Speaking before a joint session of Congress late today, President Barack Obama urged prompt passage of his $450 billion American Jobs Act, the elements of which have previously received bipartisan support.
** QUICK HITS. The White House pulled a low-ball play in advance of President Barack Obama’s big economic speech this evening, strategically leaking that it was a proposed $300 billion jobs package. In fact, it’s 50% bigger than that, nearly $450 billion, which is over half the size of his 2009 economic stimulus package. Obama’s plan would cut the payroll tax for employeess and employers, extend unemployment assistance, support state and local teachers and public safety personnel, and invest in infrastructure. Cleverly, all the ideas in it have been supported by substantial numbers of Republicans. … With the draw-down of US forces from Iraq on schedule for only a few thousand remaining in-country by the end of the year, the US is contemplating basing a rapid response force in nearby Kuwait in case the Iraqi security situation further deteriorates. … Over a million people in the San Diego area, and many more in Baja California across the Mexican border, are suddenly without electric power. Power lines from Arizona failed late this afternoon, with no explanation readily available.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … A TALE OF TWO SHOWS: THE OBAMA SPEECH AND THE G.O.P. DUKEAROO.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 4 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on the ongoing economic slowdown. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
** JERRY-RIGGING: BROWN GETS A JOBS TAX SWAP DEAL (PARTLY) AND WINS PLAUDITS FROM THE RIGHT. In a hastily scheduled noontime press conference — he’s taken something of a liking for the unlikely time of 12:15 PM — Governor Jerry Brown joined with Republican state Assemblymen Nathan Fletcher and Cameron Smyth and Democratic state Senator Kevin de Leon (who carried the original legislation) to announce an agreement to move forward on his plan to swap a billion dollar tax break for corporations in the hard-won 2009 state budget compromise for several other tax breaks intended to boost job creation.
Assuming he holds Democratic support, Brown now has the needed two-thirds vote in the state Assembly to pass tax changes. But he does not yet have, at least publicly, the needed two Republican votes in the Senate to pass the measure. And Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, a frequent Brown antagonist, complained about Brown jamming his caucus, saying that instead he should call a special session on jobs.
Sure. Or, alternatively, Brown can just pick off two members of his caucus, as he just did with Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway.
“The agreement reached today with the cooperation of members of both parties closes the toxic tax loophole that rewards businesses for locating jobs outside California,” said Brown. “These funds will help California manufacturers buy the equipment they need and reduce the tax burden on families as well as small businesses.”
Here’s what the deal would do. It would apply the mandatory single sales factor to all businesses in California, a term of art meaning the ending of the ability of corporations to pick the basis on which they calculate their tax liability, limiting it to sales earned in California rather than basing it on sales, employees and investments in California. California is one of two states allowing corporations to pick the basis of their tax liability, which they can do each year in order to pick the lowest amount of tax.
With the estimated billion dollars in annual revenue from this move, Brown’s plan would give that back to businesses and individuals to promote job creation and individual tax relief.
First, it would reduce the tax rate for 0.5% for the first $50,000 in taxable income for most corporations, dropping from 8.84% to 8.34%, for $18 million in estimated tax relief, per Brown.
Next, it would provide a 10% exemption for the first $50,000 in business income for Personal Income Tax taxpayers, for an estimated $255 million in tax relief.
Then it would cut the minimum tax from $800 to $750, a 12.5% reduction yielding an estimated $59 million in tax relief.
Further, it would increase the standard deduction for individuals and couples, yielding an estimated $306 million in tax relief.
Finally, it would enact a sales tax exemption for manufacturing; approximately 4% reduction for start-ups and 1% reduction for established businesses, with an estimated tax relief of $299 million.
While Dutton reacted negatively, one of the rather incongruous high priests of California Republicanism reacted very positively. That’s Flash Report blogger Jon Fleischman, a former vice chairman of the state party.
Why does he like it? Because it’s revenue neutral, and it’s more populist-sounding, redirecting tax reductions from larger corporations to individuals and smaller businesses.
“Conservatives should rally behind this tax deal,” trumpets his site, with a Drudge-like flashing red light atop it.
Home movies of Moammar Gaddafi in the good old days. Watch his little grand-daughter tell him he’s not really a very nice man. Out of the mouths of babes. The deposed dictator’s whereabouts are still unclear.
** NEW POLL: LIFE EVALUATION RATINGS HIT TWO-YEAR LOW AS NATION AWAITS OBAMA ADDRESS. As President Barack Obama readies his address to a joint session of Congress on the economy, a new Gallup Poll survey has Americans’ evaluations of the state of their lives at a two-year low.
The metrics are rather squishy, but the overall rating is at the lowest level since July 2009, just six months after Obama’s inauguration when things were turning around.
This development tracks declining economic confidence which in turn tracks the ridiculously dysfunctional debate over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Still, a bare majority of Americans rate their lives as “thriving.”
Americans’ life ratings worsened for the third month in a row in August, with the nation’s collective Life Evaluation Index score dropping to 47.6 — its lowest level since July 2009. This is down from 48.1 in July and the high of 51 in January. …
Gallup and Healthways started tracking Americans’ life ratings daily in January 2008, at which time the Life Evaluation Index score for the nation was 48.2. The score plummeted during the fall of 2008 as the economic crisis unfolded and eventually fell to a low of 37.3 in February 2009. Americans began to rate their lives better in April 2009, with the index score reaching a 2009 high of 50 in October that year. Since that time, Americans’ life evaluation ratings generally remained in the high 40s to low 50s range.
The Life Evaluation Index, part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, classifies Americans as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. The overall Life Evaluation Index score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of thriving Americans minus the percentage of suffering Americans.
The percentage of Americans who rate their lives well enough to be classified as thriving fell to 51.5% in August, from 51.7% in July, and 53.3% in June. …
A higher percentage of Americans were thriving than struggling when Gallup and Healthways started tracking these metrics in January 2008. But, when Americans’ life ratings collapsed in the fall of 2008, the percentages who were struggling eclipsed those who were thriving. When Americans’ life ratings improved in April 2009, the percentage thriving again began to surpass the percentage struggling. …
** 11:40 AM PACIFIC JERRY BROWN SCHEDULE UPDATE: Governor Jerry Brown just updated his schedule today to include a 12:15 PM press conference to discuss what he describes as “a bipartisan agreement to advance his California Jobs First plan.”
That’s his plan to swap out a billion dollar corporate tax break included in the hard-won 2009 budget compromise for tax incentives to create jobs in California.
It takes place in the Governor’s Press Conference Room in the Capitol, and will be webcast live at www.gov.ca.gov.
Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney traded barbs on Social Security and other matters in last night’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library outside Los Angeles.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 4 PM Pacific, Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress at the United States Capitol. First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden will be in attendance.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
Obama is putting the finishing touches on his big economic speech.
It’s expected to amount to another $300 billion economic stimulus package. Included in the package are an extension of payroll tax cuts, unemployment assistance, tax credits for companies that hire, and investment in infrastructure.
I doubt this is going to impress his critics on the left much in terms of its scope and vision. And its prospects in the Republican Congress are rather doubtful.
Thus he may achieve the worst of both worlds. Or he may pin the tail on the, er, elephant, demonstrating that Republicans won’t support things they’ve backed before if he proposes them.
But Obama got good news from last night’s Republican presidential debate, which focused on fierce in-fighting.
Rick Perry’s frontrunnership was evident to all, as he was the focus of the fire from opponents and inquiry from moderators.
There were a number of questions I saw going into this: Can Perry hold up in a debate? Will Mitt Romney continue his above the fray/Rose Garden strategy that has seen him go from frontrunner to now rather distantly trailing runner-up? Will Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul find ways to move back into contention? And what of signs of life for the trailing candidates, such as Jon Huntsman?
Yes, Perry can hold up in a debate.
No, Romney dropped his Rose Garden strategy and tried to go at Perry, with some effect on Social Security, though less than he imagines in a Republican primary.
President Barack Obama yesterday honored NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson at the White House.
No, Bachmann and Paul did not find a way to move back into contention. Bachmann has mostly melted away, evident from her lack of screen time last night.
Yes, some signs of life for Jon Huntsman and other trailers. Huntsman is the teacher’s pet of the race; i.e., the favored media candidate saying obvious things that the establishment media knows.
Such as science is real.
I’ll have more on the debate, and Obama’s speech, in an upcoming piece.
Developments on Palestine. The US will veto its bid in the UN Security Council to become a member of the United Nations at the heads of government meeting in New York two weeks from now.
But Palestine could upgrade its status with the UN from observer to non-member state simply by winning a majority vote of the UN General Assembly. As such it would gain the authority to become a signatory to some international treaties, including that of the International Criminal Court. A Palestinian government that is a member of the ICC can create new problems for Israel.
As these theatrics play out, the whereabouts of Moammar Gaddafi remain unclear. The deposed dictator remains at large, while elements of his regime go in disparate ways. Some are dug in in a few remaining redoubts. Others have fled and are fleeing to African neighbors.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown put in an appearance last night at the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Symphony. The opening night gala was an event, like many, not on his public schedule.
The performance featured pianist Lang Lang and violinist Itzhak Perlman.
The fight over the Amazon online sales tax may have a temporary solution. The company and legislative leaders have reached an agreement under which Amazon agrees not to pursue its referendum campaign next year — that Darth Vader-like “NOOOOO!” you are hearing emanates not from the force, but from legions of political consultants — and the state does not receive its $200 million in revenues for the year.
Instead, Congress would be given the opportunity to pursue an overall solution. But if it fails to do so before the middle of next year, the sales tax would be imposed and collected.
I doubt that Brown likes this much, as it puts another $200 million hole in his already very tight budget. We’ll see what he says.
** THE FARM WORKERS AND JERRY BROWN MAKE UP, FOR NOW. Governor Jerry Brown and his decades-long friends and allies at the United Farm Workers have made up. In a way. For now.
Two months ago, I wrote here on the Huffington Post about the seeming mystery of why Brown vetoed the farm worker bill, which would have allowed unionization to occur in the fields through so-called card check legislation. … From my September 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS POST-BUDGET FOCUS. The California state legislature is almost down to the last week of its yearly session, with little to show for it other than big budget cuts early in the year. Any real action on the economy? That would be no.
Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown is finding some focus after seeming, at least in a public sense, to drift for awhile after his great exertions on a grand budget deal, which were only partly successful. He, of course, appointed a distinguished new state Supreme Court Justice, Goodwin Liu, who was unanimously confirmed, and other officials, and has dealt with a lot of legislation. But his public moves and comments had been few and far between. … … From my September 1st feature.
** WHY OBAMA WAS RIGHT ON LIBYA AND BIN LADEN AND WRONG ON AFGHANISTAN. … From my August 31st essay.
** OBAMA’S BIG DISCONNECT. … From my August 22nd column.
** OF “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE,” GOP STRAW POLLS, MARTHA’S VINEYARD VACATIONS, AND OTHER FOLLIES. … From my August 18th essay.
** HARRY POTTER: A CONFESSION, AND AN APPRECIATION. … From my August 11th essay.
** LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: THE BIG BUDGET DEAL AND OBAMA’S REAL PROBLEM. … From my August 8th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
A rare supernova millions of light years away is faintly visible from Earth.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $90 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $56 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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