February 17, 2008

AP Reporter Lets Ickes Play Both Sides of MI-FL Delegate Issue

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 pm

In changing his tune on whether delegates from Michigan and Florida should be able to vote their preferences at the Democratic National Convention based on the results of those states’ primaries, Harold Ickes has gone from DNC hack to Hillary Clinton flack.

Yesterday, Associated Press reporter Hope Yen gave Ickes an open microphone to “explain” himself, and showed no skepticism regarding Ickes’s hopefully conflicting positions (bolds are mine):

Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.

In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the two states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be otherwise disenfranchised – before acknowledging moments later that he had favored the sanctions.

Ickes explained that his different position essentially is due to the different hats he wears as both a DNC member and a Clinton adviser in charge of delegate counting. Clinton won the primary vote in Michigan and Florida, and now she wants those votes to count.

“There’s been no change,” Ickes said. “I was not acting as an agent of Mrs. Clinton. We had promulgated rules and those rules said the timing provision … provides for certain sanctions, automatic sanctions as a matter of fact, if a state such as Michigan or Florida violates those timing provisions.”

When is a change not a change? I guess it’s when Harold Ickes says it’s not a change.

Can anyone imagine Karl Rove pulling stunts like this without press skepticism? I didn’t think so.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Keeping the Economy Going: Failing to Learn the Lessons of Even the Recent Past

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 am

Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore noted that we aren’t even learning from a past as recent as 5-8 years ago. The same guy who’s in the Oval Office now was in it during most of that time. As the supply-side tax collections boom ends and economic growth slows, Moore advocates steps yours truly has been advocating for many months.

He starts by flashing back to 2001 (bolds are mine):

In response to the bursting of the tech bubble, Washington served up a Keynesian brew of demand-side stimulus. The Fed cut interest rates 11 times, hoping to pump liquidity into the market, and President Bush signed into law a tax rebate of up to $600 per household. (Sound familiar?)

There’s a spirited argument about whether those rebate checks helped pull the economy out of recession. The evidence is mixed. The statistics tell us that the economy did pull out of the recession in late 2001. Instead of sprinting forward to make up for lost ground, however, as often happens at the start of a recovery, the economy and job market grew at a snail’s pace. The stock market also remained bearish. Former Federal Reserve Board Member Wayne Angell noted at the time that “the economy will not fully recover until the stock market does.”

Only after President Bush’s 2003 investment tax cuts — the second attempt Congress and the administration made at stimulating the economy — did the economy start to gain speed. The key was to cut capital gains and dividend tax rates to 15%, from 35%, and to offer new tax write-offs for businesses investing in new plants and equipment.

….. The investment tax cuts had two positive effects on the economy. First, almost from the day the tax cuts were enacted the stock market capitalized the value of the lower taxes on corporate profits and capital gains. Within months, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose nearly 10%. And, we now know, the investment slump was converted into an investment boom. Business capital spending, down 4.8% in 2001 and 6.1% in 2002, surged in 2004 by 7.4% and in 2005 by 9.5%. It was this investment spurt that financed job and GDP growth in recent years. In short, what we experienced was a classic supply-side recovery.

The most recent GDP numbers for the fourth quarter of 2007 confirm that we’re experiencing a replay of the investment slump of 2001-02. Consumer spending is slowing down, but it is still within its normal growth range (it grew 2% last quarter) and the numbers out yesterday were better than expected. Consumers are more cautious in their spending mostly because of the negative wealth effect of declining home values.

….. And, like earlier in the decade, the real economic drag today is from a slowdown in investment. Gross private investment topped $1.9 trillion in 2006. Last year it fell by $88.3 billion (with more than half of that drop coming in the fourth quarter alone). Most of that decline came in residential housing, but other areas, such as business spending is slowing too.

Why is investment declining? One explanation is that firms and investors know that there is a tax hike on the way when the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010. “The two big negatives for investment loom on the horizon,” says economist Michael Darda, “higher tax rates and higher inflation due to easy money.” Mutual fund data from the fourth quarter of 2007 confirm that a weak dollar and the risk of higher taxes are pushing capital overseas.

Republicans blundered by not insisting that extending the Bush investment tax cuts be part of any package. The GOP should also be pushing a permanent supply-side tax cut that would include expensing for business purchases, inflation-indexing for capital gains, and a corporate tax cut to bring capital back home.

On this one, “I blame Bush” (and the GOP Congress) is an unfortunately accurate criticism.

Daily Positivity: 100 transfusions and 4 months later, miracle mom alive and well

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:02 am

From Guam:

Article published Feb 10, 2008

Michelle Yoon is living a life fueled by other people’s blood.

In late September, a rare combination of birth complications prevented Yoon’s blood from clotting during labor, and Guam Memorial Hospital doctors gave her more than 100 transfusions of blood, platelets and plasma to keep her alive — replacing every red drop in her body.

Today, Yoon and her chubby, chatty infant son Alex are perfectly healthy. She has been out of the hospital since mid-November and expects to return to her job as a diving instructor at the end of the year. Her family is finally breathing easy again.

Not bad for a patient who had a 1 percent chance of survival.

“For a patient to need so many transfusions and survive is so rare, especially on a tiny island like Guam — it’s a miracle,” said Dr. Thomas Shieh, Yoon’s physician. “After all it took to get him here, I think her son is going to grow up to be someone special.”

Yoon still has trouble comprehending how close she was to the brink before doctors hauled her back. Her memory of her son’s birth is foggy, but one message is clear.

“I can’t say any words that mean how it felt,” she said. “But, I think I want (Alex) to grow up to be a person who works for God.”

Yoon’s hospital stay shattered GMH’s old transfusion record, which according to pathologist Dr. Philip Dauterman was about 65 transfusions. The GMH blood bank’s weekly shipment is enough for about 50 to 60 transfusions.

To keep Yoon’s transfusions from draining GMH’s blood bank, more than 40 people donated blood Sept. 20 and 21 after Yoon’s brother-in-law, James Oh, used a Korean broadcasting channel to recruit donors from the community. The response was inspiring.

Yesterday, Yoon said the donors did more than save her life — they changed it.

“I am so happy I got so many people’s blood. I feel loved and I love others,” she said. “Even strangers came to give blood. … Before what happened to me, I didn’t think much about how to love other people outside my family. Now I want to help everyone, even strangers.”

As soon as she is healthy enough, Yoon plans to begin to donate blood regularly. She also planned to volunteer at the hospital to visit and entertain the sick. She said she would raise Alex to do the same. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.