29 July 2011

After 2011 Tax Reforms, Connecticut's Wealthy Still Pay Smallest Share of Income in State and Local Taxes

Despite recent efforts to make the Connecticut tax system fairer, the wealthiest 1% of our residents will still pay only half as much of their income in state and local taxes as the poor and middle class, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.

The state and local tax reforms approved in 2011 made Connecticut’s tax system more equitable by generally reducing taxes for lower-income residents, through the earned income tax credit, and raising them among higher-income residents.

These changes were essential to a balanced approach to our economic and fiscal problems that helped protect vital education, health, and other services for families and position Connecticut for long-term economic growth. But even after these changes, our tax system remains highly imbalanced. After accounting for federal deductions, estimates show that Connecticut’s low- and middle-income families will pay between 9.6% and 11.4% of their incomes in state and local taxes, while the top 1% of income earners will only pay about 5.5%.

Few would agree that those most able to pay should contribute less of their income than those least able to pay.

The decision by Connecticut policymakers to increase revenues as part of a balanced approach to the state’s deficit crisis has elicited fierce debate, so it is important to put these changes in proper context. In late 2009, the gap between what the wealthiest 1% paid in taxes as a percentage of income and what the poorest 20% paid was higher in Connecticut than in most other states.Connecticut ranked among the ten states with the highest taxes on the bottom 20%, and among the twenty states with the lowest taxes on the wealthiest 1%. Recent revenue reforms will decrease the proportion of income the bottom 20% of residents pay to 11.4%, from 12.0%, and increase the proportion that wealthier taxpayers pay (for amounts by income group, see table below). Even after these changes, the poorest residents are estimated to pay over twice as much of their income in state and local taxes as the top 1%.

As the table above shows, some taxes, such as sales and property taxes, are regressive, meaning that low income people must pay a greater share of their income on them than high income people. Other taxes, such as the income tax, are the opposite, progressive. Currently, regressive taxes in Connecticut outweigh progressive taxes, which places a higher overall tax burden on low- and middle-income households. The progressive state income tax changes recently passed have brought better balance to Connecticut’s tax system, though the very wealthiest residents still pay far lower proportions than anyone else.

Anti-tax advocates often claim, without strong evidence, that raising taxes on the very wealthy would hamper economic growth and cause a decrease in revenue because of wealth migration. The majority of the evidence in fact points to opposite conclusions. An upcoming review of the literature on so-called “tax flight” finds that the effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small and lead to significant net increases in state revenue. Taxes, it finds, are simply not a significant factor in decisions about where to move compared to much more important factors like home prices, employment opportunities, and community networks.

Another recent report by the Political and Economy and Research Institute at UMASS Amherst explored tax migration in New England and came to similar conclusions, finding that by raising state revenue and using that revenue to create job opportunities states could actually draw new residents to their states. Finally, a study published in the Summer 2011 issue of Connecticut Economy magazine found that states with an income tax had similar long-term economic growth as states without an income tax.

In wealthy states like Connecticut, regressive taxes are especially troubling because they make the problem of rising income inequality worse. As we continue to reform our state and local tax systems to be more fair and effective, more should be done to equitably distribute state and local taxes.

Around The Connecticut Blogs

A Public Defender

I know it when I see it

Finally, my favorite subject: pornography. Everyone has to have heard of Justice Potter Stewart’s words which form the title of this post, written in a concurrence in Jacobellis v. Ohio, on the issue of “obscene” videos. And almost no one knows what it means. After a flurry of decisions in the 1960s and 70s (Stanley v. GA, Smith v. CA, Miller v. CA, Jenkins v. GA) attempting to define exactly what is obscene and what is protected and just who can be prosecuted with and ending up with a mess of a Constitutional doctrine, the Supreme Court – and the general American public – seem to have given up on pornography altogether. No one really cares anymore and there’s hardly ever a prosecution for the production, sale and possession of adult pornography.

A Connecticut Law Blog

Law School Poll
Posted on July 29, 2011 by Ryan McKeen

If you could go back to the moment in time before you enrolled in law school, knowing what you know now, would you enroll?

Only In Bridgeport

Foster Wants To Run A BOE Slate – Another Election Storm? – Marilyn Moore Seeks City

UPDATE: Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster, who opposes the state mothballing the Bridgeport BOE, wants to run a slate of school board candidates on her ticket. She is asking local election officials to release petition papers to secure signatures from registered Dems for BOE candidates. Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandi Ayala is asking state elections officials for guidance in light of a state takeover of city schools.

Wait, What (Jon Pelto)

DEEP Commissioner Ends Popular Consumer Hotline for Utility Problems

In the end, it’s all a matter of priorities and it turns out that the Malloy Administration doesn’t consider a consumer hotline that received 45,000 calls last year from Connecticut consumers in search of help a high enough priority.

Worse, adding insult to injury, the funding for this key consumer service doesn’t even come from state’s taxpayers. The service is paid for by a surcharge on the utility companies.

Despite that, Dan Esty, Governor Malloy’s new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has decided to end the hotline and lay off the state workers who have been helping consumers deal with the problems that they are having with their utility companies.

The new DEEP was created through the merger of state’s Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Utilities Commission and the Energy Division of the Office of Policy and Management.

And now, thanks to a story by Jon Lender in today’s Hartford Courant, we learn that one of Commissioner Esty’s first decisions was to end the successful Consumer Utility Call-in Center. See Courant story http://www.courant.com


OP-ED | Dear EMILY’s List . . . Really? by Sarah Darer Littman

Dear EMILY’s List,

I am a registered Democrat and a pro-choice woman, and I appreciate the goal of your organization. I’ve even given you money in the past.

But here’s the thing. When I decide who will get my vote, it’s based on a lot more than whether or not my candidate has a penis. My thought process is considerably more complex, because, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, we women are thoughtful, intelligent and educated and we want the best possible candidate regardless of sex, sexual orientation, religion or any other discriminatory factor.

That’s why I was appalled to see that you’d endorsed a flawed candidate like Susan Bysiewicz in the U.S. Senate race. Perhaps you didn’t do your research or actually talk to people in Connecticut?

If you had, you might have learned of the candidate’s overweening ambition, well-known in these parts, which led her to make an ill-advised leap from running for governor (where she had a comfortable lead in the polls) to the attorney general’s race, without, apparently, checking to see if she met the legal requirements for the job (she didn’t)...

CT Blue by JCW

Santorum: Ignorant or Liar? We report, you decide.

ABC is asking the Republican candidates to explain the foreign made t-shirts and other doodads that their campaigns are distributed.. Rick Santorum...:

Made in the Dominican Republic,” he answered: “It’s tragic that so many products in this country are made outside of this country. And what we have to do is create a different dynamic. I think my policies are very clear that we have to go out and make setting up a business in this country productive.

Unfortunately under this administration and frankly previous administrations we have had had a unfriendly environment, particularly to the textile business.

You probably can find a T-shirt occasionally made in the United States but it’s harder and harder to do. That’s the tragedy. It’s a case in point of the tragedy of those kinds of jobs that should be in the United States but are not.”

Matter of fact, it takes about 3 seconds to find a t-shirt made in this country, as the Google demonstrates. These Republicans really should learn that it’s far easier these days to uncover a lie than it used to be. But then, since the media rarely calls them on their lies, maybe they just don’t care.

Soccer Safari by Mike Levitt

Bob Bradley Axed As U.S. Men’s Soccer Coach

So who will this new mystery manager be? Will it be Klinsmann, who famously turned down the job in 2007 because Gulati and U.S. Soccer wouldn’t give him complete control of the system from the ground-up? Will it be Jason Kreis, the former American player now coaching Real Salt Lake in MLS? Then again, it could it be another longtime MLS coach like Sigi Schmid, Dominc Kinnear, or Peter Nowak.

One long shot? Former U.S National Team captain and current U.S. Youth Soccer Technical Director Claudio Reyna. Reyna, who played in Germany, Scotland, and England, is making huge strides in changing the youth soccer curriculum in this country, but has no managerial experience. Considering the need to overhaul the system and Reyna’s involvement at the game’s elite levels, he could be the perfect middle ground for the decision makers.

As interesting a prospect as Reyna may be, given soccer’s relative popularity stateside these days, we will likely see an international name. If not Klinsmann, who must be the odd-on favorite for the job, it may be someone else in the European ranks of the caliber of Italian Marcelo Lippi or Dutchman Guus Hiddink.

Connecticut Bob

Save the FITP

Connecticut's Film Industry Training Program (FITP) is currently being threatened by budget cuts. This program is essential to creating a workforce for the many feature films that are being produced here in Connecticut. Right now there are quite a few major features scheduled here during the next several months, with high profile stars such as Robert De Niro (above), Meryl Streep, Robin Williams...

28 July 2011

Ben Blake For Milford

Getting 50-year-old Americans as healthy as Europeans could save Medicare and Medicaid $632 billion by 2050


Forty years ago, Americans could expect to live slightly longer than Europeans. This has since reversed: in spite of similar levels of economic development, Americans now live about a year-and-a-half less, on average, than their Western European counterparts, and also less than people in most other developed nations. How did Americans fall behind?

A study in the July 2011 issue of Social Science & Medicine is the first to calculate the fiscal consequences of the growing life expectancy gap over the next few decades. The study also pinpoints the crucial age at which U.S. life expectancy starts to deteriorate.

Specifically, researchers from the University of Southern California and colleagues at RAND Corp. and Harvard School of Public Health find that health in middle-age — around the age of 50 — is overwhelmingly the main contributor to disparities in life expectancy between Americans and Europeans.

In the first half of the last century, average life expectancy increased by saving more babies, explains author Dana Goldman, director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC and Norman Topping/National Medical Enterprises Chair in Medicine and Public Policy at USC. "But now it is reduction in mortality among the elderly, rather than the young, that propels increases in life expectancy."

"The question is whether 'being American' is an independent mortality risk factor," Goldman said.

Accounting for levels of socioeconomic diversity in the United States and predicted future demographic estimates, the researchers found much of the life expectancy gap would disappear if the United States lowered prevalence of middle-aged obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension to European levels.

The researchers also consider the health consequences of smoking on future life expectancy trends. While the prevalence of smoking is likely to continue decreasing in the future, the results of this study correspond to a National Research Council study led by Eileen Crimmins, AARP Chair in Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology.

Released in January 2011, Crimmins' research looked at life expectancy over the last 25 years and found that smoking — and to a lesser extent obesity — were the two major reasons why U.S. life expectancy has fallen short of other high-income nations in the past.

Improving American health during middle age in the future to increase life expectancy would increase later-life pension benefits. But this expenditure would be offset by a significant decrease in health care costs — at least $17,791 per person, the researchers estimate.

Though the transition to better health initially raises expenditures, the researchers estimate that by 2050 health care savings from gradual middle-age health improvements could total more than $1.1 trillion.

"The international life expectancy gap appears much easier to explain than gaps within countries: there is no American-specific effect on longevity beyond differences in disease at age 50," explained author Darius Lakdawalla, Director of Research at the Schaeffer Center at USC and associate professor in the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

The research offers compelling evidence that poor health behaviors among middle-aged Americans — and not inefficiency in the U.S. health care system — are primarily responsible for earlier death. Indeed, prior research has shown that the U.S. does a good job keeping people alive once they are sick, ranking highly in life expectancy among people with chronic or terminal illness.

The researchers looked at a group of Western European countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Sleepless (3:04 am)

King Crimson

While I watch the dense dark outside.

27 July 2011

Alert: Papaya Recall We Didn't Hear About

Yes, the Recall was issued 3 days ago and No, I can't find anything in the local "news" about it.  Luckily, I get Rosa DeLauro's Press Releases....

Washington, DC— Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee,  released the following statement today in response to the recall of all Papayas imported from Mexico by Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas due to potential Salmonella contamination. Currently, there are 97 cases of Salmonella poisoning across 23 states, including 10 hospitalizations that are possibly linked to these Papayas.

“This recall is a prime example of why we must fully fund the Food Safety Modernization Act. This legislation, signed into law last year, has the capacity to strengthen and modernize our food safety system—but will only be successful if it has the tools and authority it needs.

“Nearly 100 Americans are suffering because they consumed contaminated fruit and our food safety system was not able to prevent it. The Food Safety Modernization Act gives the FDA new tools to better ensure that the food we consume, including that imported, is safe. We have charged the FDA with the responsibility of protecting American consumers, but the House majority has tied their hands by cutting its funding by $280 million.  Essentially, we are asking the FDA to do more with less, and it will not work. We should be investing in the FDA, not limiting its ability to effectively protect Americans.”

Why Do Republicans Want To Destroy Our Economy?

Harold Meyerson explains in the Washington Post:

To elucidate the mysteries of Washington — in particular, why House Republicans, having compelled the Democrats to craft a Republican-in-all-but-name plan to get a deal on raising the debt ceiling, still don’t want a deal — we turn to the Fable of the Scorpion and the Frog.

A scorpion meets a frog on the bank of a stream and asks the frog to carry him across on his back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion answers, “Because if I do, I’ll drown along with you.” So the frog, bowing to the logic of the scorpion’s answer, sets out across the stream with the scorpion on his back. About midstream, the scorpion stings the frog, who is paralyzed and starts to sink — as does the scorpion. “Why?” the dying frog asks. “Because it’s my nature,” the scorpion replies...

Republicans apparently won’t be satisfied until Obama takes responsibility for all of the national debt, the Bush tax cuts and the Oklahoma heat wave, admits he’s not a citizen and goes back to Kenya.

They may harm themselves and the nation by holding out for that deal. Like the scorpion, though, it’s their nature.

But not all Republicans are scorpions, are they? Well, the ones who aren't are too afraid of the ones who are to stand up for what's right. Why are they so afraid?

Paul Krugman has the answer:

This would, however, probably be the end of these Republicans’ political careers. And the answer is, so?

If you believe that default will quite possibly be a catastrophe — and leading Republicans probably do believe that — their unwillingness to take the action I’ve just described means that they are risking America’s future rather than pay a price in their personal political careers. That’s cowardice on an epic scale, even if it’s the kind of behavior we take for granted nowadays.

New On My Blogs Today

Hospice Care Research

From Healing to Hospice: The Shift Toward a Good and Compassionate Death

University at Buffalo School of Social Work Professor Deborah P. Waldrop has seen people die. Too often, their lives have ended in pain and despair, spending their final days in an alienating institutional environment, just another patient in an impersonal progression that leads to what she calls “reciprocal suffering” for families who also watch their loved ones die.

There is another way. In the decades and multiple settings Waldrop has worked with terminal patients, she has seen a growing emphasis on factors that contribute to a “good death.” People can make that life transition in a home that has sustained them for many years, surrounded by the people who have given their lives meaning. “Comfort” can be the defining goal of a death without pain and suffering.

Too often, Waldrop says, critically and chronically ill patients lack information about options for care that can lead to that “good death” scenario. Bridging that gap -- identifying what factors or “trigger points” at which important conversations should happen -- is what her latest end-of-life research is all about.

She discusses her research in a video interview:

Health News Report

Blueberries: a Cup a Day May Keep Cancer Away

Blueberries are among the nutrient-rich foods being studied by UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center investigators exploring the link between disease and nutrition. Dieticians there say as little as a cup a day can help prevent cell damage linked to cancer.

Education Research Report

Teacher influence persists in early grades

Having consistently good teachers in elementary school appears to be as important for student achievement as small class sizes, according to new research by a Michigan State University education scholar.

The study by Spyros Konstantopoulos found that, starting in kindergarten, teachers can significantly affect students’ reading and math scores in later grades. The study, which appears in the research journal Teachers College Record, is one of the first scientific experiments to find that teachers can affect student achievement over time in the crucial early grades.

School Vouchers Have Little Effect on Student Achievement

A new report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) that reviews a decade of voucher research finds no clear positive impact on student academic achievement and mixed outcomes overall for students who attend private schools using vouchers.

Too Funny to Not Promote

Huntsman blames slow start on 'dog days of August'--That is the headline all over the media.  Ahem. The canned AP article does not point out that August doesn't begin for another 6 days.

Huntsman blames slow start on 'dog days of August'

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is blaming his slow start on "the dog days of August," saying he'll do better when the election season hits high gear.

Asked about relatively poor polling numbers, the former Utah governor replied, "If the election were next month, I guess that would be a cause for concern."
Huntsman told CBS's "The Early Show" that "it's going to take a little while" to hone his message of "moving this country to a position of competitiveness and job creation." He said "we've got a terrific presence in the early states" and said that he expects an even stronger organization on the ground by this fall.

Huntsman was the choice of just 4 percent of the respondents in a recent Suffolk University poll in New Hampshire.  (AP FILE PHOTO - June 21, 2011)

Lost Persons

From the Postcard Collection

When I look at this photo I always wonder:
Are the Mothers lost or are their children?

The question applies to this messy Republican Congress, which I consider to be the hydra-headed child of the Bush/Cheney regime. Are the Tea Party politicians and their Republican minions lost? Or have their deluded followers wandered off beyond the sandbox?

I keep hearing that in 200 days of the session the Republicans have not created any Jobs Bills and merely exist in government to destroy government.

Whoever got Lost first, they are taking us all into the abyss of Loss with them.

Demand a Clean Vote for raising the Debt Limit. End the wars, that will cut spending. Tell the CEOs and Chambers of Commerce that they need to open their wallets to create some jobs or they will be fined for sitting on their ill-gotten wealth. REFUSE to follow the Lost Leaders.

26 July 2011

Posts So Far This Week (It’s Only Tuesday Folks!)

Jonathan Kantrowitz:

Boehner’s Plan: the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history

Bachmann Criticizes Pawlenty

Questions Raised: Recipient of a multi-million dollar tax-payer funded package of loan and grants

CT Free Radicals

Around The Connecticut Blogs

Study: Union decline accounts for much of the rise in wage inequality

American Mating Habits

Sexual Anxiety, Personality Predictors of Infidelity

Trend in Young Adults' Dating Habits, Committed Relationships

Fairfield Restaurants

Restaurants For Sale - Milford

Restaurants For Sale (Fairfield, Bridgeport)

Fairfield Restaurants - New

Venture Capital Report

China Leads the World in Venture Capital Growth

The magnitude of the performance gap between US and UK venture capital funds

Short on Institutional Investors, Venture Capital Firms Fund Fewer Start-Ups

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Transcendental Meditation improves brain functioning in ADHD students

Education Research Report

Spare the rod and develop the child

Health News Report

Zinc lozenges may shorten common cold duration

St. John’s Wort No Benefit For Minor Depression

Exercise Has Numerous Beneficial Effects on Brain Health and Cognition

Study: Union decline accounts for much of the rise in wage inequality

WASHINGTON, DC, July 21, 2011 — Union membership in America has declined significantly since the early 1970s, and that plunge explains approximately a fifth of the increase in hourly wage inequality among women and about a third among men, according to a new study in the August issue of the American Sociological Review.

"Our study underscores the role of unions as an equalizing force in the labor market," said study author Bruce Western, a professor of sociology at Harvard University. "Most researchers studying wage inequality have focused on the effects of educational stratification—pay differences based on level of education—and have generally under-emphasized the impact of unions."

From 1973 to 2007, wage inequality in the private sector increased by more than 40 percent among men, and by about 50 percent among women. In their study, Western and co-author Jake Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, examine the effects of union decline on both between-group inequality and within-group inequality. Between-group compares people from different demographics and industries, while within-group looks at people from the same demographics and industries.

Focusing on full-time, private sector workers, Western and Rosenfeld find that deunionization—the decline in the percentage of the labor force that is unionized—and educational stratification each explain about 33 percent of the rise in within-group wage inequality among men. Among women, deunionization explains about 20 percent of the increase in wage inequality, whereas education explains more than 40 percent.

Part of the reason for this gender discrepancy is that men have experienced a much larger decline in private sector union membership—from 34 percent in 1973 to 8 percent in 2007—than women (who went from 16 percent to 6 percent during the same period).

"For generations, unions were the core institution advocating for more equitable wage distribution," said Rosenfeld. "Today, when unions—at least in the private sector—have largely disappeared, that means that this voice for equity has faded dramatically. People now have very different ideas about what's acceptable in terms of pay distribution."

Interestingly, the study finds that union decline explains little of the rise in between-group inequality.

"Unions standardize wages so that people with similar characteristics—if they're union members—tend to have similar wages," Western said. "So, it makes sense that deunionization has little impact on between-group inequality, which, by definition, exists between groups of people that are different."

While the purpose of unions is to standardize wages for their members, Western and Rosenfeld find that even nonunion workers, if they're in highly unionized industries, tend to have fairly equal wages, partly because nonunion employers will raise wages to the union level to discourage unionization.

In terms of policy implications, Western and Rosenfeld think their study could help reignite the dialogue on labor unions, which they believe has disappeared from economic debates in recent years.

"In the early 1970s, unions were important for delivering middle class incomes to working class families, and they enlivened politics by speaking out against inequality," said Western. "These days, there just aren't big institutional actors who are making the case for greater economic equality in America."

The study relies on data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1973 to 2007. A monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Census, the CPS provides data from about 60,000 U.S. households representative of the U.S. population as a whole.

This week's Shindig

Common Cause Happy Hour in New Haven!

THURSDAY, July 28th
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM - $10

Geronimo Tequila Bar & Southwest Grill
271 Crown St, New Haven

Join us on the Patio in New Haven
To celebrate the end of the legislative session

Meet and Greet with State Representatives and Common Cause Supporters

Please inform your supporters and friends to help spread the inviting!

25 July 2011

Around The Connecticut Blogs

Luther Weeks questions whether Tom Friedman's internet nominating convention will be an open process:

No mention of any transparency in the development, testing, and operation of the actual system. Rather than quoting independent technical experts, we see the system pronounced safe by the architect.

Daniela Altimari looks at the Malloy veto of the Oxford Airport economic development plan and a possible new plan:

"So, let me get this straight: When this bill was a Republican idea that passed nearly unanimously in the legislature, it was bad, and now that it is the governor's idea, it's good?'' Kane said in an email. "Well, it's good to see the governor has finally come around. It has become clear that Governor Malloy is flying by the seat of his pants when it comes to economic development policy.

Jon Pelto discusses a variety of problems surrounding the latest recipient of CT's tax credit and grant munificence:

Vaccaro and TicketNetwork...sued Bushnell CEO David Fay for remarks he made at a legislative hearing about TicketNework and other ticket resellers.

The CTNewsjunkie reporter also raised questions about a lawsuit filed by a former TicketNetwork employee against Vaccaro and the company for alleged, repeated sexually harassment she had received from Vaccaro between July and December of 2009. The employee claimed she was then fired when she complained.

Commissioner Smith said she wasn’t aware of the sexual harassment lawsuit...

As if that wasn’t enough to raise serious questions, a simple internet search would also have revealed that TicketNetwork is facing a class action case in New York for violating New York’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.

And closer to home, it turns out that when TicketNetwork was trying to gain approval for a “controversial 2,000-seat outdoor concert venue”, the company demanded that the Journal Inquirer remove the Vernon reporter covering the story because, according to them, she was “biased”.

Norm Pattis isn't happy with the SEBAC re-vote:

SEBAC has already thrown fair-play to the dogs. Why need feed SEBAC to the wolves?

Who would have thought that the first Democratic governor in many years would become a union-buster's best friend? Let's see what the vote is next time around. A victory for Malloy will signal that labor is all but dead in Connecticut.

Jonathan Kantrowitz (me) waxes philisophical:

The President Has To Do What The President Has To Do

As dismayed as I am about President Obama’s willingness to sell out Democratic ideals in his efforts to work out a deal and avert default, I have to acknowledge that he is President of the United States, not of the Democratic party. As such, he has a greater responsibility to the country than to his party. Moreover, it’s clearly in his personal best interest in his quest for re-election to appear to be bending over backwards to accommodate the completely irresponsible demands of the majority Republicans in the house of Representatives.

We can hardly expect him to sacrifice his own re-election, and the best interests of the country as a whole simply to focus on Democratic ideals, as important and noble as they are. So if we have to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a host of other vital programs, and provide continuing low taxes, tax credits, tax loopholes and the like to mega-corporations and billionaires, and that is the price of avoiding financial catastrophe, so be it.

Stormy Monday

Prepare yourself. Politics as UnUsual. Anarchists control DC.

23 July 2011

Cure for Hot is Be C00L

From the Postcard Collection
Still Hot. Not as hot as yesterday, but still Hot.

From the Postcard Collection.
Want to be Cool? Go visit someone in the Hospital.

22 July 2011

Around the Connecticut Blogs

Jon Pelto continues to find the black cloud behind the silver lining:
NEWS UPDATE: Taxpayers Hit with Yet Another Cost as a Result of These Unnecessary Layoffs.

The New Haven Independent is the best on-line newspaper in Connecticut
Auto-Parts Salvage Headed To The Hill

Brain Lockhart analyzes a possible Lieberman-Linda McMahon connection
Why would Linda want to court Lieberman?

Jonathan Kantrowitz (me) says Congressional Republicans are insane

Cut, Cap and Balance: Absolutely Insane

Busy weekend for Political events

  • The venerable Connecticut Citizen's Action Group is having a BBQ in New Britain - Saturday 3:30 pm - 5 pm Invited Guests include U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, Attorney General George Jepsen, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Treasurer Denise Nappier, House Speaker Chris Donovan, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, Rep. Tim O'Brien, and Rep. Peter Tercyak
  • 90th Birthday celebration for Edie Fishman in New Haven - Saturday 4pm - ?? For further info call (203) 624-4254 or joelle.fishman@pobox.com
 "Edie's continuing lifelong commitment
for a better world is our inspiration!"
  • DCCC Chairman Steve Israel and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi with Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa  DeLauro in East Haven Sunday12:30pm You may want to contact your financial planner before attending this one - it's a DCCC fundraiser. Contact: Fiona Murray at (212) 804-7020 or murray@dccc.org

21 July 2011

Damn but Rosa's good!

Rosa DeLauro, literally, In.The.House:
We are not here to represent the interests of Wall Street banks, predatory mortgage lenders and credit card companies as my Republican colleagues are choosing to do by smothering this new agency in its crib. We are here to represent the American people, and that is what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is designed to do. 
Full text of kick-ass remarks shown below the fold.

“ICYMI Thursday” - Dems Convention in Milford

Photo by Caitlin Mazzola - MilfordPatch
Ben Blake, Mayoral Candidate, Milford, CT
Connecticut Bob, as usual, says it best:
 Blake, an attorney, has been on the Board of Aldermen for eight years, and served as Chairman for several years. He has experience in running the city as Acting Mayor, and he presided over the Board during the only time in city history that there was a tax reduction!
Click here for the May 2011 pre-announcement of the Management Team of Ben Blake for Mayor and Suzanne Manning for City Clerk.

Around The Connecticut Blogs

As always, ctblogger does a great job rounding up the important local news of the day
My Left Nutmeg
Wednesday afternoon open thread

Jonathan Kantrowitz (me) highlights the good, and very bad news about the Dodd-Frank bill on its one year anniversay
Dodd-Frank Act After One Year

CT News Junkie is the best source of news in Connecticut

Budget Cuts Threaten Detox Beds

Being brave after being injured will reduce the pain!
Health News Report:
Stand Tall To Reduce Pain

20 July 2011

IOM Report Recommends Eight Additional Preventive Health Services to Promote Women's Health

A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, recommends that eight preventive health services for women be added to the services that health plans will cover at no cost to patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The ACA requires plans to cover the services listed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) comprehensive list of preventive services. At the agency's request, an IOM committee identified critical gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women's health and well-being.

The recommendations are based on a review of existing guidelines and an assessment of the evidence on the effectiveness of different preventive services. The committee identified diseases and conditions that are more common or more serious in women than in men or for which women experience different outcomes or benefit from different interventions. The report suggests the following additional services:

· screening for gestational diabetes
· human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as part of cervical cancer screening for women over 30
· counseling on sexually transmitted infections
· counseling and screening for HIV
· contraceptive methods and counseling to prevent unintended pregnancies
· lactation counseling and equipment to promote breast-feeding
· screening and counseling to detect and prevent interpersonal and domestic violence
· yearly well-woman preventive care visits to obtain recommended preventive services

"This report provides a road map for improving the health and well-being of women," said committee chair Linda Rosenstock, dean, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles. "The eight services we identified are necessary to support women's optimal health and well-being. Each recommendation stands on a foundation of evidence supporting its effectiveness."

Deaths from cervical cancer could be reduced by adding DNA testing for HPV, the virus that can cause this form of cancer, to the Pap smears that are part of the current guidelines for women's preventive services, the report concludes. Cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccination, screening, and treatment of precancerous lesions and HPV testing increases the chances of identifying women at risk.

Although lactation counseling is already part of the HHS guidelines, the report recommends comprehensive support that includes coverage of breast pump rental fees as well as counseling by trained providers to help women initiate and continue breast-feeding. Evidence links breast-feeding to lower risk for breast and ovarian cancers; it also reduces children's risk for sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory diseases, leukemia, ear infections, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.

HHS should consider screening for gestational diabetes in pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation and at the first prenatal visit for pregnant women identified to be at high risk for diabetes. The United States has the highest rates of gestational diabetes in the world; it complicates as many as 10 percent of U.S. pregnancies each year. Women with gestational diabetes face a 7.5-fold increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes after delivery and are more likely to have infants that require delivery by cesarean section and have health problems after birth.

To reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, which accounted for almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. in 2001, the report urges that HHS consider adding the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods as well as patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity. Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk of babies being born preterm or at a low birth weight, both of which raise their chances of health and developmental problems.

HHS's guidelines on preventive health services for women will need to be updated routinely in light of new science. As part of this process, HHS should establish a commission to recommend which services health plans should cover, the report says. The commission should be separate from the groups that assess evidence of health services' effectiveness, and it should consider cost-effectiveness analyses, evidence reviews, and other information to make coverage recommendations.

The report addresses concerns that the current guidelines on preventive services contain gaps when it comes to women's needs. Women suffer disproportionate rates of chronic disease and disability from some conditions. Because they need to use more preventive care than men on average due to reproductive and gender-specific conditions, they face higher out-of-pocket costs, the report notes.

Statement from Susan F. Wood, PhD
Associate Professor of Health Policy
Director, Jacob Institute of Women’s Health
The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Former Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health, FDA

Women know that preventive services for women includes family planning. Today the IOM confirmed that contraception is prevention and is part of the prevention package that should be covered by all health care plans. By reducing co-pays and deductibles for women getting contraception, this will help women and couples plan their families, space their children, reduce unintended pregnancies, and promote better health for women and children. Preventing unintended pregnancies is the best way to prevent abortion.

Women spend decades of their lives trying to prevent pregnancy, and only a few years actually trying to get pregnant and having children. Making contraception affordable by eliminating co-pays and deductibles is common sense for millions of women and couples across the country – and a real benefit that women will see immediately in their pocketbooks. This coverage of contraception will truly help “Close the Gaps” for women.

Contraception is not controversial – except sometimes for politicians. But this should not be political; coverage of contraception should be based on the evidence as outlined by IOM, which shows that contraception for women is indeed safe and effective prevention. Along with well-woman visits and critical screening for gestational diabetes, STDs, domestic violence, and other important women’s health preventive services, the IOM report “Closing the Gaps” has helped ensure that women’s health counts when we talk about prevention. Women should not be blocked from these critical preventive services due to cost or political debate.

Conduct Unbecoming

Here is the email I just sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner, in response to the latest info out of Washington DC.

I have heard that Congressman Eric West sent the email shown below to Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz.

I am surprised he didn't cc you. I am aware that everyone in DC is very busy right now, but please make a point to your congresspeople that some form of decorum needs to be maintained while they work so hard to destroy our country.

Sincerely yours,
Also not A Lady,
Tessa Marquis

Here is the offending email:
From: Z112 West, Allen
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior......which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!

Steadfast and Loyal

Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)

What a jerk.

Jon Kantrowitz' In The House!

Reminder: Several weeks ago I posted the following:
Guest Posts, OpEds, etc. are welcomed for publication on this site.
Please submit your verbiage via email to ctfreeradicals@gmail.com

Multitasking, Early-rising, Serial Blogger Jon Kantrowitz answered the call and is now contributing to this site.  Hold onto your hats for the bumpy ride, since he has been given unfettered access.

Have Fun With Your New Head

As a reminder: Please send all Hate Mail via US Postal Service (so we can track your spittle DNA and do a handwriting analysis) to:

Tessa Marquis
84 Broad Street
Milford, CT o646o

Around the Connecticut Blogs

CT Blue is fed up with Obama (great post):
What did we do to deserve this?
Only a Republican could go to China, and only a Democrat can destroy Social Security and Medicare. Obama has taken aim at both. The Republicans will play along and take electoral advantage of the betrayal. It’s time for some serious pushback from the real Democrats in the House and Senate, but don’t hold your breath.

Jonathan Kantrowitz (me)

$1 trillion dollars in savings over the next ten years by eliminating tax credits and deductions
It’s not often I agree, even in part, with a conservative Republican, but Tom Coburn has proposed $1 trillion dollars in savings over the next ten years by eliminating tax credits and deductions, and I like his thinking:

Connecticut Bob is happy that the Unions have changed their by-laws
Moving the goalposts
I'm actually quite impressed with how this is going. Not everyone is going to be happy about it, but then again, are they ever? It's getting accomplished, and hopefully we'll avoid some of the more drastic cutbacks in state services that are being proposed.

Education Research Report: Changes in the way science is taught may be coming
Report calls for shift in the way science is taught in US
A report released by the National Research Council presents a new framework for K-12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school. The framework will serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards, to replace those issued more than a decade ago.

The committee that wrote the report, A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, sees the need for significant improvements in how science is taught in the U.S. The new framework is designed to help students gradually deepen their knowledge of core ideas in four disciplinary areas over multiple years of school, rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics. And it strongly emphasizes the practices of science – helping students learn to plan and carry out investigations, for example, and to engage in argumentation from evidence.

19 July 2011

Rosa DeLauro calls Republican Congresspeople Hostage-Takers


Cut, Cap, and Balance Act will destroy job growth, opportunities for middle class

Washington, DC—Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, made the following remarks on the Floor of the United States House of Representatives today during the debate on the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.

As Prepared for Delivery

I rise in strong opposition to this rule and the legislation before us today. If we do not act in two weeks, the United States will for the first time in history default on its debt. With the economy in such a vulnerable position right now, we should be working to create jobs.  But, instead of acting responsibly and in a bipartisan way to raise the debt ceiling, the Republican majority has decided to make this a form of hostage-taking to press their agenda. 

Congress has always paid for its past financial commitments, with Republican majorities agreeing on raising the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush Administration. Everyone understands the long-term challenge posed by budget deficits and President Obama and Democrats support a balanced approach to addressing that challenge. Yet the ideological and extreme bill before us today does not address the number one concern of the American public, jobs, but rather seeks to implement an agenda that will in fact destroy jobs and the social safety net, end Medicare and reduce the Social Security benefits our seniors have earned and deserved.

Rather than making investments to create jobs and economic growth, the Republican majority is proposing cuts which will lead to a loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, even as we are mired in unacceptably high unemployment. With this bill, the Republicans choose to put in place a spending cap that will cement in law the Republican budget that chooses to end Medicare and places the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of the middle class and the most vulnerable.

And finally, the Republican majority is choosing to hold an increase in the debt ceiling hostage to an approval of an amendment that will make it impossible to raise revenue. What do I mean? It will make it impossible to end the subsidies to big oil, make it impossible to close the loopholes that allow corporations to ship their jobs overseas or abuse tax havens that allow them to pay almost nothing in federal taxes.

To achieve deficit reduction, they will end Medicare, implement deep cuts to Social Security and other programs that are critical to the middle class. Instead, what they need to do is to go after the 12 largest corporations in this nation, corporations that Citizens for Tax Justice have shown to pay a negative 1.5 percent tax on $171 billion in profits and about $64 billion in tax subsidies. You want to do something to balance the budget and make a deal for deficit reduction, go after those corporations that are paying zero in taxes instead of going after middle-class Americans or seniors who rely on Medicare and who rely on social security.

This Republican agenda undermines America as a country where middle-class American families have an opportunity for a decent retirement. I urge my colleagues to oppose this outrageous piece of legislation.

 This video comes with a Hat Tip (*not* a Cut and Cap Tip) to Matt Stoller

Around the Connecticut Blogs

A liberal racist?
My Left Nutmeg:
Who Is the Biggest Right-Wing Media Hack in Connecticut?

Prosecutorial misconduct

a public defender:
Can you imagine if she’d been convicted?

McKinney dishonest?
Connecticut Political Reporter:
McKinney Blames Paid Sick Days For Manufacturing Losses

Jon Pelto Still Not Happy With CT's Budget

Wait, What?
“Tis Better To Look Good Than Be Good”

Ryan McKeeen thinks breathalyzers encourage drinking, not safe driving
A Connecticut Law Blog:
The Breathalyzer In The Bar: The Adult Attractive Nuisance

Many of us are part Neanderthal! (I was sure that it was just Republicans)
Archaeology News Report:
Genetic research confirms that non-Africans are part Neanderthal

18 July 2011

They are Sitting on their Trickle Down

USMTO News Release for May Manufacturing Technology Orders
Association for Manufacturing Technology

The United States Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report, jointly compiled by the two trade associations representing the production and distribution of manufacturing technology, provides regional and national U.S. orders data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment. Analysis of manufacturing technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.
In any company an important number is always the year-to-date comparison of sale and orders.  That would be what we did last year on today's date versus thus year.  Usually some adjustments are made for day of the week anomalies.  They give Regional breakdowns for the US and here is ours :
Northeast region

At $64.30 million, May manufacturing technology orders in the northeast region were up 8.4% when compared with the $59.33 million total for April and up 88.4% when compared with May a year ago. The year-to-date total of $305.87 million is 92.4% more than the comparable figure for 2010.
Lots of Charts and graphs for the Wonkier Amongst Us at the link: Press release from USMTO (the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association and AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology)

Death Cab for Cutie: Monday Morning

For Kate
She may be young but she only likes old things.
The modern music it ain't to her taste

She loves the natural life, captured in black and white.

15 July 2011

Here Comes the Governor!!!!!!!

The Milford Democratic Party will hold it's Municipal Convention on Wednesday July 20th at City Hall (West River Street) to endorse candidates for Mayor, City Clerk, Board of Education, Board of Aldermen, and Planning and Zoning Board, as well as the dreaded Constables.

On Friday July 22nd at 6:30 pm we will have a grand fundraiser for Mayoral candidate Ben Blake ... with a Special Guest.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who I acknowledge you might be mad at this week, is coming to Milford to support the Democratic Party's candidate for Mayor.  

Now, I recognize that everyone is a little testy lately so let me remind you that the "Suggested Donation" is de  rigueur on political invitations. You pay what you feel is appropriate and according to your budget. It is expected that contributions will at least be reasonable, not in coin form, and at least enough to cover your food and drink consumption!

Which is not to say that you shouldn't dig deep. After all, we need to run a campaign here.

For security reasons, I have cunningly blocked out the address of the event, but let me at least reveal to you that there is a view of water.

So, when we say Clams (edible mollusks), we also mean Clams (many dollar$). *

Please RSVP to treasurer@blakeformilford.com
and pre-pay at blakeformilford.com

For further information,
email ben@blakeformilford.com

* The slang word "Clam" meaning money most likely comes from Native Americans on the coastline who strung clamshells as necklaces and used them for trade.