Monday, November 29, 2010

Irresponsible


It is time to inextricably link the words Irresponsible and Republican. It is no longer enough to call them the Party of NO, it is time to make their name synonymous with irresponsibility until they change.

The GOP are masters of using language to distort the perception of reality - that is how the Estate Tax - which only effects a small number of the wealthiest families - turned into a unfair tax on dying in the minds of people who will never have to face it after it was rebranded the Death Tax. They achieve this rebranding by having the discipline to put the new terminology into widespread use by all of their politicians and media echo chamber.

Using reasonable discussion and lengthy explanations of the facts does little to counter the reality distortion effect of GOP language or to provoke interest in the attention deficit media. But there is something we can do - add a branding to the counter productive actions of the GOP by using the word Irresponsible every time we say Republican.

Irresponsible Republicans
have caused a crisis in our Federal Courts by refusing to allow votes on over half of all judicial nominees - even the ones that have been unanimously approved in committee.

Irresponsible Republicans have blocked passage of an essential Defense Appropriation bill, while our troops are still fighting two wars.

Irresponsible Republicans are blocking the extension of unemployment insurance, saying the jobless are too lazy to work even though there are 5 unemployed Americans for every available job.

Irresponsible Republicans insist on making the slow economy worse by prematurely cutting federal spending and killing the recovery.

Irresponsible Republicans insist that all spending must be paid for - except for the 700 billion in unneeded tax cuts they want to give to the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Or when an Irresponsible Republican is in the White House.

Irresponsible Republicans insist on the discredited supply side trickle down theory that cutting taxes will cut the deficit - even after trying that strategy during the Reagan administration and failing. And trying it during the GHW Bush administration and failing, And trying it during the GW Bush administration and failing.

Irresponsible Republicans have announced they look forward to closing down the government in April by refusing to raise the debt limit - even though they never failed to raise the debt limit during the Reagan and two Bush administrations.

Irresponsible Republicans still support using torture - a crime under the Geneva Convention - even though it never provided any useful information and made America less safe.

Irresponsible Republicans are blocking the renewal of Ronald Reagan's START treaty - even though every single living past and present US Secretary of State say it is essential to pass it.

Irresponsible Republicans want to cut Social Security in order to reduce the deficit - even though Social Security is running a surplus, is self funded with its own taxes, and by law cannot spend general revenue.

Irresponsible Republicans risk turning America into an international pariah state by cynically denying man made global warming (even though they know it is really happening) in order to cater to their big energy company donors.

Reasonable explanations won't penetrate the consciousness of the ADD media and low information patriots, but by repeating Irresponsible Republicans each time we deal with their irresponsible behavior we will be showing just who the grownups really are.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Revive Social Security


Social Security is doing just fine.


Despite the Catfood Commission, Social Security will never increase the national debt. In fact Social Security is just about the ONLY government program that is well funded for as far as we can forecast. It has a huge surplus of well over 2.5 trillion dollars that will continue to grow to well over 4 trillion dollars before it begins to decline. Sometime between 20 and 30 years from now that trust fund will run out, and SS will have to run on its current revenues - just like it did for its first half century of existence. That is not "broken", that is what it was always intended to do. Once the trust fund is gone, we can continue to fund benefits at 80% of current levels basically forever. Not bad, do absolutely nothing at all and SS doesn't have to cut a penny, increase the retirement age or reduce any benefits for at least 20 years, and after that can go forever with just a 20% cut. So why do they want to make those benefit reductions now?

Here's a better idea. Let's enhance Social Security so that it lowers unemployment, stimulates the economy, and restores confidence.
  • Reduce unemployment by lowering the voluntary retirement age to 60 instead of raising it to 69. Life expectancy is mainly increasing because fewer people are dying young - but people reaching the end of their working years are not actually living significantly longer - and a lifetime of work, especially physical labor, is not easier on today's sexagenarians. 69 might be a good retirement age for a banker, but not for skilled iron-workers, or auto workers, or even janitors. Let them retire earlier and open up those jobs.

  • Turn FICA into a true flat tax, rather than the regressive tax it is now. Currently FICA taxes are 12.4% of the first $106,800 in earned wages (split between worker and employer), and absolutely nothing is collected for Social Security on any income above that - and FICA taxes are not collected on unearned income such as dividends and capital gains. Let's make it a true flat tax, Collect it on all income - no exceptions. We could then easily pay for lowering the voluntary retirement age, and never have to reduce benefits, and at the same time we could cut the FICA tax rate to about half of its current level.
Reduce unemployment, substantially reduce FICA taxes for most taxpayers, preserve benefits and create confidence in today's workers that Social Security will be there for their retirement. Damn, that sounds downright conservative!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Alito Was Wrong


Do you remember Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's rebuttal of President Obama during this year's State of The Union address?

"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Said President Obama. "Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito silently mouthed "not true" when Obama criticized the Supreme Court's decision.


Obama was talking about the Court's "Citizen's United" ruling, that threw open the floodgates for unlimited spending on campaign ads by corporations.

In particular, Alito is reported to have been objecting to the claim that foreign corporations would be able to finance campaign commercials in the United States - an interpretation that the Fox News Right had solidly supported in its insistence that Alito Was Right.

Now we get to grade the test. So far this election season campaign ads by outside groups are far outnumbering ads from candidates. One group in particular is more active than the rest - the US Chamber of Commerce (a group which unlike your local chamber represents multinational corporations rather than the small businesses on Main Street) - The US Chamber of Commerce has pledge to spend $75 million during this election season. So where does the Chamber's money come from? Big corporations, including:

  • State Bank of India (state-run) and ICICI Bank of India
  • Esnaad, a subsidiary of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
  • Russian state-run VTB Bank
  • BP [UK]
  • Royal Dutch Shell [Netherlands]
  • Siemens [Germany]
  • Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International
  • Bahrain Petroleum Company (state-owned)
  • And hundreds more

Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sam Seder: Mosque at Ground Zero: That's Bullshit



And a related story:

Fareed Zakaria:

Build the Ground Zero Mosque

Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But after the ADL publicly called for moving the mosque, I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. More

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hobos and welfare for America's Rich

Hobos and welfare for America's Rich

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard July 6th, 2010
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited

Reading William Manchester’s Glory And The Dream over the weekend, I came across this remark from President Herbert Hoover, blurted out famously in the cruelest year of 1932.

“Nobody is actually starving. The hobos, for example, are better fed than they have ever been. Hobos are eating well, in fact one had ten meals in a single day.”

hobo

Itinerant worker looking for work during the Great Depression

Hoover took deep offence at reports that children were dying of malnutrition. This is not surprising for a man who first made his global reputation organizing food aid for Belgian children at the end of World War One

By then Hoover had lost the plot, a common problem for those over the age of 45 who stop thinking, stop observing, and rely reflexively on whatever set of views worked for them in the past (I am 52).

He never quite lived down these words. After he lost the lost presidency to Roosevelt in 1933, he was taken to see starving families in Colorado. Though Hoover was too self-righteous to admit error. He insisted that economy was well on its way to recovery until President-elect Roosevelt frightened everybody with his “socialistic” adventurism.

Republicans on Capitol Hill who backed the mobilization of $3 trillion of fiscal and monetary support to bail out the financial system are now going to great efforts to prevent the roll-over of temporary benefits to 1.2m jobless facing an imminent cut-off.

I don’t wish to enter deeply into an internal US dispute between Republicans and Democrats, but I do think think that the American political class will have to face up to the new reality of a semi-permanent slump for a decade or more that will blight a great number of lives. The cyclical recovery that normally makes it possible for most Americans to find a job if they want one is not going to happen this time because the overhang of debt, fiscal tightening, and a liquidity trap have combined to jam the mechanism.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who really deserves the Bankster Bonuses?


Wall Street Banksters - short for Banking Gangsters - are about to receive another round of failure bonuses, even though they are still holding back from loaning money to credit worthy businesses and consumers and making money instead on exactly the same type of derivatives gambling that just required a 3 Trillion dollar taxpayer bailout a year ago.

Meanwhile, there are people out there doing jobs that ought to be getting the kinds of bonuses that the banksters aren't earning.

Here's one: The pilot of United Airlines flight 634 who safely and smoothly landed an Airbus 319 jet with a set of wheels missing. No skidding, sliding or tumbling. Whoever he is he deserves a Bankster bonus.

Airline pilot used to be a very good paying job. Not anymore. Sure the top pilots make pretty good pay, but its about a third of what they made 25 years ago (CPI adjusted). Even the hero of the Hudson - Captain Chessly Sullenberger - had his pay cut 40% a few years before he proved he is worth more than any Wall Street bankster.