Political Animal


October 26, 2011 5:30 PM Wednesday’s Mini-Report

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Europe: “European leaders struggled into the night Wednesday to reassure the world that they were determined to find a comprehensive solution to the two-year-old euro zone debt crisis, hours after German lawmakers approved a proposal to more than double an emergency bailout fund.”

* Obama intends to ease student-loan burdens: “The administration’s new student loan plan, titled ‘Know Before You Owe,’ would allow college graduates to cap federal student loan repayments at 10 percent of discretionary income starting in January, two years before the cap was due to take effect under federal law. The accelerated ‘pay as you earn’ option, which Obama will authorize through executive authority, could benefit up to 1.6 million borrowers and reduce their payments by as much as a couple of hundred dollars a month…. All remaining debt on the federal loans would be forgiven after 20 years — five years earlier than under current law.”

* Occupy Oakland: “A small band of protesters … watched peacefully as city workers erected a chain-link fence around the grassy area that about 350 people had populated before police cleared the main encampment Tuesday. City officials said they planned to reopen the plaza to the public once the fence was up — to allow for protest but not camping.”

* It’s frustrating that this represents progress: “Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is releasing his hold on Treasury Department nominees after officials there settled an issue with two of his constituents, his office announced on Wednesday.”

* Rubio isn’t out of the woods: “Documents give shape to Marco Rubio’s family history but raise new questions.”

* President Obama intervenes in support of Egyptian activists.

* Busted: “Rajat K. Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs director who surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday morning, was charged with insider trading, the latest development in the government’s multiyear crackdown on illegal activity on Wall Street.”

* Health care at the high court: “The Supreme Court will take its first look at the challenges to the new federal health care law at its Conference on Thursday, November 10. Five of the six pending petitions (the sixth is not ready yet) were distributed to the Justices’ chambers on Wednesday, for consideration at that private session.”

* Michael Hiltzik gets it: “Students of the sciences can generally tell the difference between action and motion. The first produces results; the second is often designed to avoid results. For a laboratory experiment in how to spot the distinction, let’s examine the competing jobs plans offered by President Obama and congressional Republicans.”

* James Livingston makes the case for consumer spending: “As an economic historian who has been studying American capitalism for 35 years, I’m going to let you in on the best-kept secret of the last century: private investment — that is, using business profits to increase productivity and output — doesn’t actually drive economic growth. Consumer debt and government spending do. Private investment isn’t even necessary to promote growth.”

* Andy Sabl spent some time at Zuccotti Park and came away with some provocative observations about Occupy Wall Street.”

* How much would Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) cut federal student loans? He’d eliminate them entirely, of course.

* Steve Jobs had a chance to look at Fox News’ impact and concluded it had “become an incredibly destructive force in our society.” That seems more than fair.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on October 26, 2011 5:43 PM:

    just looking at new CNN state polls....Romney is coming back on Cain, with Paul third almost everywhere. Perry is in deep trouble everywhere. One thing about Ron Paul...he may have some wacky/scary ideas, but he's also got some sensible ideas that a dedicated core of supporters approve of. He'll keep his 10-12% right up until closing time. And he doesn't like Rick Perry at all so he's not going to throw his votes to the Rickster.

  • steve on October 26, 2011 6:01 PM:

    You can call Andy Sabl statements provocative, but I would use a few four letter words to describe his condescending tone. So, they are all flakes, but accomplishing something????? WTF is he talking about?

  • slf on October 26, 2011 6:06 PM:

    Re: New Threads.

    To those who want to voice opposition to the on-going war in Afghanistan:

    Get out your old peace symbols. A while ago, I took off whatever it was I was wearing around my neck these days and put on a peace symbol. Repeatedly, in public places, I've received softly voiced compliments and quiet nods. I say thanks, and if the opportunity seems right, I speak up -- describing the young vet I saw in the airport, who'd had all four of his limbs partially or totally blown off by an IED, citing the huge expense of treasure on this misguided war at a time when we are in such desperate straits at home, ending with: "This has to stop."

    I keep it short and, much to my surprise (I live in a conservative area), people stop, listen intently, and do not tell me I'm wrong or a hippie/socialist/jerk/liberal/idiot. They nod. They agree. One woman thanked me with tears in her eyes.

    So if you want to invite conversation on this topic, get a pendant. Keep it short. Speak softly. But speak.

  • citizen_pain on October 26, 2011 6:25 PM:

    I like that Jobs jabbed Murdoch, and also his 'axis' of constructive vs. destructive paradigm, but the bottom line is Apple took full advantage of the global sweatshop labor market to reap billions.

  • TCinLA on October 26, 2011 6:35 PM:

    Occupy Oakland: “A small band of protesters … watched peacefully as city workers erected a chain-link fence around the grassy area that about 350 people had populated before police cleared the main encampment Tuesday. City officials said they planned to reopen the plaza to the public once the fence was up — to allow for protest but not camping.”

    Nice to be reminded that Oakland will always be Oakland. Shades of 44 years ago and Ronnie Ray-Gun. And so much for alleged "Democrat" Jerry Brown - the Governor had to approve use of the California Highway Patrol in this police riot, as well as activate the "mutual assistance" pacts between the OPD and the other 14 departments that participated. Thank god I only ever voted for that worthless asshole once, when I didn't know any better. Never voted for him for anything else, and the only thing I would vote for regarding ol' Jer' would be a public hanging at the first available lamp post.

  • meady on October 26, 2011 6:36 PM:

    What is Steve Jobs now a prophet? Now I know he was a marketing genius and a great business icon; but not every word ever uttered in conversation that support a progressive point of view need be highlighted. For goodness sake, I don't need Steve Jobs to validate my views on Fox News. So what...

  • DAY on October 26, 2011 6:39 PM:

    "Andy Sabl spent some time at Zuccotti Park"

    to paraphrase, "One man's flake is another man's freedom fighter."
    Will your children ask, "What did YOU do in the war, daddy?"

  • flubber on October 26, 2011 6:46 PM:

    "but the bottom line is Apple took full advantage of the global sweatshop labor market to reap billions."

    Jobs complained to/about Obama that there were too many environmental and labor regulations in the US, that the economy would not turn around until politicians created a more business-friendly climate. He's a doofus on these points.

    But for Mr. Benen's purposes - scoring points during today's news cycle - I'm sure it's fine. Tomorrow'll be another day to throw out a bunch of spin and see what sticks.

  • Trollop on October 26, 2011 6:54 PM:

    I never saw Dances with Wolves, now I never will. Thanks Andy, you've summed up your own Tinsel Town Rebellion..

    Pryor should be run out of the party!

  • Neil B on October 26, 2011 10:19 PM:

    Speaking of "job creators": yes, consumer spending is most important but investment does get some things off the ground. The fallacy put out by plutocrat shills is that a certain class of people needs to have money to invest in things, but: it's the money itself that does the work, not the fact that some people have a lot more money than others. So if the rest of us had more money instead, *we* could do the investing instead too.

    Also: did anyone hear about Marine veteran Scott Olsen, hit in the head by cops with either rubber bullets or tear gas cannister? See FB page at . Really horrific and angering photo.

  • N.B. on October 26, 2011 10:22 PM:

  • The Oracle on October 27, 2011 12:10 AM:

    Soldier down!!! Soldier down!!! Medic!!! Medic!!!

    Oh, wait, this wasn't over in Afghanistan or Iraq, this wasn't Vietnam, this wasn't World War II, this was on an American public street in Oakland CA U.S.A., during a peaceful First Amendment-protected protest, with a U.S. soldier shot down, and the people rushing to help him as he lay gravely wounded being hit with concussion grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and sometimes-lethal bean bag projectiles. WTF!?!?!!! Are the 1 percenters nuts!?!?!!!! Are any of them American citizens anymore!?!?!!!!! Have the 1 percenters even out-sourced their very souls!?!?!!!!!!!

  • Herostratus on October 27, 2011 2:45 AM:

    Cain is tied with Romney *in Nevada*. Nate Silver today: "Not only do I not know how I would go about estimating the likelihood that Mr. Cain will win the Republican nomination — I’m not sure that there is a good way to do so at all. But I do know what an analyst should not do: he should not use terms like “never” and “no chance” when applied to Mr. Cain’s chances of winning the nomination."

    I think that the GOP nominee will be Romney or Cain, and there's at least a 10% chance right now that Cain will be President.

    It's time for reporters and pundits to take this guy seriously. What kind of president would he be? Not talking about his campaign pledges (everybody makes and breaks those) but who is *is*.

    Maybe, overawed, he'll pick a good experienced staff and follow their lead. Or maybe he'll be a loose cannon. Or maybe he'll flounder horribly. Or maybe he'll be great, or OK anyway. Or what? Can we get a handle on this guy?

  • Danp on October 27, 2011 7:24 AM:

    there's at least a 10% chance right now that Cain will be President.

    Really? A guy who said he wouldn't sign a bill over three pages? Even though he later said it was a joke, that level of pandering to anti-intellectualism is not going to get him to the White House. Republican primaries, sure, but at some point, people want a President they can take seriously. Cain ain't able.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 27, 2011 7:52 AM:

    @ meady
    Thank you - well said
    The impression I got from all the yammering that has been going on is that Ol' Steve could be a real nasty MF.
    Who cares what the prophet Jobs said.