Blowing Emissions Up Your Ass

Power utilities companies in Kansas are warning of Armageddon in 2012, saying Kansans will face rolling blackouts, millions in lost productivity, staggeringly high power bills and even complete outages in the summer months due to Evil Job-Killing EPA Pollution Regulations(tm).  These brave souls are suing the EPA in a DC appeals court to…umm, what do you mean that’s all compete garbage?

Kansas utilities say that the rules have come so quickly and are so stringent that they won’t be able to comply in time. As a result, thousands of Kansans will experience rolling blackouts or brownouts, which will also cost jobs when the plants shut down. In addition, customers will face higher utility bills to pay for more than $100 million in new pollution control expenses and other costs.

“The adverse effects from such reductions caused by the 2012 emission limits are dire, concrete, substantial and imminent,” attorneys for Kansas utilities told a federal appeals court.

EPA says that’s nonsense. The costs will be far less — between $5 million and $30 million — and Kansas utilities will have more than a year to implement the emission controls.

“Kansas has failed to show that the lights will go out in Kansas,” attorneys for the EPA wrote.

In fact, the EPA says the benefits of the transport rule — prevention of 83 to 210 deaths annually in Kansas and a savings of $700 million to $1.7 billion annually in health care — far outweigh the utilities’ costs.

So these regulations would actually save Kansas taxpayers in the neighborhood of a billion dollars a year or so.  You would think Kansas would go “Hey, this is a pretty great deal for us.  Let’s help you guys with the costs of reducing your emissions.  Here’s some money.  Make this happen.”

You of course would be completely wrong, because Republicans are involved.  They’d rather spend the money on suing the EPA.

The utilities and the Kansas attorney general joined a handful of states and several dozen utilities in filing lawsuits in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., asking for a stay and further review of the rule.

The disagreement between Kansas, the utilities and EPA is so contentious that the two sides can’t even agree when the new rules were known and when they go into effect.

They say the EPA is only giving them until January to comply.

“No one expected that,” said Greg Greenwood, senior vice president of strategy for Westar.

They said the new rules would force them to shut down coal plants in midsummer.

“Unfortunately the new … requirements will substantially cost our members and those they serve,” said Cindy Hertel, a Sunflower spokeswoman. “Sunflower estimates that installing upgraded emission technology … will now cost our members nearly $21 million, and we expect to face additional costs” to meet the requirements.

Nope, we have to pass the costs on to the consumers!  It’ll cost a hundred million and Kansas will become an electricity-free third world hellhole this summer!  YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES WILL SUFFER!

Look, even if the utilities are completely right on the $100 million figure, and the yearly health care cost savings are overestimated by a factor of ten and Kansas Republicans immediately passed a law that gave all the cost savings to the utilities until they had these new standards paid for as the ultimate in corporate welfare…that still means Kansas would be able to pay the utilities to cover their costs in just two years and Kansas taxpayers would save the difference every year after.  Deficit reduction?  Not for these guys.

It’s insanity, but the Republicans in Kansas are too busy serving the utilities to serve Kansas.

Score Another One For The Blockheads

The GOP has refused to allow President Obama’s Medicare/Medicaid program head to even get a vote in the Senate, threatening to filibuster every attempt, and that means a year after his recess appointment, Donald Berwick is out.  Brian Beutler:

In reality Berwick is a casualty of the ongoing partisan fight over social insurance. Nominally this is the fight over “deficits” and “debt”, but much more accurately it’s a dispute about the nature of key safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and, soon, the new health care law. The irony is that Berwick is best known, and widely respected, for his academic work on making the U.S. health care system more efficient — i.e. how to save people, businesses, and the government money, and simultaneously improve patient care. If the continuing fight over deficits was really about deficits, Berwick would have broad, bipartisan support to continue his work. Instead his curtailed tenure serves as an illustration of the fact that the fight about budget deficits doesn’t really have anything to do with deficits at all.

More importantly, Berwick actually proving that the basic tenets of the new health care law could actually work would be a disaster for the GOP.  If it’s allowed to work, Republicans are toast. They know this, so “Obamacare” has to fail before 2014 and the system kicks into full throttle.  The opposition to it is driving their base and they want to manufacture as much outrage as possible between now and next November.

It was a “national crisis” when Berwick was appointed in the first place, remember?

Town Hall Attendees Heckle Paul Ryan and His Very Serious Budget (Again)

He haz a big sad.

Paul Ryan by Gage SkidmorePaul Ryan was booed (again) at a town hall meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week, after one of his constituents pressed him about the GOP budget. As you may recall, Paul Ryan’s Very Serious Budget would turn Medicare into a voucher program, and amounts to little more than a decimation of the programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) on which the elderly and poor rely on to… you know… not die.

One audience member, David Drath, argued that he couldn’t survive on the proposals in Ryan’s policy, and that if those policy were enacted, “you might as well put a gun to my head.”

From Think Progress:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) received a chilly reaction from audience members at a listening session in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Friday, as multiple constituents challenged the House Budget Chairman on the specifics of his budget and how it would affect current and future retirees. One audience member argued that Ryan’s proposal to push seniors out of traditional Medicare and into more-expensive private coverage is tantamount to murder:
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Majority of Millionaires Want Their Doggone Taxes Raised

This just in… again.

 This must have pained the Wall Street Journal to report:

Warren Buffett isn’t the only rich guy who wants to higher taxes on the rich.

A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.

Buffett, as you might recall, has proposed raising taxes on million-plus earners, saying the ultra-rich pay lower rates than everyday workers.

Rich people’s opinions of Buffett remain fairly positive in the wake of his tax-me-more crusade. More than a third of millionaires and ultra-high-net-worths said they have a more positive opinion of Buffett after his tax proposal. Only 19% of millionaires and 22% of the $5 million -plus group said they had a more negative opinion of him after the proposal.

More than 40% of both groups said their opinion hadn’t changed.

In other words, Buffett’s proposal had more supporters than detractors among the rich — though that support declines slightly as you move up the wealth ladder.

It amuses me that one of the questions posed was whether or not rich people still like Warren Buffett.  As if he gives a shit. Oh pollsters — you so crazy.

As I said yesterday, it’s not up for debate: Americans — rich and poor — think the rich should pay their fair share.  This new poll simply makes Paul “Why is Obama Picking on Rich People” Ryan look that much more silly.

I also said yesterday that the GOP just doesn’t give a fuck what you think because they signed a tax pledge with Grover Norquist, and tax pledges are forever.

I wonder when the curtain will drop on this political theatre.  The Super Congress deadline is coming up, and if Republicans start up with their “let’s cut entitlements! no tax increases!” again, I think it just might actually damage them.

Hey!  I said “might.”

[Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

Paul Ryan: The First Rule About Income Inequality is “Don’t Talk About Income Inequality.”

Refocusing the national conversation

It’s hard to deny that the first nine months of the 112th Congress saw this country transfixed by Republican demands for austerity. Indeed, President Obama was met with a lot of criticism from the left for seeming to give in to this Republican-framed national conversation. Many on the left were frustrated that Republican jibber jabber about spending cuts seemed to rule the day.

First, there was the April budget showdown which saw the radical right itching for a government shutdown unless Democrats acceded to their demands for $100 billion in cuts and defunding Planned Parenthood and the healthcare bill. Instead, Republicans got $38 billion in cuts, the continued survival of the Obamacare albatross, and the uterati retained control over their lady-areas. Needless to say, Teabilly-in-Chief, Michele Bachmann was gutted.

Then came the Republican-manufactured debt ceiling crisis which resulted in Orange Julius crowing that Republicans had gotten 98% of what they wanted and some lefties again pissed off about — something. (Turns out OJ and these lefties were wrong.)

After the debt ceiling tears had dried, President Obama pivoted to the most important issue in this country – JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Knowing that Republicans were going to do exactly two things about jobs — jack and squat — President Obama took his jobs act on the road. Criss-crossing the country, he made his case for his American Jobs Act directly to the people, and asked us to get involved by calling Congress to demand they pass the bill. (We all know how that worked out.)

Inescapably entangled in the president’s jobs message is the very simple notion that rich-ass people should pay more in taxes. Warren Buffet hopped on the Jobs train and became the figurehead for the Republicans’ worst nightmare: the growing outcry in support of a simple idea that the Riches™ should pay more.

And then came the game changer: Occupy Wall Street.

Arguably, the five-week old occupy protests that have captivated America (and, indeed, the globe) have done more for our national conversation than anything President Obama has done. Whichever way one slices it, however, it is clear that the conversation has changed from “austerity” to income equality.

Everyone in the country is talking about income equality now, and that conversation all leads to one conclusion: tax increases on the rich.

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