May 23, 2013
Political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship
May 23, 2013 by Egberto Willies
Kingwood Area Democrat Deborah Mowrey.
Deborah Mowrey writes a must read letter to the editor about the funding of community colleges and voting. Folks, it is necessary that we engage in the voting process. We are getting our clocks cleaned by those who flourish in ignorance.
America needs strong leaders. America needs leaders that are willing to stand up for an ideology that shamelessly looks out for the middle class and the poor. America needs strong leaders that do not allow the striving for true moral values to be framed as a weakness . America needs strong leaders that will not allow a hated government agency, the IRS, doing its job to be piled onto by all, Liberals & Conservatives, Democrats & Republicans, alike.
It is easy and politically cowardly to criticize and demonize the IRS. After all, most hate paying taxes. The reality is this agency’s job is defined by the people American citizens elect. They wrote the laws that this agency must follow. Because of the laws these politicians have written, the marginal burden of federal income taxes falls on the middle class. To be clear, it is fact that the top 10% of Americans pay about 70% of federal income taxes. However, wealth and income is so skewed to the top that even with that, the marginal effect of taxes on the middle class far exceeds that of the top 10% and exponentially the top 1%. Moreover, when flat state taxes and sales taxes are included, the middle class is even further under attack by a system rigged to transport their hard earned income to the few, the American plutocracy.
It is important for strong leaders to prevent crooked politicians from placing the blame on the IRS’s attempt to implement their laws that are ill written. Case in point is the 501(C)(4) section of the tax code.
Types of Organizations Exempt under Section 501(c)(4)
Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4) provides for the exemption of two very different types of organizations with their own distinct qualification requirements. They are:
· Social welfare organizations: Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, and
· Local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of designated person(s) in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.
Social Welfare Organizations – Examples
Some nonprofit organizations that qualify as social welfare organizations include:
· An organization operating an airport that serves the general public in an area with no other airport and that is on land owned by a local government, which supervises the airport’s operation,
· A community association that works to improve public services, housing and residential parking; publishes a free community newspaper; sponsors a community sports league, holiday programs and meetings; and contracts with a private security service to patrol the community,
· A community association devoted to preserving the community’s traditions, architecture and appearance by representing it before the local legislature and administrative agencies in zoning, traffic and parking matters,
· An organization that tries to encourage industrial development and relieve unemployment in an area by making loans to businesses so they will relocate to the area and
· An organization that holds an annual festival of regional customs and traditions.
These organizations are easily abused. After the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case applications for 501(C)(4) groups skyrocketed. Donors could now donate liberally without being exposed. Anyone that did not see it was the preponderance of Tea Party type groups getting coverage, monies, and submitting 501(C)(4) applications had to be blind. Moreover, it is disingenuous to believe that the Tea Party and Patriot groups’ sole purpose was not to influence electoral politics. It absolutely was and still is. Singling out some groups (liberal groups were singled out as well) is the right thing to do. When searching for certain diseases, markers are used to simplify discovery. That is the efficient use of our tax dollars to weed out those that use a poorly written tax code for ill and immoral gain.
This faux scandal is not a loss for the current administration. It is a loss for America. Once again pseudo-liberals and Right Wing Conservatives have joined to admonish an institution whose laws they write sufficiently vague to allow the success of the moneyed interest. To be clear, the Commissioner of the IRS when the ‘misdeeds’ took place was Douglas Shulman, a Republican appointed by George W Bush. So to make this a liberal attack on Conservative groups is an oxymoron.
Liberals need to man up. Liberals need to woman up. Liberals need to swim against the tide of hate for the IRS so that there is someone willing to tell the true story. The true story, the real story is the IRS was just doing its job of attempting to implement the law. Attempting to crack down on Tea Party and Patriot groups that support policies that ultimately destroy our democracy and pilfer the masses is one step needed to save this country.
By Ezra Klein, Published: May 16, 2013 at 11:47 am
Things go wrong in government. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Sometimes it’s rank incompetence. Sometimes it’s criminal wrongdoing. Most of the time you never hear about it. Or, if you do hear about it, the media eventually gets bored talking about it (see warming, global).
But every so often an instance of government wrongdoing sprouts wings and becomes something quite exciting: A political scandal.
President Obama speaks about the IRS and Benghazi at a news conference. (Washington Post)
The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions. Government wrongdoing is boring. Scandals can bring down presidents, decide elections and revive down-and-out political parties. Scandals can dominate American politics for months at a time.
On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough. Let’s go through them.
(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
1) The Internal Revenue Service: The IRS mess was, well, a mess. But it’s not a mess that implicates the White House, or even senior IRS leadership. If we believe the agency inspector general’s report, a group of employees in a division called the “Determinations Unit” — sounds sinister, doesn’t it? — started giving tea party groups extra scrutiny, were told by agency leadership to knock it off, started doing it again, and then were reined in a second time and told that any further changes to the screening criteria needed to be approved at the highest levels of the agency.
The White House fired the acting director of the agency on the theory that somebody had to be fired and he was about the only guy they had the power to fire. They’re also instructing the IRS to implement each and every one of the IG’s recommendations to make sure this never happens again.
If new information emerges showing a connection between the Determination Unit’s decisions and the Obama campaign, or the Obama administration, it would crack this White House wide open. That would be a genuine scandal. But the IG report says that there’s no evidence of that. And so it’s hard to see where this one goes from here.
The U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi in flames after the attack of Sept. 11, 2012. (Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters)
2) Benghazi: We’re long past the point where it’s obvious what the Benghazi scandal is supposed to be about. The inquiry has moved on from the events in Benghazi proper, tragic as they were, to the talking points about the events in Benghazi. And the release Wednesday night of 100 pages of internal e-mails on those talking points seems to show what my colleague Glenn Kessler suspected: This was a bureaucratic knife fight between the State Department and the CIA.
As for the White House’s role, well, the e-mails suggest there wasn’t much of one. “The internal debate did not include political interference from the White House, according to the e-mails, which were provided to congressional intelligence committees several months ago,” report The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson and Karen DeYoung. As for why the talking points seemed to blame protesters rather than terrorists for the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans? Well:
According to the e-mails and initial CIA-drafted talking points, the agency believed the attack included a mix of Islamist extremists from Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, and angry demonstrators.
White House officials did not challenge that analysis, the e-mails show, nor did they object to its inclusion in the public talking points.
But CIA deputy director Michael Morell later removed the reference to Ansar al-Sharia because the assessment was still classified and because FBI officials believed that making the information public could compromise their investigation, said senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal debate.
So far, it’s hard to see what, exactly, the scandal here is supposed to be.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the hot seat. (AP Photo)
3) AP/Justice Department:. This is the weirdest of the three. There’s no evidence that the DoJ did anything illegal. Most people, in fact, think it was well within its rights to seize the phone records of Associated Press reporters. And if the Obama administration has been overzealous in prosecuting leakers, well, the GOP has been arguing that the White House hasn’t taken national security leaks seriously enough. The AP/DoJ fight has caused that position to flip, and now members of Congress are concerned that the DoJ is going after leaks too aggressively. But it’s hard for a political party to prosecute wrongdoing when they disagree with the potential remedies.
Insofar as there’s a “scandal” here, it’s more about what is legal than what isn’t. The DoJ simply has extraordinary power, under existing law, to spy on ordinary citizens — members of the media included. The White House is trying to change existing law by encouraging Sen. Chuck Schumer to reintroduce the Media Shield Act. The Post’s Rachel Weiner has a good rundown of what the bill would do. It’s likely that the measure’s national security exemption would make it relatively toothless in this particular case, but if Congress is worried, they always can — and probably should — take that language out. Still, that legislation has been killed by Republicans before, and it’s likely to be killed by them again.
The scandal metanarrative itself is also changing. Because there was no actual evidence of presidential involvement in these events, the line for much of this week was that the president was not involved enough in their aftermath. He was “passive.” He seemed to be a “bystander.” His was being controlled by events, rather than controlling them himself.
That perception, too, seems to be changing. Mike Allen’s Playbook, which is ground zero for scandal CW, led Thursday with a squib that says “the West Wing got its mojo back” and is “BACK ON OFFENSE.” Yes, the caps are in the original.
The smarter voices on the right are also beginning to counsel caution. ”While there’s still more information to be gathered and more investigations to be done, all indications are that these decisions – on the AP, on the IRS, on Benghazi – don’t proceed from [Obama],” wrote Ben Domenech in The Transom, his influential conservative morning newsletter. “The talk of impeachment is absurd. The queries of ‘what did the president know and when did he know it’ will probably end up finding out “’just about nothing, and right around the time everyone else found out.’”
I want to emphasize: It’s always possible that evidence could emerge that vaults one of these issues into true scandal territory. But the trend line so far is clear: The more information we get, the less these actually look like scandals.
And yet, even if the scandals fade, the underlying problems might remain. The IRS. could give its agents better and clearer guidance on designating 501(c)(4), but Congress needs to decide whether that status and all of its benefits should be open to political groups or not. The Media Shield Act is not likely to go anywhere, and even if it does, it doesn’t get us anywhere close to grappling with the post-9/11 expansion of the surveillance state. And then, of course, there are all the other problems Congress is ignoring, from high unemployment to sequestration to global warming. When future generations look back on the scandals of our age, it’ll be the unchecked rise in global temperatures, not the Benghazi talking points, that infuriate them.
Dear Democrats —
We need your help protecting Texas’ colleges. This is urgent.
Republicans in the Texas Senate are pushing a dangerous bill — the so-called "Campus Carry bill" — that would reverse a decades-old ban on weapons in our college campuses.1
We need your calls today to stop this bill. Call your senator right now and tell them to vote to vote "NO" on the "Campus Carry" bill.
At the start of this year, Texas Democrats convened a Task Force for Common Sense on Gun Violence. Our findings after collaborating with community leaders, mental health experts, gun owners, hunters, and educators?
Banning guns on college campuses is common sense gun control, except when those firearms are possessed or carried by certified peace officers. The Task Force was firmly against lifting the ban. So are we.
Can you call your senator right now? We need to remind Democrats AND Republicans that Texans don’t want to see this ban lifted.
P.S. Can’t make a call right now? Give $5 or more to fund our rapid response network.
May 14, 2013
Political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship
Conservative Republican New York Times Columnist David Brooks has been getting a lot of analysis on issues correct (here, here) with a few missteps. Following is the exchange he had with David Gregory on Meet The Press Today.
David Gregory: David Brooks as we, talk again about Benghazi, here this morning, what’s new this morning, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee is falling short of saying this was Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s fault. But he does say the administration essentially directed the intelligence community to back off what they wanted to say.
David Brooks: There is an underlying narrative here which I actually think is wrong. The underlying narrative is it says this bunch of technically pure nonpolitical and then they produce a product which is then doctored by a bunch of political people either at State or at the Whitehouse; my reading of the evidence is that a very terrible event happened at a CIA, basically a CIA facility, they went into intense blame shifting mode, trying to shift responsibility onto the State Department, onto anywhere else, and the State Department pushed back. They said no, it is not our fault. It’s you facility. And so they push back and they say why we are suddenly releasing information that we haven’t been releasing so far. So the CIA was super aggressive, there was some pushback, out of that bureaucratic struggle all the talking points were reduced to mush and then politics was inserted into it. So I don’t think we should necessarily say this is politics intruding on a CIA pure operation.
His assessment is the most sensible one I have heard to date from either Republicans or Democrats. It was a very matter of fact statement that is not only plausible but likely. Earlier in the show Chairman of the Oversight And Government Reform Committee Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) tried to give the impression that this was a real story in which the administration was not answering questions because it was hiding something. Ultimately he had nothing substantive that indicated either the President or Secretary of State Clinton did anything wrong. When David Gregory showed with graphic that there was nothing astonishing about the event compared to the number of Americans and diplomats that have sadly lost their lives on missions overseas through Republican and Democratic presidencies alike, Issa tried to change the subject.
Issa even lied about Ambassador Pickering who was sitting next to him. Issa said Ambassador Pickering refused to come before his committee. Pickering jumped in before his time to speak and said it was not true. Pickering said he told them the day before the hearing he was willing to appear and Issa’s committee said he was not welcomed at that hearing and that he could come at another time.
This entire Benghazi issue will blow up in the Republicans face as their propaganda outlet Fox News will lose face again as they did with the 2012 elections. This is a political hunt not to find wrong doing but to leave open ended questions to undermine a President.
Posted by Jeff on Sunday, May 5, 2013 ·
1. The NRA is a terrorist’s best friend. Technology is making it increasingly possible to manufacture handguns made primarily of plastic and other non-metal materials which cannot be discovered by metal detectors. This gun would be a terrorist’s dream but a nightmare for airport security.
In the 1980s Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General proposed a ban on the manufacture of plastic guns, but the NRA opposed this legislation and it was withdrawn. Over the years, similar attempts to prohibit the manufacture of plastic guns have been killed by the NRA.
Of course, no law-abiding person needs a handgun that can evade airport security, but the NRA wants to make sure that option will be available.
One way our government can track down terrorists is to require manufacturers of common bomb components to place tagants, which are small physical or chemical markers, into materials commonly used to make bombs. After a bombing occurs, these tagants can be detected and used to trace the bomb materials back to their source and possibly help identify the origin of the bomb or even the bomber.
This sounds like a great idea and doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights, so naturally the NRA opposes it. They have successfully gotten enough members of Congress to block any legislation mandating tagants in common bomb making materials. Terrorists are no doubt grateful to the NRA for helping protect their identity.
2. The NRA protects the right of brutal dictators to commit genocide. In April, 2013, the UN passed the Arms Trade Treaty by a vote of 154 to 3. This treaty prevents brutal dictators from getting conventional weapons like tanks, missiles, warships artillery and combat aircraft to commit genocide. Only Iran, Syria and North Korea voted against it.
Yet Iran, Syria and North Korea have one friend on their side; the National Rifle Association. The NRA has urged the U.S. Senate to reject the treaty by claiming it enacts gun control laws in the U.S.
This is a complete lie. The treaty specifically states that it cannot be interpreted to enact gun laws or restrictions on individuals in any country.
You can read the entire treaty for yourself HERE.
The most likely reason why the NRA opposes this treaty is that the American gun industry is a huge exporter of conventional weapons. They profit greatly from selling weapons that eventually make their way into the hands of brutal dictators who use them to commit genocide. By opposing this treaty, the NRA is protecting the profits of the gun industry.
3. The NRA opposes law enforcement. In 1993, the NRA strongly opposed the Brady Law despite the fact that it was supported by each of these law enforcement organizations: The Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Police Executive Research forum.
Police nationwide support restrictions on fully automatic machine guns and “cop-killer” bullets, but the NRA has fought them on these issues too.
When any police chief stands up to the NRA on gun issues, they are smeared and maligned. San Jose, California police Chief Joseph D. McNamara criticized the NRA for opposing the Brady bill. The NRA ran full page ads in national magazines claiming that McNamara wanted to “legalize drugs, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack” but it was all a lie. The NRA was sending a message to police chiefs all over the country not to oppose them or there would be a price to pay.
4. Law enforcement opposes the NRA. In 1993 hundreds of uniformed police officers from all over the country lined the halls of Congress to urge Congress to vote for the assault weapons ban. This was in many ways an act of defiance against the NRA, who adamantly opposed the assault weapons ban.
Nashville Police Chief Joe Casey was president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police when the NRA tried to get him fired because he supported a waiting period for handgun purchases.
When the NRA attacked federal agents of the FBI and BATF as “Jack-booted thugs”, Dewey Stokes, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said that “Every law enforcement officer in the country that does wear a badge ought to be outraged at what the NRA is doing. We don’t need the NRA making law enforcement officers, whether at the Federal or at the local level, targets of hate groups.”
5. The NRA only cares about protecting the gun industry. In the 1990s, NRA executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said he believed background checks are a good way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Gun crime dropped dramatically for ten straight years after the Brady Law was passed, mandating background checks on most gun purchases. But the gun industry complained of lost revenue due to a slump in gun sales.
After the multitude of evidence from the FBI and the BATF showing that background checks reduce crime, the NRA said they now oppose background checks. The most likely reason for this change is because the lost revenue from gun sales is far more important than the lives saved by reducing crime.
Virtually every solution the NRA proposes to any problem involves more guns and higher profits for the gun industry. School shootings? Arm the teachers. Terrorist hijackings? Arm the pilots. Road rage? Keep a gun in your car. Gang violence? Get a gun. In their world, you need to have a gun handy whenever you answer your door, get groceries, go to church, or take your kids to school.
They oppose background checks, waiting periods, licensing, registration, limits on how many guns you can buy at a time, limits on the number of bullets a gun can hold, restrictions on assault weapons and even restrictions on fully automatic machine guns.
The NRA no longer even gives lip service to the idea that we should keep bad guys from getting a gun. As Wayne LaPierre says, “The only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.
They even got Congress to give the gun industry immunity from lawsuits over gun deaths and injuries. They can talk about freedom, liberty and the Constitution, but all this does is protect the corporate profits of gun manufacturers and gun dealers.
This might be a good time to mention that the board of directors of the NRA is largely made up of gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and people who profit from the gun industry.
6. The NRA uses fear to manipulate people into buying more guns. After every tragic mass shooting like Columbine, Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook, gun sales suddenly increase because the NRA scares gun owners into thinking that the government is coming to take their guns away.
Since 2008 the NRA has been insisting that Barack Obama is going to confiscate your guns and repeal the 2nd Amendment, despite the fact that Obama has only made it easier to carry a gun on Federal lands.
The NRA generates this “They’re coming to take our guns away!” hysteria whenever any gun regulation is proposed that’s supported by a huge majority of Americans and even a majority of NRA members.
Background checks, which the NRA used to support, are now considered part of that “slippery slope” to total gun confiscation. Almost all the rhetoric the NRA engages in is aimed at getting people to buy more guns and increase the profits of the gun industry.
7. The NRA blames blacks, Hispanics and American culture for high rate of gun crime. The NRA often argues that the rate of gun crime is so much higher in the U.S. than other countries because of “cultural differences” between the U.S. and those countries. They say it has nothing to do with guns, that violence is just part of our culture. In other words, the NRA believes Americans are just a nasty, violent people.
A 1988 study by Dr. Arthur Kellermann showed that gun crime in Seattle, Washington was much higher than in nearby Vancouver, BC, which has tough gun laws. In his book “Guns, Crime and Freedom”, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre responded that the higher level of crime in Seattle was due to a higher percentage of blacks and Hispanics, not because of easier access to guns.
LaPierre also has blamed violent video games and movies for the high rate of gun crime in America. This might be plausible except that it doesn’t explain why these same video games and movies haven’t inspired higher rates of gun violence in other countries. Perhaps it’s because, as the NRA maintains, Americans are just naturally more violent than other countries.
8. The NRA rejects the views of the American people, gun owners, and even their own membership. Wayne LaPierre told Congress that he represents the views of not only 4 million members of the NRA but tens of millions of gun owners across the country. He then proceeded to say the NRA opposes universal background checks for gun buyers.
According to Gallup polls in 2012 and 2013, at least 91% of Americans along with 84% of gun owners and 74% of NRA members, support universal background checks. The NRA is so out of touch on this and many other issues that they don’t even represent the majority of their own membership, let alone gun owners in general.
For many years, the Gallup Poll has been asking Americans if gun laws should be made more strict or less strict. The percentage of Americans who say gun laws should be more strict has exceeded those who say less strict by a factor of at least 5 to 1 and sometimes reaches 10 to 1.
9. The NRA opposes Democracy. Through a combination of threats and campaign bribery, the NRA has repeatedly pressured members of Congress to go against the wishes of the American people on gun issues.
When a solid majority of Americans consistently support certain gun measures like waiting periods and background checks – which have never been ruled to violate the 2nd Amendment – the NRA manages to defy the will of the people and kill even the most modest, common-sense legislation.
When 91% of Americans, most police organizations and a majority of the U.S. Senate supported background checks, the NRA convinced a minority of Senators to use the filibuster rule to prevent any vote at all on a bi-partisan background check law
They have also pressured members of Congress to block any bills calling for licensing or registration of gun owners despite the fact that 70% or more of the American people have supported these provisions for decades.
10. When caught in a lie, the NRA continues to repeat the lie again and again. In his book “Guns, Crime and Freedom”, Wayne La Pierre says that Switzerland has a higher rate of gun ownership than the U.S., but lower rates of murder and violent crime. He concludes that more guns and fewer gun laws would enable us to have less crime like Switzerland.
What LaPierre leaves out is that Switzerland has the very gun control laws that he opposes so vehemently. All men in Switzerland have rifles but every rifle is registered with the government and all ammunition must be accounted for. To own a handgun, the Swiss require a background check, a permit to purchase a handgun, and handgun registration. In reality, Switzerland proves that gun laws work, but the NRA continues to repeat this falsehood.
The NRA likes to say that Hitler banned all guns in Germany, thus proving that only tyrants who want to disarm the people could support gun control. First, Hitler didn’t ban guns in Germany; he actually made it easier for most Germans to get a gun.
Secondly, it’s a moot point since there is no movement in America to ban all guns. Waiting periods and background checks have nothing to do with banning guns.
Perhaps the most often repeated NRA lie is that all gun control measures, like licensing of gun owners, registration of guns, background checks or waiting periods, will somehow lead to a ban on all guns. Licensing of drivers and registration of cars didn’t lead to a ban on automobiles.
In 1993, the Brady Law mandated a waiting period and background check, yet that never resulted in any effort to ban or confiscate guns. History does not support the “slippery slope” argument that all gun laws lead to a ban on guns. Yet this is a lie that the NRA continues perpetuate.
Published: May 4, 2013
“Regular order!” That has been the demand of House Republicans for three years, insisting on a return to the distant days when Congress actually passed budget resolutions and spending bills, instead of paying for the government through shortsighted stopgap measures.
“Senate Democrats have done nothing,” Speaker John Boehner said on “Meet the Press” on March 3, referring to the Senate’s failure to pass a budget since 2009. “It’s time for them to vote. It’s time for us to get back to regular order here in Congress.” The two chambers could try to resolve their differences in a conference committee, he said, “and maybe come to some agreement.”
But a funny thing happened a few days after those comments were made: the Senate agreed to that demand and actually passed a budget. Suddenly all those Republican cries for regular order stopped. Suddenly the House has no interest in a conference with the Senate. Instead, Congress is preparing for yet another budget crisis.
A few days ago, when Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, tried to appoint members of a conference committee, Republicans refused to allow it, saying it would cause “complications for the House.” As Senator Jeff Sessions, the leading Republican on the Budget Committee, explained it, “We haven’t been able to have any understanding on how this conference might work.”
In fact, Republicans know exactly how it would work: they would have to compromise. The Senate would have to agree to some of the House’s spending cuts, and the House would have to agree to some of the Senate’s spending increases and the tax increases on the rich to pay for them. As the country has learned in recent years, House Republicans are incapable of compromise on those issues.
Being intransigent in a formal budget conference, however, would put Republicans in a bind. The public would be able to see that Democrats were offering billions in spending cuts while Republicans were offering nothing. And if a conference did not produce an agreement in 20 days, members could offer “motions to instruct” the committee that required debate and a vote, which the speaker could not use his usual powers to stop. That, too, could cause embarrassment for the Republican leadership, as Democrats and Tea Party members offered a series of motions that would demonstrate how incoherent the Republican agenda truly was.
House leaders are stalling by insisting on a “preconference,” which Patty Murray, the Senate budget chairwoman, has resisted. Clearly, what is frustrating Republicans is that they do not have an imminent crisis to exploit to get their way. Since 2011, they have repeatedly relied on the threat of a government shutdown, or a possible credit default, to force damaging spending cuts. (That is how the sequester was created.)
Even now, they are discussing using the debt-ceiling expiration, later this summer or fall, to extort corporation-friendly changes to the tax code that raise no revenue. And this week they are bringing up a dangerous bill that would pay private bondholders in the event of a default.
The demands for regular order were hollow and dishonest. The only way House Republicans can achieve their extremist agenda is not through preserving order, but by causing chaos.
April 29, 2013 by Egberto Willies
Current Economic Policy has failed given its inability to connect the large pool of skilled unemployed Americans to all the work needed to rebuild the country. After all, the country, from coast to coast is filled with dilapidated bridges, roads, water mains, pipelines, & airports that need repairing and rebuilding. The country’s children need more educators to keep up with the rest of the world to stop the educational slide that has been experienced for some time.
Insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting a different result. The intellectual discussion over how best to get the economy moving is over. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the seminal paper used by many politicians around the world to justify the immoral austerity policies they instituted was a fraud. Beyond that, the architect of the policy, trickle-down economics (voodoo economics) that exacerbated America’s wealth and income inequality, and laid the foundation for policies that led to the economic crisis is busy attacking those that continue these policies as he tries to reinvent his role.
Paul Krugman wrapped it up perfectly in his piece “Story of our Time”. He points out that
Those of us who have spent years arguing against premature fiscal austerity have just had a good two weeks. Academic studies that supposedly justified austerity have lost credibility; hard-liners in the European Commission and elsewhere have softened their rhetoric. The tone of the conversation has definitely changed.
He points out the reason for the spending plunge and thus explosion in unemployment.
In the economy as a whole, however, income and spending are interdependent: my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If both of us slash spending at the same time, both of our incomes will fall too.
And that’s what happened after the financial crisis of 2008. Many people suddenly cut spending, either because they chose to or because their creditors forced them to; meanwhile, not many people were able or willing to spend more. The result was a plunge in incomes that also caused a plunge in employment, creating the depression that persists to this day.
He then provides the simple solution yet again that must be done.
if you ask me, people talk too much about what went wrong during the boom years and not enough about what we should be doing now. For no matter how lurid the excesses of the past, there’s no good reason that we should pay for them with year after year of mass unemployment.
So what could we do to reduce unemployment? The answer is, this is a time for above-normal government spending, to sustain the economy until the private sector is willing to spend again. The crucial point is that under current conditions, the government is not, repeat not, in competition with the private sector. Government spending doesn’t divert resources away from private uses; it puts unemployed resources to work. Government borrowing doesn’t crowd out private investment; it mobilizes funds that would otherwise go unused. resources away from private uses; it puts unemployed resources to work. Government borrowing doesn’t crowd out private investment; it mobilizes funds that would otherwise go unused.
He ends the article on a note that everyone need to digest.
What has happened now, however, is that the drive for austerity has lost its intellectual fig leaf, and stands exposed as the expression of prejudice, opportunism and class interest it always was. And maybe, just maybe, that sudden exposure will give us a chance to start doing something about the depression we’re in.
He understands that policy is not currently being made in the interest of the middle class. Policy is not being made based on historical facts, science, or current experience. It is being made to satisfy the ideological needs of some and the financial benefits of others. After-all , with a few owning most of the income and wealth, having a large unemployed base ensures a commoditization of employment that guarantees continued low wages from a permanent large pool of the unemployed.
Krugman’s article is a good read. I do take exception with his continued fear of the government competing with the private sector. The indoctrination continues. If the private sector is so much more efficient than government such that profit is not an inefficiency in areas where innovation is no longer required, then competition with the government should make the private sector that much more efficient.
The bottom line is simple. Austerity has been an immoral failure for the middle class and the poor. Companies continue to make record profits and the wealthy continue to take all the growth in the economy in the form of increased income and wealth. This aberration in our economic system must end.
Since companies with record profits won’t create jobs, government must. How do we pay for it? Some temporary deficit spending but a revamp of the tax code to ensure that the wealthy does not continue to hoard wealth and income earned because of laws as opposed to their real work and deeds.
March 20, 2013