Blog Archives

A quote that raises a question…

“I think you earned every dollar, you should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That’s your money, that’s not the government’s money. That’s the whole point.”

— Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

OK. Then where would the money come from to pay your Congressional salary?

The Bush Tax Plan vs. the Obama Tax Plan

An expressive chart from Ezra Kline:

Tax-cut game may take on a pre-election playoff…

David Lightman and Margaret Talev from McClatchy show us where the action might be in September.Here’s a clip”

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‘Game of chicken’ coming in Congress over Bush tax cuts

WASHINGTON — Congressional incumbents, already nervous about increasingly unpredictable November elections, are facing a potentially make-or-break political decision: Whether to vote on extending expiring Bush era tax cuts before the election.

The White House and many congressional leaders want to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everyone but the wealthy; they’d let tax rates on the rich rise back to 1990s levels. Republicans, and moderate Democrats, want to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy, and may balk at anything short of that.

Top Democrats want to debate that when Congress returns from its summer recess in mid-September.

“If they (Republicans) want to block a tax cut for 98 percent of the American people in order to preserve a $700 billion tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent, I’d say ‘Let’s have that fight.’ I can’t believe at the end of the day that they would do that,” said White House senior adviser David Axelrod
A lot of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., want a vote before the election. Not only could Democrats say they took strong steps to reduce the deficit, but “it would give us a good opportunity to get George Bush into the debate,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

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For our Tea Bagger friends…

Haven’t we been Taxed Enough Already? A musical number by emma’s revolution:

From their web site:
emma’s revolution is the duo of award-winning, activist musicians, Pat Humphries & Sandy O, who write songs that become traditions. Their song, “If I Give Your Name” won Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and their music has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and Pacifica’s “Democracy Now!”. “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” is sung around the world and has been called the “anthem of the anti-war movement.” “Keep On Moving Forward” opened the NGO Forum at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, becoming the unofficial theme of the Conference.

James Kwak wrote a great article, Budget Sense And Nonsense, in the Huffington Post.

Kwak, co-author of The Baseline Scenario, a leading blog on economics and public policy, has written a really good explanation of the Obama budget and how the GOP created the Deficit Crisis. I’ve taken this clip out of the article, but it is really worth reading the whole thing.
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Speaking of taxes, how did we get into this deficit mess in the first place?

You’ve no doubt seen this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or something similar before, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And what is it in the president’s proposed budget that the Republicans are aiming at? The plan to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for people making more than $250,000 per year. In other words, the problem with the Obama budget is that the deficits are too high, and the solution is to cut taxes. Huh?
Sam Stein pointed out the same issues in December. Yet since Ronald Reagan, a large proportion of the electorate has become wired to believe that deficits are always the product of excess government spending, so the facts bear repeating.
The fiscal situation is actually very simple. The budget was in surplus when President Clinton left office, although there was already the prospect of budget-busting Medicare deficits in the long-term future.
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Ben Hoffman put this on the Drudge Retort this evening:

Go into the site to read it all….
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Barack “The Rock” Obama Tells Banks: “We Want Our Money Back”

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama told banks Thursday they should pay a new tax to recoup the cost of bailing out foundering firms at the height of the financial crisis. “We want our money back,” he said.
In a brief appearance with advisers at the White House, Obama branded the latest round of bank bonuses as “obscene.” But he said his goal was to prevent such excesses in the future, not to punish banks for past behavior.
The tax, which would require congressional approval, would last at least 10 years and generate about $90 billion over the decade, according to administration estimates. “If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers,” Obama said.
There needs to be far more tax increases to recoup our money. Glass-Steagall needs to be reinstated. Commodity trading needs to be re-regulated.
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I agree with the NY Times…

… in the Editorial this morning titled Tax Them Both. Tax the Banks to recover the large fees put into the bailout and “also impose a windfall tax on the huge bonuses that bailed-out bankers plan to pay themselves over the next few weeks.”
This sums it up for me:

Let’s be clear, the crisis spawned by banks’ recklessness has cost the country a lot more than $120 billion. Any calculation must also include the deepest recession since the 1930s and the loss of more than seven million jobs. What profits banks have made since then have not come from lending to credit-strapped businesses. They are trading profits made possible by trillions of dollars in cheap financing from the Federal Reserve.

The crisis occurred because banks that had grown too big to fail came too close to failure — driven by a reckless pursuit of risk and profit. Credit froze, and the government was forced to put enormous public resources at their disposal to keep them afloat.

Congress should not let these jokers make wild profits on the suffering they brought on to average Americans. It should be on the side of the vast majority of citizens who are hurting very badly from actions the Big Banks took and, as it seems, are starting to take again.

After watching Ben Nelson push the Anti-Woman Amendment on his Colleagues…

… this afternoon, I got an even bigger kick out of the piece our friend Tengrain put on Mock Paper Scissors. Take a look HERE:
There’s People Dumber Than Dirt… and the there’s Ben Nelson

Drop over and read it (and tell Tengrain that btchakir sent you.)

And Speaking of Civil Wars…

Thinking this morning (see prvious post) of our insertion into Afghanistan which is in the midst of what can be seen as a Civil War, I started to ponder the “Intellectual Civil War” we are currently experiencing right here at home. While it is not the bombing, kidnapping, house-to-house shooting kind of Civil War, ours has elements which spell out an equally destabilized future for those of us who grew up in the Post WWII Middle-Class environment.

Starting about thirty years ago, the Conservative Right set out to weaken and then, most recently, to destroy or at the least enslave the Middle-Class to be the exclusive tax-supplying funding source of an Upper-Class dominated economy. The fact that it was stretched out over three decades (a slow, slow war) made it almost invisible to the majority of Americans who were convinced that there was something called a “trickle-down” advantage to stopping the taxation of the top 2% or so of the economic population. Then, when it was too late to really make a change without unattached politicians who were not paid off by the corporate creations of that top 2%, we discovered ourselves in a world where a ratio of one Dennis Kucinich was put up against 50 or so “identified-as-liberals”… or, as I would like to call it, the “false democracy.”

This “Intellectual Civil War” has battles, too, only they have taken on names like “Tea Parties” and have been controlled by outside players acting as puppeteers, and we have done little to cut the strings. Those of us in the American 98% that are being economically destroyed, robbed of affordable health care, impoverished by bankruptcies of government supported financial institutions and forced to see possibilities of our world turning around for the better dashed against the whining wrinkles of Joe Lieberman… we are left not knowing who to turn to, who we can actually believe is acting in our interests.

Look… I want to believe that Nancy Pelosi is going to do something to really get the Insurance Companies disabled when it comes to health care. I want to believe that Obama will see what’s going on in the Middle East and issue the order for everyone to come home… now… and forget the crap about how many years it will take to get our weapons and ships and other facilities dismantled… bring the armies home NOW, have them pull out in the middle of the night on Wednesday (and if Karzai’s government complains, tell them you’ll be back IF they really have a fair election and IF they handle their own military and police actions… frankly, we’ll never have to go back.) I want to believe that Republican leaders like John Boehner will actually call up Pelosi this morning and say “we’re ready to help and compromise for the good of the country… what do you want us to do?” I want to believe that the sun will shine and the sky will be blue and everything will get better (and employment opportunities will turn up so I can be at work instead of sitting here at the computer bitching about everything)… I want to believe it. I’m just not able to given current conditions.

I want to see an end to our Intellectual Civil War. I want to see the opposing generals like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin and Michael Steele decide that they have enough and can ride off into the sunset.

Fat chance.

Quote of the Day

I’m going to avoid anything about the Nobel Prize in this segment today… there’s going to be a lot more talking about it (Obama, as I write this, is getting ready to speak live-on-TV). Instead, I was interested in this:

“The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.”

– Paul Krugman in a column entitled The Uneducated American

Past 20 years… hmmm… I guess he means starting with Reagan where everything else in our great state dissolution started.

David Sirota says the Rich have never had it SO GOOD…

.. and I agree.

In an article in Salon, Sirota takes ideas like the support for Health Care and shows why the 1% of folks at the top of the economic pile will squash the 99% of us below if they can.

A quote:

With 22,000 Americans dying each year because they lack health insurance, Congress is considering universal healthcare legislation financed by a surcharge on income above $280,000 — that is, a levy almost exclusively on 1-percenters. This surtax would graze just 5 percent of small businesses and would recoup only part of the $700 billion the 1-percenters received from the Bush tax cuts. In fact, it is so minuscule, those making $1 million annually would pay just $9,000 more in taxes every year — or nine-tenths of 1 percent of their 12-month haul.

Nonetheless, the 1-percenters have deployed an army to destroy the initiative before it makes progress.

We are living in an era when greed surpasses good. We live where politicians, by election, get on the inside track to join the 1-percenters, and when the vast majority of Americans all believe that they can be part of the 1% as well, eventually, hopefully… why do we believe this in the face of reality?

Indeed, Obama recognizes this and is campaigning to get the whole country to realize that it wouldn’t even be a dent in the rich folks’ stunning protective skin to take some of it back.

In the face of the “Millionaire Media”, the “Land Rover Liberals” and the “Corrupt Cowboys” (read the article to find out who’s who), the President makes a simple point:

“If I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that’s part of being a community.”

Of course, Congress is taking its August break in time to avoid changing anything.

It Looks Like People A.) Want a Public Option in Healthcare and B.) Are Willing to Pay More For It.

The NY Times /CBS News Health Care Poll that came out yesterday should make it pretty clear to Congress that the American Public wants Real Health Care Reform, and not the Insurance Industry controlled farce that some of the leading Democrats (and virtually all the Republicans) are in favor of.

Partly because they know what side of the bread is buttered for them by corporate money in their election funds… partly because they are afraid to do something which radically changes the financial basis of health care and adds a real government involvement in it.

Let’s start by taking a look at the poll results:

NYT Poll

It is the changes from 2007 to the present which should stand out to those in Congress who are working on the legislation. It is clear that people WANT that public option… even though there are issues that have to be considered, but which certainly can be overcome – we’ve done it with the VA system. It is also clear that the issue of paying for it with taxes has become much more acceptable in the past two years. It’s also interesting how important providing health care to the uninsured is.

The big question here is whether the government will adhere to the will of the people, or just ignore it. The latter option is the one that is most likely to occur. Too bad. I’d certainly like to be surprised by a change.