The supercommittee failed because Democrats insisted on $1 trillion in new taxes

From Washington Post:

We do not choose to add more to the blame game for failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, but one Democratic talking point needs debunking: that the talks failed because of Republicans’ attachment to the Bush tax cuts.

The untold story of the negotiations is the significance of the Republican offer of fundamental tax reform. It is critical to understand the interplay between the proposal (dubbed the “Toomey plan”) and existing tax law.

First, a bit of history. The 2001 and 2003 changes to the tax code reduced marginal rates for all taxpayers as well as the rates for capital gains, dividends and the death tax. For technical reasons, all of these provisions expire at the end of next year — meaning that if Congress does not act, Americans will face the largest tax increase in our history.

(Read Full Article)

Risks of a Eurozone Breakup Are Rising

From Institutional Investor:

Interbank lending rates are on the rise in Europe, as analysts and economists openly discuss the once-unthinkable idea that the eurozone itself may not survive in its current form.

Investment banks aren’t exactly predicting the end of the 17-state currency bloc as the world now knows it. Yet at least one big bank — Nomura — has warned its clients to start taking stock of which euro denominated debts would be converted into new national currencies in the event of a euro breakup. Those new national currencies would face immediate and steep valuation, creating huge losses for banks and other debt holders.

“At this point, the discussion of debt re-denomination is more of a theoretical exercise, but the thinking in the market is that the risk of a euro area breakup has certainly risen in the last 10 days,” says Jens Sondergaard, a London-based economist with Nomura who focuses on Europe.

(Read Full Article)

The man behind Solyndra’s rise and fall: Chris Gronet

From SJ Mercury:

When President Barack Obama visited Solyndra in May 2010, then-CEO Chris Gronet gave him a personal tour in what was the high point of the young startup’s meteoric rise.

But behind the scenes, Solyndra was mired in trouble. Gronet, a veteran Silicon Valley technologist who founded the company, had quietly been stripped of many of his executive duties, and Solyndra’s board of directors was searching for his replacement.

Little more than a year after Obama’s visit, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, throwing more than 1,000 employees out of work and igniting a fierce debate about the role of government in supporting clean-energy companies.

(Read Full Article)

State Senate redistricting challenge qualifies for ballot; lawsuit pending on Congressional lines

From SD Union-Tribune:

Every week, it seems, brings more news about redistricting.

The Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed that proponents of a referendum to repeal new state Senate districts had submitted enough signatures to move on to the verification process.

The question will go before voters if about 504,000 of the more than 700,000 signatures submitted were deemed valid. The effort by Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting has garnered the supported of several local Republican lawmakers.

On Wednesday, a separate coalition of Republicans filed a lawsuit alleging that the redistricting commission violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act in redrawing California’s congressional lines.

California State Senate Chambers, courtesy clamabue, Flickr

(Read Full Article)

Risk of Euro disintegration is alarmingly high

From the Economist:

First Greece; then Ireland and Portugal; then Italy and Spain. Month by month, the crisis in the euro area has crept from the vulnerable periphery of the currency zone towards its core, helped by denial, misdiagnosis and procrastination by the euro-zone’s policymakers. Recently Belgian and French government bonds have been in the financial markets’ bad books. Investors are even sniffy about German bonds: an auction of ten-year Bunds on November 23rd shifted only €3.6 billion-worth ($4.8 billion) of the €6 billion-worth on offer.

Worse, there are signs that the euro zone’s economy is heading for recession, if it is not there already. Industrial orders in the euro zone fell by 6.4% in September, the steepest decline since the dark days of December 2008. A closely watched index of euro-zone sentiment, based on surveys of purchasing managers in manufacturing and services, is also signalling contraction, with a reading of 47.2: anything below 50 suggests activity is shrinking. The European Commission’s index of consumer confidence fell in November for the fifth month in a row.

(Read Full Article)

Congressman McKeon: The 1 percent all Americans should proudly support

From Ventura County Star:

In parks and city squares across the nation, America’s youth hold signs and protest that they are “the 99 percent.” That is, the 99 percent of Americans the Occupy movement believes are struggling through economic hardships and inequality. Their villain is the 1 percent — the purveyors of power who the movement holds accountable for our fiscal woes.

As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, I support a somewhat different 1 percent. Despite 10 years of war, we have been kept safe by 1 percent of Americans who have volunteered to wear the uniform, volunteered to stand a post and volunteered to keep us safe.

At a time when our nation faces such grave financial challenges and we debate vigorously over how to right our fiscal ship, we must remember that we are a nation at war and that every day our troops leave the wire, walk long patrols across unforgiving terrain, keeping us free from harm and bearing hardships in the name of our flag and our freedom.

Buck McKeon

(Read Full Article)

The Buzz: Republican interests launch latest attack on California’s congressional maps

From Sac Bee:

Rebuffed by the California Supreme Court, a former Republican congressman and four others filed suit this week in federal court seeking to overturn the state’s newly drawn congressional maps.

The lawsuit by Mariposa Republican George Radanovich, who left Congress in January, marks GOP interests’ latest attack on districts drawn for the first time by an independent citizens commission.

Radanovich’s federal suit contends that the panel violated federal voting rights law and the U.S. Constitution by seeking to protect three African American incumbents in the drawing of three Los Angeles congressional districts.

Redistricting Commissioner Stan Forbes, the panel’s current rotating chairman, defended the maps drawn by the 14-member panel created by voters in 2008.

1952 Congressional map courtesy Orange County Archives

(Read Full Article)

Study: State “green power” mandate means lots of nuclear plants and overhead electricity cables in our future

From Vacaville Reporter:

California must be fully electrified 40 years from now with residents driving only electric cars and plugging them into a grid powered by carbon-free power plants if the state is to meet its most far-reaching climate goals, according to a new study.

Not only will electricity be carbon-free, California will need a whole lot more of it to make up for the loss of gasoline, natural gas and coal.

The equivalent of one-and-a-half to two nuclear power plants would have to be built each year between now and 2050 to meet the growing electricity demand, said Margaret S. Torn, a biogeochemist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who is one of the study’s co-authors.

More electricity cables for picturesque San Francisco needed to meet state "green power" mandate? Photo courtesy, Flickr

(Read Full Article)

Gingrich, Huntsman, Bachmann Likely to Shape Conversation After Debate

From Human Events:

Jon Huntsman is at the back of the pack in the polls and Newt Gingrich is at the front, but their respective performances at the GOP presidential debate, sponsored by CNN, The Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute, on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. will most impact the political discussion in the coming days.

In a debate in which many of the questioners were associated with the neoconservative establishment that shaped much of George W. Bush’s foreign policy but whose influenced has lessened considerably this election cycle, Huntsman emphatically stated that the United States did not need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

In a testy exchange with Mitt Romney, Huntsman at one point asked Romney if Romney heard “what I just said” before explaining his position on Afghanistan again. When Romney mentioned that he would rely on his commanders and generals on the ground and disagreed with Huntsman’s call for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to better use the country’s military capabilities for counter-terror purposes in other regions, Huntsman pounced on Romney’s answer to remind Romney that, “at the end of the day, the president of the United States is commander-in-chief.”

(Read Full Article)

12 charged with voter fraud in Georgia election

From Daily Caller:

Law enforcement officials have charged 12 people with using absentee ballots to skew an election in Georgia.

“As a result of their grand jury findings, 12 individuals were indicted in that particular matter and we will be trying that case in a court of judicial law instead of a court of public opinion,” District Attorney Joe Mulholland told the local TV station, WALB.

The charges followed a bitter November 2010 school board election in Brooks County in which the final tally was changed by an unusually large wave of absentee ballots.

During the election, 1,060 absentee votes were cast out of the 1,403 ballots mailed out to people who requested them, according to a July 2010 report by WCTV.

Photo courtesy coalybunny, Flickr

(Read Full Article)