Demands for justice over the weekend massacre of Afghan civilians by a US Army sergeant continue. The shooter has yet to be identified.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE REAL “GAME CHANGE.”
** JERRY-RIGGING: A DEAL IS DONE. The compromise solution I alluded to yesterday and discussed this morning on the November revenue initiatives was formally announced this afternoon.
The Millionaire Tax crew finally acceded to reality. They couldn’t raise the money for a full-tilt campaign, but they could qualify their initiative. And then hope that the message was strong enough to stand the storm.
Which, as I discussed last week after their press conference/media conference call insisting on just that, was rather wishful thinking.
For his part, Governor Jerry Brown acceded to the reality that the initiative and its backers weren’t going away.
So they reached a meeting of the minds on some fairly logical deal points, as I’ve discussed.
Time is tight on qualifying the compromise measure, so Brown’s original initiative will continue moving forward just in case. The Millionaire Tax initiative will not.
This leaves heiress Molly Munger’s initiative, which would raise income taxes on virtually everyone in the state and has no chance of passing, hanging out there as the outlier. She keeps putting money into the campaign, but it is unlikely to be much of a problem in the long run.
Here are statements from Brown’s release, followed by a spun up claim of victory from the erstwhile Millionaire Tax crew, which was sent out shortly beforehand.
“The new initiative integrates the Governor’s original initiative with the Millionaires Tax Initiative. The new merged initiative is designed to balance the state budget, prevent further cuts to education, provide a progressive tax structure and provide constitutional protections of public safety realignment funding, with the following adjustments:
“• Lowers the proposed sales tax increase from ½ cent to ¼ cent.
“• Adjusts the top two upper income brackets from a 1.5% increase to a 2% increase for incomes over $600,000 for joint filers and from 2% to 3% for incomes over $1 million for joint filers. (The bracket for incomes over $500,000 for joint filers remains at a 1% increase).
“• The income tax increases will be in place for an additional 2 years, through 2018, while the sales tax increase will still sunset after 2016.
““This united effort makes victory more likely and will go a long way toward balancing our budget and protecting our schools, universities and public safety,” said Governor Brown.”
““Our coalition welcomes the opportunity to join Governor Brown, Senate pro Tem Steinberg, Speaker Pérez and their allies in crafting this win-win measure,” said Joshua Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers and a co-chair of the Millionaire Tax Campaign. “Our values and principles are clearly reflected in this new initiative that now includes a 50% decrease in the sales tax rate, reduces the burden on working families and ensures a greater contribution from the 1%. These changes will generate an additional $2 billion in vital funding for the next fiscal year, and we are determined to ensure those funds benefit the communities that have been hit hardest by budget cuts and our cash-strapped higher education institutions.”
““This responsible agreement will ask less of those who were hit hardest in the recession while ensuring that those who have profited the most contribute a larger share,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.“By reinvesting in our public schools and California’s colleges and universities, I am confident that this proposal aligns with the values and priorities of the vast majority of Californians. This is a major step forward as we work together to put California on the right track while eliminating our structural deficit.”
““Consensus speaks volumes when asking taxpayers for the resources to reinvest in education, higher education, public safety, and other vital services that keep people healthy and our economy strong,” said Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “Californians recognize that we have cut far too much and demand better. Working together we can end our chronic deficits and put our state and the families that live here on the path to economic security.””
And from the left-liberal coalition behind the original millionaire tax campaign:
““Our coalition welcomes the opportunity to join Governor Brown, Senate Pro-tem Steinberg, Speaker Pérez and their allies in crafting this win-win measure,” said Joshua Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers and a co-chair of the Millionaire Tax Campaign.
““Our values and principles are clearly reflected in this new initiative that now includes a 50% decrease in the sales tax rate, reduces the burden on working families and ensures a greater contribution from the 1%. These changes will generate $2 Billion in additional vital funding in the next fiscal year, and we are determined to ensure those funds benefit the communities that have been hit hardest by budget cuts and our cash-strapped higher education institutions.””
** NEW POLL: U.S. SATISFACTION HITS 10-MONTH HIGH. Here’s more good news for President Barack Obama as the rightward-rolling Republicans continue their very fractious presidential primary fight.
A new Gallup Poll shows that national satisfaction is up to a 10-month high. Which is to say, it’s now back at the level it hit after the Osama bin Laden raid.
The problem, of course, is that it’s all relative.
Of course, what a president running for re-election wants is the trend most of all, especially after a near Depression.
Twenty-six percent of Americans are now satisfied with the way things are going in the country, up from 22% in February and 18% in January. Satisfaction has not been this high since last May when it previously hit 26% — buoyed by the death of Osama bin Laden — and before that, April 2010 when it was 27%. …
Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the country has improved slightly almost every month since last August and September when it was at a near-record low of 11%. This marks the longest period of sustained improvement in this measure since the first few months of the Obama administration in 2009. The latest results are based on a March 8-11 Gallup poll, with most of that interviewing conducted after Friday’s well-received U.S. jobs report showing 227,000 new jobs were created in February, beating expectations at the same time that the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%.
At 26%, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the country is now comparable with where it stood in late 2007, before the Wall Street financial crisis of 2008. It exceeds the all-time low 7% recorded in October 2008, just after Congress passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation to bail out failing financial institutions. However, it still falls well short of the levels seen from 2000 through 2007 and at points in 2009. …
** NEW POLL: LARGE DROP IN THOSE WHO SAY U.S. IS NUMBER ONE MILITARY POWER IN THE WORLD. The limits to power are becoming more apparent to US voters. A new Gallup Poll shows a 10-point drop since 2010 in those who say that the US is the top military power in the world.
Actually, of course, it absolutely is. But there are very real limits to that power.
And those limits are becoming ever more apparent. Even after the clear success of the NATO air campaign to oust Moammar Gaddafi in Libya.
Fortunately for President Barack Obama, most are satisfied with America’s level of military power.
A slim majority of Americans (54%) say the United States is the No. 1 military power in the world, down from 64% in 2010, with an average of 59% since 1993. The lowest reading, 51%, was recorded in 1999 as the U.S. was involved in a NATO-led multinational air campaign against Kosovo. …
While political and ideological groups view the United States’ military power similarly, there are significant gender and educational differences. Men are much more likely than women to say the U.S. is No. 1 militarily, and post-graduates are significantly more likely than those with less formal education to believe this. …
When asked to assess the strength of the U.S. national defense, 54% of Americans say it is “about right,” with 13% saying it is “stronger than it needs to be” and 32% believing it is “not strong enough.”
Gallup has asked this question annually since 1999 as well as in 1984 and 1990. Typically, Americans have been more likely to believe the country’s national defense is appropriately strong. The only exceptions were in 2007 and 2008, when slightly more said the nation’s defense was not strong enough than said it was about right. Those readings came as the United States was fighting concurrent large-scale military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which began in 2001 and 2003, respectively. …
Rick Santorum won two more big Republican presidential primaries on Tuesday — in Alabama and Mississippi — to go along with his landslide win in Kansas over the weekend. Putative on and off frontrunner Mitt Romney, who was crushed in Kansas, finished third in both major Deep South states, even though Newt Gingrich split the conservative vote. Gingrich finished second in both states, but is taking on the aspect of a spoiler for conservative hopes.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE REAL “GAME CHANGE.”
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Today is the centerpiece pomp and circumstance day of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s state visit to Washington. Yesterday the two leaders went to an NCAA basketball tournament game in Ohio.
Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden all participated in the formal welcome ceremony for Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama then held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Cameron in the Oval Office.
Following that, Obama held an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Cameron and the Official U.S. and Official U.K. Delegations in the Cabinet Room.
Obama and Prime Minister Cameron then held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden.
At 4 PM Pacific, the Obamas welcome Prime Minister Cameron and Mrs. Cameron on the North Portico.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas take official photos with Prime Minister Cameron and Mrs. Cameron on the Grand Staircase.
At 5:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas attend the State Dinner in a tent on the South Lawn with Prime Minister Cameron and Mrs. Cameron; The President and Prime Minister Cameron will each deliver a toast.
At 6:40 PM Pacific, the Obamas attend the State Dinner Reception with Prime Minister Cameron and Mrs. Cameron on the South Lawn.
Big wins yesterday for Rick Santorum in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries guarantee that the Republican presidential race won’t be over any time soon.
Santorum won in both states despite splitting the conservative vote with Newt Gingrich, who finished a strong second.
Mitt Romney, who thought he might wrap things up with victories in one or both primaries, taking advantage of Gingrich siphoning off a huge Non-Romney vote, finished third.
Romney is ahead in delegates, but he has no momentum.
If Gingrich were out of the race last week, Santorum’s eyelash loss in Michigan, where Romney’s father was the popular governor and car company CEO, would have been a comfortable victory.
This coming weekend sees the Puerto Rico primary and Missouri caucuses. Santorum already swept to a big victory in the Missouri primary, but delegates will be apportioned in caucuses.
But the big upcoming contests are the Illinois primary next Tuesday and the Louisiana primary on the following weekend.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan on a trip to try to deal with mounting protests and violence against US and NATO forces, as well as the weekend massacre of Afghan civilians outside Kandahar. The veteran California political figure, here addressing an audience at Camp Leatherneck, had a bizarre welcome when a stolen truck driven by an Afghan veered close to his arriving aircraft and the individual emerged ablaze. Panetta was unharmed.
While the Republican melodrama continues to play out, things are getting even dicier in Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made an unscheduled visit today to the country, to speak with US troops and try to calm the waters with Afghan officials.
But he ran into some trouble on arrival at a US base, where a vehicle was detonated near his plane. After that, he addressed some 200 US Marines, who were forbidden from bringing their rifles and pistols in to the gathering.
That’s normal procedure for the Afghan personnel, who were also on hand. But quite unusual with US personnel. No full explanation has been provided as yet.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, and AfPak.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California and Northern California.
This morning, Brown was at Boeing’s C-18 Globemaster facility in Long Beach to speak at the debut of the new 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing, though not based in the state, is a major California employer with more than 20,000 on staff in the state.
Hundreds of California engineers helped to design the Dreamliner. The aircraft will use 20% less fuel than similar-sized planes.
“This super efficient passenger airplane will cut fuel use by 20 percent and strengthen America’s position as the world leader in commercial aviation,” said Brown.
There may be a proverbial puff of smoke over the Capitol Dome on November’s revenue initiatives.
As I wrote yesterday, “Brown’s problem with the two other tax initiatives may be smaller than it appears. I’ll have more on that.”
Here’s the “more on that” part.
The press corps is getting the word today that Brown is working a deal with the proponents of the Millionaires Tax.
The particulars are still being worked on, and it’s not my field, but the basic deal points which have been logical for some time are being pursued.
Brown would cut the sales tax increase in half, from a half cent to a quarter cent, and raise the high income tax rate for the uppermost brackets by a few points, though there would be no additional increase for people in the $250,000 range.
Also unlike the Millionaires Tax, the increase would be temporary.
More to follow. And of course I will further explain some of the politics around this.
** MAKING SENSE OF KALEIDOSCOPIC PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. Presidential politics has gone kaleidoscopic. Between Mitt Romney’s split decision on a not so Super Tuesday for him and the big geopolitically-driven crises President Barack Obama has to manage, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Here’s a view of the forest.
The Republicans who would be president are the least of Obama’s problems, and what they’ve been doing over the past few months only makes that more so. Obama is most threatened now by a looming war involving Iran and Israel and a collapsing war in Afghanistan. There are a variety of crosscuts with those real and potential wars. … From my March 7th essay.
** IMPOSSIBLE MISSIONS AND 50 YEARS OF BOND. … From my March 6th essay.
** JERRY BROWN MAKES SOME SPLASHY MOVES. … From my March 1st essay.
** THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE: IRAN, ISRAEL, AFGHANISTAN. … From my February 29th essay.
** DEBATING IN DISARRAY: SEARCHING FOR SOME CLARITY IN THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL MESS. … From my February 24th essay.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: ECLIPSING THE EMPIRE STATE. … From my February 21st essay.
** DRIFTING TO WAR WITH IRAN: BEWARE THE HYSTERIA. … From my February 16th essay.
** RICKROLLED: ROMNEY WILL BE “INEVITABLE” AGAIN WHEN … … From my February 9th 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 $106 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $72 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $8 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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