Nel's New Day

August 2, 2017

Congress, DDT Leaving D.C. with Little to Show

The House left Washington, D.C. last week for an extended vacation, but not after they did a bit of harm. In an article for Nation, “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump a Blank Check for Endless War,” John Nichols refers to the House Speaker’s stripping an amendment from the defense budget that unanimously passed in committee. He did it after midnight and with no debate, floor vote, or consultation with anyone except the GOP House leadership. The U.S. Constitution does not give the president power to wage war, but Congress passed a 60-word bill allowing the president to send military forces against groups linked to the 9/11 attacks. DDT no longer restricts his hostile actions against countries throughout the world to fighting ISIS. The amendment would have required Congress to following the constitution by reverting to congressional approval for military action. It even has support from within the Pentagon. Even General Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants the 2001 law revoked.

The title of the article, however, could have been far more general: it could have been just “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump.” Republicans in the House have been largely mum after DDT’s egregious actions and proposals. Even when DDT suggested that he could pardon his family, his associates, and himself, few GOP representatives objected. To accept pardons from the president, people had to admit that they committed the crimes for which they are pardoned. Thus DDT is considering the admission that he committed crimes, but little word from Republicans in the House.

When Democrats requested documents in the House Judiciary Committee about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) flipped the proposal into an amendment to ask the Justice Department for documents related to Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email service. The witch hunt is back on to divert attention away from DDT’s Russia collusion. In the new administration, only GOP congressional members are permitted to asked for any documents; no Democrats need apply. The committee passed Gaetz’s amendment on a partisan vote of 16-13.

A failure in the House is the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that state attorneys general can defend subsidy payments to the insurance industry for certain health care consumers. The GOP House sued in 2014 to stop these payments because Congress had not approved a specific appropriation, and DDT threatens to block the funding because Trumpcare failed. The insurance industry warned that instability could cause a 20-percent increase in premiums for 2018.

The House did buck DDT’s wishes when it passed—by 419-3!—increased sanctions on Russia and decreased presidential authority to change these sanctions. The Senate had already passed the bill by 98-2. The bill also includes sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Ukraine. Furious about the bill, DDT waited a week to sign the bill into law with no ceremony but declared has “clearly unconstitutional provisions.” This from the man who has violated the constitution in so many ways. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the bill will not “be helpful to our efforts.” Russian president Vladimir Putin is so angry that he reduced the U.S. diplomatic staff by 755 people, matching the number of diplomatic Russians in the U.S., and seized two properties used by U.S. diplomats.

Another irritant for DDT may be the Senate bill to protect special investigator, Robert Mueller. Any firing of a special counsel would demand judicial review if the bill passes by a veto-proof margin.

On the other side of Congress, senators have decided to go home tomorrow, or Friday at the latest, after Trumpcare went down in flames. (For a bit of satire regarding the upshot of the Senate Trumpcare vote, check out Andy Borowitz’s column about DDT supporters’ fury for still having healthcare.) In the midst of Trumpcare trauma, they planned to stay into their typical August recess until August 11th. The House is gone, however, and DDT plans to head out tomorrow if the flight restrictions around Bedminster (NJ) from August 3-20 are correct.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has already handed over another blank check from the Judiciary Committee to DDT by not requiring DDT associates—eldest son, Don Jr; son-in-law Jared Kushner; and former campaign manager Paul Manafort—to testify. They just “talked” and gave the committee some documents. One topic from the disappeared subpoenas was the once-secret meeting with a growing number of Russians when Jr, Kushner, and Manafort hoped to get dirt on Clinton. Grassley is also trying to prove that the former intelligence officer who prepared the dossier on Russian meddling really works for Russia, once again in a struggle to protect DDT.

The failure of Trumpcare in the Senate—thanks to “no” votes against it from GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—was followed by a failure for AG Jeff Sessions. The Appropriations Committee blocked the DOJ spending anything to undermine state medical marijuana laws. When Sessions isn’t trying to collect and keep money from innocent people picked up by the police, he has been salivating about destroying state laws regarding cannabis. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has proposed a bill to legalize cannabis because of its ability to solve the opioid abuse and relieve one racist approach toward imprisonment. GOP control of Congress will block Booker’s bill at this time, but approval of cannabis use is growing across the nation. Its use should be legal, according to 61 percent of people in the U.S., and 88 percent favor medical marijuana use. Another 71 percent oppose efforts to stop sales and use in states where it is legal, and 65 percent think that marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. In short, the vast majority of people disagree with Sessions.

The GOP senators have hit rock bottom after the failure of Trumpcare: they are offering to work with Democrats. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Health Committee chair, will hold bipartisan hearings when Congress comes back in September to develop a short-term proposal to strengthen individual markets for the Affordable Care Act by mid-September. Female, Democrat Patty Murray (WA) will have a place at the negotiating table for the first time with Alexander’s decision. A bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, consisting of 43 senators from both parties, praised Alexander for his initiative. Insurers are required to sign contracts by the end of September to sell plans on the exchanges.

Christopher Wray—DDT’s pick for FBI director—has been confirmed, but five senators voted against him. Two of them are from Oregon, making me very proud. After the illegal closing of the George Washington Bridge, Wray defended New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Wray hid Christie’s cellphone, and Christie escaped a guilty verdict. Wray’s law firm represents Russia-owned energy companies, and Wray deleted his representation of an energy company executive in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities from his biography. His career has been spent in defending criminals, not pursuing them, i.e., a major Swiss bank accused of laundering money for terrorists. In the history of confirming FBI directors, only one other senator has ever voted against a director. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against James Comey because of surveillance issues.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) should be praised for introducing the Dream Act of 2017 granting legal status and a path to citizenship for DREAMers. Eight out of ten voters, including more than 7 in 10 Republicans, believe DREAMers should be allowed to remain in the US legally. Ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next 10 years, and remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.

The question now is what will happen on October 1 if the House doesn’t get around to passing the budget and increasing the debt ceiling. The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29. A shutdown means a stock market crash, surging interest rates, disruption to the world’s financial system, and a recession. Twelve days.

 

October 30, 2015

Budget Bill, GOP Debate Dismay Republicans

This past week was filled with news, especially the GOP debate and the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. A miracle also happened, but the media largely ignored this amazing event: Congress passed a bill that stops threats of government shutdown from the GOP refusing to both raise the debt ceiling and eliminate the sequester for the next 18 months. The GOP cannot use these threats before the general election a year from now. President Obama will finish his second term without the budget warfare, including an almost month-long government shutdown, that he’s endured for the past five years.

The budget agreement raises the government debt ceiling until March 2017 and sets the budget of the government through the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. A collection of spending cuts and revenue increases provides $80 billion more for military and domestic programs, avoiding the sequester for another two years. The appropriations committees are just left to write legislation to reflect the spending by December 11.

The House passed the deal by a 266-167 vote; 79 Republicans joined 187 Democrats. Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had hoped for this bill to pass before he left his position—and the House—but most people didn’t believe it was possible. Not everyone in the House wanted the bill: 167 Republicans voted against the bill. The so-called Hastert Rule, requiring that no bill would be put on the floor without the promise of enough Republican votes for passage, was totally ignored. The rule is named after the former Speaker who just pled guilty about lying to the government after they discovered he had been paying off a former student sexually abused by Hastert while he was a high school coach.

The budget accord raises spending caps on domestic and defense spending over the next two years and makes changes to the Social Security disability program while raising the debt limit until March 2017. There’s also a drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and savings reaped from a Justice Department fund for crime victims that involves assets seized from criminals.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the budget a “major victory” and removes “the stranglehold of sequestration … from our nation’s growth.” The other indicator that the bill is a positive move forward is that conservatives absolutely hate the agreement. Boehner almost lost the deal over the proposed cap for insurance in the federal crop insurance system but backed down in an agreement that the situation would be addressed later this year.

Social Security played a part in the bill that continued a two-percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors and other health care providers. Earlier this year, the Republicans tried to eliminate part of the Social Security disability program, but the current bill covers the shortfall in the disability trust fund with Social Security funds. At least one-third of Medicare recipients avoided a 52-percent premium hike.

The bill finally passed the Senate by 64-35 at 3:00 in the morning after long wrangling when 18 Republicans joined all Senate Democrats to support its final passage. The vote could have been earlier, but Rand Paul (KY), who came back from his presidential campaign trail for the vote, spoke against it for an hour. GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL) also voted against the bill; Lindsey Graham (SC) voted in favor of it.

The bill’s great advantage is that the congressional appropriations committees can stop arguing about short-term continuing resolutions to avert government shutdowns. Cruz can no longer threaten the nation with his favorite activity—stopping all government activity. Hedge funds and private equity firms are losers because the bill calls for heightened IRS scrutiny for them. The government receives $11 billion to audit large partnerships.

The bill also requires generic drug makers to pay an additional rebate under Medicaid if drug costs outpace inflation—a given. Non-generic drugs already have to pay that rebate. The GOP should be happy that it finally killed one small part of the Affordable Care Act that no one knew about—the mandate for large employers to automatically enroll new employees in health plans. That part hadn’t been enforced yet so people won’t notice.

Equally crushing for conservatives is that over half the Republicans joined Democrats to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which conservatives called corporate cronyism. The backers used a little-used discharge petition which circumvents leadership opposition to bring the bill up for a floor vote. It is yet to be seen whether the Senate will pass a bill that got almost three-fourths of the House vote.

While the congressional Republicans were fighting about the budget, the GOP presidential candidates were honoring the liberal union position of striking to get better working conditions. They banded together to protest what they perceived as unfair media treatment at last Wednesday’s debate and erase the contract with NBC for the debate in Houston on February 16, 2016. RNC Chair Reince Priebus called the questions “petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.” He added that the debate “was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”

Conservatives are calling for “conservative media professionals” (an oxymoron) to moderate GOP debates because “liberal moderators” are in charge. This may be the first time that the Fox network has been called “liberal.” Their suggestion is to have Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin as moderators because they “influence more Republican primary voters.” Diana Banister, Executive Director of Citizens for the Republic, described past debate questions as being “of zero relevance, yet designed to bring chaos and disorder to the Republican’s chance to win the race for the White House.” Others went farther to ask that Democrats have a debate moderated by “conservative opinion leaders.”

Thus far the group of protesting presidential candidates has at least ten of the remaining 16 wannabes although they are excluding RNC Chair Priebus.  Each one is voicing complaints and ways to make the debates more successful for them individually.

Jeb Bush and Rand Paul want equal speaking time, and Bobby Jindal, still at the kids’ table, wants to change the criteria for determining who qualifies for the prime-time debate. Polling better in Iowa than nationally, he wants early state polling instead of just national surveys. Others at the early debate at the bottom of polling want a random drawing instead of poll numbers to determine the main debate. Ben Carson is upset about what he called “gotcha” questions about his affiliation with the fraudulent supplement company Mannatech. He skipped over the fact that he lied about his relationship with the firm. Chris Christie accused a moderator of being rude, “even in New Jersey”; he’s the governor who bellowed “sit down and shut up” and calls people in the audience “idiot.”

Donald Trump had already convinced the networks that two hours was better than three hours, reducing fire from other candidates. The candidates also demanded opening and closing statements, something that the network said would take too much time for ten candidates but agreed to. Before the debate, candidates complained about the quality of their green rooms. The post-mortem of the GOP-failed 2012 campaign concluded that 20 debates were too many because they allowed candidates to show the weaknesses of their opponents.

Petty? Mean-spirited? Too long? Zero relevance? “Gotcha” questions? Designed to embarrass? All these terms describe the past month’s grueling 11-hour Benghazi hearing at the House of Representatives that Democratic presidential candidate faced with grace and patience. The GOP candidates could take a lesson from watching her.

October 9, 2013

Day Nine of the GOP Government Shutdown: Koch Brothers Getting Nervous

Eleven months ago, the wealthy Koch Brothers started orchestrating the current government shutdown; now they understand that they have unleashed a monster because many of the most vocal Tea Party members in Congress are ignorant. And stupid.

Last Saturday, the New York Times divulged the background for the plot to create the current developing disaster for the United States:

“Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

“Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed ‘blueprint to defunding Obamacare,’ signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups. It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government. …

“To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010—waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known. …

“A defunding ‘tool kit’ created in early September included talking points for the question, ‘What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?’ The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: ‘We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.’

“Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.

“The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.”

The day after the NYT revealed the right-wing plans to shut down the government, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) admitted that in July he had cut a deal with Democrats: if the Senate would accept his budget demands, the House would pass a clean Continuing Resolution to keep the government functioning. Then Boehner double-crossed the Democrats.

Up until now the right-wing and their funder, the Koch Brothers, have held the position that they need to get rid of democracy because it allows views that they don’t want, such as raising taxes on the wealthy to help other people in the country. The Koch Brothers have also supported the right-wing neo-Confederate ideology that states have the right to ignore federal mandates, especially those that help racial minorities and the poor.

“States’ rights” gained its popularity to first defend slavery and then maintain racial segregation after the Civil War.It continued in the second half of the 20th century with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan getting Southern Democrats to turn Republican by fueling their white resentment against integration.

In the 21st century, voters are beginning to understand that survival of the middle class depends on investment in infrastructure, research, education, health care, and other domestic programs, using revenue from increased taxes on the rich. They also recognize that slowing and eventual reversal of global warming depends on reduction of carbon dioxide and other emissions while changing the U.S. energy system.

The Koch Brothers and other right-wing billionaires retaliated by paying millions to extremist far-right organizations, getting them to create strict voter ID laws and gerrymander congressional districts to keep control of state legislators and the U.S. House of Representatives. Throughout the nation, the right-wing follows William F. Buckley’s position from 1957: “The white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.”

The Koch Brothers saw the problem with their strategy because many of the GOP House members think that not raising the debt ceiling will not cause problems. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) led the debt ceiling denier caucus when he claimed that reaching the debt limit will help the economy: “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”

Other GOP Congressional members asserted that the government could pick and choose what bills to pay, like they do in their personal lives. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast, that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we will default on our debt. We won’t. We’ll continue to pay our interest.”

If investors start pulling cash out of money market funds, which hold large amounts of short-term government debt, credit markets will freeze up, as in the 2009 collapse of Lehman Brothers, resulting in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Rep. Richard Burr (R-NC) claimed that “the only people buying our bonds right now is the Federal Reserve.” He ignored the nearly $6 trillion, almost half the public outstanding debt, that is owned by foreign governments, including $2.4 trillion by China and Japan alone. Both of those nations this week warned the United States against doing anything that would put these massive investments at risk.

At least two large banks have already stocked ATM machines with extra money out of concern for a run on the money. The price of insurance contracts on Treasury bonds, known as credit default swaps, more than doubled in the last two weeks. If nothing is done, the swaps will drastically increase, interest rates will send shockwaves through markets, and disaster will ensue except for those who invest in credit derivatives.

People who don’t get Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits may decide to revolt against government. The GOP needs to remember that one-third of the people in this country have over 300 million guns, thanks to the GOP laissez-faire attitude toward gun control and its promotion of a violent culture.

“A Federal debt default would rank as one of the more unprecedented economic and financial events in the country’s history,” Michael Cembalest, global head of investment strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management wrote in a note to clients. Debt limit denier Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) showed his ignorance in this statement: “They are trying to overstate their case to get their way. I think if the president were a true leader, he would take default off the table and he would say, ‘We’re not going to default.’”

In an attempt to pretend that they had nothing to do with the government shutdown, a top official from Koch Industries sent a letter today to senators stating that they have not “lobbied on legislative provisions defunding Obamacare.” Privately, Koch officials have expressed concern to lawmakers that the prospect of a government default over the Obamacare issue would be a “disaster” for the economy. Last month, Koch Industries paid $7.2 billion for a company that makes connectors for Apple iPhones and other consumer products–one of many markets that could be effected by spikes in credit resulting from a government default.

“We believe that Congress should–at a minimum–keep to sequester-level spending guidelines, and develop a plan for more significant and widespread spending reductions in the future,” the letter claimed.

The Koch Brothers’ influence is obvious. Soon after the letter was sent, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham told reporters he wants to defund “Obamacare,” but he doesn’t want this to be tied to the debt ceiling because “failure to raise the debt ceiling would indeed disrupt the global economy.” Immediately after that, FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe said that he, too, believes Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling.

The Democratic Party’s favorability rate has gone down slightly to 43 percent, but the GOP rating is now 28 percent, the lowest at any time since Gallup started measuring party favorability. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) tried to get a vote on a clean CR by using the declining popularity of Congress under Rule IX. “The government shutdown is a mark upon the dignity of the House, and the House should be willing to pass a clean continuing resolution to end it,” he said. To make his point, he explained that Congressional popularity was lower than witches, hemorrhoids, and dog poop. Speaker pro tempore Steve Womack (R-AR) cut off Grayson at dog poop.

In separate op-ed pieces today, Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) show the direction in which the GOP House may be heading. They will likely veer away from Obamacare toward “reform” of Social Security and Medicare (aka raising the age and reducing the benefits). The GOP House leadership is caught between pressures from the “take no prisoners” position of the Tea Party and the growing fear of the Koch Brothers. At the same time, President Obama may have learned his lesson from the past two negotiations when he rewarded the bad behavior of the GOP who continued to starve the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile Congressional members are still being paid. And fortunately for them, the House members’ gym stays open, providing the hostage-takers with swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room, and flat screen TVs. Sadly, towel service is unavailable, but taxpayers are paying for daily cleaning and maintenance as well as heating the pools and keeping the lights on.

September 16, 2013

GOP Works to Create Next Fiscal Crisis

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:49 PM
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Five years ago today, the subprime crisis was peaking with a run on the money market funds—over $140 billion withdrawn compared to $7 billion the week before—leading to problems for the commercial paper market. Thus corporations could no longer get funding or had to pay higher interest rates. Results of the crash:

  • The economy lost $22 trillion, $69,478.88 per person.
  • Assets of the four biggest “too big to fail” banks in the U.S.—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wachovia/Wells Fargo—went from $6.5 trillion in 2008 to $7.8 trillion this year.
  • The 25 banks responsible for the bulk of risky subprime loans leading up to the crash are back in the mortgage business this year.
  • Regulating financial products and services is “important” or “very important” to 90 percent of the U.S. voters; that’s 10 percent higher than the 80 percent of the people who know that Earth orbits the sun.
  • Wall Street and other financial institutions have spent $487 million to roll back, water down, and weasel out of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act through the use of 2,429 registered financial industry lobbyists.
  • The industry gave $664 million to political candidates in 2011 and 2012.
  • Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has filed seven lawsuits to hold up implementation of Dodd-Frank rules on legal technicalities.

Tomorrow, the House plans to start shutting down the government to cause another fiscal crisis.  In exactly two weeks, current funding for the government is set to expire. The House is so dysfunctional that it can’t even present a bill that all the GOP members can support. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Treasury Department will be depleted between October 18 and November 5. With no Congressional action, the nation will not have money to meet financial obligations and be forced to default for the first time ever.

All Congress needs to do is to raise the statutory debt limit. That doesn’t mean spending more money because the money has already been spent. The GOP is fond of comparing government to business or family fiscal affairs. If they refuse to raise the debt limit, it will be as if a family or business voted to not pay any of their bills on items they have already purchased. Congress has already spent  trillions on wars and decreased income with tax cuts for the wealthy; now they need to agree to pay for previous debts.

For months, GOP legislators have bragged about holding the country hostage until the Democrats are willing to defund the Affordable Care Act and take health benefits from millions of people in the U.S. More recently the GOP upped the ante by its desire to take away Social Security and Medicare.

As Ezra Klein recently explained:

“Trading a government shutdown for a debt-ceiling breach is like trading the flu for septic shock. And Boehner knows it. Republicans will effectively be going to the White House and saying, ‘Delay the health-care law or we will single-handedly cause an unprecedented and unnecessary global financial crisis that everyone will clearly and correctly blame on us, destroying our party for years to come.’ … This is not a safe way to govern the country.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has an even nastier plan in store. He said he will avoid a government shutdown by asking for a “clean” short-term budget resolution, extending current spending levels so that a longer-term deal can be worked out. It’s the usual approach to avoiding decisions, but current spending levels are unnecessarily low because of the sequester. Boehner’s plan wants to not only lock in the painful cuts to domestic spending but also increase defense spending by $20 billion.

House Majority Eric Cantor (R-VA) described the deal this way:

“In signing a CR at sequester levels, the president would be endorsing a level of spending that wipes away all the increases he and congressional Democrats made while they were in charge and returns us to a pre-2008 level of discretionary spending.”

Leaders also devised a plan to convince conservative GOP House members that they can claim that they defunded Obamacare while not shutting down the government. Tea Party members call it “smoke and mirrors.” This is the way it works:

  • The GOP uses a legislative tool to pass the Continuing Resolution (CR)—with current sequestration levels—out of the House to the Senate with an attached bill that would defund Obamacare.
  • The Senate would then have to vote on the bill to defund Obamacare before they could vote on the CR.
  • The bill defunding Obamacare could fail in the Senate even if the CR passes.
  • The CR would then go directly to the president for his signature without defunding Obamacare.

Republicans has admitted that it they don’t stop Obamacare before millions of people find out its advantages on October 1, then their steadily-disappearing support will vanish. The anti-Obamacare crowd is already in trouble. A recent poll showed that 57 percent of people in the U.S. oppose defunding Obamacare. Only six percent of people think that Congress should delay and defund the law. A total of 64 percent of people think that Congress should make changes to improve the law, let the law take effect, or even expand the law. Only 30 percent support entirely repealing the law.

The House GOP caucus created a budget blueprint cutting $70 billion in nondefense discretionary accounts, a 15-percent cut from enacted 2013 levels. These cuts are so huge that the caucus was unable to figure out what specific program cuts they could support. For example, cuts in funding for transportation and housing programs were so deep that the leadership couldn’t find enough GOP support for the budget to pass. The bill had to be pulled from the floor because of lack of support. Even worse, the leadership had failed to write a bill showing funding for health and education programs at the levels of the proposed cuts. It’s obvious that their failure that the GOP cannot pass funding levels consistent with their own House budget resolution. Thus they propose just returning to the sequester levels.

The GOP ignores that Obamacare will lower the deficit, $109 over ten years according to a Congressional Budget Office report from July 2012. Savings will be $24 billion in FY 2014.  Undoing certain coverage provisions but maintaining the revenues and cuts in the law—a tactic Republicans have used in the past, most prominently in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget—would decrease the deficit anywhere between $35 billion and almost $50 billion. Doing so, however, would maintain billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program and taxes on various sectors of the health care system, which Republicans say they oppose. It would also undermine the GOP’s criticism of Obama for not delaying the law for all Americans.

The House has only four days in which to make the decision. Members return tomorrow but then recess this Friday for the rest of September. Once the House passes the bill, it has to go to the Senate which takes more time. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pointed out that some GOP members oppose these cuts. Earlier this year House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) conceded that GOP leaders cannot find support for cuts among Republicans.

The last government shutdown was also GOP-led. For five days in November 1995 and 21 days from December 15, 1995 to January 6, 1996, the GOP tried to force the opposing party into voting for spending cuts. As a result, 800,000 federal workers were idled, and the ensuing distress with the GOP helped President Clinton’s re-election. He went from deep political trouble when the GOP took control of Congress at the beginning of 1995 to positive numbers in the polls after his willingness to compromise in the face of GOP confrontation. Under Gingrich’s leadership, the GOP kept the House and gained in the Senate but lost the presidency.

Republicans don’t believe in polls, as demonstrated by their ignoring the ones showing that President Obama would win re-election, but polls have bad news for them. A few months ago, only 40 percent of people would blame the GOP for a government shutdown; now the total is over half at 51 percent. Only one-third think that the president would be responsible. If the debt ceiling is not raised, 54 percent will blame the GOP, and only 25 percent would blame the president.

At least 43 conservative House members think that President Obama will “blink” in their childish game. Republicans from swing states, however, worry that a government shutdown on Oct. 1 would severely damage the party and cause a rally for the president. Others are worried about the reaction from Wall Street. The decision comes down to how dumb House leaders can be.

May 10, 2013

No Jobs from the GOP

Jobs, jobs, jobs. That was the campaign promise of the Tea Party infusion of 2010. Yet Congress has done nothing about increasing employment and erasing income inequality. In their new attempt to less offensive to everyone except white males, they have switched away from moral legislating into repetition of what has failed for the past four years or just plain inertia.

A debate among pundits is how many times the House has voted to repeal Obamacare, but it seems to be between 33 and 39 times. No matter how many, the House is about to add another one. Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that there would be another vote of the full House next week because, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, not everybody in the House has had a chance to vote against it.

The Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is legal, and Boehner declared, “Obamacare is the law of the land.” The bill has no chance to moving forward after the House passes it. The country is still suffering from high unemployment, the middle class has become the poor, the infrastructure is in shambles, and Congress has passed no budget. But the freshmen class needs its rite of passage to deny people in the United States affordable access to quality health care. And the House is just sitting around for another 18 months hoping that the GOP will take over the Senate in the next election.

One of the parts of Obamacare that the GOP wants to block is a fair comparison and transparency of insurance costs. People on Social Security can easily compare costs of supplemental insurance. If you want the benefits given under “C,” for example, you can see what every insurance company charges for “C.” Yesterday in Oregon, the same thing started to happened for all individual consumers and small business owners. A chart of 2014 insurance premiums shows what each insurance company is charging for the same benefits. Two insurers who checked out the competition have already asked for “do-overs” to lower their rates.

According to Oregon Live, “here’s what competition looks like: one health insurer wants to charge $169 a month next year to cover a 40-year-old Portland-area non-smoker. Another wants $422 a month for the same standard plan.” And which insurance company do you think will get more money? The GOP is opposed to this in the same way that they oppose the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doing the same thing for credit card agreements.

Yesterday, Republicans in the House did manage to approve the Full Faith and Credit Act (HR 807), better named “Pay China First,” that’s what the bill does. Looking forward to the need to raise the debt ceiling, the GOP decided to increase it only to pay off bondholders and pay Social Security. Anyone else, including the military, would get nothing. Although GOP claims that China holds only 8 percent of the U.S. debt, “Pay China First” is a catchy title. If the debt to the Social Security fund is included, China holds 22 percent of our debt.

Only 8 House Republicans voted against the FFC Act while every Democrat opposed it, resulting in a 221-207 vote. The House knows that the Senate won’t touch their bill, and the president certainly won’t sign it. And the country doesn’t need a debt ceiling hike until at least October. The fact that the GOP would start planning five months ahead is highly unusual for them. Perhaps they’re trying to avoid the bigotry and misogyny so obvious in their approaches to non-fiscal bills.

Another reason for these debt discussions might be to drive the stock market down to make the president look bad. The DOW has gone from under 8,000 to over 15,000 in the less than five years that Barack Obama has been president. The GOP can’t prove that the president is a failure as long as the stock market is so high. The GOP bill could also send a signal to foreign lenders that the nation might not be fiscally sound. The last time that the GOP played around with the debt ceiling, the country paid billions of dollars extra in additional interest; the same thing could happen this time. The GOP appears to be willing to destroy the country in order to get Republicans elected.

John Boehner explained why China would get the money before members of the military or doctors or small businesses or anyone else in the United States: “Those who have loaned us money, like in any proceeding, if you will, court proceeding, the bondholders usually get paid first. Same thing here.”

The GOP prefers to develop a plan in case of crisis instead of providing solutions to avoid the crisis. They also ignore the $407 billion that the federal government collected in April, the highest amount for any other month on record. This amount created a budget surplus of $113 billion and doesn’t reflect the $59 billion that mortgage giant Fannie Mae has promised to repay the government in June.

While the House GOP busies itself passing stupid bills, the Senate drags its heels in the budget field. Under duress, the Senate Democrats passed a budget for to please the Republicans. Because it differs from the House version (that’s an understatement!), the GOP is blocking efforts to form a conference committee to develop a compromise budget. After snarky nagging from Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sens. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dan Coats (R-IN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to get a Senate budget passed, the budget business compromise came to a screeching halt.

The House GOP is matching the Senate conservatives with its own paralysis. Republicans had hoped that they could extort a budget deal before August recess, but the debt ceiling isn’t coming that early. Now they have to wait until the threat of a government shutdown on October 1. Without leverage, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said last Tuesday that they have no reason to open format budget negotiations because Democrats have no reason to revise Medicare and the U.S. Tax Code. In plain words, right now the GOP doesn’t have what it needs to blackmail the Democrats. They’re admitting that they won’t work for a budget unless they can threaten to crash the economy.

Ryan said, “The debt limit is the backstop.” He wants only to rule by self-inflicted crisis. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said, “Sometimes we don’t want to act until a gun is at our heads.” He flagrantly and explicitly stated that all the GOP wants is the ability to blackmail the Democrats. He describes a party of thugs, a gang that will perform any act, legal or illegal, to get their own way even if it has no benefit for the people of the United States government.

The GOP complains incessantly about President Obama: he’s not trying to get things done, he’s not leading because nothing happens; he doesn’t really mean it when he reaches out across the aisle. But which party is not trying to get things done, not leading, and not reaching across the aisle? I rest my case.

January 24, 2013

Obama’s Spending Slowest for over a Half Century

The crisis of the debt ceiling has been postponed until May 19 as the GOP kicked the mythical can down the road through a vote in the House. The Senate has yet to vote on it, but it’s very probable that they will. Meanwhile, the GOP is screaming about how much Obama spends. This is how he compares with the two earlier presidents:

govt expenditures

Bloomberg News wrote, “Federal outlays over the past three years grew at their slowest pace since 1953-56, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.” The following chart shows this.

Eisenhower

The GOP keeps pushing the myth that government spending is out of control. Not so. Unfortunately, the lack of government spending is hurting the economy. Now is the time for the government to make investments because of the low interest rates. More investment means lower employment which means better economic recovery which ends up in people paying far more taxes.

Conservatives are wrong on two points: (1) government spending is down, not up, and (2) the GOP is fighting the recovery through making government spending go further down.

Our economic recovery and our deficit problem can’t be solved by taking money from the bottom 99 percent of the people in the country. The less money they have, the less they can spend. The less they spend, the less the economy will recover.

It can be solved by removing “entitlements” from corporations and the wealthy. Lower taxes doesn’t cause them to hire more people. Their history proves that. And they don’t spend the money that improves the economy: they drop it into offshore accounts where they can’t get taxed.

Your Congressional representative may not know this. It’s up to you to tell them.

Another death because of a “responsible, law-abiding gun owner”: Two weeks ago, 4-year-old Trinity Ross was shot in the head by a 6-year-old. Trinity’s stepmother was babysitting four children and had left the room. A loaded revolver was found in the pocket of a coat left by one of the children’s fathers. Trinity died a week later.

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This is my last blog for the next week. While I’m gone, check this out! It’s mesmerizing.

January 15, 2013

GOP Retreat Sets Year’s Agenda

This weekend the GOP members of the House will attend their annual retreat, this time at an upscale gated resort in Williamsburg (VA) to map out the coming year’s agenda.  Speakers are Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Everest, and motivational speaker Andy Andrews.

They have even more intense issues than the loss of last fall’s election as the country worries about whether their party will destroy the economy during the coming month by taking the United States hostage in the debt ceiling decision.

Currently, GOP has taken the position, as voiced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), that it’s “possible that we would shut the government to make sure President Obama understands we’re serious.” An alternative if they want to stall is the typical GOP “kick the can” option to raise the debt limit for just a few months. The last time they played this game, they lost the country its credit rating and cost the taypayers $18.9 billion over the next decade just in borrowing costs. This doesn’t consider the massive costs from the economy’s slowdown after Congress almost forced the United States to default 18 months ago.

The debt ceiling needs to be raised by February 15. President Obama has outlined some of the consequences If Congress doesn’t act by then:

“If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear material wouldn’t get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is, in fact, a safe bet. Markets could go haywire. Interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money — every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.”

Although some people think that not raising the debt ceiling will save money, there is no relationship between this action and future expenditures. Raising the debt ceiling allows the president to pay the existing bills, spending already authorized by Congress. The 14th Amendment demands that these debts be paid: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

After Congress gave massive tax cuts and put two wars on their charge account, the nation, according to the Constitution, must now pay the bills. As the president said, the American people cannot eat all they want at a restaurant and then leave without paying the check. “We are not a nation of deadbeats,” he said.

In the past, the GOP has listened to the words of their political consultant, pollster, and strategist Frank Luntz in developing their campaigns. He was linguist who told them to use such words as “job creators” instead of wealthy to communicate their need for tax cuts for the “wealthy.” The Republicans may not be as happy about his advice this year. He told Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends that voters “don’t care about what the size of government is” and described that message as a loser. “The American people … do care what kinds of services government gives and, quite frankly, how much government takes.”

If the GOP follows Luntz’s advice, you’ll no longer hear the words “tax reform.” Instead watch for terms  like “simpler, flatter and fairer.” He also wants to replace “capping” with “controlling” because “capping” implies that the measures will be temporary while “controlling” suggests a permanent end to spendthrift government. Another Luntz twist is to describe entitlement reforms as “saving and strengthening” entitlement programs rather than controlling or limiting the growth of those programs. The intent is to keep people from understanding that they are losing money.

If the GOP is to regain its power, it will have to change course, wrote Luntz, an approach that will make him unpopular with the more conservative members. Republicans have done almost nothing to combat the common belief that the party cares more about chief executives than struggling workers. Luntz wrote that conservatism cannot succeed without optimism: “Speak to voters’ aspirations, not just their pocketbooks, and emphasize how GOP solutions help the want-to-haves, not just the already-haves.” And when Republicans sneer at the people creating a “food stamp nation,” it makes voters think they are callous. Luntz wants to take back from the president his line about the American Dream: “If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead.”

Other Luntz recommendations are to listen, to be empathetic, reframe the question to fit Republicans, and humanize the issues. He is abandoning his “job creator” approach: “Instead of being the party of small businesses and job creators, House Republicans should become the party of hardworking taxpayers. … If the choice is between the party that fights for hardworking taxpayers and the party that fights for the middle class, Republicans win.”

Other Luntzisms:

Immigration: The consensus among Americans is for “tall fences and wide gates”–a greater effort to prevent illegal immigration while welcoming those who come here for the right reasons and in the right way.

Gun Control: The Second Amendment deserves defending, but do Republicans truly believe that anyone should be able to buy any gun, anywhere, at any time? If yes, they’re on the side of less than 10 percent of America. If not, they need to say so.

Except for the gun-control issue, none of Luntz’s suggestions make any change in policy; it’s just a shift in verbiage. DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson has outlined many of the GOP positions through a tongue-in-cheek suggested agenda for the GOP retreat.

Suggested House Republican Retreat Agenda Items

  • Have breakfast paid for by lobbyists
  • How to stop talking about “legitimate rape” and insulting women
  • Science 101
  • Creating tax breaks and tax shelters for millionaire campaign donors
  • Math course on counting to 218 votes
  • A primer on the stock market crash of 1929 and how you could be responsible for the next one.
  • Coup d’etat prevention and planning
  • Trust falls
  • Big-picture thinking
  • Practice interacting with women and minority voters
  • How to increase our approval ratings: What root canals, traffic jams, cockroaches and head lice are doing right
  • Remedial hurricane recovery
  • Your inner Tea Party and you
  • Have dinner paid for by lobbyists

The Democrats will meet next month for a retreat at the Lansdowne Resort in Virginia. The major difference is that lobbyists are paying for the GOP, and taxpayers are picking up the tab, perhaps $150,000, for the Dems. Politicians are beholden to those who pay for them. The GOP will owe the corporations who hire the lobbyists; I’d rather the Dems owe me.

 

January 2, 2013

GOP Passes Tax Cuts, Otherwise Fails

After stalling for two months, the House finally decided late last night to support the Senate version of the fiscal cliff bill one day before the end of the 112th Congress. Although the end vote was bipartisan, the Republicans were badly split: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted in favor; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R- CA) opposed.

Grover Norquist can’t complain about the tax increase on the top 2 percent because it wasn’t really an increase. According to the GOP, the taxes went up on midnight of 12/31/12; the new bill lowered the taxes on the bottom 98 percent and left the top 2 percent the same. They think like children do.

Provisions of the new law:

  • Tax rates will revert to the ones in 2001 for families making over $450,000 and individuals over $400,000. All income below these amounts, basically the bottom 98 percent of the people in the United States, will permanently remain at the current level.
  • Taxes on capital gains and dividends are permanently set at 20 percent for the top 2 percent and stay at 15 percent for everyone else. [Clinton-era taxes were 20 percent for capital gains with dividends taxed as ordinary income, topping out at 39.6 percent.]
  • The estate tax is permanently 40 percent for the top 2 percent ($450,000/$400,000), indexed to inflation, with a $5 million exemption.
  • The pay freeze for Congress, lifted by President Obama this week, has been re-imposed.
  • The 2009 expansion of tax breaks for low-income Americans: the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit ($2,500 tax credit to help college students and their families pay for tuition and related expenses) will be extended for five years.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax, which sometimes raised taxes for the middle class, has been fixed.
  • Two limits on tax exemptions and deductions for higher-income Americans will be reimposed: Personal Exemption Phaseout (PEP) will be set at $250,000 and the itemized deduction limitation (Pease) kicks in at $300,000.
  • Extended for the coming year are the full package of temporary business tax breaks, federal unemployment insurance that benefits those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks, and avoidance of Medicare cuts to doctors.
  • A farm bill fix is good for nine months, probably keeping the price of milk the same.

After two months of wallowing in the possible disaster of the tax-cut situation, the climate of antagonism and fear will continue for the next two months.  That’s when the debt ceiling expires, and Congress has to approve its increase. The Republicans will spend most of their time claiming that raising the debt ceiling costs us money. It doesn’t. Raising the debt ceiling just allows the United States to pay their bills; it doesn’t spend any additional money.

The sequester, the across-the-board spending cuts of $110 million both domestic and military, has not been settled, just delayed for two months. And the payroll tax “holiday” has expired, raising taxes 2 percent for Social Security on the first $113,700 of wages.

Thus the GOP will rattle their sabers for two months about raising the age for Social Security, lowering the payments, and screaming about how “entitlements”—that people have already paid for—are the reason for the deficit instead of the Bush tax cuts and wars that cost the country over $4 trillion.

The fiscal cliff bill did provide bonuses to corporations in the form of subsidies.

  • NASCAR – Sec 312 extended the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property.” That means the tax breaks for anyone who builds a racetrack and related facilities to the tune of $43 million during the next two years.
  • Railroads – Sec. 306 provides tax credits to certain railroads, private businesses, for maintaining their tracks which costs taxpayers about $165 million a year.
  • Movies – Sec. 317 costs about $150 million for two years by providing a subsidy to Hollywood studios.
  • Mining Companies – Sec. 307 and Sec. 316 offer tax incentives for miners to buy safety equipment and train their employees on mine safety because laws can’t make companies protect their workers.
  • Goldman Sachs Headquarters – Sec. 328 extends “tax exempt financing” an extension of post-9/11 recovery funds that pretty much goes to “fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp,” according to Bloomberg. That paid Goldman $1.6 billion in tax-free financing for its new headquarters through Liberty Bonds.
  • Off-shore Loophole for banks – Sec. 322 allows American corporations such as banks and manufacturers to avoid taxes on certain lending practices. Those benefiting from the $9 billion include GE, Caterpillar, and JP Morgan.
  • Foreign Subsidiaries – Sec. 323 extends the “Look-through treatment of payments between related CFCs under foreign personal holding company income rules.” This provision cost $1.5 billion from 2010 and 2011 and allows U.S. multinationals to not pay taxes on income earned by companies they own abroad.
  • Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit was projected to cost $8 billion for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110 billion for those two years, with some of that made up in later years.

The Joint Committee on Taxation in 2010 did an analysis of what many of these extenders cost, more than the over $100 billion per year listed above.

While the Republicans were stalling on the fiscal cliff bill, they refused to address the issue of the money needed after Superstorm Sandy. After the House adjourned on Tuesday night without passing the $60.4 billion Sandy relief package that the Senate approved last week, many GOP members affected by the storm became livid. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told people in New York and New Jersey to not donate one cent to congressional Republicans.

Boehner felt so threatened that he promised to address the bill on Friday. That’s after the 112th Congress ends, meaning that both House and Senate have to restart the entire legislative process. Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, used much stronger language when he charged that the GOP put politics “before our oaths to serve our citizens”:

 “Our people were played last night as a pawn. Last night, the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state. There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner. [Historically] disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with, but now in this current atmosphere everything is a subject of one-upmanship. It is why the American people hate Congress.”

Christie finished by emphatically saying, “Shame on you, shame on Congress.”

Boehner may back down on the Sandy relief bill, but it appears that after 18 years, the Violence against Women Act is gone.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the Democratic point person on VAWA, said:

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

If proponents succeed in reviving the bill in the 113th Congress, there will still be far fewer resources available for state and local governments to combat domestic violence until they succeed. The original VAWA was drafted in the office of then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in 1994; maybe the vice-president can resurrect his creation.

At this time, no one knows if Boehner will even continue as Speaker of the House. Conservatives claim that they have enough votes to oust him. Again, they are behaving like children. No one has come out for Boehner’s job because they are afraid, and no one will try a coup if they aren’t 100 percent positive that they will succeed. Boehner has already taken retribution against his opposition, and he’ll continue to do that.

So Boehner stays, the House GOP will cause Congress to be the same failure for the next two years, and the bottom 98 percent won’t have to pay more taxes.

July 27, 2012

Romney’s Vision for America

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
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Mitt Romney has been definite about only one thing on the campaign trail—that he would never, under any circumstances, release more than two years of his tax returns. Most of his other positions have been vague because, as he has frequently said, people might use these ideas against him during the campaign. He’ll just wait until he’s elected to let the people in the country find out who they get screwed over.

He has let a few fiscal snippets slip, however. One recent one comes from his spending plan. Swirling in the ether is the myth that “federal compensation exceeds private sector levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent when benefits are taken into account.” Romney pledges to “align federal employee compensation with the private sector,” and it cites studies showing that “federal compensation exceeds private sector levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent when benefits are taken into account. This must be corrected.” That means that everyone working for the government, including the military and veterans, will take a 30 to 40 percent hit from Romney’s magic plan. Border patrol, firefighters, food inspectors, researchers—everybody takes a 30 to 40 percent hit in their bank account. The military, however, will be hurt the hardest because 63 percent of federal works are employed by the Department of Defense.

Romney aides and supporters are trying to wade their way out of this mess, as usual disagreeing with Romney. They claim that they don’t actually mean a 30 to 40 percent pay cut; they’ll just take away health coverage, retirement, etc. Somehow those people running Romney’s campaign do not equate taking away these benefits with a reduction in pay.

As always, Romney believes in cutting taxes for the wealthy, maybe because he belongs to that class. He wants to take money from people in the bottom  90+ percent of the population and give it to the top two percent. While he cuts the salaries of people in the bottom 98 percent of the nation, here are some of the bonuses that he wants to retain for the wealthy, including himself:

The “Carried Interest” Handout to Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers. Cost: $15 BILLION (Fiscal Years 2012-2012) – Carried Interest is a share in a fund; wealthy investors can declare these as capital gains instead of wages at a much lower tax rate.

Offshore Tax Havens. Cost: $100 BILLION Annually – Only wealthy privileged people can afford this tax dodge.

Taxing Capital Gains at a Lower Rate Than Ordinary Income. Cost: $256 BILLION (Fiscal Years 2012-2016) – For the wealthy, capital gains from investments are taxed at 15 percent instead of 35 percent. The wealthiest 0.1 percent of people in the United States make half of all capital gains. Cutting capital gains tax would have zero benefit for the 73.9 percent of the middle class who have no capital gains.

Mortgage Interest Deduction on Second Homes and Yachts. Cost: $10 BILLION (Fiscal Years 2012-21) – The mortgage interest tax deduction is meant to encourage home ownership, not enable the wealthiest Americans like Romney to lower their tax burden because they can buy several multi-million-dollar homes.

Failing to Limit “Upside-Down” Itemized Deductions That Favor the Wealthiest Americans. Cost: $114 BILLION (Fiscal Years 2012-2016) – Tax deductions are meant to provide financial incentives for people in such activities as buying a home or saving for retirement. When only the wealthy can afford these activities, it’s called “upside-down” deductions.

Romney’s obsession with secrecy will also cost the country a bit of money. Before the end of his governor’s term in Massachusetts, Romney spent spending $205,000 for a three-year lease on new computers for the governor’s office and broke an earlier unexpired lease that cost the state half as much, according to official documents and state officials. He also spent state money replacing computers, buying up hard drives, and deleting emails in an attempt to hide records. Included in the purge were also 150 boxes of paper records. Romney feels that he has a lot to hide.

Although Senate Republicans  let a measure supporting reinstatement of pre-Bush taxes for the top 2 percent (those who net over $250,000) go to a vote this week, they knew the House would never agree. Part of the measure protected the rest of the population from having tax hikes that would average $2,200. The Senate vote to keep tax cuts for everyone except the wealthy passed 51-48. Democrat Sens. Mark Pryor (AR) and Jim Webb (VA) voted against the measure as did Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). The Republicans pushing the total over 50 were Sens. Scott Brown (MA) and Susan Collins (ME) voted with Democrats.  The Republicans will be more careful to invoke the ever-present filibuster next time.

The upcoming fight over taxes may be worse than the one over raising the debt ceiling a year ago. Last August’s debacle when Republicans wanted to default on the nation’s financial obligations ended up costing the taxpayers $1.3 billion, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office. The New York Times reported that this is just the beginning; that loss of $1.3 billion could increase. The Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the Smithsonian, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the federal budget allocated to the Post Office—all enrichments to our lives that conservatives want to destroy–could easily be funded by this money that they lost.

These are just the fiscally selfish pieces of Romney’s approach toward controlling the people of the United States; he has many more plans in the social realm to ensure that women have no control over their own bodies and health as well as to guarantee that there will be no marriage equality. Romney wants to remove regulations so that people will no longer receive an education or have clean food, air, and water. Then there’s the rapidly disappearing freedom of religion. The list goes on and on!

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