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The Roundup for July 13, 2011

I guess there’s another top secret meeting at the White House, where Congressional leaders like to get together and decide what wall to bang their heads against. I’ll be monitoring…

• It’s easy to lose sight of the consequences of the austerity we’re planning to put in place, but EPI has a good wake-up call, showing that the leftward pole of this debate would cut nonsecurity discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of GDP since 1962, leaving almost no room for public investment.

• Wall Street is getting a little more assertive about the debt limit, and how it must be avoided at all costs. Moody’s threatened a credit rating downgrade on US Treasuries.

• The GOP intransigence at the activist/bomb-throwing backbencher level is being driven by Grover Norquist, who next wants to find someone to sign the Ryan budget that ends Medicare. In case you thought his support for the McConnell surrender in the debt limit plan represented a retreat.

• Even Bill O’Reilly believes revenue has to come up some. 74% of Republicans agree with him.

• As the big banks present their servicer fixes to the OCC, who will promptly forget to regulate them, some of the only public officials who actually worked to uncover foreclosure fraud, Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson at the Florida Attorney General’s office, have been forced out of their jobs.

• The President doesn’t really have a jobs plan. Robert Reich does.

• The Arab world has turned increasingly negative toward President Obama and the United States in general. A mass of freedom bombs will tend to do that. Glenn Greenwald has more.

• One way to add to that negative image is to keep a military presence in Iraq. But the handwriting may be on the wall. Muqtada al-Sadr unexpectedly vowed not to reform his Mahdi Army militia in response to an extension, though he would still “oppose” US forces through an elite unit.

• We’ve begun to hear about atrocities committed by the Libyan rebels. I gather this is just the tip of the iceberg.

• Yet more spending cuts are planned for Italy, the latest victim of European debt crisis contagion, as Euro banks prepare for the inevitable defaults.

• Human Rights Watch says that foreign governments must prosecute the Bush Administration for torture if the current Administration won’t. Obama has “treating torture as a policy choice, not a crime,” says HRW.

• Michael Hiltzik has a very good piece delving into chained CPI. The policy conceit here is that it makes more sense to judge inflation with a substitution effect – people who can’t afford beef will choose chicken, etc. But you can’t really substitute medical treatment and drugs, the main expense for seniors. The whole chained CPI debate is cruel.

• The LA Times reports that the tar sands oil pipeline from Canada through the US is going to happen.

• The Guttmacher Institute tracks 162 anti-abortion laws passed by the states this year. ALEC gets results.

• Again responding to the street protests, Egypt fired its top 600 police officers today.

• The thing about Rick Scott’s approval rating falling off a cliff is that he is really carrying out the agenda on which he ran. Floridians must not have believed him when they elected him.

• Hamid Karzai lost it at his half-brother’s funeral today, jumping into the pit with the coffin and staying there for as long as a half-hour, according to some reports. I’m no fan of Karzai, but this is the reality of a decade of war.

• We could go ahead and actually collect all the taxes owed the United States, and add $400-$500 billion a year in revenue, easily equaling the topline number in all of these budget deficit plans.

• There’s a massive hunger strike at the Pelican Bay, California prison, with the inmates near death while protesting the terrible conditions.

• The House failed to vote out new light bulb efficiency standards, which means we’re all going to suffer illuminated serfdom under the oppressive yoke of the socialists.

• The Brookings Institution finds promise in green jobs and cleantech, with lots of high-wage jobs created.

• Al Sharpton gets results.

• Rick Perlstein has a great appreciation of Betty Ford, feminist icon.

• The Minnesota budget shutdown is leading to a major alcohol shortage. Netroots Nation got out of Minneapolis just in time. If anything will get lawmakers back to the bargaining table, it’s running out of beer.

• After Janice Hahn’s victory in CA-36, Republicans have now lost 200 straight California House races held by an incumbent Democrat.

• North Dakota may have never been a state, thanks to a drafting error in its Constitution.

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David Dayen

David Dayen