by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Extremism In Defense of Idiocy
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the only thing left that is holding up a bill that would prevent a government shutdown is the intransigence of Republican extremists in the House, who are demanding the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood.
How extreme are those extremists? As the indispensable Steve Benen has reported, Oklahoma neanderthal Senator Tom Coburn, and Minnesota’s maniacal Michelle Bachman–yes, Michelle Bachman!–have both said they are in favor of a bill without the Planned Parenthood rider. So the Tea Party members in the House are way to the right of Coburn and Bachman–which means they probably think Glenn Beck is a hopeless moderate.
Meanwhile, Paul Krugman vivisects the “responsible conservatives”–everyone from David Brooks to The Economist–who have been praising Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget. (The Economist called it “a brave counterproposal” which “puts fiscal responsibility at the centre of his plan"–although even this Republican-friendly publication admits that “Too much of the gain goes to the rich, and too much of the pain is felt by the poor.”)
Krugman sees things rather differently in today's Times.
"...The G.O.P. plan turns out not to be serious at all. Instead, it’s simultaneously ridiculous and heartless. ..Republicans have once again gone all in for voodoo economics — the claim, refuted by experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves. [The Congressional Budget Office] finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts...
"The point here is that privatizing Medicare does nothing, in itself, to limit health-care costs. In fact, it almost surely raises them by adding a layer of middlemen. Yet the House plan assumes that we can cut health-care spending as a percentage of G.D.P. despite an aging population and rising health care costs.
"The only way that can happen is if those vouchers are worth much less than the cost of health insurance. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2030 the value of a voucher would cover only a third of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare as we know it. So the plan would deprive many and probably most seniors of adequate health care...
"In short, this plan isn’t remotely serious; on the contrary, it’s ludicrous. And it’s also cruel."