Nel's New Day

April 18, 2017

DDT’s Missing Tax Returns, More IRS Info

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 7:24 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Your federal income tax payment is due today, April 18. Technically, April 15 is the legal deadline, but not when that date is on a weekend. Then the date is pushed back because of Emancipation Day, the anniversary of freeing slaves and celebrated only in Washington, D.C. on April 16 every year. Its public employees had April 17 off because the 16th was on a weekend so taxes were then due on April 18. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts don’t have to pay state taxes until tomorrow because of Patriots’ Day, a legal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in April, but their federal taxes are still due today.

April 15 was still a day of protest. In the past, Tea Party members led small groups to oppose payment of taxes for all the government benefits that they receive. This year, opposition came from people representing the 74 percent of the population who want Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release his tax returns. DDT may have ignored North Korea in his weekend tweets, but he addressed the marches in 200 cities and at least 48 states with at least 120,000 people. The number was probably much higher than that because several cities undercounted its crowds. Seattle and Washington, D.C. each numbered at least 25,000. DDT’s response was that he didn’t need to release his returns because he had already won the election, trying to cover up the continuing ramifications of his massive financial connections including collusion with Russia. He called the marches “small” and accusing the protesters of being “paid.”

The myths of small crowds and paid protesters began with the National Women’s March and the airport protests over Trump’s first Muslim ban during his first two weeks in office and continued for every gathering. Last February, Breitbart started the lie that George Soros is funding the protest movement.

Even hundreds of protesters marched at Mar-a-Lago where DDT vacationed for the seventh of 13 weekends since his inauguration brought out hundreds of people. His trips have cost taxpayers more than President Obama’s trips over his entire eight years, and Palm County (FL) alone has been charged $2 million for his trips. They chanted “Pay! Your! Taxes!” and waved signs calling him “Chicken in Chief” because of DDT’s shift in 40 years by refusing to release his returns. “Chicken Don” symbols replaced the women’s march pussy hats.

Debbie Wehking, a 66-year-old a school principal from Miami, said:

 “He needs to show us his tax returns so that we can tell who’s influencing his decisions, who he owes money to, who he’s doing business with — really so we can figure out whether he needs to be impeached.”

DDT was forced to take a longer route to his golf club to avoid the crowds. In Washington, D.C. a sign stated, “My taxes pay for your golf.” His claim that he cannot release his tax returns no longer holds any water because this is a new return. Also, presidents and vice presidents are automatically audited every year but still made public. In another opaque movement, DDT will no longer release White House visitor logs.

Republicans like Oregon’s representative Greg Walden claim that DDT should have his privacy. Others say that it doesn’t matter or that no one cares contradicted by the marches. Over one million people have already signed this petition.

Last year, individuals paid 49 percent of all federal tax revenues with businesses paying only nine percent of the $3 trillion. Worker and employer payroll taxes, commonly called Social Security and Medicare, account for another 33 percent, and another 3 percent comes from excise taxes with the last five percent labeled as “other.” Business taxes were down from an average of 14 percent last year, and huge corporations like GE and PG&E may pay absolutely nothing. Up to 118 individual breaks benefit companies and the wealthy by almost $1.15 trillion, and 80 corporate breaks net them $185.2 billion.

Technically, the federal corporate income tax is 35 percent, which the GOP wants to drop by over 50 percent. Yet the average taxation for 258 profitable Fortune 500 firms over eight years was 21.2 percent, and 100 of them paid zero taxes in at least one of those years. For example, major polluter North Carolina-based Duke Energy netted $18.2 billion in those eight years and paid no taxes for seven of them while getting $482 billion rebates. That makes their tax rate a minus 2.6 percent.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military, not counting veterans benefits, debt from earlier wars, etc. Yet only 22 percent for this amount is for pay and benefits; almost half of military taxes go to multinational corporations making billions in profits. Domestic needs such as education and the safety net get far less money. [visual] For example, in 2015 taxpayers gave just one corporation, Lockheed Martin, $36 billion, 80 percent of its entire revenues. That money was six times the amount for all foreign aid in 2016.

How government spends your taxes:

  • Defense: 15 percent, not counting veterans benefits and almost 50 percent higher than 20 years ago. [visual]
  • Health care: 13 percent.
  • Interest payments: 6 percent, because of the $20 trillion in national debt largely caused since the George W. Bush tax cuts and wars.
  • Income security: 13 percent, including retirement and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families at its lowest level since 1998.
  • Benefits for veterans: 5 percent for 22 million veterans.
  • Education: 3 percent.
  • Social security: 24 percent.
  • Medicare: 15 percent.
  • Foreign aid: under 1 percent.
  • Other: Under 5 percent, including crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, and national parks.

Republicans want to eliminate many of the programs above, but they would be hurting their own constituents. GOP-managed states, aka red states, typically get more federal money back than they send to Washington. Nine of the 11 states that get more than $2 back for every dollar sent to Washington, D.C. are red, and eight of the ten states most dependent on federal funding are red. South Carolina, the queen of federal welfare, gets the most money: for every $1 that the state pays in federal taxes, it receives $7.87. One legislator said, “If you shut down 25 percent of all the federal dollars coming into South Carolina, the economy of South Carolina would collapse.” The federal $59.4 billion sent to South Carolina in 2014 was nine times the state’s annual General Fund budget. South Carolina was ranked the eighth most dependent state in Social Security payments. The state also has the ninth highest level of poverty with almost 28 percent of its children living in poverty along with a horrible health care system, bad public schools, climate-changing coal fired plants with no regulations, lower drinking water standards and other ways to damage its residents.

Only one of the least-dependent ten states, those receiving less money from the federal government that it sends, is red. In short, the lower the financial benefit of federal government in a state, the more likely it is to vote for federal government.

The practice of sending more federal money to Southern states than the government receives is an inheritance from the 20th century when that region voted Democrat, and senior members of Congress sent federal money to their states with contracts, projects, and installations. The other part of the equation is the extreme poverty in those areas. The need for a “safety net” in red states requires hundreds of billions of dollars annually to help the neediest because their own states won’t provide aid.

GOP-controlled red states belie the fantasy that cutting taxes drives growth. Blue states accomplish growth from investments in education, infrastructure, urban quality of life, and human services. These states have nine of the 10 top-ranked universities in the country, the highest median household income in nine of ten states, the greatest generation of technological innovation, and the highest average life expectancy. Despite globalization, local conditions of education, research and development, and promotion of idea exchange and talent development are vital. North Dakota’s oil helped its economy, but it looks more like Saudi Arabia than Silicon Valley. Hubs of “blueness” like Austin (TX) can exist in red states, but are forced to fight against government repression of wage rules and public investments.

Possibilities for blue states? A Bluexit (“Bloo-ksit”) along the lines of Brexit, the British exit from the European Union. If red states want only the U.S. military, paper currency, and the national anthem determined at the federal level, blue states can keep its resources to build up its cities and states.

Happy Tax Day!

April 17, 2014

Media Fails to Publish News

oregonianI tolerated The Oregonian, Portland’s newspaper, despite its conservative bent because I support newspapers. Founded in 1850, it’s the oldest continuously published newspaper on the West Coast. The newspaper went to delivery only four times a week in city areas and got thinner and thinner. I wondered why I was paying for it, but I’m a newspaper supporter. The last straw was when it switched to a tabloid image—or broadsheet format—with much more colored ink and much less news. [New format on right.]

To show my allegiance to newspapers I’ll keep Eugene’s Register Guard, but most of my news will come from the internet that gives me information that I don’t get anywhere else. Here’s a sample of news that doesn’t appear in my newspaper:

Outsourcing (or offshoring) is the biggest reason for unemployment. In 14 years, U.S. multinational corporations, accounting for 20 percent of the labor force, have cut 2.9 million jobs in this country while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million. Offshoring is a bigger contributor to unemployment in the U.S. than laziness, the way that the GOP claims.

In 2010, the bottom 80 percent of the people had 12 percent of the net worth, two-thirds of the 18 percent they had in 1983. The top 20 percent had the remaining 88 percent in 2010, and the top 1 percent alone had 35 percent of all net worth.  This map shows the percentage of the United States that people own.

land mass

The corporate-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafts laws and passes them to lawmakers to implement. These are some of ALEC’s laws: Stand Your Ground, voter ID, right to work that eliminates unions, health savings account bills to benefit health care companies, and tobacco company privileges.

The United States has more people in prison than any other country. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. China, with a population four times the size of the U.S., has 1.6 million people in prison—700,000 fewer than the 2.3 in the U.S. That’s more than 6 and a half times the 350,00 prisoners in the U.S. 40 years ago

incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd

In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. At the same time, whites accounted for 69.2 percent of arrests in 2011.

U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world at $8,233 per person. Norway is second at $5,388. The percentage of GDP is also much higher in the U.S., 17.6 percent in the U.S. with the next country, the Netherlands, at 12 percent.

After the Wall Street crash in 1929, the Glass-Steagall Act protected the people in the country for 66 years. It separated risky financial investments from government-backed deposits by stopping banks from using federally-insured savings to make risky investment. Without this separation, taxpayers cover the cost of losses from risky investments. In 1999, the Act was overturned in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Less than ten years later the country went into a deep recession that continues because of Wall Street’s control.

The GOP sweep of over half the states in the country allowed them to rearrange congressional districts after the 2010 census. The Republican Redistricting Majority Project was so successful that they could take over the House of Representatives with fewer Republican than Democratic votes. In 2012, 1.4 million more votes came from Democrats than Republicans, but the GOP took the House by 234 to 201 seats. Through gerrymandering, GOP state legislators redrew districts in Arizona, Florida, Michigan North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia with the goal of putting Democrats into just a few districts. In North Carolina, 51 percent of the state voted Democratic, but the state sent 9 Republicans to the House as compared to only 4 Democrats. In the same way, these Republican legislators keep their seat although the majority of voters oppose them.

votes

The new majority in a Senate of 100 is now 60. President Obama’s first term saw a record number of filibusters, and 375 bills didn’t even come to a vote in the Senate because GOP members just threatened to filibuster. During the first six months of 2013, Congress passed only 15 bills that were signed into law. This is 8 fewer than the first six months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011. When Senate Democrats threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP had held up 79 nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal despite their qualifications.

Nixon’s Southern Strategy was designed to gain political power by exploiting the greatest number of ethnic prejudices. In 1970, Kevin Philips, Republican and Nixon campaign strategist, believed that the GOP couldn’t get more than 10 to 20 percent of the black vote but that would be enough to elect Republicans. He said:

“Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

The GOP used this strategy in 2008 and 2012 when it attacked Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare. These programs benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, but Republicans have convinced many in the United States that they are handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities. That’s the reason that GOP legislators and candidates continue to fight these programs although the majority of their constituents benefit from them. 

GOP tax plans shift the tax burden from the wealthy and onto working people. For example, when Ohio repealed the estate tax, the only people who benefits were those with estates bigger than $338,000. GOP wants to change from income to consumption taxes because the latter are paid primarily by people who earn the least. The GOP keeps capital gain taxes low, 20 percent, instead of the 39.6 percent top rate of other income for the wealthy. Despite their belief that they refuse to raise taxes, Republicans were comfortable with letting the payroll tax expire because these are only for the first $117,000 of wages.

shares of taxes

The United States has lost 40-50 percent of the country’s commercial bee hives this year because of colony collapse disorder. This is important because one-fourth of food in the country depends on honeybee pollination. Instead, the media typically reports something like this: “Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.” The loss of bees is connected to toxic chemicals in pesticides from Bayer and Monsanto. Acting like a nerve agent, the main chemical compromises a bee’s ability to feed and make its way back to its hive. These chemicals have long been banned in Europe.

The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent to almost 2.7 million since the recession ended. Including freelancers, contract workers, and consultants raises the number to almost 17 million workers who not directly employed by the companies who hire them. That’s 12 percent of the workforce. Temporary workers receive low pay, fewer benefits, and almost no job security. Because they cannot spend as freely as permanent workers, the economy suffers.

In 2011, only 22 percent of the people had heard of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. A 2013 Gallup poll showed 79 percent of Americans want restrictions on campaign contributions to House and Senate candidates. Also 50 percent support a publicly funded campaign finance system with private contributions completely eliminated. The McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decisions that put far fewer restrictions on campaign contributions was far more widely announced this spring. The media need to keep talking and writing about a decision that has made the United States an oligarchy, owned by the wealthy, just like Ukraine.

Six corporations–Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS–control about 90% of the media in the U.S. They want to make money so they use the guidelines, “if it bleeds, it leads.” They print what Democrats and Republicans say but not any facts. They skip “dangerous” facts about global warming, peak oil, population growth, political lobbying, defense spending, etc. Public broadcasting, including NPR, is becoming farther right as people like the Koch brothers buy the media organization. When two comedy shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, have more news than the so-called news shows, people are not receiving the news.

July 24, 2013

The U.S. Could Be Detroit Because of GOP Capitalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:31 PM
Tags: , , ,

Capitalism is the system that conservatives worship, so much so that any deviation from it—in their perception—is called socialism. According to the GOP, President Obama is a socialist leading the country to failure. One example of capitalism in the United States is the city of Detroit.

During its automobile-driven economic growth in the middle of the last century, Detroit was recognized as an achievement of capitalist renewal after the Great Depression and World War II. High-wage auto industry jobs with security and benefits proved capitalism’s ability to generate and system the highly-vaunted middle class that cut across ethnic groups. as a system ought to be judged by its failures as well as its successes. The city was an example of the American Dream.

Success came from unions that struggled to take these quality jobs from automobile capitalists, who then bragged that they “gave” good wages and working conditions to their workers. Whatever the cause, Detroit was a prosperous city in the 1950s and 1960s, shaping the world’s music as its capitalism shaped the world’s industries.

Detroit is now in the midst of the biggest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the nation.

Decision-makers for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, etc. made bad decisions that caused them to fail in competition with European and Japanese automobile capitalists. U.S. auto makers failed to develop new fuel-saving technologies and then responded to their failures by moving production out of Detroit in order to pay lower wages.

These decisions led to two economic disasters: manufacturers undermined Detroit’s economic foundation, and they led to the downfall of the nation’s middle class. The history of the past 40 years have shown the capitalist system’s inability—or unwillingness—to reverse, let alone stop, them.

Wages stopped growing in the 1970s although workers’ rising productivity created increasing profits for employers. For a few years, rising debt and overwork postponed the impacts of the lack of greater wages on consumption, but the crisis came in 2007. The resulting unemployment allowed employers to lower wages and benefits even more, and the falling dominos cut down the middle class.

The stimulus bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, but Detroit didn’t get any of that. The wage reductions in the auto industry guaranteed that Detroit’s wage-based economy would not be able to recover when production and profits rose. Auto industry capitalists took the lead and Detroit exemplified the economic decline that resulted.

After weakening the successes of unions, auto industry leaders undid the hard-won victories of the 20th century. Gone were the middle class and the “capitalist success” city built on their wages. The top-down structure of capitalist enterprises gave auto industry the ability to remove the good conditions that unions can sometimes win for their workers.

Worker co-operatives could have helped Detroit evolve in a far more positive fashion. Production would have stayed in the region, keeping jobs, families, and communities. Instead, lack of jobs dropped Detroit’s population from 1.8 million in 1950 to 700,000 in 2013. With worker co-operatives, owner dividends and manager salaries would have been less. The resulting savings could have lowered automobile prices, enabling better competition with European and Japanese cars.

Workers would most likely have greater incentives to improve technology in co-operatives they owned than if they do as employees in capitalist enterprises. Another achievement from worker co-operatives might have been the production of mass-transit vehicles as an alternative to the automobile production that fails to give long-term security for the automobile industry.

A democratic society does not give power to a minuscule number of people as it excludes millions of people from participating in decision-making.

Meanwhile this tiny number of people, centered in ALEC and controlled by the Koch brothers, has caused at least 117 bills in 2013 to further shrink wages, benefits, and worker rights. Their goal is also to eradicate any worker family’s participation in political and legislative processes to ensure that the top 1 percent will acquire even more wealth. ALEC’s anti-worker agenda started in the late 1970s and gained speed beginning with President Reagan, rapidly accelerating in 2010.

A few weeks after he took office, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker turned his state into the poster child for the northern states by eliminating collective bargaining for 380,000 school teachers, snow plow drivers, prison guards, nurses, bus drivers, and more. His law also prohibits government employers from using payroll deduction of union dues, removing more of their power. As Walker said, his goal was “divide and conquer”: first attack public sector workers and then go after the private sector.

Walker showed massive failure in his job programs: Wisconsin is now dead last in the 50 states in job creation. Things are so bad that someone called North Carolina the Wisconsin of the South.

ALEC’s “right to work” legislation was designed to make all the states like the poverty-stricken ones in the South that suppresses wages and keeps out unions. In 2012, Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN) succeeded in his state before Michigan pushed the law through in a lame-duck session at the end of the year. As Fox News bluntly put it, “bust the unions, and it’s over” for the Democrats.

Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), explained the strategy: “ALEC’s efforts against the minimum wage, prevailing and living wage, paid sick leave, etc. are an across the board attempt both to worsen any kind of labor standard and also to undermine any institutional or legal basis through which workers exercise some control over the workplace in the labor market.” The fate of union workers and non-union workers are inextricably linked because unions raise standards for non-union workers. An EPI study shows that ALEC’s “Right to Work” law alone depresses wages for both union and non-union workers by an average of $1,500 a year.

New York City has Wall Street, Washington D.C. has the federal government, and Silicon Valley has Google and Facebook.  The rest of the country is facing a decline that began 60 years ago. Gone are the good jobs for people willing to work.

Conservatives recognize that the United States is headed in the same direction as Detroit with its unemployment, smaller wages, and educated people on food stamps. Yet they refuse to acknowledge that the conservative fiscal approach is causing these problems by increasing the income inequity and paying manufacturers to take their businesses overseas. Republicans refuse to acknowledge that huge corporations and the tiny portion of people at the top of the pyramid get their wealth from the loopholes not available to 99 percent of the country’s population.

Conservatives set up systems so that Wall Street can steal from most of the people in the country and then refuse to change them. Conservatives create a failing circular economic system: people cannot be produce services and material things because other people cannot afford to purchase these services and items, and so forth. This is the conservative view of capitalism.

If the Republicans were totally in charge, the United States would be declaring bankruptcy and selling all its assets to Europe and China.

The solution to the approaching disaster is to raise wages and close the loopholes. But the sole goal of the GOP is to defeat the Democrats and gain the presidency in the next round. To make the country a success would defeat the GOP grand plan, so almost everyone in the nation is forced to suffer.

February 20, 2013

Who Elected These People!?

The U.S. Representatives and Senators have gone home to tell their constituents what a great job they’re going while state legislators continue to spread their craziness in their capitols–all from the party that claimed they wanted to increase jobs and help the economy.

Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who served six terms and left in 2009, has admitted that he fathered an illegitimate child with Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former Nevada Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) and a top Washington lobbyist.  She raised Adam, their son, as a single parent and continually praised Domenici for his character and “integrity.” This story might not be important if Dominici had not supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment for covering up his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. According to Dominici, “I have concluded that President Clinton’s actions do, indeed, rise to the level of impeachable offenses that the Founding Fathers envisioned.” Domenici also voted for the sanctity of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came out with the real reason that he wants to destroy the economy by continuing the sequester. After Chris Wallace asked him if Graham really wanted to slash Head Start programs for 70,000 children, cut 2,100 food inspectors, and eliminate $900 million in loan guarantees for small businesses, Graham said that he would do it to get rid of Obamacare.

The supposedly kinder, gentler House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) struggled to explain the reason behind removing health care from people who need it on Meet the Press a week ago. Immediately after he talked with great sympathy about a 12-year-old child who has had cancer for 11 years, he moved, without segue, to how the child will benefit from lowering the deficit. Somewhere he missed the point that without health care, the child will die.

Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, once a possibility for vice-president until his proposed title meant “vaginal probe,” is following private industry to cheat employees. He’s limiting the number of hours for state employees to 29 per week to avoid paying for Obamacare, assuming that he can save $110 million a year in health care benefits. McDonnell failed to take into consideration the money that these people without insurance will cost in emergency care. Adjunct faculty in higher education may lose a third of their current wages. Teaching an almost full course load,  they are paid a one-time fee, but considered hourly wage employees. My question for VP McDonnell: will you also limit your weekly work load to 29 hours?

Virginia is known for other mind-boggling activities. Not only did Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) propose the idea of the commonwealth making its own money—because, of course, the United States is going to collapse, but the plan passed by a two-thirds majority earlier this month. Saner minds prevailed in the Senate that voted it down, perhaps in part because the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to have individual currency. Yet there are enough people in one of the original 13 states that believed this could be workable.

The Thirteenth Amendment, adopted in 1865, abolished slavery. This year, 148 years later, Mississippi made the vote unanimous. Although the state’s legislature voted in 1995, 120 years later, to do so, they failed to notify the Office of the Federal Register of that legislative action. This month they did so.

Republicans want freedom—or so they say. Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) has proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose bills regulating guns. It provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.” Like many other anti-gun law people, Leara, in ignoring the constitutional Speech and Debate clause, thinks that the U.S. Constitution is composed of only the Second Amendment.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (Indiana) is introducing a measure calling for a convention where states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. His goal is to keep Congress from taxing and regulating interstate commerce. Article V of the U.S. Constitution permits this but only if two-thirds of all state legislatures demand the convention. Indiana conservatives criticize Long because he is preventing votes on measures he calls “blatantly unconstitutional.” The state’s house speaker Brian Bosma said he will carry Long’s measure if it reaches his chamber.

You can’t make up this stuff. Montana State Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R) is sponsoring a bill to allow defendants to “bargain with the court” to receive “corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration.” The bill would apply to not just misdemeanor crimes, but also felonies, though the bill requires that the “exact nature of the corporal punishment to be imposed” be “commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender.” John S. Adams, who covers the Montana legislature for the Great Falls Tribune, wrote, “Republican leadership has been doing its best to tamp down any potential bills the other side might use to embarrass the GOP as they work to craft a budget. This one apparently didn’t get tamped.” We can guess that Karl Rove’s new group won’t be funding O’Neil.

Another politician who probably won’t get Rove’s support is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who told 18-year-old undocumented student Jessica Bravo, “I hate illegals.”  She made an appointment to talk with him because she “wanted to explain that I have no other home than Costa Mesa, I wanted to speak for all those in my community who are too afraid to talk about their status.” When she told Rohrabacker her status, he became angry and shook his finger at her. As she left his office, Bravo told reporters that he asked if she had registered for the meeting. “Well, now I know where you live,” he had told her threateningly.

And scratch Rep. John “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) off Rove’s list. Yesterday, in talking about the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) which the House has yet to act on, Duncan said, “Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.” Despite his offensively ignorant sexist statement, he isn’t sure whether he will support VAWA.

Top on my list of stupid statements, however, comes from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in her outrage against raising the minimum wage to $9.00, as President Obama suggested in his State of the Union address. She began with the argument that young workers couldn’t learn responsibility as she did as a teenage retail employee in Mississippi:

“I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.”

To those who think that $2.15 an hour isn’t much, like Blackburn does, consider that the $2.15 an hour she made between 1968 and 1970 is now worth between $12.72 and $14.18. Forty-five years ago, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.

Blackburn’s statement may be matched only by former Rep. Ron Paul’s appeal to the United Nations. The father of Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul is known for his anti-UN position: “American national sovereignty cannot survive if we allow our domestic laws to be crafted by an international body.” The owners of the domain name RonPaul.org, his own followers, have offered him the domain free along with their mailing list of 170,000 email address.  He turned them down and filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. Maybe they’ve settled: the link for the PDF of the complaint doesn’t work.

Right now, polling puts approval of Congress at 15 percent, four percent lower than a month ago. At that time, Congress was lower than used car salesmen, root canals, colonscopies, and cockroaches. It probably still it. Have a nice time talking to your constituents, Congresspeople!

December 27, 2012

If Six People Had Lost the Election …

One example of what the Republicans wanted to do in the 112th Congress came from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) who lost his campaign to switch to the Senate. Earlier this year, he proposed a “license to bully” amendment to the defense budget guaranteeing blatant discrimination against harassed LGBT people in the military because there could be no discipline for this action. The House even passed the amendment. The Senate didn’t consider the amendment, but the lame-duck Senate is trying to put it back into the bill. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is working with Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), both with anti-gay records. McKeon had pledged to pass clean defense bills that were “not weighed down” by social issues but has done just the opposite.

Imagine if the Republicans had taken over the Senate and the presidency as well as the House. Only six elections made the difference—five Senators and one president. If President Obama had lost and if six more Senate seats had gone to the GOP, both the legislative and administrative parts of the government would have been Republican joining a highly conservative Supreme Court.

Michigan is an example of how destructive this could have been.

Worried about the loss of his super-majority in the legislature, Gov. Rick Snyder pushed through 282 laws since November 6 during the lame-duck session. The law that got the greatest media notice was the union-busting “right-to-work” bill that Snyder put through the legislature after he said he had no interest in taking away union rights. No warning, no hearings, no public input, no floor debate—just two days between its passage and Snyder’s signing.

All private-sector and public-sector unions—except firefighters and police—are blocked from their rights. Maybe because the two exempted unions have a large number of Republicans? The law requires that employees cannot be required to pay union dues. The process not only weakens bargaining for better wages and working conditions but also limits the unions’ participation in elections.

The Koch brothers political machine and the conservative lobby group ALEC, which write bills for legislators, had been planning this action for months. The non-profit Mackinac Public Policy Center spent $5.7 million in 2011 alone to fight unions. The two major financiers of the company are Charles Koch and Dick DeVos, son of Amway’s founder and loser to Democrat Jennifer Granholm for governor in 2006.

Mackinac was also a major supporter of the “financial martial law” allowing “emergency financial managers” to take over municipalities and drive out the elected officials. Upset by this law, voters removed the Republican super-majority in the November election and overturned this law, forcing Snyder to work fast. After the people overturned the law, the legislature put it back—again including the managers’ ability to void union contracts and labor agreements.

These bills are harder to overturn with a ballot referendum because both are attached an appropriations measure.

Not content with attacking workers and elected officials, Snyder attacked women’s rights. The so-called “Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act” states that “[h]ealth care providers could refuse to perform certain medical procedures, and employers could opt not to provide coverage for certain medical services as a matter of conscience.” The 1978 state law allows any medical professional and institution to refuse to perform abortions. Now they can refuse to provide contraception and “other services and medications that they oppose as a matter of conscience.”

Just in case the “Protection Act” doesn’t stop enough abortions, Michigan also passed an anti-abortion law which has been called “the nation’s worst.” Ms. reported, “HB 5711 requires that clinics meet the same standards and regulations as surgical centers and that fetal remains are to be treated the same as a dead human body, including authorization from the local or state registrar before cremation. The bill also requires that doctors provide a written ‘risk assessment’ to patients at least 24 hours before having a procedure and prohibits the use of telemedicine to prescribing abortion-inducing medication. Doctors will also have to certify that a woman is not being coerced into having an abortion by asking probing and invasive questions as a result of HB 5711.”

One House bill that failed was barring the use of “foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights”—the “anti-Sharia” bill.  The courts had already overturned a similar Oklahoma law that specifically mentioned Sharia. Some Michigan Republicans are still convinced that President Obama is a Muslim, bad because Rep. Dave Agema thinks “just about every terrorist is a Muslim.” Agema’s bill was similar to model legislation produced by David Yerushalmi, the conservative attorney who once urged the U.S. to declare war on Islam and referred to liberal Jews as “parasites.”

Other religious groups in the state, such as the Michigan Catholic Conference, opposed the bill because it might affect any religious group that chooses to enter into a contract based on their religious beliefs. After all, the Pope doesn’t live in the United States.

The only bill that Snyder vetoed was the right to carry concealed weapons in schools. He probably would have signed that one too if not for the 26 people killed in the Newtown (CT) school.

Snyder still has 23 months before his next election, but his popularity is plummeting, down nine points since the sweeping legislation. His disapproval rating is up 19 points. The question is how long the voters’ memories are.

Governors across the nation will undoubtedly follow Snyder’s actions during the last month. The result:

  • Severe economic problems because lower wages from union-breaking means that people will have less spending ability;
  • Fewer elected officials retaining the right to perform their responsibilities because governor-appointed managers will take over towns and cities;
  • More deaths from illegal abortions because of the severe restrictions on legal abortions;
  • A greater number of unwanted pregnancies from severe restrictions on clinics limiting contraception for poor women.

This next year, the Michigan House still has a GOP majority but not a super-majority. The irony is that Michigan has more Democrats than Republicans. It is the gerrymandering of districts following the 2010 census that  allowed the GOP majority to continue.

gerrymandering

 

The same thing happened in the U.S. House where the GOP controls almost 54 percent of the seats in the 113th Congressional House although they lost the popular vote by at least 1.2 million.

Some Republicans in the House report that they are willing to let taxes on the wealthy increase. They’re coming back to town in three days; we’ll see what they do then with one day left to overturn the law they passed 18 months ago.

September 26, 2012

Last Two Weeks – Part Two

Republican desperation is getting more and more obvious as Election Day gets ever closer–41 days now.  Mitt Romney is back on the campaign trail blaming the president for the loss of over 500,000 manufacturing jobs during the last four years while his company, Bain Capital, has been sending them out of the country for years.

Missing in his talking points were the facts that George W. Bush lost 4.5 million manufacturing jobs in eight years and President Obama has picked up over 300,000 in the last two years. The most recent loss of manufacturing jobs are the 170 workers in Freeport (IL) who will be laid off in November when Bain sends Sensata Technologies to China. As usual, Romney tries to hide behind a “blind trust” that he said in the past that he controlled.

During Romney’s campaigning he has also accused President Obama of raising taxes during his tenure. The new Romney, however, has different information. Yesterday he told a reporter,  “[Obama’s] idea, now, he’s got one new, he’s got one new idea. I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years, he’s said he’s going to do in his next four years, which is to raise taxes.” As usual, his campaigners have tried to show that Romney really didn’t mean what he said.

The most desperate campaign tack, however, comes from a sitting senator, Scott Brown (R-MA). Throughout the summer he has attacked his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, because she has described herself as having Native American background. There’s no proof that she has this background, but that’s true of many people with the same background. My partner’s family, for example, has always told her that she is part Choctaw. No proof, but it’s part of her family legend.

In the lead-up to their debate last week, Brown declared that he knew Warren couldn’t have any Native American background because she didn’t look like one. It appears that Brown can identify ethnic background based on appearance. The situation got even uglier when his staffers, financed by tax payers, ridiculed Native Americans by fake war whoops and tomahawk chops at a Republican fundraiser.

Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation denounced Brown’s campaign staffers for their actions against Native Americans and asked Brown to apologize: “The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.”

After a long day of criticism, Brown decided to say that he could not condone such behavior. For the record, Brown has no proof that Warren does not have Native American heritage.

Evidently Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI), authority of how women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” is not the only family member who is knowledgeable about rape. In raging against the Republican party for abandoning her husband after his ill-conceived statement, Lulli Akin, the U.S. Senate candidate’s wife, described the attempt get Akin to drop out of the race as “tyranny, a top-down approach.” In an interview with The National Journal, she also said, “Party bosses dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the decisions–it’s just like 1776 in that way.” According to Lulli Akin, that was when colonists “rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my … wife. But that is where we are again.”

Yesterday I wrote that Congress had left town to campaign while blaming Democrats for stalling and inaction. Here are a few things that they left undone, proving that Romney is not the only politician who doesn’t care about 47 percent of the country’s population:

  • The re-authorization of the Violence against Women Act
  • The American Jobs Act [although they blame the president for not enough jobs]
  • Sequestration [that started when the Republicans played games with raising the debt ceiling]
  • Tax Cuts for Working Families
  • The Farm Bill [with the current bill expiring in four days]
  • Veterans Job Corps. Act [passed by the Senate with a 95-1 vote, Rand Paul (R-KY) the only  opposition, and the Air Force Times reporting that the Republican-controlled House has shown “no interest in passing an Obama-initiated measure before the November elections”]
  • Wind Tax Credit [originally authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and providing jobs]

Many of us in this country assume that all young people are required to have an education. Not in four states, including Virginia. The state’s religious exemption from mandatory school attendance means there are no educational requirements. There may be 7,000 young people who fit into this category.

Good News:

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas (WI) has ruled that the state law ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees. The law was one of the first that Gov. Scott Walker brought to the state. 

Odd News:

The Mormon religion has a bad habit of posthumously baptizing people, sometimes causing great anguish to their families. Ann Romney’s father, an atheist, was baptized after his death. Many Jewish Holocaust victims have also been supposedly converted to Mormonism through this practice. Recently it was discovered that President Obama’s mother was posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church on June 4, 2008. The Mormon Church has claimed that it asked congregations to stop doing this, but it’s still occurring. [It’s old news, but I hadn’t heard this before.]

With Republican actions so misinformed and ignorant during this election round, identifying satire has become increasingly more difficult. Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told the New York Times, “I hate to say this, but if [Paul] Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.” The question of satire comes from Politico’s columnist, Roger Simon, when he described how Paul Ryan doesn’t like the directions “dictated by his Romney handlers.”

According to Simon, Ryan has “been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘If Stench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'” According to Rachel Maddow, “the piece isn’t identified as satire, Simon is a chief political correspondent and not a satirist, and the column is filled with details and anecdotes that are, in fact, accurate. If it is satire, it’s awfully tough to tell.”

Romney got a little specific about taxes in a speech in Ohio: “We have got to reform our tax system. Small businesses most typically pay taxes at the individual tax rate. And so our individual income taxes are the ones I want to reform. Make them simpler. I want to bring the rates down. By the way, don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions. But by bringing rates down we will be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people.”

Huh?

August 20, 2012

Moderate Conservatives Drink the Kool-Aid

The closer we get to this year’s general election—78 days at last count—the “moderate” Republicans start to drink the Kool-Aid and buy into the talking points that their party leaders spit out. One example is a columnist for Portland’s The Oregonian, Elizabeth Hovde, whose yesterday’s column began by extolling Rep. Paul Ryan, VP nominee, for his youth before leading into the standard Fox lies regarding the supposed virtue of the GOP.

Hovde is a complex person. Even before she had a skiing accident 18 months ago and spent a few weeks in a coma, she showed a liberal side. For example, one of her early columns supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act to give women a right to sue for fair pay. In another she wrote, “Health care needs to be a right rather than a privilege. It makes no sense to offer fire protection, police services and a K-12 education to citizens while denying basic life care to people.”

Most recently, she agreed that the Supreme Court decision that requiring minor children convicted of murder to die in prison is “cruel and unusual punishment.” She also accepts marriage equality and opposes charging women more for health insurance than men.

In the past, she has been open about the results of her traumatic brain injuries (TBI). She has written that one cognitive change after TBI is “problems with judgment.” She certainly showed poor judgment in her most recent column.

One of Hovde’s claims is that “social issues … are no longer center-staging mainstream Republican agendas.” Obviously, she ignored all the anti-abortion bills that rolled through the House in the past 18 months, possibly because she was recuperating during half that time. Almost nine months ago Ryan supported the Sanctity of Life Act, a bill stating that “human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.”

As recently as June, the House tried to pass an anti-abortion for Washington, D.C. but failed. This was the month after all except seven Republican House representatives voted in favor of a bill imposing fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions to control the child’s gender. The “war on women” during the past year has also featured the Republicans’ outrage at women getting free contraception after the Catholic bishops riled up the GOP faithful. The Republican party platform also calls for constitutional amendments prohibiting abortion and legalizing personhood.

LGBT rights is another front-and-center social issue of the GOP. House Majority Speaker John Boehner leads the charge to maintain DOMA, the 1996 law that prevents marriage equality by spending $1.5 million from tax payers on lawsuits—and that’s before the case goes to the Supreme Court. Mitt Romney has promised to overturn the law that allows lesbians and gays to openly serve in the military.

Republicans also push school vouchers to the extent that they would eradicate non-religious schools. In the meantime Republicans are intent on allowing prayer—Christian, I’m sure—in all public schools. And they want to also violate the separation of church and state by allowing judges to post the Ten Commandments.

Climate change is another big social issue for Republicans. Because they don’t believe in human-caused climate change, Republicans strive to remove all regulations, ensuring that human influence on the climate destroy the planet. Stop health care, move everyone off welfare, get rid of immigrants—the GOP list goes on and on in the arena of social issues. Young people may be less concerned about social issues, but that isn’t currently the Republican voting base.

When Hovde asked Romney about the lack of young people in the Republican party, he gave the party line: “As they recognize ours is the party dedicated to preserving freedom for ourselves and our friends, … they’ll learn ours is their party.” Part of freedom for me is give women control over our bodies and recognizing marriage equality. These are two freedoms that Republicans are determined to take away from us.

One very annoying statement in Hovde’s column, again straight from Republican lying talking points, is the piece about the top 10 percent of households paying more than half of the federal taxes. As always, her statement suffers from the sin of omission, that the top 10 percent makes almost half the income in the United States. The top 10 percent, as of 2007, controlled 70 percent of the country’s wealth; they can afford to pay 50 percent of the taxes.

Also in 2007, the top 20 percent of households have 85 percent of the assets in the country. Since then, the bottom 80 percent has lost even more to the top tier of wealthy people. If the home is subtracted from the assets, the top 20 percent has 93 percent. I can guarantee that the people who pay “no” taxes, according to the myth that Social Security and Medicare taxes constitute “no” taxes, would be delighted to pay more if they had a salary increase.

Another of Hovde’s statements is that “Obama wants to keep boosting failing systems.” Showing how wrong she is will take an entirely separate column, complete with charts. She also said, “Republicans want to shake things up.” I cannot have any faith in a party with no ideas, that just wants to “shake things up” without providing any benefit to people. Sounds like an earthquake or tsunami to me, and these are disastrous.

A year ago, Hovde wrote about how disadvantaged children of divorce are in their education and personal growth. A few months after that column, her husband left her and their two children, explaining that her accident had taught him that “life is short.” I wish the best for all of them. But I would like to think that Hovde learns about the trials that poverty causes for people no matter how hard they try to act responsibly, as Republicans think all people can do. Unless, of course, she’s lucky enough to have other money to support her.

July 15, 2012

Fundamentalists Woo Mormon Romney

While Mitt Romney battles the issue of what year he left Bain, risking either a felony charge or the discovery that he ran a company that disposed of aborted fetuses and outsourced jobs to China, he is secretly trying to woo the fundamentalist religious leaders. David Brody reported on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Romney’s campaign is working behind the scenes to schedule weekly meetings, personal phone calls, faith-based events, and serious dialog about a gathering this fall with national evangelical leaders. Thus far he has talked with Rick Warren and tried to meet with Dr. James Dobson.

Warren, as you may remember, is the California pastor who was in staunch opposition to marriage equality.  According to Warren, “The Hebrew-Christian God is characterized by love. The Islamic god is characterized by war and vengeance.” Warren has also stated that Mormons are not Christians because they don’t believe in the Trinity–one God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He also maintained that any group that baptizes a person after they have died is a cult; ergo, Mormonism is a cult.

Peter Flaherty, a senior advisor for the Romney campaign, has met with Jim Daly, Tim Goeglin, and Tom Minnery from Focus on the Family; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; President Ralph Reed with the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Dr. Richard Land with The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Rev. Sammy Rodriguez with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Gary Bauer with American Values; Bob Reccord with the Council for National Policy; and Mark Rodgers, a former senior advisor to Rick Santorum. In late June, 70 conservative Christian leaders met to talk about how to get the conservative Christian base energized.

A recently released book The Teavangelicals details how Romney has been courting evangelical leaders for years, for example holding a private meeting at his home in 2006 with more than a dozen evangelical leaders including Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell, Richard Land, Jay Sekulow, Frank Wright, and Gary Bauer. After the meeting, Romney sent each of those who attended a chair with a brass plate inscribed with the words, “There will always be a seat for you at our table.” He held another meeting in 2009 although the book doesn’t mention any chairs.

Evangelical leaders have informed Romney that acceptable vice-presidential candidates would be Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Bob McDonnell, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio. Also crucial to these fundamentalists in order to support Romney is more pro-family language as part of Romney’s stump speech and a defense of Judeo-Christian principles. They also want an explanation of the nation’s fiscal crisis in moral terms. (The article didn’t explain what this is.)

Romney’s concentration on coaxing votes out of the fundamentalists comes at a time when confidence in religious institutions has hit an all-time low. Only 44 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll expressed a “great deal” of confidence in organized religion compared with 52 percent a little over two years ago.

Meanwhile the Mormon church got all riled at last week’s issue of Businessweek that describes the vast financial holdings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including a $2 billion mall in Salt Lake City and a $1 billion ranch in Florida. The cover illustration satirizes John the Baptist bestowing the priesthood on Joseph Smith, the Mormon’s founding prophet. On the cover, John the Baptist tells Smith, “and thou shalt build a shopping mall, own stock in Burger King, and open a Polynesian theme park in Hawaii that shall be largely exempt from the frustrations of tax …” Smith answers, “Hallelujah.” Bloomberg spokeswoman Rachel Nagler said that the cover image comes from an 1898 lithograph “recording a pivotal moment in the birth of Mormonism.”

The article itself is far more serious than the cover, delineating the church’s holdings: a large number of media companies, a hospitality business, an insurance firm with assets of $3 billion, an agricultural company with 1 million acres in the U.S., and an ample real estate portfolio as well as an investment fund and trust company. The LDS church is probably worth about $40 billion and takes in $8 billion each year in tithes although no one knows for sure because they are not required to reveal any of their financial information. This from a group that comprises 1.4 percent of the U.S. population, about 45 million people.

The church donates less than one percent of its annual income to charity, compared to other churches which donate almost 30 percent. “Today, the Church’s business assets support the Church’s mission and principles by serving as a rainy day fund,” the church said. They maintain that they give to their own members, but young people who have gone on missions assert that they had to pay their own way, even buying the Bibles they give away as part of their two-year missionary activities in the world.

The LDS Church is able to make even more money because it is exempt from paying taxes on the real estate properties it leases out, even commercial entities, and doesn’t pay taxes on donated funds and holdings. Mitt Romney and others at Bain Capital have given the Mormon Church millions’ worth of stock holdings obtained through Bain deals. Between 1997 and 2009, these included $2 million in Burger King and $1 million in Domino’s Pizza shares, shares which the church can then sell without paying capital-gains taxes.

The fixation of the Mormon church to make money is in keeping with other religious groups in the country, but it differs the Mormon’s belief that that any money-making project is spiritual. Historian D. Michael Quinn said, “Traditional Christianity and Judaism make a clear distinction between what is spiritual and what is temporal, while Mormon theology specifically denies that there is such a distinction. In the Mormon [leadership’s] worldview, it’s as spiritual to give alms to the poor, as the old phrase goes in the Biblical sense, as it is to make a million dollars.”

The Mormon beliefs raise some questions about Romney as a political leader. According to his acceptance in the Mormon temple, he has promised to focus all his talents to the advancement of the Mormon church and hold the church’s prophet to be the highest authority on Earth. Joseph Smith had a supposed vision that one day a Mormon would become President of the United States, so that the Mormon Church can take over the U.S. government. Smith’s prophecy was revenge for perceived wrongs done to Joseph Smith by the government.

During Romney’s entire campaign, people have questioned the lies that the “etch a sketch” nominee have told. Another philosophy of Mormons is that telling lies is acceptable as long as these statements are not to another Mormon.

Therefore, believing that he has no compunction against lying, Romney works to become the president of the United States so that his religion can control the government. Would fundamentalists prefer subservience to the Mormon church over having President Obama continue for another four years?

If you didn’t know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, you’re in good company. According to a recent poll, only 43 percent of the people in the United States are aware of his religion. The people who don’t know may be the same people who are convinced–in error–that President Obama is a Muslim.

June 2, 2012

Back to Reagan?

As people get older, they talk about the “good old days,” which always drives younger people crazy. When I started teaching, the older teachers talked about how much better the kids were when they started teaching. Now that we have such sophisticated technology, we talk about how kids were better off when they had to make up their own games rather than just facing a screen. And in politics? There is that worship of Ronald Reagan from the far-right conservatives. Do we miss Reagan? Maybe. Here are some of his quotes and actions, many of them from a Dana Milbank column:

Labor unions: “There are few finer examples of participatory democracy.” The right to join a union is “one of the most elemental human rights.” Collective bargaining “played a major role in America’s economic miracle.”

Regulations: Reagan signed a law establishing efficiency standards for electric appliances and an update to the Safe Drinking Water Act punishing states that didn’t meet clean-water standards.

Retirement: Reagan expanded Social Security in 1983 and imposed taxes on wealthy recipients. He also signed what was at the time the largest expansion of Medicare in its history.

Debt: Reagan increased taxes several times after his initial tax cut, embraced much higher taxes on investments than current rates, and signed 18 increases in the federal debt limit.

Tax Reform: Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986 shifted a large part of the tax burden from individuals to corporations and exempted millions of low-income households from federal income taxes. Reagan called it “a sweeping victory for fairness” where “vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.”

Bruce Bartlett, a former domestic policy adviser in the Reagan White House, says fairness was the touchstone for the Tax Reform Act. “Ronald Reagan agreed to raise the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 28 percent, because he agreed with the Democrats that capital gains and ordinary income ought to be taxed at the same rate,” says Bartlett, author of The Benefit and the Burden.

Expansion of the federal government: Reagan enlarged the federal workforce and the federal budget, added the Department of Veterans Affairs (one of the largest Cabinet agencies), and pursued a military buildup that would be impossible under spending limits proposed by congressional Republicans.

Welfare: Reagan championed the earned-income tax credit, a program for the working poor that takes more children out of poverty than any other program. [Budgets proposed by today’s Republicans would cut or eliminate the credit.] He also said that bus drivers should not pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than millionaires, a precursor to President Obama’s “Buffett Rule.”

Compromise: Reagan compromised routinely on arms control, the size of government, taxes, and other matters. His autobiography criticized “radical conservatives” for whom “ ‘compromise’ was a dirty word.” He continued: “They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once …. I’d learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for.”

“[The expansion of the Social Security bill is] a clear and dramatic demonstration that our system can still work when men and women of good will join together to make it work. In this compromise we have struck the best possible balance between the taxes we pay and the benefits paid back. Any more in taxes would be an unfair burden on working Americans and could seriously weaken our economy. Any less would threaten the commitment already made to this generation of retirees and to their children.

LGBT Teachers: “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” [And that was when he was a governor before 1975!]

It’s time for conservatives to follow in the image of Ronald Reagan! Let’s follow these “Reagan Rules.”

AGR Daily News Service

Transformational Change; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and adventurers.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: