Monday, November 29, 2010


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!