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.