Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Will Boehner allow the compromise Budget to interfere with his Christmas dinner?

Paul Ryan (R) and Patty Murray (D)
Representative Paul Ryan (R) and Senator Patty Murray (D) have reached a compromise agreement on a budget that would roll back some aspects of sequestration cuts.

The compromise agreement would return about $65 billion of sequester cuts to government spending over two years.  It builds upon the $2.5 trillion already cut by sequester and other government spending reductions made since 2011.

Senator Murray admitted that the compromise does not fulfill all of the goals of either party but claims it will return the certainty that businesses need and will ensure that certain safety net programs will be revitalized.

Many big issues remained unresolved and as Patty Murray explained, will still require a lot of work by Congress.  For example, no agreement was reached on revenue increases through taxes or closing corporate tax loopholes.  Nothing was agreed to change medicare or social security.  No progress was made on extending unemployment benefits, and many other major issues facing America today were left for Congress to address.

The two focused on areas of agreement. Paul Ryan was happy with the fact that he did not give up anything insofar as Republican policies.  He stated that those policies were to reduce the deficit and not allow tax increases, both of which fit within the boundaries of the budget compromise.  Patty Murray explained that the compromise stays away from medicare and social security changes.

Both Ryan and Murray say they conversed with members of their own party about the agreement and believe they will have the support to get the agreement through both Houses before holiday recess.  Speaker John Boehner was heard to say that he was still planning to adjourn this week for holiday, so if he fails to bring the agreement up for a vote, it should not be a surprise.

Some ultraconservative members of the Republican caucus believe that the sequester was a good thing and are not interested in altering that.  It still remains a question as to whether there are enough like-minded opposition members to prevent such a budget bill from passing if it makes it to a vote.

So we find ourselves with an agreement between some members of Congress that adds back some of the cuts made by the sequester, but leaves most important issues around the budget open and much of the sequester cuts in effect.

Bringing the agreement up for a vote is only the first hurdle.  There is still  much more for Congress to discuss related to budget issues.  Inaction in Congress has shown itself to be an excellent mechanism to carry out Republican goals now that the sequester is seen by conservatives as a viable domestic economic policy.

Based on the typical behavior of Congress, the chances of the compromise agreement becoming law is very low.  Even the chances of it being brought to the House floor is low.  Other issues just as important as the budget compromise are sill waiting for Boehner to bring them to the House.  Will the budget compromise be any different?

Maybe John Boehner and his gang of do-nothings will have finally found the motivation they need to take positive actions for the first time this year since they can do it for the benefit of their defense contractor constituents.

The military and defense contractors have the most to gain from the budget agreement, since it would ward off the next round of sequester cuts which took aim directly at military spending.  If carried out, the sequester would next be cutting $20 billion from the military, most of which would have been spent on the products of defense contractors.

This opportunity gives some small chance that Boehner's conservatives may try to rush a vote on the compromise agreement.  But then again, the holidays are coming and who wants to work during a holiday?

Monday, November 11, 2013

The real reason Republican leadership hates ObamaCare

The Affordable Care Act (which is now law) provides health insurance to nearly 30 million Americans who did not previously have it.  It requires health insurance companies to treat Americans fairly.  It mandates a set of health insurance standards to ensure that Americans understand the kind of coverage they are getting.  It eliminates "junk" insurance that does not truly provide helpful coverage.  It provides Americans with a known set of insurance coverages which they have the freedom to choose from.

The law provides subsidies to those families and individuals who could not otherwise afford sensible coverage.  It prevents insurance companies from denying insurance for individuals with pre-existing conditions.  It prevents insurance companies from dropping individuals when their illness becomes too costly to the insurance company.  It provides women with free preventive care for such things as PAP smears.  It allows children to remain on their parent's insurance policy until they are 26 years old.  It eliminates lifetime caps and ensures Americans can remain insured during catastrophic illnesses.  It provides for rebates to insured Americans if their insurance company charges more than 20% of their premium price for management and administrative costs.

The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that the Affordable Care Law will return money to
the economy.  They found that repealing the law would increase the deficit by 108 billion over 10 years.  It has been estimated that the increase in the number of patients will add a windfall of profits to doctors, hospitals and medical device manufacturers.  That profit is estimated to be so high, that most medical device manufacturers have agreed to pay the government back over 80 billion dollars in ten years.  The rise in the patient population is said to be good for jobs.

Where expanded medicaid is implemented in the states, it will cover the very poor and improve state economies not only by preventing costly emergency room visits by the uninsured, but also by providing states with 100% of the cost involved in implementing it in the first three years and 90% of the cost in all future years.

The well being and pursuit of happiness of Americans that is guaranteed by our constitution will improve for millions and millions of Americans because of the law.  So what is the real reason that Republican leadership hates it?

We have heard Republican complaints that people will lose their jobs, businesses will  reduce full time employees and death panels led by the Obama administration will decide who lives and dies because of the law.  Is any of it true or is it just more Republican fear mongering?  You can rest assured that none of it is true and it is just more Republican fear mongering.

Fox news has assisted in this fear mongering by inviting a few guests who have misrepresented their situations so as to appear affected by the law, but when investigated by outside impartial observers, have been found to be mistaken.  Fox news' Sean Hannity has had several staged shows where his invited "audience" of Fox news reporters make stuff up to continue the lie that ObamaCare is the worst thing ever.

We know that Republicans hate ObamaCare.  They have proven it over 40 times when they have wasted taxpayer money to try to repeal it unsuccessfully.  Ted Cruz, that Canadian born Tea Party Senator, has even given a performance in a "filibuster of nothingness" to show his determination that ObamaCare is bad.  He's made millions by conning the American public to support his efforts with contributions in television ads.

So lets get down to it.  The real reason Republican leaders hate ObamaCare has a lot to do with Republican leadership's commitment to a decision they made as a group while President Obama was being inaugurated in 2009.  They all agreed to make the President ineffective in any way they could.  During his first term, Mitch McConnell publicly announced that their most important goal was to make Obama a one term President.

Failing that, they continued to support their goal that this President's legacy will show that he accomplished nothing during his terms in office.  Republicans in Congress have used their power of filibuster, obstruction and majority rule in the House to prevent passage of everything proposed by the Democrats and the President.  The 112th and 113th Congresses, both of which have had Republicans controlling the House, have been the least effective in the history of the United States, passing no substantial legislation in either session.  But that is their goal and they are accomplishing it very effectively, regardless of the impact it has on America.

They are hopeful that when time passes and the memory of their personal acts of destruction to America are forgotten, what history will record is that the first black American President could not accomplish anything.  They are counting on the fading memories of Americans who know about their actions and the ones who don't know the difference in the legislative branch and the executive branch, to wrongly see the President as ineffective.  Their hope is to never allow a black Democrat to become elected President again.  Somehow, their perverse and some would say, bigoted ideas about this appear to them to be the thing that returns public opinion and favoritism to Republican candidates for the office.

The one thing that saves President Obama from this is ObamaCare and Republicans hate that fact.  They hate that all of their efforts may be for nothing unless this ObamaCare law is erased from history.  And so it has become the most important thing that Republicans can target in order to accomplish their goal.

Americans must begin to see the truth about ObamaCare.  They must see the lies coming from the Republican party.  Any party that is willing to take such devious actions and sacrifice Americans to carry out their partisan goals does not deserve to be in office.

Your vote is the key to returning decency to government.  I urge you to vote Democrat in all elections.  

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

GOP says government could open if only Dems would cave on medicare, social security, ObamaCare and social safety net

Eric Cantor
Congressional GOP leaders announced today that the government could re-open provided Democrats were willing to discuss fiscal issues important to the GOP.  Essentially, they have proposed a new fiscal super committee composed of Republicans and Democrats to discuss government funding on condition of cuts to social security funding, medicare funding and Obamacare funding.  Wait, didn't the original super-committee fail after months of such discussions?  Plain and simply this is just more fooling around  that we don't have time for.  We are headed for a financial crisis.  Why don't Republicans get it?

They are so generous!  Imagine, they are willing to discuss cutting or reducing funding not only for Obamacare, but now also social security, medicare and other social safety net programs before they
will consider opening the government.  Of course, their pre-requisite is that tax loopholes, tax subsidies and any new taxes are off the table.  What a plan!  Are you seeing the pattern here?  Republicans are the hostage takers.  All they need to do is pass a clean continuing resolution but they won't allow a vote on it.  They have to use this as a mechanism to pass their party's legislation.  Legislation which was rejected when we ended Mitt Romney's political career.

Republicans are hopeful that their simple-minded followers as well as other gullible voters might see this as a real genuine offer to get the government funded and avoid a debt ceiling crisis. Can they be so arrogant?   If any Democrats go for this idea our government is finished.  Remember, we don't negotiate with terrorists!  One outcome of this fiasco should be for the ethics committees in Washington to change their rules so that doing harm to America is not allowed as a negotiation tactic.

The GOP should do the right thing and pass a continuing resolution that funds the government now and immediately after, approve the debt ceiling increase.  Then there would be time to sit down and talk about fiscal issues.   However, if Republicans insist that revenue is off the table, there will be no discussions.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

When did extortion become synonymous with negotiation?

In an earlier post, called "A Republican to English Dictionary" I tried to unmask the language that our Republicans leaders use in conversation so that America could know that their words are hiding ulterior motives for their actions.  You can see that blog here.

After listening to John Boehner speaking with George Stephanopoulos this morning, it has become apparent that Republicans think they are negotiating when they are actually using extortion.

Boehner insisted that the government shutdown and any damage done by defaulting on our debts would be the President's and Harry Reid's fault because they "refuse to talk."

John Boehner
Boehner explained that Republicans were united in making the decision to use the continuing resolution to force a discussion around cutting the social safety net, social security, medicare and Obamacare.  This is even more than was originally planned, since only Obamacare was used in the Republicans' original threats.  When asked if Republicans would negotiate on new revenue he emphatically refused, saying that the President already got his new revenue and there would be no new taxes.

Mr. Stephanopoulos reiterated the advice of economic experts about how economically destructive defaulting on our loans would be.  He asked Boehner if he was willing to let this happen.  Boehner used his often repeated comment during the interview, that "it would be the President's fault" if we did.  It was clear that even if the President gave in to the Republicans extortion of America and sat down to talk with them, he would have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Is this politics as usual or is something running amuck here?

If someone threatens you with global economic disaster unless you meet their demands, most people would think you are a terrorist.  Republicans think it is just everyday negotiating.  The Republican mind is a curious thing.

In the 2012 Presidential elections, Republicans campaigned on reversing all Obama-era legislation, changing medicare, revamping social security, cutting the social safety net, giving government welfare to the rich, reducing legislation on business and repealing Obamacare on the first day Romney took office.  And then they lost the election.  The majority of Americans do not support those policies but that does not stop Boehner from stating publicly that current Republican threats are just "doing what America wants", proving Republicans are stupid as well as stubborn.

In America there is a way to change laws.  It follows democratic principles; not the terrorist handbook.  Republicans have failed when using the democratic method to defund Obamacare over 40 times.  So now they seem content with using tactics that threaten the economic health of America.

Americans know that our government does not negotiate with terrorists.  Why should we stop when the terrorists are Republicans?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Reid to GOP: Give up and become reasonable...(that'll never work.)

Senator Harry Reid (D)
Democrat Senate majority leader Harry Reid sent a letter to John Boehner today asking for a reasonable end to the government closing forced by the unreasonable demands of Republicans.  You can see the entire letter here.

To paraphrase, Senator Reid explains that the actions to close the government are an undeserved consequence of Republican actions which should never have been attempted.

Senator Reid wants Mr. Boehner to become reasonable and pass the Senate version of the clean continuing resolution after which Senator Reid promises to name nominees to a budget conference which he says can start as soon as the government re-opens.

In a nutshell, Harry Reid is asking Republicans to give up their master accomplishment, shutting down the government, in order to behave as reasonable people and compromise on government funding after they wake the government "monster" back up.

There are a number of reasons why Harry Reid's request will not be successful.   However, he doesn't see it because he is a reasonable person who simply doesn't appear to understand the nature of the Republican mind.

First, the radical wing of the Republican party is instigating the government shutdown because they are
anarchists whose purpose is to eliminate government.  They are actually happy that the government is shut-down.  Because they have the ear of some simple-minded citizens and because they have tremendous amounts of cash coming in from like-minded anarchists, they control the Republican party right now.

Their plan all along has been to get the government into this precarious situation.  The first step was to obstruct all Obama era legislation.  The accomplishments of the 112th and 113th Congress since Republicans have been in control of the House are devoid of any substantial legislation.  They are the two worst in the history of the United States.

Next they planned to starve government by allowing the sequester to happen. This was a Republican tactic from the beginning.  John Boehner reminded us of how favorably Republicans see the sequester when he commented that their plan for the continuing resolution keeps the "savings brought about by the sequester."

They saw their next obstacle to government shutdown in Obamacare.  They realized that implementing this program might squash or set their agenda back.  Even their own constituents, as simple-minded as some of them are, might realize that affordable healthcare is something that they want and need from government.  So in their minds this program must be destroyed.

And that brings us to where we are today.  Republicans happy with the damage they have done to America so far, won't be completely satisfied until Obamacare is gone and they will do everything from spreading lies and rumors to creating legislation in Republican controlled states to block it,  blame it, and make it look responsible for their devious behavior.
Congressman Ryan (R)

House Speaker John Boehner (R)
Not only will Boehner not accept Harry Reid's offer, Republicans will allow the government shut down to persist until the next Republican manufactured crisis; the debt ceiling.

It was Paul Ryan who enthusiastically lectured Republicans on live TV just as the government was shutting-down, that the next hostage to use to get their way was the debt ceiling.

So expect the shut down to last at least until then and be prepared for economic melt-down if Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage.  Economists have compared the damage done by a government shut down to the damage done by defaulting on our debts as the difference between a hand grenade and global nuclear war.

But maybe that is what Republicans want.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Republicans reduce demands for releasing the government hostage, but the threat of shutdown continues

John Boehner
When House Republicans started the debate over the continuing resolution to fund the government they started their bargaining at the high end.  Not only would ObamaCare have to be defunded, but nearly all of the Mitt Romney economic policies he campaigned on were added to the pot.  The Democrats in the Senate would not hear any of it, so they stripped everything out of the House bill except for the continuing resolution itself and returned it to the House.

Democrat majority leader Harry Reid forewarned House Republicans that any bill sent in response that included any changes to ObamaCare would be "dead on arrival" to the Senate chamber.  That didn't stop the Republicans on their second volley attempt at modifying the bill.

Late Saturday night, House Republicans reduced their requirements to two major ones related to ObamaCare.  They are now seeking a one year delay in the introduction of the program and elimination of a 2.3% tax on medical device manufacturers which was a requirement of ObamaCare funding.  Although this reduction in demands may be seen by the Republican base as a serious offer, it is unlikely to be met with anything but refusal when the bill goes to the Senate.

Neither the Senate nor the House is expected to be in session on Sunday, so it is almost certain that the government will shutdown unless a new bill can be drafted and passed by both chambers of Congress on Monday, September 30.

In an apparent concession that the government will close down, Republicans also passed a bill that would continue uniformed military pay in the event of a government shutdown.

As always, Republicans have been cunning in formulating strategies to advance their political agenda.  One Republican Congressman interviewed by MSNBC indicated that the goal of the one year delay was to allow time for Republicans to regroup and win the Senate back in 2014 when they could take care of the whole deal with ObamaCare.  A comment that made one think they planned to eliminate the program as soon as they were in control of both Houses.

The 2.3% medical device tax was a requirement of ObamaCare on medical device manufacturers' profits.  At the time of creation, legislators and manufacturers agreed that ObamaCare, with all of the new patients being covered, would give a windfall of new profits to all medical industries, some of which should be used to help fund the program.  Other medical industries agreed that between $60 billion and $80 billion was a fair amount to return for the increased revenue from ObamaCare over ten years.  The medical device industry however, has said that the 2.3% tax would be damaging to their industry and have spent over $150 million on lobbyists trying to get out of the deal.  If Republicans were successful in removing the proceeds from this tax, ObamaCare would essentially be defunded by some $35 billion over 10 years.

How long will it take Republicans to realize that Democrats just need a clean continuing resolution bill without attachments related to changes to ObamaCare?  Republicans have gone outside of the normal procedures of a democracy.  It is new ground that they are breaking by threatening harm to America unless they get their policies passed.  We can only hope that they do not repeat the same behavior when the debt ceiling comes up for a vote in the next few weeks.

Their actions during this President's term in office should give policy makers ample reason to justify legislation to reign in such harmful tactics by members of Congress.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ayn Rand would be proud of her Republican minions

Ayn Rand
Republicans in the House of Representatives have shown America yet again how they worship the teachings of Ayn Rand.  On Thursday this week, they introduced a bill to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program.

Although Ayn Rand is dead, her philosophies and narrow understanding of life are promoted today by organizations that target the youth of America.

Taking lessons from the Nazi party, the Ayn Rand Institute and Objective Academic Center, both mass media organizations that spread Ayn Rand's ideas, attempt to plant the seed of societal discontent into the malleable minds of children.  Their intention is to create an army of brain-washed individuals who will give credence to Ayn Rand's teachings and may one day influence American society to accept and conform to Ayn Rand's teachings.

We saw an example of how effective this method is when Congressman Paul Ryan, who himself was introduced to Ayn Rand's philosophy as a child, mentioned her teachings as the guidance he used to
Paul Ryan's Budget
create the Ryan budget.  The Ryan budget strips funding for social welfare programs and instead funds  corporate welfare.  This is in line with Ayn Rand's teachings of survival of the fittest, where the rich deserve entitlements while the poor must be punished for their poverty.  

Republicans had the opportunity to introduce this food stamp bill because they separated it from the Farm Bill, which has historically been paired with the food stamp program.  The farm part of the farm bill was passed and offered $80 billion in government subsidies and insurance protections to wealthy farmers.  The food stamp program was separated from the farm bill because Republicans were not satisfied with the $4 billion in food stamp cuts the Democrats offered.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assists people in poverty temporarily by providing food stamps which are used for groceries.  Thursday's vote, which had no Democrat supporters, would strip $40 billion over ten years from the food stamp program.  It is estimated that this would cut up to 3.8 million people from the program.    About 75% of SNAP benefits are received by families with  children.  Sixteen percent of recipients are disabled.  Nine percent of recipients are the elderly.  It is estimated that only about 67% of the people eligible for food stamps actually participate in the program, so it is possible that even more food stamps might be needed if some families were placed into a little more financial stress.  This is not the time to be reducing SNAP benefits.

Republicans only publicly admitted reason they needed this huge cut was to eliminate fraud from the
Eric Cantor
program.  The "welfare queen" concept invented by an exaggeration of Ronald Reagan over 30 years ago is still a large part of the Republican mind set.  Eric Cantor explained in typical "out-of-touch" Republican style, that no one would be denied food stamps if they got a job.  This really missed the point.  Not only is there already a work requirement to the food stamp program which most families receiving aid are already compliant with, but the largest number of food stamp recipients are children, the handicapped and the elderly.  And this doesn't even consider that there is only 1 job for every three job seekers in today's economy.

It has been estimated that there may be about $750 million or 1% of operating costs in food stamp fraud each year.  So why would Republicans want to cut $4 billion a year out of the program?   Because the poor do not vote Republican.  Why would Republicans continue to give wealthy corporate farmers government assistance when they take it away from the really needy?  My guess is because Ayn Rand taught them that people are only as valuable and deserving as they are rich.

It is remarkable how closely Republican actions mimic the teaching of Ayn Rand.  From hating government to hating the poor, it appears that the Hitler youth of the Ayn Rand generation have grown up and infiltrated American government.  Ayn Rand's socially unjust philosophies hide beneath the idea of capitalism.  She is advocating anti-Christian and hateful actions by giving permission and excuses for them if you believe in capitalism.

While there is nothing wrong with capitalism as an economic policy, there is certainly something wrong when you partner it with hate, lack of compassion, unjust rewards and unjust punishments.  That is what is wrong with Ayn Rand's teachings and appears to also be what is wrong with Republicanism today.

It is unlikely that this SNAP bill will be approved by the Senate since Democrats are in the majority there, but once again it gives evidence of the true nature of Republicans in Congress.   Hopefully you are beginning to see the sense of voting these demons out of office.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Republicans will give Obama carte-blanche in his last two years as President

United we stand.  Divided we fall.

The absurdity that is running amuck in Congress is destined to stop soon.  This is not just wishful thinking.  I say this with  complete confidence.   Republicans in Congress will take the lead in ending their own misery with two last desperate actions to win favor with their wealthy constituents while betraying the rest of us, and this will signal the end.

Within the Republican party, members of the Tea Party caucus are deliberately choosing to end our government.  They have shown that they do not have a desire to compromise, do not want to create useful legislation and are even willing to cause an economic crisis if they don't get their way.  They have split their own party.  Tea Party leaders such as Canadian born Ted Cruz and his Cuban born father are leading simple-minded Tea Party members astray.
Ted Cruz

They claim that the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is the single most injurious program in the history of the world and must be stopped.  They blame the actions of unethical business owners, such as reducing full time employee hiring and cutting hours to avoid having to provide insurance to their employees, on Obama.  They asked for concessions to allow one more year for business owners to conform to healthcare regulations and requested exemption from the business mandated penalties and got them from Obama.  Now they claim that Obama is helping big business but denies the same exemption for individuals.  Politics and truth seem to be unfamiliar partners in Republican circles.

The first desperate action that Republicans will take is to offer a much monetarily reduced continuing resolution to keep the government running but will attach an amendment to defund ObamaCare.  This will pass the House but fail in the Senate.  After this useless legislation delay, Republicans will allow the government to shut down long enough to make the debt ceiling the next issue they can use as leverage to defund Obama Care.  Typically, they take actions that will hurt many Americans with the
aloof disregard of sociopaths.  

When it becomes painfully obvious that Republicans are hurting their own constituents with the government shut down, they will eventually pass a continuing resolution to fund the government.  You can bet that it will continue to contain articles to attack some aspect of Obama Care which Democrats may allow in order to continue governing.  My guess is that they will first propose a year exemption from the individual mandate penalty that will not be approved.  Then they will attach a demand for reduced employer contributions to the employee insurance premium.  That or something like it will probably pass.

With the government back in operation, a week or so later, Republicans will use the threat of not passing the debt ceiling as another attack on defunding ObamaCare.  Most members of Congress know that increasing the debt ceiling is needed in order to pay for debt obligations already made by Congress.  The last time increasing the debt ceiling was rejected by Republicans, America's credit rating dropped and the interest rate charged increased.  Increasing the interest on trillions of dollars in loans makes for a huge increase in our deficit.  Republicans never seem to remember how much they are personally responsible for "Obama's" deficit.

This time there will be no compromise and America will go into default on its loans for some period of time.  Then it will be a race to see which side will give in first.  Because of our already tight monetary policy, the economic health of America is sure to be hurt.  Federal Reserve Chair Bernanke has described this as a recession inducing action.  

If it appears that there is no compromise in sight, stocks will be affected and Americans 401K's will
Crash of 2013?
lose tremendous value.  Retirees can expect that their incomes from investments will be slashed and their standard of living will be drastically reduced.  The wealthy will remove their cash from the stock market and place it into tax sheltered off-shore accounts.  This will pull the market down even more.  A middle-class financial crisis could become the most severe in history and will signal the end of the middle-class in America.  When the middle-class is gone, business will be affected and the entire economic structure of the United States could undergo the greatest depression in our history.

Because of the potential economic damage to America and the world, I have to believe that Republicans will give up on their insistence to defund ObamaCare and pass the increase in the debt ceiling, especially when they realize that the world will see them as the cause of a world-wide depression.

But some damage will be done to the economy because Republicans won't give up their senseless acts of desperation in short order.  Because this will hurt their own wealthy Wall Street constituents, the Tea Party Republicans will be stifled and healthier Republican minds will prevail.

The future may bring civility back to governing.

Remember the next month when you are voting for your Congressmen in the 2014 mid-term elections.  Let's hope righteousness is a powerful enough ideal and pervasive enough in our voting public to overcome the evil that seems to have invaded Republican politics.

Your vote is the key.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What John Boehner did on his summer vacation

John Boehner
In a last ditch effort to scare the American public into thinking that Obamacare is the evil that will kill America as we know it, Speaker of the House, John Boehner has been very busy tweeting disparaging remarks about the Affordable Care Act law while on his summer vacation.

One of his most often repeated claims is that full time jobs are disappearing as a result of Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act, in an effort to not financially over-burden small businesses that may not be able to afford it, originally allowed a minimum employee requirement of at least 25 full time employees before a business must provide employee healthcare.  In order to compromise with Republicans, the law was later changed to require a minimum of at least 50 full time employees before insurance coverage was required.  Full time employees are defined as workers with at least 40 hours of work per week or 2080 hours of work per year.

This requirement was intended to protect businesses that may really be endangered financially if they were forced to provide insurance to their employees.   In other words, those businesses that may be forced out of business if they had to provide health insurance and could find no other way to save costs.  The Act also attempts to protect such fragile small businesses by providing tax credits of up to 50% of the non-elective contributions the employer made on behalf of its employees.

According to Boehner, businesses which do not fit the criteria are now using these allowances to side-step providing insurance for their employees.  Boehner cites one example of a business owner of 21 (yes, that's twenty-one) Subway restaurants who decided to reduce the hours of employees so that he could use the allowance to avoid having to provide health insurance.  Another report indicates that Wal-Mart is reducing full time employees and increasing part time employees (ten times more than last year) to keep costs down.  Apparently offering insurance is going to break the bank of the wealthiest family in the retail business.  Wal-Mart employs some of the lowest paid workers in the United States and in so doing are taking advantage of taxpayers who provide supplements to Wal-Mart employees wages in such programs as supplemental nutrition, medicaid, and increased medical premiums for unpaid medical bills.

It is odd that Boehner sees this as an Obamacare caused phenomenon instead of placing the blame where it belongs, on greedy and uncaring business owners.  I was struck by the statement of the wealthy subway owner who was quoted as saying "I know the impact that I am having on some of my employees."  The article left out the remaining thought that was obviously knocking around inside the owner's head but didn't come out...the one that goes something like "but I don't care."

Now there are plenty of studies that indicate the majority of employers are not side-stepping Obamacare  by taking what most would say are unethical steps to avoid it, so this rant that Boehner is taking may just be another Republican ruse that uses fear to deceive.  Republican leadership appears adamant to fight Obamacare by any unethical means possible, just as some unethical business owners are sure to use tactics that they have always used to avoid providing benefits for their employees.

The only fault I see with the Affordable Care Act law is the fact that there was a business allowance at all.  Short of being a single payer program, it should have required all business to provide insurance and perhaps give tax breaks based on the size of the business, with smaller businesses getting more of a tax break.  The temptation was too great for dishonest business owners to use it as a loop-hole and then flaunt their arrogance by blaming the law for their unethical behavior.

So let's call it like it is Mr Speaker.  You can't blame Obamacare for the unethical actions of your constituents.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

John Boehner's August 1st press conference a precursor to expect more obstruction

John Boehner
I guess John Boehner has a weekly press conference even when there is nothing new to report.  I expected something new, but Boehner's introductory remarks and his answers to reporters seem only to be setting up America for more conflict and obstruction in Congress after the August recess.

To start the press conference he supported the efforts that Republican led committees were taking to get to the bottom of the so-called "scandals" of the Obama administration; the Benghazi incident and the IRS 501c auditing function.  Mentioning these things should tell America where John Boehner and Congressional Republican  priorities are.  And it's not with job creation, as they claim.

He blamed President Obama personally for the unacceptable pace of economic growth and indicated that the President's blockage of the Keystone pipeline prevents "tens of thousands" of American jobs.  He scolded the President for this being "no laughing matter" alluding to the President's recent speech where he claimed that the Keystone pipeline would only create about 50 jobs.  Boehner did not go into any details at all about Republican plans for real growth and jobs other than indicating that they had one.  Giving details on that plan would have been real news, if one really exists.

Boehner also blames Obama for denying that America has a spending problem and believes that there will be no prosperity until deficits and debt are under control.  He accuses President Obama of not being a leader and expects him to work with Republicans to essentially bend to their will.  (I'm paraphrasing.)

Apparently Mr. Boehner does not realize that under Obama our deficit has come down more than ever anticipated, government jobs have been reduced to the lowest levels since the President came into office and much of the social safety net spending has been cut.

What he also fails to see is that government subsidies to the wealthy, tax loopholes and favoritism for the one percent and decreased regulation around business also come under the category of government spending, but he never calls for those areas to be cut.  So Mr. Boehner, you are not really against government spending, as long as the spending goes on your party's constituents.  And you think Obama denies there is a spending problem?

Boehner says that sequestration will continue until the President cuts "reforms" (perhaps a slip of the tongue because I think he meant social programs) to allow the sequester to be replaced.

He indicated that he did not know if repealing Obama Care would be tied to debt ceiling discussions but also replied to another question by saying that appropriation bills would not be completed by September 30th.  Conveniently, this is about when deficit talks need to be finalized.  So I'm thinking Republicans are going to use either the debt ceiling or the appropriations bills as leverage to get what they want.

In an explanation to one reporter of how Congress should work Boehner said "All bills do not have to pass." and "There are more members participating in Congress than ever before."  It appears Boehner believes Congress should be all talk and no action.

Somehow, I think America expects more from its Congress.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Legal action against Congressional Republicans is overdue

They wanted to make him a one term President.  In a clandestine  meeting they conspired to block every piece of legislation that supported his policies so he would be ineffective as a President.  They lied about his intentions during the 2012 Presidential campaign.  They continually lie about the Affordable Care Act and have voted to repeal it 37 times.  They have even voted against their own legislation when it is clear that Obama supports it.

The obstruction happening in Congress is solely due to Republicans who hate Obama more than they love America.  The most frustrating thing is that not all of America is as angry at Republicans as Republicans in Congress are with President Obama.

Because this Republican obstruction is a conspiracy that is intentionally designed to be destructive to America, Republicans in Congress are guilty of the crimes of "Conspiracy to Obstruct"  and "Conspiracy to Defraud."

The following is the legal explanation of "Conspiracy to Obstruct" (18 U.S.C. 371).

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

The following is the legal explanation of "Conspiracy to Defraud" 

Section 371 contains both a general conspiracy prohibition and a specific obstruction conspiracy prohibition in the form of a conspiracy to defraud proscription. The elements of conspiracy to defraud the United States are: (1) an agreement of two more individuals; (2) to defraud the United States; and (3) an overt act by one of conspirators in furtherance of the scheme.  The "fraud covered by the statute ‘reaches any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful functions of any department of Government” by “deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.” The scheme may be designed to deprive the United States of money or property, but it need not be so; a plot calculated to frustrate the functions of a governmental entity will suffice.

Debt ceiling discussions are coming up again in the fall.  Raising the debt ceiling is necessary to allow America to pay debts that Congress has already made.  Republicans have already threatened to use the debt ceiling as leverage to get the administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke and other financial experts have indicated to Congress, that blocking the debt ceiling increase will lead to a serious recession.

If Republicans go ahead with this threat it will do severe damage to the United States economy with their full approval.  This is more than ordinary politics.  It is akin to a terrorist threat that means to do harm to America.

If Republicans block debt ceiling increases, Attorney General Eric Holder would be correct to bring them up on criminal charges.  Republicans in Congress have so far escaped legal action for their conspiracy against the United States, but they are no longer legitimate politicians.  If they place America into default on its debts they have entered into the realm of disobedience to law and deserve to be held accountable.  

The chances of legal action against them are slim but you can do something about them.  Write them, call them and tell others how you feel about their actions.  Doing this now may help avoid disaster.  Don't wait until it's too late and you are personally affected by their actions.

At the very least, please vote them out of office in the 2014 mid-term elections and help get government working for all the people and not against them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The straw that breaks the elephants back?

President Obama taught Americans about demand side economics today in a speech designed to kick-start action in Congress and allow Republicans to show they are serious about John Boehner's so far empty slogan "...Republicans most important action is to create jobs, jobs, jobs."  His presentation was inspiring and showed his sincere concern for America's middle class as well as his understanding about real solutions to initiating economic prosperity for all Americans.

Specifically he spoke about and elaborated on the cornerstones of improving the economy.  These are:

1. Good Jobs with decent wages and benefits.  His efforts will be towards recognizing companies that keep jobs in America and treat their employees fairly.

2. Education programs to prepare children for global competition.  He spoke about the need for pre-school for all 4 year olds; improving school infrastructures; reversing the student loan rate increase and making college affordable for all Americans.

3. Home ownership.  He wants to encourage ownership based on solid foundation of fair and clear rules and asked Congress to take action to encourage families to refinance at low rates.

4. Secure retirement.  He believes America has an upside down system where the wealthy get generous tax exceptions to save but the lower classes do not get the same breaks.  He wants to allow the middle class to save money and belay fears of poverty in retirement.  He reminded Congress that passing immigration reform makes undocumented workers pay their taxes and shores up social security.

5. Health Care focus.  He wants Americans to have security in knowing neither accident nor illness will cause you to lose your savings.  The affordable care act means a better deal for people.  Private insurers will compete for your business.  Pre-existing conditions will have to be covered.  Health care costs are being driven down.  Some states are finding that premiums will  be 50% lower.  The Affordable care act ensures health insurance coverage for 26 year olds under their parents plan.  He does not know why Republicans want to repeal such a benefit for people.

6. Rebuild opportunity for those who have not made it.  The President believes that too many are still in poverty.  He recognizes that America does not guarantee success and people need to be self-reliant.  But he wants there to be a quality of opportunity and upward mobility available for everyone.  The American idea is that you can make it if you work hard, but opportunity is harder to find over the last 30 years.  We must do more to give every American the chance to make it to the middle class.
He wants to rebuild run down neighborhoods.  He again calls for raising the minimum wage.  He believes economic growth will benefit everyone when it comes from the middle class out and not top down.  Even without Congress he says he will do whatever is in his power to focus on that philosophy.  He is calling on the private sector to step up and for Democrats to redesign or get rid of non-workable programs.

7. Republicans must work with the President to find common ground.  President Obama thinks there are Republicans who privately agree with his policies in Congress now but they are afraid of retribution from their party.  He identifies Republicans in Congress as the greatest obstruction that hampers economic growth.  Republicans must now lay out their ideas.  He reminds them that you can't just be against something.  He insists they must be for something.  He is ready to work with Republicans if they have any ideas.  He says if Republicans have any better  ideas then they should stop taking ludicrous repeal votes and share their ideas with the country.  The President will not accept deals that do not meet the test of strengthening hard working families.

Still focused on the Republican obstruction in Congress,  the President says that doing nothing will lose a part of the character of America.  The American dream will be lost and the position of the middle class will erode further.  Money politics will destroy our country more.  Fundamental optimism will give way to cynicism.  He warns "that's not the vision of America we should settle for."

The President appeals to the moral compass of Republicans to stop the fighting in order to think about the American way of life.  Making America special is not to focus on making the few wealthy.  It's about making America benefit.  It's an American dream; not Obama's dream or Sally's dream or John's dream.

Unfortunately, demand side economics flies in the face of Congressional Republicans view of the
pathway for economic success.  According to Republicans since Ronald Reagan, supply side economics is the way to trickle down prosperity to the lower levels of society.  This means bolstering the wealthy with tax cuts and government money while reducing government spending on the public infrastructure and reducing government spending that benefits the weakest in society.

One must remember that Republican majority leader John Boehner assigned Paul Ryan to create their proposed budget.  Paul Ryan is a firm believer in Ayn Rand's anti-Christian policies of survival of the fittest.  As such his proposed budget slashes government programs that benefit the general public and the poorest in society in favor of tax cuts and government subsidy entitlements for the wealthiest Americans.  Even though Republicans will stand fervently united in their faith of supply side economics, economists have identified the undeniable fact that only the wealthy benefit from it.

From demand comes business profits.  Without demand, businesses will hold onto their cash reserves, remove jobs to be more in line with decreased demand and find cheaper ways to produce their products.

This is exactly what we have seen in the rush to manufacture in foreign countries, finding cheaper foreign workers, suppressing unions, hiring temporary and part-time workers instead of higher paid full time employees and keeping wages for Americans low.  Without demand, any business would not survive.  American workers who are the product consumers provide businesses with that demand.  Bolstering the working class would benefit businesses and improve the economy for everyone.

So will Republicans rally around President Obama's vision of economic prosperity?  My opinion is that they would rather ruin our economy by disallowing debt ceiling increases than changing this basic misunderstanding that they have about economics.

So what will the President's speech accomplish if our government is still obstructed by Republicans?  Perhaps I give more credit to the American voter than is due, but I believe this speech will setup the failure of Republicans in the 2014 mid-term elections.  Any thinking American voter will understand the concept and should be fed up with Republican obstruction.

This speech may be the straw that breaks the elephants back.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are unions really the bad guys?

Allow no compromise!
The longer I live in America the more I realize that politicians like to take sides.  It seems the culture is one where there are winners and losers but very few opponents, at least in modern day politics, who share success.

Look at Congressional Democrats and Republicans.  They have lost the ability to compromise on most everything.  It takes extreme measures to come to agreement.  Each party is at opposite sides of the political spectrum.   There are very few moderates who can empathize with the other side.  Progress in Washington has become stuck in needless competition for the most political points at the expense of America.  Anything is possible and it seems the important thing to most politicians is to propel their party to success in upcoming elections.  Deceiving the public is no exception.

Republicans stand with the wealthy.  Democrats stand with the middle class and poor.  Republicans support management.  Democrats support workers.  Republicans support a right to life.  Democrats support freedom of choice.  Republicans stand with the NRA.  Democrats want to protect families from gun violence.  Republicans want to end the National Labor Relations Board while Democrats support it as the only means left for American worker's grievances to be heard.  Democrats introduced worker union protections with the Wagner Act.  Republicans reduced worker union protections with the Taft-Hartley Act.

Senator Rand Paul
Today I received a mailing from Rand Paul asking me to petition my Senators, Congressmen, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to support the National Right to Work Act because (and I quote) "union lobbyists, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their allies are going to use every trick in the book to bury the National Right to Work Act."

Sounds very serious.  Why would the Democrats want to prevent someone from having a right to work?

As I read further into the mailing I soon realized that the real trickster was Rand Paul.  The name of the Act is a misnomer.  The Act deceives the American public into thinking that unions make people pay to work, when its real intention is to weaken employee protections by the further erosion of union membership.  Republicans in government hate unions and since Ronald Reagan have successfully hoodwinked the American public into believing they are the bad guys causing lots of problems with the economy.  Republicans hate of unions rises from the fact that unions protect the labor force.  Labor is a cost to business owners and Republicans in Congress represent business owners.

The Wagner Act became law in 1935.  It established the National Labor Relations Board and legally established the right to organize unions.  Unions were established by Congress as an employee protection against existing unfair practices by their employers.  These practices included such things as harsh working conditions, long hours, low pay, unsafe working conditions, workplace health risks and child labor.  These things really happened and at one time Congress sought to protect American workers from it.  In fact if you don't think it can ever happen again, just look at current working conditions in  factories in China, Bangladesh and India which are used by American manufacturers.  American CEOs are still looking for the cheapest labor and least government labor regulations in order to decrease costs so executive management can profit more.  There is no concern for the safety of employees in those countries and American CEO's know it.

Then in 1946 Republicans won both the Senate and the House.   They acted quickly to reduce employee union membership and further erode the unified voice that American workers had by passing the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 over President Truman's veto.  This act banned "closed union shops" and encouraged "right to work" laws.  The act gave management new weapons while restricting union activities.

Now just based on those two historical events, the reader should understand that Republicans support the management side of the equation and Democrats support the employee.  For Rand Paul to attempt to make people believe anything else is dishonest.  Any labor act introduced by Republicans will only reduce employee benefits in order to protect wealthy business owners.

Yet Rand Paul wants workers to believe that unions are greedy self-interested groups of mobsters and union dues bankroll tax-and-spend politicians and fund a "limousine lifestyle" for union "bigwigs."  How deceitful!

Rand Paul's Act proposes amending the NLR Act (National Labor Relations Act, a.k.a. Wagner Act)  and the Railway Labor Act in several places.  All amendments would change the current law with the major intention of reducing union membership by making it possible for non-union members to be hired in a union shop.  These non-union members would not pay union dues and still work under contracts negotiated by the existing union.  Paul's Act would allow all states to decide whether they should be pro-labor union or anti-labor union.

Senator Paul uses reverse psychology to make current law sound as though it takes something away from employees since their right to represent themselves to management is not present in current law.  This is completely opposite of the purpose of the law and unions themselves.  Employees could not protect themselves from employers in the first place and that is why unions were allowed by law.  Union negotiations and union actions are made much less successful when a large number of employees in a union shop do not belong to the union.  The protections of workers is seriously reduced as a result.

Senator Paul also believes that most workers would be better off if they do not have to pay union dues.  As he puts it workers are forced to pay union dues to keep their jobs.  Apparently he believes having the few dollars more in a paycheck that union dues would represent is better than having union protections for the average worker.

So what evidence do we have that workers in anti-labor union states are better off than pro-labor union states?   How do the anti-labor union "right to work" (RTW) states fair in comparison to pro-labor union states?

Anti-labor union states
The states where Republican legislatures have passed RTW laws is shown in the map and are shaded with greenish color.

RTW anti-labor union states on average have a 3.2% lower wage than pro-labor union states.  Because wages are lower, some manufacturers are moving their operations to the RTW anti-labor union states and so the statistic sometimes quoted by RTW states is that business is increasing its presence in their states.  Do you think the move to RTW states by business is due to more protections for that state's workers?  Or could it be some other reason, like reduced labor costs?  The AFL-CIO says that wages in RTW states are about $5600/year less than pro-labor union states.

Employers that have health insurance plans is about 2.6% lower in the RTW states and amounts to about two million less workers covered by health insurance nationally.  Employer sponsored pensions are about 4.8% lower in RTW states.  If workers in pro-labor union states were to receive pensions at this lower rate, 3.8 million fewer workers nationally would have pensions.

Republicans have been working for decades to erode labor laws so that their constituents, big business executives, can increase their share of the wealth in the United States.  They are not doing it for the protection of the labor force and don't let them tell you differently.

UPDATE: As with a lot of their policies, despite their phony rhetoric about saving America, there is an ulterior motive for Republicans desire to remove Unions from America.  Unions are the greatest political lobbying groups that working class Americans have against the vast array of conservative lobbyist groups.  Unions represent working class Americans.  By removing Unions, Republicans are removing all of their competition from the political money arena.   Especially with the Citizens United decision that gave big money the ability to buy politicians, this makes a huge difference in elections and increases the chances that Republicans will get elected.  This is not a coincidence.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fed Chairman Bernanke's report to Congress

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke met today with Congressional leaders of the Financial Services Committee to report on the Federal Reserve's take on the state of the economy and Federal Reserve actions in that regard.

In an introductory statement Mr. Bernanke made it clear that the fiscal policy that legislators have chosen to take has been a detriment to the economic recovery.  In an effort to acknowledge the impact that a dysfunctional Congress has on the economy, he highlighted that tight fiscal policy will restrain economic growth.  He warned that political fights over raising the debt ceiling as has happened in the past would hamper the recovery.  Although a few of the Congressmen on the committee appeared to understand the importance Congress has in assisting in the recovery, it is still to be seen if Congressional Republicans take this guidance into consideration as they enter discussions about raising the debt ceiling, ending sequester or resurrecting the American Jobs Act.

Bernanke believes the economy is recovering at a moderate pace.  He cited the improvements in the housing market as contributing to economic gains and predicted this would continue to improve notwithstanding recent mortgage interest gains.

He believes the labor market is improving gradually and contributed a 0.1% drop in the unemployment rate to the Fed's policies of buying assets.  He admits that job growth has a long way to go to be considered satisfactory.  As I have stated in previous blogs, I question the impact that buying assets really has on the job market especially because it does nothing to increase demand for products and services.  It does have an important impact on the stock market as we have seen investors sell off stocks and bonds when Bernanke hinted that the asset purchase program was going to be discontinued.

Understanding the emotional nature of the stock market, Bernanke was careful not to repeat the mistake of hinting at a change in the asset program at the committee meeting.  He emphatically stated that the current asset purchase program will continue and monetary policy will be "accommodative" for the foreseeable future.  As of noon today the US markets appeared to be unaffected by Bernanke's comments.

In order to help prevent another Bush era financial collapse of the big banks, Fed policy is to prevent  collapse by increasing the requirement for cash reserves under what is called Basel III capital reforms.

 In summary, Bernanke explained three mechanisms that the Fed is using to support economic growth.  These are mortgage asset purchases, forward guidance on Fed plans for the federal fund rate target and Basel III capital reforms.

Based on the comments at the committee meeting, it appears obvious that the Fed needs a lot of help from Congress to revitalize the economy.  Bernanke's warning about Congressional actions around fiscal policy may have been his cry for help.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Harry Reid is giving Senate Republicans one more chance before launching the nuclear option

Senator Harry Reid
Senate majority leader Harry Reid entered closed door session Monday evening with Minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Senators interested in avoiding the "nuclear option" being threatened by Reid which would likely change Senate filibuster rules solely by Democratic votes.  

Because Republicans in the Senate have caused an unprecedented number of filibusters, some of which are directed toward obstruction of President Obama's appointments to key federal agencies, Reid has hinted that the rules around Presidential appointments might be changed to allow a simple majority vote for approval.  Currently, appointments must be approved by 2/3 of the Senate, or 67 Senators.  Additionally, the rules change could also reduce the number of votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

Reid's urgency to adopt a rules change is the result of the Republican disruption of government affairs.  There are a good number of federal agencies that cannot function properly without the appointees who are being blocked.  Republicans have publicly announced that they do not have a problem with the appointees, but they are opposing the appointments because they are trying to change the mandates of and prevent affected agencies from being effective.  To paraphrase, Republicans believe this conspiracy to obstruct government affairs is necessary in order to mold government into one that would better serve their constituents.

What has been disclosed about the meeting thus far indicates that no agreement has been reached that will prevent the nuclear option.   Senator Reid will test the stubborn determination of the Republicans in blocking President Obama's appointees by calling for a vote to approve some critical bureau appointees in Tuesday's Senate session.

Among these appointees is Richard Cordray, acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  If Republicans block this appointment, Reid will go ballistic and initiate the nuclear option.  It is not clear if Reid will still go nuclear if all of the previously blocked appointees are still blocked by Republicans.   See the details about the CFPB here.

During the meeting, some Republican Senators were still expecting to get the advantages they have been fighting for by offering empty compromises.  For example, they offered approving Richard Cordray provided the CFPB could be changed the way that Republicans wanted it.  

Reid has said that if the rules change is enacted, only Presidential appointments would be affected by the simple majority rule and not all Senate business.  Some are concerned that such a change could be used against Democratic  introduced legislation, such as ObamaCare if Republicans take the Senate majority after the 2014 elections.

Opinion is that the chance for the nuclear option is high, particularly because of the blockage of the appointees to the National Labor Relations board.  Republicans want to eliminate that agency and approving the appointees is the furthest thing from their minds.

Senator McCain is trying to strike up a deal with other Republicans and Senator Reid to stave off the nuclear option and is leaning toward approving the appointees.  Senator McCain was not sure what the outcome would be.

So we wait.  The one thing that seems most certain is this: if an agreement does not happen before tomorrow's vote and Republicans still block the appointments, the nuclear option will be used.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Issa committee is still wasting time and taxpayer money on the IRS non-scandal

Darrell Issa
Still wasting time and taxpayers money on the IRS non-scandal, Darrel Issa is attempting to redefine the fifth amendment for one last chance to find something to pin on someone.

On June 28th, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met to hold a markup session of a resolution that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when she made a voluntary opening statement at the May 22, 2013 full Committee hearing entitled "The IRS: Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs"

Just as an aside, doesn't the committee hearing's name give you the idea that Issa and his gang of numb-skulls have a pre-formed prejudicial view of the IRS that they are trying to impose on the rest of America?  I can't say that they are jumping to conclusions, but Republicans really have a knack for making our government appear to be the enemy.

Be it resolved then, that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have hereby found new interpretations to the intent of the Fifth Amendment.  I guess they read between the lines of the text of the amendment.

Let's see if you can find the same interpretation by reading the actual text of the amendment that follows.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

There are many rights stated in the amendment.  Did you find the hidden meaning that the Committee found?  If you did, then "taking the fifth" may mean something entirely different to you and may have more to do with imbibing a certain size of alcoholic spirits than constitutional law.

There is nothing in the amendment that indicates a person forfeits their fifth amendment right protecting them from being compelled to be a witness against themselves if they say anything in defense of themselves first.  

The simple truth is that Issa, frustrated that this attempt at a Republican generated conspiracy theory did not lead directly to the President's door, is trying to find some way of making his Committee's efforts appear something more than a waste of time.  

But they have been nothing more. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

How the rich will make $millions while avoiding the impending financial crisis

Ben Bernanke
When Fed commissioner Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed’s purchase of mortgage securities might be reduced if the economy continued to improve, he gave early warning to the 1% that they should cash out of the market and use one of their off-shore tax shelters to keep their money safe.

As a result, the market lost billions of dollars in the last two days when many wealthy investors cashed out.  The market doesn't look much better today.

I contribute the recent loss in the stock market directly to the one-per centers.  

This was not a case of middle-class investors cashing out their 401K’s because the penalty is too much to cash out a 401K.  It was not a case of investors moving their investments around because that would have had no net change impact on the market.  It was an outright removal of investment cash by selling while prices are still good.  The group of investors who can do this without tax consequence are the wealthiest people in America.  Other investors may soon follow in this selling frenzy now that the trend is sounding alarm bells.

Middle-class workers who try to save some of their pay in 401Ks have the most to lose. 
They do not have the freedom to cash out of the market without losing 40% of their cash to early withdrawal penalty tax.  They must weather the storm when disaster happens.  So when the billionaire investors got out of the market it caused the loss in value which will be to the detriment of middle-class owners of 401Ks.

In 2007 we saw the serious financial collapse of the market as millionaire’s and billionaire’s who had the freedom to remove their dollars from the market did so at a rapid-fire pace.  In that disaster middle-class Americans lost up to 50% of their savings in 401K’s.  

After only the last two days, the market has lost up to 5% of its value.  The trend seems to be continuing today.  If it continues to lose at this rate it will only take a month to repeat the 2007 disaster.

Do the wealthy believe that Bernanke’s security purchase program is really improving the employment situation?  Is that what is worrying them?  Of course not!  They are the job creators, so they should realize that increasing jobs only happens when there is an increase in product and service demand.  That is not happening.  So what are they worried about?  

They worry that Bernanke may be starting to realize that any increase in the economic outlook or jobs for America is really not due to his policies.  They are getting the idea that Bernanke will end security purchases even if the job situation and the economy does not improve.

Up until now, Bernanke’s policies have kept interest rates low and made it easy for investors to purchase stocks and bonds without fear.  The stock market usually does very well when interest rates are low and investors feel confident.  This undoubtedly favors the wealthiest investors.  

By removing that investor guarantee, Bernanke has decreased the certainty of profiting in the stock market.  And one thing the 1%’ers love more than anything is profit.  So they are willing to trash the rest of America and start the collapse of the market in order to preserve their beloved cash.

I expect that this free-fall in the stock-market will persist in the upcoming weeks as more and more of the wealthy catch on to what many of them have already deduced.  They will remove their cash from the market, shelter it off-shore and just wait it out.  When the market bottoms out, they will be ready to pounce on some really cheap stocks and the whole cycle will repeat itself.  That's how you make millions and avoid the financial crisis.

And for the millions of baby-boomers who are retiring, or about to retire, they can thank the wealthy for the additional burden that they will have in their old age as they try to find ways to stretch their greatly reduced nest eggs.  Even when the market comes back eventually, we will have lost whatever time it takes and this lost time will stunt financial growth.

I hope I am wrong.