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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fw: Bye Bye to the Worst President Ever

--- On Thu, 1/15/09, OurFuture Today <> wrote:
From: OurFuture Today <>
Subject: Bye Bye to the Worst President Ever
To: "mittie bowman" <>
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009, 11:27 AM


JANUARY 15, 2009
Bye Bye to the Worst President Ever
Tonight George W. Bush presents his valedictory, desperately seeking thanks and congratulations. So here goes: Thanks and congratulations, W., for showing the world that today's conservatism is an abject failure.
Foreclosures Up 81% — U.S. foreclosure filings spiked by more than 81% in 2008, a record, according to a new report, and they're up 225% compared with 2006. A total of 861,664 families lost their homes to foreclosure last year, according to RealtyTrac, which released its year-end report Thursday. There were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings issued during 2008, which means that one of every 54 households received a notice last year. "Clearly the foreclosure prevention programs implemented to date have not had any real success in slowing down this foreclosure tsunami," said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac in a statement.
Jobless Claims Surge — The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week to 524,000, breaking the half-million mark for the first time in 2009, according to a new government report. The Labor Department said that initial filings for state jobless benefits rose 54,000 for the week ended Jan. 10. Economists polled by expected the reading to rise to 501,000 claims. Jobless claims were revised upward to 470,000 from 467,000 for the week ended Jan. 3. The last time jobless claims exceeded the half-million mark was the week that ended Dec. 20, when claims surged to a 26-year high of 589,000.
Bank Seeks More Bailout Billions — The U.S. government is nearing a deal to inject Bank of America Corp. with billions of dollars in more aid. The nation's bank acquired Merrill Lynch & Co. on Jan. 1. Bank of America received $25 billion from the government's $700 financial rescue fund, including $10 billion that would have gone to Merrill. The discussion between the government and Bank of America began when the bank said it wasn't likely to go through with its acquisition because Merrill's losses were larger than expected. Concerned that the stability of the U.S. financial markets would be at risk if the deal fell apart, Treasury officials said they would work on "formulation of a plan" that includes new money from the government.
Obama Would Spend Bailout on Housing Crisis — President-elect Barack Obama would spend the remaining $350 billion of a financial bailout fund on expanded lending and reduced foreclosures and would not use the money to help other industries, lawmakers said after discussions with Obama emissaries. The Senate is set to vote on whether to release the money. Lawmakers insisted that Obama advisers put their assurances in writing before the vote. The private guarantees went further than what Obama's team has been willing to discuss publicly about his plans for the second half of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Obama has asked Congress for the money and has been trying to overcome misgivings from lawmakers over how the Bush administration spent the first half of the fund.
Fed: Economy Continues to Sour — Economic weakness continued to spread across the nation as real estate markets remained in distress and consumers kept their pocketbooks closed, according to the latest Federal Reserve report on regional economic conditions. "Most districts noted reduced or low activity across a wide range of industries, although a few districts noted some exceptions in some sectors," the Fed said in the January edition of its Beige Book. The Beige Book, published eight times a year, is a summary of economic conditions in the central bank's twelve districts. The report noted that retail sales during the last six weeks, even during the heavily-discounted holiday period, were "generally weak," with eight of the 12 districts reporting "heavy discounting."
Employers Spread Economic Pain — For most employers, layoffs and other cost-cutting tactics are still the preferred way to survive a downturn. The government reported last week that U.S. companies slashed 524,000 jobs in December as the current recession, already the longest since the 1981-82 slump, entered its second year. Almost 47% of the companies surveyed by Challenger late last year said they had laid off workers to deal with the downturn; only hiring freezes and cuts in travel expenses were strategies cited by more companies. Workers are being asked to make other sacrifices as well. A raft of companies are eliminating bonuses, freezing salaries and pension plans, and stopping matching payments to 401(k) retirement plans. Some are mandating unpaid furloughs.
House Recovery Bill Nearly Finished — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats are close to finalizing the details of an economic recovery package. Pelosi declined to give reporters any details of the bill, but said she is more confident that Congress would reach the mid-February deadline for getting a bill to Obama's desk. "It's about four words — jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs," she said. The overall price tag for the package is $800 billion to $850 billion, with $300 billion to $325 billion designated for tax cuts and $500 billion to $525 billion dedicated to infrastructure spending and aid to the states, according to a senior House Democratic aide.
House Backs Children's Health Bill — The House of Representatives voted to expand a children's health program and increase cigarette taxes to pay for it, giving President-elect Barack Obama a jump start on a campaign promise to insure more Americans. Similar legislation was twice vetoed by President George W. Bush, who argued that expanding the popular program would push more children into government-run health care instead of private plans. In stark contrast, expanding the Children's Health Insurance Plan could be the first legislation from the Democratic-controlled Congress that Obama puts into law. "It may very well be the first bill the president signs," House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said. The House voted 289-139 for the bill and the Senate is expected to move swiftly on its version.
Struggling States Cut Health Care for Poor — Even as President-elect Barack Obama plans an ambitious push to expand health coverage nationwide, states are slashing health services to their poorest residents amid the economic downturn. The unprecedented cuts in public assistance come as millions of Americans are losing their jobs and health insurance. In many cases, the cuts are so deep that even the massive federal rescue package being assembled on Capitol Hill may not be enough to restore services being eliminated in the burgeoning crisis, health officials warn. And the faltering economy has all but killed trailblazing state campaigns to expand coverage for the working poor — once seen as hopeful signs for national health care reform.

What a Difference An Election Makes -- Health Care for 11 Million Kids — A little over a year ago, President George W. Bush insisted we could not afford to insure 10 million kids through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Bush vetoed the S-CHIP bill. His veto was sustained by just a slim margin. Well. What a difference an election makes!
The Party of No Ideas — When read carefully, conservatives real message is that the best thing to do for America is to do nothing at all, except to maintain or worsen the inequities of our tax system. Then at some point, perhaps at the end of this year or next, the marketplace will work its magic and growth will resume. According to the right's leading economic analysts, such passive policies will result in the best outcome someday. After all, they say, every other recession in American history ended eventually.
The Bush Legacy: Normalizing the Outrageous — President Bush cited at the top of his list of domestic policy achievements for which he hadn't received proper credit, his failed initiative to privatize Social Security. The ironies of this self-congratulations are obvious: a) it was a failure, not an achievement; and b) most of us who have already watched a big chunk of 401k savings disappear on his watch are confirmed in the opposition we felt at the time he was promoting to further expand our personal losses.
Rewriting the First Draft of History — Bush must be held responsible, along with all his minions and Congressional enablers, for the bloodbath of criminal wrongdoing that took place and continues in Iraq. But the media must be held accountable, as well.
Why 'War on Terror' Was Wrong — The phrase gives a false idea of a unified global enemy, and encourages a primarily military reply. We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. Terrorists succeed when they render countries fearful and vindictive; when they sow division and animosity; when they force countries to respond with violence and repression.
An Open Letter to George W. Bush — Dear President Bush: I am glad you are, at 62, still a relatively young man. I am glad you are in robust health. This means there is a good likelihood of your being with us for decades yet to come, and I dearly want that. You see, history's verdict is on the way, and I want you to see it for yourself.
The End of the Neo-Cons? — With the Bush administration about to recede into history, will the neo-conservative philosophy that underpinned its major foreign policy decisions likewise vanish from the scene? The answer seems likely to be yes. But the epitaph of neo-conservatism has been written before — prematurely, as it turned out.

Public Backs Public Investment
New poll shows big support for public investment in clean energy, infrastructure, healthcare and education. SCHIP sails through House. And who's wavering on EFCA?
The Wall Street Bailout, Part II: Bipartisanship or Buypartisanship?
There's a lot of talk these days about bipartisanship — but the question is whether he's talking about bipartisanship or Bush-style buypartisanship?
Conservative Mantra vs. Reality
The conservative mantra of "lower taxes, smaller government" is poll-tested to appeal. But the reality — tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts in domestic programs for working and poor people — doesn't work for most Americans. The result? Thousands of American students with the grades and desire to go to college simply cannot afford to go.
In answer to the question, 'Are you better off today than you were before George Bush took office more than seven years ago,' if you look at the overall record and the millions of jobs that have been created since President Bush took office, you could make an argument that there's been great progress economically over that period of time.
Here are the facts:

Between March 2001 and March 2008 the nation lost almost 3.3 million manufacturing jobs, and only gained 5.3 million jobs overall — just slightly more than half the number of jobs needed to keep pace with the 9.8 million people added to the labor force during that period. That's why the unemployment rate is 15.7 percent higher in March 2008 than it was in March 2001. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The share of the population with jobs declined from 64.3 percent of the population in March 2001 to 62.6 percent of the population in March 2008. It's the first time on record that a period of "economic recovery" has been marched by an actual decline in the employment rate. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic Policy Institute)

Hourly wages rose 3.6 percent over the past year, the slowest growth rate in two years, and well behind recent inflationary readings, which have been around 4 percent. What's worse, employees on average have been keeping their workers on the job for fewer hours in the past year, so weekly earnings are up only 3.3 percent over the past year. (Economic Policy Institute).

Since the late 1990's, average incomes fell by 2.5 percent for those in the bottom fifth of the income scale and rose by just 1.3 percent for those in the middle fifth. Meanwhile, incomes climbed 9 percent for those in the top fifth, not counting income from capital gains. (Economic Policy Institute)

At the same time, the consumer price index from March 2001 to March 2008 has increased 17.5 percent. (Inflation

People in the top 1 percent of the income bracket captured about half of the overall economic growth between 1993 and 2006. (Emmanuel Saez, University of California, Berkeley)

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