Wednesday, May 16, 2012

News of the Day

1. It's the same old story with Republicans, who continue to march in lock-step over taxes, complaining that they're too high and need to be shaved down a bit more. Even Mitt Romney, who has his most recent speech fact-slapped here, is getting on the low-tax train, despite his calls for reducing the national debt. Republicans are arguing that our entire debt situation should be fixed only with spending cuts. There are some fundamental problems with that view, chief among them that defense cuts never seem to materialize (despite the fact that the defense department itself has asked for cuts and their budget is easily the largest in the government). I would also point out that, when you talk about defense cuts, the standard reply is that it would destroy jobs, even though the GOP has spent years claiming the government doesn't create a single job. Hmm....

2. And in a similar vein, we have Boehner saying that he is hoping to have another debt ceiling fight in early 2013. He's actually looking forward to bringing America to the brink of default again, and possibly another downgrade in our credit rating. I still don't understand why this is being used as a hostage situation by the GOP, but they seem to think that destroying the borrowing power of America, and making us look like fools to the rest of the world (again!) is a reasonable response if they are unable to strip Americans of the much-needed social supports during a recession in the name of ideology.

3. Due to a surprising drop in the number of students expected to pass their standardized reading exam this year, the state of Florida has decided to lower it's passing grade. As you might expect, this has lent a new piece of evidence to the opponents of high-stakes testing, who say that overly testing students and making hiring and payroll decisions based on the outcomes is wrong. Clearly, standardized testing has become a major issue for a lot of states, as they continue to try and balance budgets while maintaining high standards of success.

4. We've seen this before, and it doesn't usually end well. Firefighters in California are petitioning to start charging for services. Granted, the services they are wanting to charge for are not directly related to putting out fires, but it still sets up a situation where a person may be denied a necessary service because they can't pay. Remember last year when there were stories of local fire departments standing by watching houses burn because the owner's had not paid for the fire department's services. That kind of thing, while it helps the bottom line, is incredibly harmful to the well-being of individual citizens

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