Rand Paul’s Proposed Budget: far-right ideology in action

Most of the world hardly noticed but Rand Paul proposed a plan to balance the federal budget in five years last week. Paul predictably chose to eliminate most of the federal government in his plan…so it was ignored.

As this column by Keith Rouda at Louisville.com points out, the proposed budget is an interesting document. You can find many of the social and economic preconceptions of the far-right embedded within it.

Kidding aside, as it turns out the budget plan Senator Paul put out provides a level of insight into his thought processes and philosophies that could never be gleaned from campaign ads (for or against him) or the pablum of sound bites that pass for news these days. It is a rather amazing document.

For example, in the opening of the budget plan before he tackles any real specific policies, Paul spends some time discussing government spending as it relates to Gross Domestic Product [GDP]. Then he says this.

…without significantly reducing deficits, debt, and spending, crowding out will reduce the standard-of-living, resulting in a decrease in gross national product per person by 8 percent by 2025 and by 21 percent in 2035.

Believe it or not, this little sentence fragment contains really critical insights into Paul’s understanding of economics, the degree to which ideology colors his creative thought process, and his integrity!

This promises to be a series, which we will revisit.


DeMint News Round-up March 27, 2010

Jim DeMint: GOP Primary Could See ‘Whole New Cast’ Of Candidates
Huffington Post
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is not interested in running for the Republican presidential nomination, but he said Saturday that the presumed field might not be sufficient to inspire voters and he would welcome a last-minute entry by another

DeMint Principles trump candidate
‘We have to get it right this time,’ DeMint tells the crowd. | AP Photo Close By MAGGIE HABERMAN | 3/26/11 9:55 PM EDT DES MOINES, Iowa — Jim DeMint urged a conservative crowd in Iowa to “get it right this time” with a Republican presidential nominee,

DeMint: We Need a President Who Won’t Run Our Lives
Pajamas Media
“The President has been AWOL on the budget discussion. He has not led at all on what needs to be cut or where we cut. He’s just sat on the sidelines and criticized Republicans.” PJTV is interviewing former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rep.

DeMint predicts fresh GOP candidates for president
Washington Post
Jim DeMint (RS.C.), who shook up Republican politics in 2010 by challenging the establishment, said Saturday there’s room for more candidates in the 2012 Republican presidential race and predicted the field could see new and surprising entrants in the

Around the Sphere
The Moderate Voice
(Cheney would probably not do that anyway. He’d take the journalist hunting.) So the GOP 2012 Presidential Field Looks Good? Senator Jim DeMint says the present crop may not be enough to inspire voters and if there is no front runner other GOPers

Bowing to Material Reality, Jim DeMint Will Not Run For President

In a rare acknowledgement of the world as it is, Jim DeMint stated he would not run for President of the United States.

Various news outlets are reporting this.  Here’s a Washington Post blog. The Fix:

He’s said all along that he isn’t running for President and his role in the primary is to encourage the candidates to embrace conservative principles,” said Matt Hoskins, spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint’s political action committee.

Interesting and telling that the statement came from DeMint’s PAC…further evidence that he doesn’t make any distinction between fundraising and politics.

So who will he back? Perhaps anticipating DeMint’s misogyny, The Fix sticks with boy candidates:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will almost certainly make a strong push in the Palmetto State and has signed on Jim Dyke, who lives in South Carolina, as an adviser to his political action committee. Minnesota Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is from Georgia, is also a natural fit for the South Carolina Republican primary electorate. And, if former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee runs — an increasingly unlikely prospect — he would rightly be considered the South Carolina frontrunner.

Less discriminatingly, but more entertainingly, another blog calls Ohio Rep.  Michelle Bachmann “the default Tea Party candidate”.    Some Iowa GOP Senator likes her:

She’s a dynamo. Our members were very enthused with her enthusiasm, her grasp of issues. She was very knowledgeable about foreign issues, particularly with regard to the Libyan incursion.

DeMint will share a stage with this woman, and use her to raise money.  But he will not endorse her because 1) he’s a savvy enough marketer to smell her sell-by date and 2) unlike the apostles, she does not have a penis.

Doing As Big Daddy Tells You

Two months back, Senator Mike Lee of Utah posted a video to his youtube page in which he can be seen running down child labor laws.   After the events in Wisconsin and the growth in assaults against working people around the country, it is time to revisit that video.

Lee’s people posted this video themselves, which is understandable if you think that the U.N. a greater danger to children today than factory work…or homophobic bullying.

Certainly a few harsh daddies will be attracted to the argument. Many more people will be revolted.

What the Hell is going on here? Lee’s speech will appear nonsensical to most. You have to accept that the treatment of children “is supposed to be harsh” as he says, in order to really follow his argument.

To put a…well…positive spin on the case for child labor, you have to believe that parents can essentially do what they like with their kids. And that the states can do what they like with their workers.

Lee is a noted proponent of what he calls a theocratic re-interpretation of United States law.  This means, in practice as advocated by Lee, a position of absolute authority for the father in the family, and an absolute control for “Godly” authorities in public life.

So Lee is not just advocating a overly rigid argument for childrearing, but an alteration in labor law that will impact all workers and all parents. Such is their hatred of unions, one has to wonder if Lee, Miller and DeMint did not come to their conclusions on child labor while looking for another way to undermine collective bargaining.

Child labor laws were passed with the support of trade unions, who wanted to protect the children of workers from exploitation. In the mills of South Carolina and the coal mines of Appalachia, low wages and tractability put children in direct competition with their parents. By restricting the workforce to adults, labor was made more scarce and factory owners were forced to raise wages. Workers were able to support their families while their kids went to school.

It wasn’t so long ago that DeMint’s predecessor Ben Tillman was railing against mandatory childhood education.

Jim DeMint, is of course, at the center of this movement to unleash capitalism on children. In the last congress, DeMint created a photo-op for a “Parental Rights Amendment“. Only the hard-core right noticed at the time. With a few more allies like Lee in the Senate, DeMint will find it easier to get his views out.

Via Raw Story:

“Congress decided it wanted to prohibit that practice, so it passed a law. No more child labor. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to that law, and the Supreme Court decided a case in 1918 called Hammer v. Dagenhardt,” Lee said. “In that case, the Supreme Court acknowledged something very interesting — that, as reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned — that’s something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress.”

Lee’s reasoning was that labor and manufacturing are “by their very nature, local activities” and not “interstate commercial transactions.” He added: “This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh.”

The key Congressional law that addresses child labor is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which placed a series of restrictions against the employment of people under 18 in the public and private sectors.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law in the 1941 United States v. Darby Lumber decision, overturning Hammer, on the basis of the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It has hardly run into controversies since.

Jim DeMint is on record as stating that public sector workers should not be permitted to associate in unions.   He finds himself in agreement with South Carolina’s governor Nikki Haley, who promised that her appointee to head the SC Department of Labor would “fight those unions”.  And just today Rep. Mike Scott from the first Congressional District submitted a bill that would strip entire families of foodstamps if one member went on strike.  All three oppose the extension of the rights of children.  All three would stand with Lee in opposition to child labor laws.

Authoritarianism in the family, authoritarianism in the workplace.  As Senator Lee says, it is supposed to be harsh.

In short, eliminating this:

'A little spinner in Globe Cotton Mill. Augusta, Ga. The overseer admitted she was regularly employed. Location: Augusta, Georgia.'

…helped lay the groundwork for this…


…and he…

Jim DeMint

…can’t have this.

Protest march  Anti-budget bill protesters marching at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. February 26, 2011

Protest march Anti-budget bill protesters marching at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. February 26, 2011


When His Values Are Not Our Values

Contributed by Agnes Pomata.

I think we can all agree that Jim DeMint is a man of strong values. His values reflect a childhood lived in front of his television set, internalizing a fictitious America, through fictitious towns like Mayberry, while his mother worked hard, a single mom, to care for her family.

He learned that hard work has value, that faith has value, and that family has value, and these are good principles.

But Jim DeMint is also a rigid man. To him, faith is Christianity, and all other faith is wrong. Hard work brings success, and if you are not succeeding, you are not working hard. And family is mother, father and children, and if your family is different, you are wrong.

DeMint believes so strongly in his rigid, unyielding system of right and wrong that he has recently shunned his conservative colleagues by refusing to attend this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference – CPAC. We need to pay heed to DeMint’s message in participating in this boycott.

Jim DeMint’s values do not include most of us. He does not believe the government should be an equalizer, or even provide assistance to those who are struggling, because God has determined your struggles. If you are wealthy and successful, it is a sign that your faith has been rewarded.

If you are an unmarried pregnant woman, you have no place in DeMint’s world. He will pay not a penny for your care, or the newborn’s, nor would he allow you the option of an abortion. Jim DeMint is God’s instrument and he is determined to do God’s will in our U.S. Congress.

And if you are gay, your place in Hell is assured. And Jim DeMint will not tarnish himself by associating with such a sinner. But he will not just shun you, he will seek to exclude you from the rights and privileges of society, because Jim DeMint believes he is doing God’s work, and God wants gays punished.

I wish this were merely a caricature of our Senator from South Carolina. But Jim DeMint has proven time and again the intensity of his beliefs, and the intensity with which he knows he is right. DeMint is the kind of zealot that will use his power to do damage to any who do not conform to his values and to those who confront him about those values.

His boycott of CPAC is just one more act that defines the extent of hatred and intolerance that defines Jim DeMint.


A Simple Mind on Taxation

Contributed by Agnes Pomata

Jim DeMint hates the deficit. And he hates taxes. His opinion on both is: get rid of them.

This leads to confusion for some. For others, including his many devotees in South Carolina and the Tea Party, what it leads to is selective inattention. Basically, don’t pay attention to what doesn’t make sense.

And what doesn’t make sense is cutting taxes without raising the deficit.

The question is one of philosophy. Jim DeMint would like to kill the government. He believes that ALL problems can be solved and needs satisfied by private industry. This is the mantra of the conservative movement.

Of course, it is hypocritical, because private industry has absolutely no problem expecting, demanding, that government fill in the holes that frankly, business chooses not to pay for. This is not to say that the government should actually hire people to do the work. They should pay private industry to do it.

Airline security? Roads and bridges? Pharmaceutical research? Defense?

The simplicity of DeMint’s philosophy is that, in order for the government to continue to make payouts to private industry, the government needs tax dollars. Which private industry should not have to pay.

Having tried, at my own risk, to follow Jim DeMint’s thought processes, I must say that it would be interesting to have DeMint actually explain the illogic behind his philosophy. The problem, of course, is that Jim DeMint is never, NEVER forced to defend himself and his contradictions. The 2010 campaign season should have at least allowed us the opportunity to listen to DeMint answer questions posed by people other than his fans, but this was not to be.

In the 2011 Congress, it is a safe bet that we will continue to hear Jim DeMint

insist on cutting taxes and reducing the deficit. What we really need is for a fellow senator to persuade him to tell us how he would do that. And then we really need to listen to the answer.

See Also:
Phony solutions for real social ills“, by David Boaz in today’s Los Angles Times for another discussion on how DeMint’s policies do not address the social issues.

DeMint’s Cuts: A Recipe For Unemployment And Hardship

A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA

"A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA." Flickr photo By Wonderlane. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.

Washington Post author Joe Davidson reports on a paper by Federally Employed Women on the work that is actually done by federal employees on which people depend every day.  It is just this sort of work that you may not miss until it is gone.

DeMint and the anti-political, pro-business politicians in Congress say they will slash government spending and claim that they will do it without cutting Medicaid, Social Security or the Pentagon budget.  DeMint’s promises are misleading on Medicaid and Social Security (he aims to privatize them)  and he never addresses military spending.

Consider the thousands of effective services and jobs that would be lost under DeMint’s proposals:

Here’s how federal employees affect the life of FEW’s average working mother during just one hour of her day:

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite. Flickr photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.

“11:00 a.m. Equal employment. My fellow workers and I work as a team allowing us to succeed. This is because workers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforce federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. The Office of Disability Employment Policy works toward a world where people with disabilities have unlimited employment opportunities. The Department of Justice enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act to help provide access from design standards for buildings to mediation. Without these people, several of my co-workers would be unable to work or would not be hired, and I would miss their valuable input.

“11:30 a.m. Weather reports. I check the weather reports. NOAA’s [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s] National Weather Service and Global Systems Division employees do the best job possible in trying to predict the weather to allow us all to adequately prepare for adverse circumstances.

“[Noon]. Health care. I grab a quick lunch and stop to visit my friend in the hospital. We thank the experts at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] who help ensure that her medications are safe and those at the Department of Health and Human Services who help oversee our health care laws. Helping to relieve my friend’s stress about paying for her medical care are the Health Care Financing Administration workers who make sure Medicare and Medicaid are run efficiently.”

DeMint pretends to never considers the savings these services give to the average person.   It is just these services that will be impacted or eliminated by the proposed cuts. South Carolina alone has over 60,000 federal workers, including 30,000 retirees, all contributing to the community. There is no scenario where the the loss of these jobs would be offset by eliminating, for example, the Food and Drug Administration.

This despite the fact that no analysis can show that even eliminating these programs would reduce the budget deficit.   These ‘discretionary’ programs  do not form a very large portion of the overall federal budget.   And they are highly cost effective.  Adding to the nation’s unemployed, cutting food safety inspections, and reducing education is only going to hurt the country.

Chart shows funds authorized to be spent each fiscal year.

NYT Graph: "Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent Rectangles in the chart are sized according to the amount of spending for that category. Color shows the change in spending from 2010."

The growth in the budget deficit comes from military spending (up 75% since 2000 to $533.7 billion in FY2010) , health care spending (from $460.7 billion in 2000 to 891.2 billion in 2008), and special Bush/Obama spending to stimulate the depressed economy (nearly $800 billion in tax cuts and spending).   Unfortunately, President Obama shares the Washington habit of ignoring the largest parts of the federal budget.   His proposed five-year freeze on “non-military discretionary spending” would target the same daily services as DeMint.

Anyone can question government spending.  They’re just looking at the problem in a completely backward fashion: without addressing ending the wars, you’ll never get military spending under control; without cost containment, you’ll never manage health care costs; without considering how to maintain the services that people actually use, then you’re not really looking out for people. In this as in all other things, DeMint has an ideological commitment first, then lets other usually poorer people worry about the consequences.

Double Talk on Health Care

Contributed by Agnes Pomata.

When I read Jim DeMint’s views and proposals, I have to admit that I sometimes get to feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Because he was once an adman, DeMint is good at selling his ideas. As with all ads, though, the fact that his policy proposals sound good does not mean that they are good, or in fact, based on true findings.

DeMint Health Care Scowl

DeMint: There are no solutions, only problems. Source: Getty Images via Esquire.

Alternately, DeMint peppers his arguments with words and phrases that are intended to create a chill, like “government-controlled health care”. “So-called ‘free’ universal health care”, as far as I know, is only being called “free” by Jim DeMint. And of course, there is the ever frightening “socialism”.

And he is shrewd enough to know that he needs only to appeal emotionally, and that what he says does not even need to make sense.

Take, for example, DeMint’s statement on health care, on his website http://demint.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=HealthCare. Despite the fact that with increasing deregulation of industry, health care costs have skyrocketed, and in fact, the insurance industry continues to have record profits, he claims that it is “bad tax policy, frivolous lawsuits, government price fixing and over-regulation” that have reduced access to care and increased costs. Just how does that work? If you are fortunate enough to have health insurance, then you surely know that the government has nothing to say about the fact that premiums and co-pays continue to go up as payouts have gone down. If you have spent any time trying to a) contact your insurance company or b) get information regarding coverage or claims, it is obvious that the insurance industry has made the concept of government bureaucracy obsolete.

DeMint goes on to describe his fantasy of “socialized medicine” with absolutely no regard for published health statistics. Compared to the dreaded Canadian universal health care system, life expectancy is lower and infant mortality higher in the U.S., while costs in the U.S. are dramatically higher. So, when DeMint contends that “the wealthy in Europe and Canada often come to the United States for care” part of me doubts the accuracy of the statement while another part of me recognizes that in fact, it would be the wealthy, because they alone could afford U.S. health care.

Always, ALWAYS, we need to watch DeMint’s words. Facts are spurious, arguments use the same emotionally charged rhetoric. The conclusions are idiotic.

DeMint’s proposal to fix our health care system is the same as his proposal for everything else: privatize, deregulate. The huge hole in that argument is that that’s what we have had. That’s what we have now. It doesn’t work. In fact, it has created the broken system we have now.

It is difficult to argue the facts with someone who does not use facts. When words are thrown out for their emotional value alone they cannot be debated. But when we engage in discussions about this important issue with our friends and family, we need to just reiterate what we all already know. We have the system that Jim DeMint is proposing. And it doesn’t work. Nobody really wants more of the same.

Further Reading:

Tea Party Inc.: The Big Money and Powerful Elites Behind the Right Wing’s Latest Uprising.  By Adele M. Stan

DeMint’s “New Low” In Political Stunts

After threatening to derail the New START treaty last month DeMint is advocating that Congress NOT pass bills to meet current spending obligations. He advocates simply not worrying about the consequences, since the need was created by policies he never agreed with in the first place.

Source: http://www.therightscoop.com/demint-to-freshmen-dont-raise-debt-ceiling-because-you-didnt-create-the-problem

Inaction has always been part of DeMint’s arsenal, but he’s recently become notorious for it. So much so that Fox News apparently ran a report last month entitled “DeMint’s ‘New Low’ in ‘Political Stunts’”.

A failure to raise the debt ceiling would in effect shut down the federal government (possibly by the end of March, according to Treasury Secretary Geitner). The threat to government services is general, but is being discussed in the context of long term GOP goals for restructuring or eliminating Social Security and health care services.

DeMint’s tactics are not universally popular within his own party.

Republicans have been preaching the death of Social Security since the days of Jack Kemp and David Stockman (from the beginning of the program as well). The day of crisis has never arrived, as SS has its own dedicated funding. Government deficit projections that theoretically use SS taxes as general revenue have no bearing on the funding of the actual program, so long as it remains in place.

Jim DeMint appears to be impatiently attempting to bring about the day of reckoning on his own. And he is being attacked from the Right for his trouble.

It is quite extraordinary, really. Senator DeMint is essentially urging Republicans to cast a vote that would lead to a federal default. This would have catastrophic economic consequences, since the United States depends on other nations buying our debt. Now, I understand that if you’re in the minority party in Congress, you can vote against raising the debt ceiling, as that vote won’t influence the eventually outcome. But Republicans now control one branch of Congress by a wide margin, so GOP votes are necessary to raise the debt ceiling. Symbolic votes are not an option. What Senator DeMint is counseling, then, is terribly unwise. And if the GOP were to be perceived as causing a default by the federal government, it would be extremely politically injurious.

What are DeMint’s goals?   Speaking as an economic conservative, Wehner finds them incoherent:

As for Senator DeMint wanting to show that Republicans have a “strong commitment to cut spending and debt”: as I pointed out several months ago, it was DeMint who went on NBC’s Meet the Press to declare, “Well, no, we’re not talking about cuts in Social Security. If we can just cut the administrative waste, we can cut hundreds of billions of dollars a year at the federal level. So before we start cutting — I mean, we need to keep our promises to seniors, David, and cutting benefits to seniors is not on the table. We don’t have to cut benefits for seniors, and we don’t need to cut Medicare like, like the Democrats did in this big ObamaCare bill. We can restore sanity in Washington without cutting any benefits to seniors.”

The junior senator from South Carolina has things exactly backward. He wants Republicans to oppose raising the debt ceiling even though that doesn’t involve new spending (it needs to be raised simply to meet our existing obligations). But when it comes to entitlement programs, which is the locus of our fiscal crisis, he is assuring the public that no cuts in benefits are necessary.

Threatening a default of the national government is just an extension of the medicine that DeMint and others have been prescribing for the states.   There have been a spate of articles on the current congress tightening federal support for state programs, which would likely send states into bankruptcy.  State bankruptcy is supposed to serve the political purpose of forcing massive layoffs in state government, reducing salaries and pension payments for state employees and crippling public sector unions.
DeMint has endorsed privatizing Social Security in the past. Privatization has been part of his platform since his first run for Congress in 1998. Wehner is only pointing out an obvious contradiction. DeMint wants to cut the deficit, but appears to be taking Social Security off the table. Then DeMint endorses a position that would leave SS and Medicare unfunded.

Virtually no one else in his own party accepts the proposal that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not need to be cut. DeMint’s SC colleague Lindsey Graham endorsed raising the retirement age the other day. But DeMint seems to understand that raising the retirement age is a cut in benefits…and to actually oppose it on that basis:

DeMint: ..The idea of raising retirement to people who need it the most are the ones that are most likely to have done manual labor their whole life and are the least likely to want to continue to work well into their old age, my hope is that we won’t look at cutting benefits again and we won’t look at raising taxes again.

DeMint actually seems to be opposed to cutting SS, until you read on.

“…I think we have the opportunity now to make every American a saver and investor, to begin to actually save Social Security taxes for the first time…”

DeMint prefers privatizing SS to just cutting it and seems to believe that investment will somehow provide for people, where SS did not. SS, of course guarantees a certain amount of money every month. Investment guarantees nothing, and the recent performance of 401Ks suggests considerable risk.

There is absolutely no way that individual investment accounts can meet the basic needs of every senior citizen. DeMint’s is opposed to the idea of a guaranteed income for anyone. Yet he seems to have a mystical belief in the ability of the market to provide. Or perhaps the failures of the market wouldn’t be his concern.

Critics of SS like Wehner aren’t promising seniors that they will do better in a privatized system, they simply believe that there is no alternative. That’s untrue, but he isn’t pretending that every elderly investor would do fine in the market.

Wehner’s right about one thing though. It is irresponsible for DeMint to force the government to abandon its current obligations when it still has the ability to meet them.

Read more of this post

DeMint Favors Nuclear Waste Reprocessing at Savannah River Site

From the South Carolina Green Party website:

DeMint did not appear, but issued the following statement through his spokesman, again quoted by The State:

“I would urge the commission to fully explore the possibilities available in dealing with this waste, including nuclear recycling….Without a final destination for our nation’s nuclear waste, I fear that our nuclear industry will never reach its full potential…’’

Both DeMint and Graham strongly endorsed bringing nuclear waste to the SRS despite the lack of a permanent depository after reprocessing. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was once intended as a more-or-less permanent site, but this project was terminated in the previous Democratic congress.

The Yucca site was supposed to take much of the nation’s burden by disposing of the highly radioactive material inside a hollowed out mountain some 90 miles from Las Vegas. But it was highly controversial in Nevada, home of influential Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, and President Obama dropped the plan after taking office. Billions of dollars have been spent developing the site over the past two decades.

Tom Clements, a nuclear policy expert and South Carolina Green Party 2010 nominee for U.S. Senate, spoke to the panel and was also quoted by the paper:

Tom Clements of Columbia, a nuclear program coordinator with Friends of the Earth, told panelists that reprocessing is a bad idea. The nation needs a permanent disposal site for nuclear waste, but there is no rush, he said. Commercial radioactive waste can be stored safely at power plants for a century, he said, citing a Nuclear Regulatory Commission document. Environmentalists say reprocessing can result in the nation’s spent nuclear fuel being sent to SRS, effectively making it a dumping ground.

“We don’t want South Carolina to become the new Yucca Mountain, and we’re going to fight it,’’ Clements said.

Read the rest: http://scgreenparty.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/news-roundup-on-recent-nuclear-reprocessing-hearing/

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