Carolina.

      More than one in five children living in North Carolina are being raised under the poverty line. It isn't their fault that they've been born into poor families, but they're suffering for it, and the right wing economic policy of North Carolina's state government has not enabled them or their parents to attain a better life.

      It doesn't have to be that way. States where people vote Democratic have much lower poverty rates - for children and adults - on average.

      North Carolina's high rate of poverty shows us the practical consequences of rejecting a progressive economic policy. Let's not make the same mistake on the national level. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    128. Remember how Russia is supposed to have been the country that "lost" the Cold War? Economically, it seems that they're actually the ones who came out on top.

      Forget all that propaganda about how much the Russians love our Pepsi. The United States has a trade deficit with Russia, and since the Republicans took the White House, that trade deficit has almost tripled in size. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics)

    129. There is a statement attributed to Herman Melville that deals with our attitude toward poverty: "Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed."

      I can't find a specific citation of this supposed quote. Did Herman Melville really speak or write these lines? I don't know, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they contain an important wisdom: The powerful are poor judges of the needs of the vulnerable.

      Progressives want to allow economically vulnerable people to speak for their own needs in the economy, and not to have scraps of advice from the wealthy trickled down upon them from above.

    130. Remember what the Republicans called John Kerry? They called him a "Massachusetts Liberal" - as if that's a bad thing. Massachusetts liberals have a great deal to be proud of, actually.

      Consider, for example, the status of poverty in Massachusetts. There is poverty in Massachusetts, as there is in every state in the USA. However, in Massachusetts, the poverty rate is lower than the national average. Nationally, the poverty rate is 13.3 percent. In Massachusetts, however, the poverty rate is only 10.3 percent.

      The management of child welfare in Massachusetts has been even more of a success. As is the case in every state, child welfare in Massachusetts is higher than the general poverty rate. However, in Massachusetts, the child poverty rate is even further below the national average than the general poverty level - just 13.6 percent. That's half of the child poverty rate in some Republican-voting red states.

      It's time for America to listen to the wisdom of Massachusetts liberals, instead of following the clumsy bravado of red state economics. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    131. Know the Marianas Islands? Most Americans don't, but they're in the United States... kind of the same way that Puerto Rico is in the United States.

      The people of the Marianas are within the Commonwealth of the United States, but they're not in a state of the USA itself, so funny sorts of rules apply there. Funny as in twisted, not the kind to make you laugh.

      Factories in the Marianas Islands can put "Made in the USA" labels on the products they make. However, those factories don't have to obey the labor laws of the United States. Workers there are paid just $3.55 per hour, and they're abused in many other ways. The factories of the Marianas also don't have to obey environmental laws, and so end up spewing pollution much more than if they were on the mainland of the USA.

      It's time for these abuses to stop. A bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3079, the Northern Mariana Islands Covenant Implementation Act, would end the special exceptions that allow factories in the Marianas Islands to abuse their workers and the environment.

      Unfortunately, not one of the presidential candidates of 2008 who currently sit in the House have cosponsored the bill. Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul have all failed to co-sponsor the Northern Mariana Islands Covenant Implementation Act. (Sources: Library of Congress, Associated Press, December 2, 2007)

    132. Oklahoma's got trouble with a capital P, and that stands for poverty.

      I truly believe that the right wing political leaders of the Oklahoma state government mean well. They want to do do right by the people that they represent. Unfortunately, wanting to do right and being able to do right are not at all the same thing.

      Oklahoma politicians have tilted to the right, ideologically speaking, for a long while now. Part of their rightward political bias is the belief that government programs to help people living in poverty don't accomplish much - that poor people will only lift themselves out of poverty once the government stops trying to help them.

      That's a shame, because Oklahoma state government never really has made a fair effort at helping Oklahomans living under the poverty line. Thanks to the right wing presumption that government can't help, and ought not to try, the many poor people living in Oklahoma have been mostly on their own. Right wing politicians in control of the state government have withheld support, and waited for things to get better.

      They've waited, and waited, and waited, but now it's become clear: Poverty in Oklahoma just isn't getting any better, not with the right wing keeping its do-nothing agenda in power.

      Poverty is higher in Oklahoma than it is in states that apply a more progressive economic policy. Over 16 percent of Oklahomans live in poverty, and a very large number of those poor Oklahomans are children. 23 percent of children in Oklahoma live in poverty.

      Those children are not to blame for their own poverty, and the right wing's lecturing and preaching about how important it is for those kids to fend for themselves hasn't made things worse.

      Oklahoma's higher-than-average poverty is an important reminder of the perils of right wing government. There is a silver lining to this dark lesson, however. Oklahoma can do better, if it follows the progressive alternative that's been successful in so many other states.

      The United States as a whole can do better too, if we take care to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    133. Right wing politicians encourage people to think of the cost of clean energy to big business. Let's step off their script for a minute, and consider the savings that clean energy brings.

      In October 2007, American Electric Power finally agreed to reduce the pollution coming out of their coal-burning power plants. They complained all the way to the settlement, which will reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 800,000 tons every year.

      For the American people, the benefits will be great, with the improvement in air quality estimated to bring savings in health problems worth 32 billion dollars every year.

      That's a huge improvement in the real economy of the USA. There will be some cost to American Electric Power, but it's a cost that was actually already being paid. It's just that the American people were paying the cost, so that the American Electric Power company could save money and make bigger profits.

      The trouble is that the Bush White House had to be sued by progressive organizations just in order to update its legally required assessment of the sort of pollution that the American Electric Power company has now agreed to reduce.

      These savings were with just one coal burning power company. Imagine the economic benefits for the American people if we had a President who would push for the reduction of expensive pollution across the board according to the most up to date information, instead of the piecemeal, reluctant, outdated approach of George W. Bush. (Source: WorldWatch Institute)

    134. South Carolina has one of the earliest presidential primaries in the 2008 election: January 29 for Democrats and February 2 for Republicans.

      Typically, South Carolina has tilted to the right very heavily when it comes to politics. However, recently revealed information about the poverty rate in red state South Carolina may cause some voters to reconsider their allegiance to right wing politicians.

      For blue states - those states that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, the average poverty rate is only 11.06 percent. The overall poverty rate in South Carolina is higher, at 15.6 percent. In particular, Democratic blue states strongly outperform South Carolina when it comes to child poverty. Blue states have an average child poverty rate of 15.02 percent. South Carolina's child poverty rate is much high, at 22.7 percent.

      More than one in five children in South Carolina are living in poverty. That's dramatic evidence that the right wing economic policies of South Carolina's politicians are a destructive force for children, and for citizens there in general. In 2008, for the sake of their own well-being, South Carolina needs to reject the presidential candidates who continue to promote the outlandish economic theories of the Republicans and their right wing allies. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    135. There's something very simple that's been overlooked in the political outrage over Mitt Romney's repeated employment of a landscaping company that hired illegal immigrants to mow the lawn at the Romney family mansion, in spite of Romney's claims to be against illegal immigration. How many among us hire a landscaping company to mow our lawns?

      I certainly never have. I've never even hired a neighborhood teenager to come mow my lawn. That's about as far as most people get.

      Mitt Romney is not like most people. Mitt Romney was born rich and powerful, and he has been rich and powerful for his entire life. Has Mitt Romney ever had to mow his own lawn?

      Can Mitt Romney possibly understand what it is like for those of us who don't have a staff of servants at our beck and call? Can he understand the weight of simple household tasks that press down upon us as nagging burdens in addition to our professional work? Can he understand what it's like to have work that nobody else will be hired to do for him?

      We need a President who is capable of understanding that kind of life, because it's the life that 99 percent of Americans lead. We weren't born into wealth, and we won't die with wealth. We're not expecting to live in a mansion like the Romneys do. We're just expecting a fair shake. (Source: New York Times, December 5, 2007)

    136. If you had an employee who agreed to take a few hundred dollars less in salary, then borrowed several thousand dollars that you would have to pay back, would you think that was a good deal? That's what Bush is doing with his tax cuts and record deficits, and it's a raw deal. The Republican candidates for President want to continue the policy.

    137. People tend to focus on the environmental benefits of increased fuel efficiency standards, and that's a fine thing. However, the benefits of fuel efficiency go far beyond living green.

      The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that American consumers will save $24 billion every year because of the increased fuel efficiency mandated by the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act. Who could clam that adding 24 billion dollars to the nation's economy, while improving the quality of life, isn't worth the effort?

      174 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act, that's who. (Sources: Library of Congress; Washington Post, December 6, 2007; Union of Concerned Scientists, December 6, 2007)

    138. Ebenezer Scrooge might call it another reduction in the surplus population. But the rest of us would call suicide an unnecessary and tragic loss. When an individual attempts suicide because of idiosyncratic troubles, that is a personal tragedy. When a person is driven to a suicide attempt because they can't get a job, and they can't get a job because no business will hire a cancer survivor with the associated health insurance premium increase, that is a social tragedy. When our nation's business structure finds it more efficient to keep someone unemployed and their talents unused than to give them work and pay for their medical care, that is an economic tragedy. When our nation's current crop of politicians is sitting too deep in the pocket of insurance companies to pass a bill making our health care system more efficient in its administration and more universal in its coverage, that is a political and ethical tragedy.

      Some tragedies are avoidable. (Source: Democratic Underground December 6 2007)

    139. Ever since George H.W. Bush danced onto the national political stage with a silver foot in his mouth, Texas Republicans have been preaching to the rest of America about how great life is in Texas, and how we all ought to follow the Texas example.

      One simple statistic pops the big Texas bubble: At 17.6 percent, the rate of poverty in Texas is well above the national average, and is even higher above the average poverty rate in blue states (states that voted for the Democratic president in 2008). Blue states have an average poverty rate of just 11.07 percent.

      The child poverty rate in Texas is even higher: 24.9 percent. About one in every four children in Texas is living in poverty, and no matter what right wing ideologues might say about personal responsibility, it isn't the fault of those children that they're born poor.

      If adults in Texas want to choose impoverishing right wing economic policies for themselves, I suppose that's their right, but they ought to have the decency to spare their children from poverty. It's going to take a progressive President to lift children in Texas from the economic misery that Republican politics has surrounded them with from birth. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    140. Republicans like to say that they're the anti-tax political party, but it just isn't true. Back in 2005, Texas Republicans went on record as big government spenders. The passage of tax legislation there shows that the Republican Party really doesn't stand for anything these days - except for power, whatever way it can grab it.

      You see, the way that the Texas Republicans raised taxes was calculated to perpetuate the Republican monopoly on power in Texas. The Texas Republicans put almost all of the increased tax burden on people who make less than 100,000 dollars. People who make six-figure incomes actually got a tax cut, even though, on the whole, the tax rate went up.

      The reason the Texas Republicans had to raise taxes is that the federal government had lowered taxes, while shifting the burden of services onto the states. This action shows that the Republicans aren't the anti-tax party so much as they are the shell game party.

    141. That tax increase by the Republicans in Texas included what they called a "sin tax" - a new tax on buying a newspaper. Sin taxes are placed by governments on categories of merchandise considered to be dangerous. Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, for instance, are designed to discourage people from buying alcohol and tobacco, and the funds gained through these taxes are supposed to help the state government pay for the damaging effects of alcohol and tobacco consumption upon public health and productivity.

      So, it appears that the Republican politicians in Texas have decided that reading a newspaper is a dangerous activity - a threat to the public good on the order of drinking and smoking. That pro-tax Republican agenda also turns out to be anti-reading.

    142. What John F. Kennedy said when serving in the United States Senate could just as easily apply today: "Every bright spot the White House finds in the economy is like the policeman bending over the body in the alley and saying cheerfully, 'Two wounds are fatal. The other one is not so bad.'" (Source: Routledge Dictionary of Quotations)

    143. Before, I wrote about how American drivers could have saved 24 billion dollars every year in fuel costs, if it weren't for the fact that the Republicans in Congress, and a few of their right wing allies in the Democratic Party, voted to kill the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act, which included dramatic fuel efficiency improvements for American automobiles.

      It turns out that the legislation would have actually enabled even greater savings with a mandate for the use of renewable energy sources by electric power utilities. That 15 percent renewable limit would have saved Americans a minimum of 13 billion dollars every year in their utility bills, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned of Scientists.

      Opposing the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act wasn't just environmentally responsible. It was fiscally irresponsible as well. Right wing politicians continue to oppose renewable energy because they're more interested in preserving the inefficient status quo, and the wealth of those who profit from it.

      If these politicians won't bring us renewable energy, then we need to make sure that they're political power is not renewed either. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, December 6, 2007)

    144. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says that he supports family values. Apparently, that doesn't mean that he's actually willing to lift a finger to help American families in crisis.

      In 1992, Mike Huckabee said that he would oppose any effort to allow working Americans time away from their jobs to help care for sick family members. The Family and Medical Leave Act, passed thanks to more progressive politicians in 1993, guarantees unpaid leave for birth, adoption or caring for ill family members. However, Huckabee has said and done nothing since to contradict his earlier assertion that he would oppose such laws.

      Would Mike Huckabee try to undo the Family and Medical Leave Act if elected President of the United States? Every indication is that he would. That's not only anti-progressive. It's just plain mean. (Source: Associated Press, December 11, 2007)

    145. In 2004, West Virginia voters chose to make theirs a red state, sending their delegates to the electoral college in support of George W. Bush. The traditional idea is that to the victor go the spoils. So, has West Virginia gotten much in the way of spoils, then? Sadly, no. All that West Virginia has gotten as thanks for its vote for the Republican presidential candidate is a spoiled economy.

      The average blue state (Democratic-voting) poverty rate is just 11.06 percent. In West Virginia, however, the poverty rate is 18 percent. The child poverty rate in West Virginia, at 25.6 percent, is more than ten points higher than the blue state average.

      For West Virginia, voting Republican has been a thankless habit. It's time for that habit to change into something more economically productive. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, State of the States Report, 2007)

    146. In a debate of Democratic Party presidential candidates on December 4 2007, Barack Obama had this to say about improving Chinese labor conditions:
      I am interested as I said in making sure the Chinese population is fed and clothed and advancing. That is important. It is not in the long-term interests of China to expand solely on the backs of low-wage work that is undermining U.S. work. If we are saying to China, "raise your labor standards," that will over time improve the lot of Chinese workers as well as U.S. workers. And that's what we should be looking at, is how we can improve the working conditions, the safety conditions, the consumer protections that are available for all people, and that's not what's happening right now.

      Under the Bush administration, national discussion has not even progressed to the point of considering labor conditions in China in their own right. To the extent Bush Republicans are concerned with overseas sweatshop labor at all, it is only to the extent that such labor results in shoddily constructed and unsafe products. So Senator Obama took the discussion two steps forward, first by noting the importance to China itself of raising Chinese labor standards, and second by pointing out that raising Chinese labor standards helps American workers.

      Obama is right. There's an implicit economic deal right now between the United States and China, in which U.S. industries give China a whopping amount of production contracting and subcontracting work under labor conditions which result in low-cost goods. American workers whose wages have stagnated can afford many of these items, but only at the cost of mistreated workers in China. It's time for a new deal in which American workers pay more for goods produced in China, which makes it more affordable to produce goods in the United States, which gives American workers jobs, which allows them to pay more for more American-made and Chinese-made products made on more worker-friendly terms. This is a tried and true approach that worked for Henry Ford in the age of the Model T, and it's time we took that approach again. Barack Obama demonstrates that this way of solving problems of political economy is electorally viable, too. (Source: National Public Radio Democratic Presidential Debate of December 4 2007)

    147. The Republicans keep on cutting worthwhile government programs, saying that there just isn't the money to keep them going any more. However, over the last decade, over one billion dollars has been spent on abstinence-only sex education programs that promote right wing sexual norms while withholding important information about sexual health from American teenagers.

      That one billion dollars has been spent in spite of the lack of evidence that abstinence-only sex education programs actually convince any teenagers to abstain from having sex, and in spite of the ample evidence that the programs don't do what they say they will do. If the Republicans can waste one billion dollars on abstinence-only education programs, why couldn't they spend that money on programs that are proven to have a benefit instead? (Source: Associated Press, December 5, 2007)

    148. The connections of the global economy as currently designed are directed toward short-term exploitation of natural resources instead the development of sustainable, long-term economic relationships with natural resources. The result is the impoverishment of people who have had a close economic relationship with those resources.

      For example, Pak Helman, on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, used to earn the equivalent of one hundred dollars catching shrimp every week. More recently, however, since the jungles in his province have been aggressively logged so as to provide raw materials for the international market, his catch of shrimp has declined to only the equivalent of five dollars per week.

      Pak Helman has responded by joining the progressive activist organization Greenpeace, in order to advocate for an end to the exploitation of his surroundings. We here in the United States, for the same reason, need to do the same thing, joining together with other people of progressive political persuasion in order to promote an economy that can continue beyond our own generation. (Source: New York Times, December 6, 2007)

    149. When the United States Senate voted against bringing a clean energy bill to the floor in mid-December, 2007, they didn't just hurt the feelings of tree-hugging environmentalists like myself. They hurt the family incomes of blue collar workers in towns across America.

      You see, the renewable energy standards originally included in the legislation would have created high-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, and other blue collar economic sectors. Sadly, the anti-progressive politicians in the Senate who voted in favor of weakening the energy bill by excluding renewable energy standards seem more interested in protecting the power of executives in energy corporations than they are in helping American workers find worthwhile employment. (Source: National Audubon Society, December 14, 2007)

    150. Presidential candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama have made public commitments to push for a rise in the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, with the wage to rise to keep up with inflation after that. The conservatives over at the Say Anything Blog predict that a rise in the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour will lead to "Increased unemployment. Wage stagnation. And more folks on welfare rolls." But even if the $9.50 an hour minimum wage were enacted today, it wouldn't be quite as high controlling for inflation as the minimum wage was in 1968. For two years after the minimum wage reached its historical peak in 1968, the unemployment rate actually dropped. The Gross Domestic Product continued to rise, welfare payments didn't begin their sharp rise for another six years and the high inflation rates of the 1970s didn't actually commence for another seven years. All these negative changes, taking place some years after 1968, were during a period when the minimum wage was actually diminishing in inflation-adjusted dollars, not increasing.

      Facts aside, listen to what's being said. John Edwards and Barack Obama are telling the nation that yes, America can do as well by its workers in 2008 as it did four decades ago. Conservatives tell the nation that no, America just can't no longer do as well as it once did. I happen to think that yes, America can do at least as well as it did forty years ago. If you think America can't manage, go ahead and vote conservative and your suspicions will probably be fulfilled. If you believe American can do as well as it did, and can even do better, vote progressive and get ready to roll up your sleeves to help make it happen. (Sources: Washington Post December 1 2007; Say Anything December 5 2007; Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Summary of Social Insurance and Public Assistance Data, Robert C. Sahr, Oregon State University)

    151. A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors indicates that metropolitan areas in the United States are expected to lose billions of dollars in economic activity in 2008 because of increasing rates of foreclosures. Right wing leadership of the national economy has failed to protect us from this economic calamity. It's time to try the progressive alternative. (Source: Associated Press, November 27, 2007)

    152. Frederick Douglass warned of the economic danger of inequality when he said, "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." It is not just the poor and the vulnerable who should fear inequality. The wealthy and the powerful are at risk from injustice as well.

    153. We need a president who will crack down on white collar criminals and corporate welfare bums, and a right wing politician just won't do it.
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    154. According to a survey conducted from January to July 2007 by the National Center for Health Statistics, 52.3 million Americans were unable to afford health insurance at some time during the previous year, and 42.5 million Americans could not afford health insurance at the time of the interview. Republicans say that, with these statistics, the United States of America has a health care system we should be proud of. We progressives, on the other hand, see things differently. We regard these statistics as a sign of trouble, not pride. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, December, 2007)

    155. President George W. Bush made a telling slip while touring the country trying to sell Americans on his Social Security Scheme to take money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and send it to Wall Street financial firms.

      He told board members of the Radio and Television News Directors Association that "Personal accounts would make Social Security a much better option."

      That's the problem in a nutshell. President Bush just can't get it through his head that, for the majority of working Americans, Social Security is not an option. Social Security is the only way that the families of American workers will survive if they die prematurely, or become seriously disabled. Social Security is the only way that most American workers will survive when they become too old to continue working.

      Well, Mr. President, unlike your friends in the Republican elite, working Americans won't inherit millions of dollars from their parents. For us, Social Security is not an option. That's why tinkering around with radical schemes to gut Social Security is not an option for us either.

    156. To those politicians who propose tax cuts as the answer to every problem, Albert Einstein wrote, "Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves." Let us not be dollar chasers. Let us instead honor the hope that Einsten had for us, and look to apply our collective worth in order to advance our society as a whole.

    157. With every passing year, the politics of the American right wing get more and more fascinating. As it becomes increasingly obvious that the real problems that our nation needs to deal with are those that have progressive solutions, the right wing flails about, searching for a counterbalancing crisis of its own, to justify its extreme ideological beliefs.

      Thus was born the myth of the Amero. Never heard of the Amero? That's because it doesn't exist.

      Mere reality has never stopped the right wing from getting all frothy-mouthed before, of course, and it's not stopping them from fretting about the Amero.

      Right wing conspiracy theorists say that the government of the United States is engaged in a secret plan with the governments of Canada and Mexico to dissolve American borders and create a single currency that will unite the three countries into a single, giant nation: The North American Union. The new currency of the North American Union, they say, would be called the Amero.

      Can the right wingers actually prove that this secret plan to replace the U.S. dollar with the Amero actually exists? Well, no. It's a secret plan, they say. How could they prove that?

      How, indeed, could the claims for such a secret plan be disproved? No one can ever disprove that a well-kept secret exists. Thus, the legend of the Amero continues to be passed along right wing channels of communication in excited whispers, in spite of the lack of any substantial evidence for it.

      Supporters of Ron Paul are particularly fond of the legend of the Amero, using it to justify all of Ron Paul's libertarian ideosyncracies - especially his opposition to worthwhile government projects. National Parks, medals for Rosa Parks, public education and aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina are all part of the conspiracy to the establish the Amero and its North American Union, they whisper.

      The nearly-substantial nature of these whispers is exemplified by an article written by Paul Michael, in which he reports, "…some believe the current administration is setting the stage for the introduction of the Amero very soon, as soon as 2010 some believe. The lack of serious intervention on illegal immigration coupled with the continued devaluation of the dollar and its weakness in the world economy is in fact the perfect place to set the foundation for a new currency. Or so I've been told by various economists with far more smarts than myself."

      "Some believe" that the Amero will be established by 2010. Who? "Various economists"? Who?

      "This is not a phantom organization or conspiracy theory," Michael continues. "The SPP exists and you can view it yourselves at www.spp.gov."

      Ah, the SPP. The SPP is the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. It's a diplomatic initiative that hopes to facilitate international cooperation between the governments of Canada, Mexico and the USA. It's like neighbors talking to each other on the sidewalk. The SPP has no authority over the governments of any of the three countries. It's just a mechanism through which meetings and cooperative efforts can be discussed.

      To many Ron Paul supporters, such cooperation is regarded as an pathway to one world government, starting with the North American Union and the Amero. But Paul Michael says to look at the web site of the SPP itself, where we will see clear evidence that the Amero will soon strip the USA of its national sovereignty.

      So, I took a look at SPP.gov. There's no mention of any Amero currency at all. Here's the only mention of currency that I found on the entire site: "The SPP in no way, shape or form considers the creation of a European Union-like structure or a common currency. The SPP does not attempt to modify our sovereignty or currency or change the American system of government designed by our Founding Fathers."

      We have enough real problems to deal with. Right wing conspiracy theories about imaginary continental, cross-national currencies aren't what we need our leaders to spend time worrying about.(Sources: WiseBread, April 4, 2007; Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America)

    158. During the two terms of the Bush administration, the Republicans in charge of government shoved through two important changes in economic policy. First, they deeply cut tax rates for the rich. Second, they slashed the capital gains and dividends tax rate that the rich pay on the money they make from their investments. What's happened in the aftermath of these policy changes? Let's look at data provided by the Congressional Budget Office from 2001, the year Bush took office, to 2005, the last year for which data is available.

      The following figures control for income by using the value of dollars in the year 2005. During these years of the Bush administration, the average increase in annual income of the top 1% of households in America was $402,500 per household. The total increase in annual income from 2001-2005 for all households in the top 1% was $453.6 Billion. Yes, that's Billion, with a B, and that's just the increase in their income. The amount by which the income of the top 1% increased was larger than total amount of income overall by the poorest 20% of Americans in 2005 -- $383.4 Billion. The income of the poorest 20% of American households didn't rise at all from 2001-2005. On average, their income fell by $500 a year, from $16,400 (in 2005 dollars) during the year 2001 to $15,900 a year.(in 2005 dollars) during the year 2005. The total loss of income from 2001 to 2005 by the poorest 20% of American households was $12.1 Billion. (Source: Congressional Budget Office, Number of Households, Average Income and Income Shares, and Income Category Minimums for All Households, by Household Income Category, 1979-2005)

    159. It's not just the poorest 20% of American households that are worse off since George W. Bush took office. The second-poorest quintile of American households -- that is, the 20% of households that aren't as poor as the poorest 20% of households but are nearly as poor -- had on average an income of $38,000 a year in $2005 dollars during the year 2001. By the year 2005, this quintile's income had shrunk to an average of $37,400 a year, a decrease of $600. The total loss of income from 2001 to 2005 by the second-poorest 20% of American households was $13.2 Billion. While the flow of money engineered by the Bush administration and the Republican congress has been lifting the yachts of the ultra-rich 1 percent, it has sunk the meager dinghies of the poorest 40 percent of Americans. (Source: Congressional Budget Office, Number of Households, Average Income and Income Shares, and Income Category Minimums for All Households, by Household Income Category, 1979-2005)

    160. With the help of the Bush administration's economic policies that made our national tax policy more regressive, the income of the top 1 percent of American households has ballooned while the income of the poorest 40 percent of American households has shrunk. The total income garnered by the top 1 percent of American households in 2005, the last year for which data is available, was $1.76 Trillion. Why, if you take out the separate portion of the budget allocated to Social Security, that's the size of the U.S. Government's budget in 2007! The richest 1 percent of Americans make enough money to run the country. Oh, right -- they do. Now why is it that policy changes favored by a majority of Americans -- like campaign finance reform and universal health insurance -- just can't seem to get implemented? Think hard. (Source: Congressional Budget Office, Number of Households, Average Income and Income Shares, and Income Category Minimums for All Households, by Household Income Category, 1979-2005)

    161. Walt Whitman expressed the progressive recognition of the worth of the typical American's contribution to the worth of the nation when he wrote, "Other lands have their vitality in a few, a class, but we have it in the bulk of our people."

    162. As the campaign to become the Republican nominee for President in 2008, candidates Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter like to say that they are in favor of cutting government spending.

      That's not how they have voted as members of the House of Representatives, however. As members of Congress, Tancredo and Hunter have voted for Republican borrow-and-spend legislation over and over again, and they've voted against attempts by Democrats to bring Republican spending under control.

      Consider, for example, the vote that Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo case in May of 2006 against an amendment designed to restore fiscal responsibility to logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The Tongass National Forest contains natural resources held in trust for the American people. Yet, under the Republicans, the government has been giving the timber away practically for free.

      In 2005, for example, the federal government spent more than 48.5 million dollars subsidizing logging in the Tongass National Forest. In return, the government only got back $500,000 dollars in fees from loggers. That's 48 million dollars worth of services the government just gave away, as some kind of Logging Welfare. And did the loggers then sell us their timber products at a discounted rate, in thanks for the government giveaways? Nope. They're taking from the American people on both ends.

      A bipartisan effort led by Republican Steve Chabot and Democrat Rob Andrews led to an amendment to end federal government subsidies for logging roads into the Tongass National Forest. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter opposed this effort to restore fiscal responsibility to government land management. Tancredo and Hunter voted to keep the big government gravy train going. (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)

    163. What's good for the economy? Well, I know one thing that's not good for the economy: Spending $770 every day, beyond the 61.8 million liability of the Cosco Busan, the oil tanker that crashed into the San Francisco Bay Bridge and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the water. That's $770,000 dollars every day that's being put into a project that if we didn't depend on fossil fuels, would never have had to be commenced. (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 2007)

    164. The New York Times headline tells it all: "Romney's Campaign Refocuses on His Business Experience"

      You mean, Mitt Romney is going to campaign for President on the idea that having a rich and powerful daddy made him qualified to be President of the United States? What will Mitt Romney's business narrative sound like? That he was born to a wealthy family with a politically-connected father, yet was able to overcome this adversity to make more money for himself to spend on himself, and ensure that his children too could be born with silver spoons?

      Bring it on, Mitt. You call it "business success", but the rest of us call it being born on third base and thinking that you hit a home run. (Source: New York Times, December 19, 2007)

    165. "We need to lay clear these earmarks" said Republican congressman Pat McHenry, from North Carolina. He has convinced a home-state newspaper to call him "one of Congress' most outspoken critics of earmarks".

      In spite of that, Earmark Watch notes that Representative McHenry arranged to have 3.25 million dollars in earmarks inserted into congressional legislation.

      McHenry is a great example of what Republicans mean when they say that they're against congressional earmarks. What they mean is that they're against earmarks, except for the 3.25 million dollars that they want. (Sources: BlueNC, December 20, 2007; Winston Salem Journal, December 20, 2007; EarmarkWatch.org)

    166. A Bush White House decision to cut a proposed settlement in the government's fraud and racketeering trial against Big Tobacco from $130 Billion to $10 Billion was opposed by the government's lawyers involved in the case.

      "We do not want politics to be perceived as the underlying motivation, and that is certainly a risk if we make adjustments in our remedies presentation that are not based on evidence," and "create an incentive for defendants to engage in future misconduct by making the misconduct profitable," the lawyers wrote. Bush administration officials overruled them, to the $120 billion benefit of Big Tobacco.

    167. The finance corporation Mitt Romney founded, Bain Capital Partners LLC, has made an arrangement to purchase Clear Channel Communications. The decision provides a striking parallel in economy and politics. Clear Channel is a corporation that has worked to gain an increasing share of a variety of media, from radio to billboards, across the country, replacing a diversity of local messages with a bland butter-like spread of homogenized, pasteurized process entertainment product.

      Mitt Romney represents the ClearChannelization of politics -- a blandly smiling, deep voiced man with every hair in perfect place and every message dedicated to the promotion of corporate-safe majoritarian sameness across our land. We must reject the march toward sameness in commercial media, and we must reject it in politics as well. (Source: Money Morning December 17, 2007)

    168. George W. Bush spoke from the White House regarding the sinking economy on December 29, 2007:
      Some of you have real concerns. Some of you worry about your ability to afford healthcare coverage for your families. Some of you are concerned about meeting your monthly mortgage payments. Some of you worry about the impact of rising energy costs on fueling your cars and heating your homes. You expect your elected leaders in Washington to address these pressures on our economy and give you more options to help you deal with them. And I have put forth several proposals to do so.

      These economic problems have been concerning the American people since the beginning of the Bush administration. During the past seven years he has shown no interest in addressing those concerns. And now, in the waning days of the Bush administration, when there's no realistic time frame for George W. Bush to actually accomplish anything whatsoever, now he's making some proposals? Gee, thanks for nothing, Mr. Bush. (Source: Radio Address of George W. Bush on December 29 2007)

    169. Talk about extreme circumstances: under the poor stewardship of pro-logging right-wing politicians, the supply of available wood has gone down, leading rogue loggers to begin chopping down and stealing trees from private landowners when they are away. (Source: CNN December 30, 2007)