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LTE: Our Country And Our Veterans Deserve Better

During the Iraq war we air shipped, about 12 billion dollars in cash to Iraq and now we have trouble accounting for most of this money.  The top 10 percent of our population, that have 90 percent of the wealth, they may have an idea as to where some of this missing money is but I can tell you where it is not going!  We have returning servicemen that need jobs; some have none because when they left their job, it was guaranteed to be there; then when they came back, if the company moved out of the country, sorry no job and we allow this to happen.  The younger returning veterans, who had no job before leaving, are welcomed home to minimum wage jobs with family unfriendly benefits at a retail box store selling merchandise that is not made in this country.  We have politicians that want to lower or do away with the minimum wage, who is funding their campaign?  We have politicians that want more free trade agreements for us.  The last ones worked just fine, look at the unemployment numbers.  Ross Perot was correct about the giant sucking sound!  We have been deficit spending for more than 70 years, and now it has become a game for the rich or middle class to who will pay.  The Tea Party wants it paid back immediately without new taxes.  When this country becomes a divided rich and poor nation, we will become a weak nation just like the ones we try to help.  We need leaders, a truthful news media and zero lobbyist.

Joe Gallagher,
Manchester

Proving Once Again That Tax Cuts For The Wealthy “Job Creators” Do Not Work, S&P Lowers Kansas’s Credit Rating

"Kansas Apologizes" by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

Photo from October 30, 2010 “Rally to Restore Sanity” – by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

For decades, the right-wing has held fast to its belief that tax cuts can fix the economy and end government deficits.

Nevermind that the idea — cutting taxes would somehow increase government revenues? — never made much sense.

They’ve kept the faith, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Myself, I think it’s long past time for the right wing to give up on this theory. I mean: at some point, shouldn’t people be able to accept the evidence, even if it goes against their beliefs?

I mean, even Republican leaders eventually gave up on it.

CBPP_effects_of_KS_tax_cutsBut two years ago, the Tea Partiers down in Kansas decided to try, try again… and Governor Sam Brownback signed “one of the largest tax cut bills in Kansas history.”

Even though many Republicans in the state legislature opposed it. (Republican Senate President Steve Morris told the press: “It is not good public policy.” He also called the tax plan backed by the tea party “very reckless.”)

Since then, there has been no evidence of any economic boom. “Since the tax cuts took effect at the beginning of 2013, Kansas has added jobs at a pace modestly slower than the country as a whole. The earnings and incomes of Kansans have performed slightly worse than the U.S. as a whole as well.” (Read more here.)

And yesterday, the chickens came home to roost. Standard and Poor’s lowered the state’s credit rating, because of the tax cuts.

“The downgrades reflect our view of a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst David Hitchcock in a release.

The rating agency gave the state a “negative” outlook on both ratings and projects that the state will face serious budget woes by the end of fiscal year 2015.

But Brownback still didn’t seem to get the message. “We need jobs and we have proven the way to that is through lower taxes,” he told the press – even after the ratings downgrade.

State Representative Jim Ward: “When presented concrete evidence of a fiscal crisis … he denies it exists. He blames the people who bring the data. You cannot live in a world where you reject all information that doesn’t feed into your ideology.”

Except… it looks like some people can.

Guinta Attempts To Blame Shea-Porter For GOP Obstructionism In Washington

Frank Guinta’s Failed Attempt To Blame Shea-Porter for Tea Party Chaos

Guinta Snipes At Shea-Porter As Tea Party Wreaks Havoc In DC

Frank Guinta (Image by Mark Nassal)

Frank Guinta 2010 (Image by Mark Nassal)

MANCHESTER, NH — On Thursday afternoon, former Congressman Frank Guinta sent an email to supporters with subject line “They’re Leaving?” slamming Carol Shea-Porter for “packing her bags for a five week summer vacation.” The only problem (besides the fact that Speaker Boehner, not Shea-Porter, sets the schedule)? Guinta’s email was sent hours after it was announced that members of Congress would remain in Washington indefinitely after a Tea Party insurrection engineered by “Acting Speaker of the House” and Guinta mentor Ted Cruz killed a bill to address the border crisis.

“The Congresswoman had planned to tour a factory this afternoon and discuss jobs and the economy with New Hampshire workers,” said Shea-Porter campaign spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly. “Unfortunately, due to the lack of leadership from Frank Guinta’s extremist Tea Party allies, she will have to reschedule.  It is disappointing, but not surprising, that former Congressman Guinta refuses to acknowledge the dysfunction that his own party is causing in Washington.”

guinta time

The vote on the border bill was cancelled in a last-minute shock. The failures comes after more than a year of House Republicans refusing to hold a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate with votes from New Hampshire Senators Shaheen and Ayotte. There is wide agreement that if House Republican Speaker Boehner allowed a vote on the Senate bill, it would pass with bipartisan support, but he refuses due to the 2010 Tea Partiers who have hijacked his Republican caucus.

LTE: The Government Shutdown Cost Taxpayers $24 Billion – Why Is Senator Ayotte Not Upset About That?

Like many of my neighbors, I was relieved when the government shutdown ended. Yet unless Republicans in Congress stop throwing temper tantrums to get what they want, these fights will not be going away. They aren’t cheap: This 15-day shutdown cost our government $24 billion, and that doesn’t include the cost to New Hampshire’s economy. Navy yard contractors and Portsmouth businesses took a huge hit.

It is ridiculous that Sen. Kelly Ayotte harps on the value of fiscal responsibility but does nothing to reign in Tea Party excesses. Her Tea Party leaders nearly destroyed America’s credit rating while wasting billions of dollars. When she was sworn into office she promised to represent the interests of New Hampshire families, yet under her watch her own party has enacted policies that have cost New Hampshire families jobs and income. She has done nothing to stop them. She is, in fact, doing the opposite by putting forward so-called solutions that will perpetuate the Tea Party’s job killing agenda.

Ayotte’s priorities are backward. New Hampshire’s families should come before her Washington buddies.

Lew Henry
Gilmanton

The real story behind Congressional dysfunction

Take five minutes and watch…

Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen explains how Speaker Boehner bends to the will of the Tea Party Caucus — and keeps the House from voting on bills that would pass, if members were just allowed to vote.

Just one example:

If the Speaker of the House brought up the comprehensive immigration bill – that has already passed the Senate – if he brought that up for a vote in the House today, it would pass.  We could have it on the President’s desk by this afternoon.

 

Does The Government Shutdown Mean “The End of the World”? The Radical Religious Right Thinks So

The End of the World Is Nigh

Ok, so maybe the government shutdown IS “the end of the world.”  At least as far as some Tea Party leaders are concerned.

Yes, seriously.  No, this is not a joke.

This eye-opening analysis comes from Rev. Morgan Guyton, a pastor in Louisiana:

I wanted to do some research into the theological roots of Senator Ted Cruz, the standard-bearer of the Tea Party Republicans behind the shutdown… It turns out that Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International who has been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. He has a distinct theological vision for what America is supposed to look like: Christian dominionism.

Here’s Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch, a year ago, when he was introducing Sen. Cruz’s father as a guest preacher at Huch’s “New Beginnings” megachurch:

But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth.  …It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.

Here’s how the Rev. Guyton distills the current state of Cruz’s theology:

The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian ‘kings’ who will accomplish the ‘end time transfer of wealth.’ Then ‘God’s bankers’ will usher in the ‘coming of the messiah.’ The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.

—–

OK, take a minute to breathe here.  Remember that most Christians (including, particularly, Rev. Guyton) don’t believe that bankers can bring Jesus back.  (Most Christians take a very different message from the Bible.  Remember my post “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration”?)

But it’s a very enlightening perspective on the current federal crisis.

—–

Prepared for even more enlightenment?  Read Rev. Guyton’s post on “The God of No Compromise and the Government Shutdown.”

[For evangelicals], the word ‘compromise’ has always been a bad word. It means to allow non-Christian values and influences to corrupt your devotion to Biblical truth.  … a stormtrooper evangelical Republican must categorically reject any idea that is generated by a Democrat because accepting it would amount to a compromise of worldview.

This need to “categorically reject” Democratic ideas helps explain why the right-wing Heritage Foundation so adamantly opposes Obamacare.  If you’re a policy geek, you might remember that the Heritage Foundation actually proposed the individual mandate, back in 1989.  But now that’s a Democratic policy… Sen. Cruz believes it’s a reason to shut down the government.

It also helps explain why – no matter how hard President Obama may try to “compromise” – his attempts to “meet in the middle” are always going to be rejected.  Read “Translating from TeaPartyese: What ‘negotiate’ really means.”

“Let Them Eat Cat Food”: The Truth Behind The GOP’s Ten Year Push To Cut Social Security

marie antoinetteAs the latest GOP-caused national crisis begins to coalesce around the Tea Party’s demand for Social Security cuts… here are some facts worth remembering:

  1. Even though President Obama included chained-CPI in his FY14 budget proposal, it wasn’t his ideaChained-CPI – which incrementally reduces Social Security benefits – was first proposed in 2003 by then-Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan as a way of cutting the federal budget deficit.  (Read Greenspan’s testimony to Congress here.)
  2. Almost exactly a year later, Greenspan was back before Congress, arguing that “Congress should make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent and cover the $1 trillion price by trimming future benefits in Social Security and other entitlement programs.”
  3. The American public has never supported the Bush tax cuts. Just months after the first round of tax cuts was passed, in 2001, a Washington Post poll found that 57% of Americans wanted to roll back the tax cuts in order to preserve the federal budget surplus. (Yes, we had a surplus, back then.)
  4. The Bush tax cuts primarily benefited the folks at the top of the food chain.  The top 1% received more tax benefits than the bottom 80% of taxpayers combined.
  5. Even Bush’s own economists disavowed the idea that lower taxes improve the economy.  Back in 2006: “Even under favorable assumptions, making the tax cuts permanent would have a barely perceptible impact on the economy.  Under more realistic assumptions…the tax cuts could even hurt the economy.”

So here we are, 12 years after the public said “repeal the tax cuts”… 10 years after Greenspan suggested using chained-CPI to reduce the budget deficit… nine years after Greenspan explicitly told Congress to choose between tax cuts and Social Security… seven years after Bush economists reported that his tax cuts would likely hurt the economy…

..and there’s a faction of the Congress insisting on even more tax cuts… and Social Security cuts… or they’re going to blow the economy to smithereens.

As you’re watching events unfold in Washington, over the next few weeks, remember this fact, too:

By 2010, even Alan Greenspan thought the Bush tax cuts should go away.

—–

Got the aspirin bottle handy?

In his 2003 testimony to Congress, Greenspan also suggested a third path: increased immigration.  “Short of a major increase in immigration, economic growth cannot be safely counted upon to eliminate deficits and the difficult choices that will be required to restore fiscal discipline.”

(But it turns out that that same small faction in Congress doesn’t like immigrants, either.)

—–

Don’t know what the chained-CPI brouhaha is all about?  Read the latest report from the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare here.

Here’s how I look at it:

Chained-CPI is a vivid example of the “race to the bottom” that unions have been trying to stop for years.  It assumes that when personal finances are tight, consumers will alter their purchasing behavior and buy cheaper products.  Then, since they’re spending less, Congress figures they’ll need less money in Social Security benefits.

It’s the image of a senior citizen, trying to make ends meet, who gives up buying beef because she can only afford chicken… and then her Social Security benefit drops, so she gives up chicken and buys tuna… but with the next benefit drop, she can’t afford tuna anymore.

It’s the cat food thing.

(And BTW… given that about 12% of our nation’s jobs are in retail… I gotta wonder about the idea of “solving” a federal fiscal crisis by slowly strangling consumer spending.)

Translating from TeaPartyese: What “negotiate” really means

Stahlwille ratchet head (1/2 SQ)Don’t let them fool you.

When GOP Congressmen say they “just want to negotiate” – what they’re really saying is “we’re going to have it our way”.

And when they talk about “compromise” – they’re really talking about “ratcheting it down even further.”

You know how a ratchet works, right?  When you turn it, the screw can only go one way.  And the Tea Party’s position is: government can only get smaller.

They’re yelling about the federal deficit – and accumulated federal debt – but the only “solution” they’re willing to entertain is to cut spending.  Have you heard anybody suggest raising revenues, lately?

The fact is: as a share of the nation’s economy, federal tax revenues are at almost-record lows. Yes, they were lower, back when Harry Truman was President – but that was before Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Federal Tax Revenues as Percentage of GDP

And it looks like the GOP may have already won the federal budget game.

Remember 2011, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan came out with his budget“$4 trillion of cuts over decade

Remember how radical that budget seemed, back then?  How far to the right?  How extreme the cuts appeared?

Now, take a closer look at the “continuing resolution” passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate last week, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the government shutdown.

Yeah, the same “continuing resolution” that the House GOP won’t send to an up-do-down vote, without further concessions.

Funding levels in that “continuing resolution” are about 10% less than what Chairman Ryan proposed, back in 2011.

And it came from the Democrats.

And it’s still not enough for the GOP.

Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet.

—————————————

Read more about how the Senate’s continuing resolution compares to the Ryan budget here.

See the tax revenue data that my chart is based on here.

 

 

 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Republican Hostage Taking

As of today, it is clear that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have become one and the same when it comes to federal fiscal policy. House Republicans have decided that they will shut down critical public services, stiff public servants, hold America’s credit rating hostage and kill off jobs because they are upset that President Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney last November. That some Republicans are participating in this fiasco against their better judgment does not obscure their responsibility. All responsible voices must speak and act against policy making by hostage taking.

It’s bad enough that Republicans’ intellectually dishonest austerity policies have starved the United States of the public investment necessary for shared prosperity in the future. Sequester was and remains a complicated name for a disastrous policy. But somehow Republicans have managed to go from pushing irresponsible policies to something even worse.

Shutting down the government would weaken demand, reduce employment and roil markets. Punishing federal workers and taxpayers to prove a point is a temper tantrum worthy of a four year old, not a policy choice of a responsible political party.

We stand with President Obama as he rejects unequivocally all Republican hostage taking. And we agree with the President that it would be a disastrous precedent for our democracy if we have any negotiations over the debt ceiling.

This is the moment for working people to bring pressure on behalf of a shared, popular and responsible agenda.  Repeal the job-killing sequester. Reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Protect food aid for the poor.  And create jobs and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our future by ending all tax subsidies for outsourcing.

Former Speaker Considers A Run In NH CD 02

From Concord Monitor

From Concord Monitor

Can you believe it. The elections were only four months ago and we are already talking about the 2014 elections.

I did hear the funniest thing this week.  Former Speaker of the NH House, Bill (the bully) O’Brien is considering running for the US House against Rep Annie Kuster.    Stop laughing, he is serious.

“I’m concerned for the country, I really am. I think we need another fiscally responsible voice down in Washington.” (National Journal)

Could you just imagine that campaign?  I mean everyone would have something to say about Candidate O’Brien.  The women’s organizations would cite his extreme views on women’s health.  The LGBT community would bring up his extreme views on gay marriage and gay rights.  Then the unions would have a field day highlighting his extreme stance against unions by trying to repeal collective bargaining in New Hampshire.

How do I know what they would say? Because that is exactly what they said this election. Speaker Bill O’Brien was the TEA Party leader who led the Republican party into the dumpster this election.  Literally everything that went wrong in the last legislative session could be blamed on Bill O’Brien.

I find it absolutely hilarious that he thinks he could win in CD2 when he could not even win both towns in his own district.  I wish I had an ego that big.

Since we are already talking about NH CD2, I will go ahead and say it.  I think that former Senator Lambert should also hang up his political shoes.  He would have been crushed in Nashua if he would have ran.  He is an unknown.  He rode the TEA Party revolution to the NH Senate (I am still scratching my head over that).  He had no real political experience.

I actually met Sen Lambert at a legislative event in Nashua.  We asked him questions about legislation being pushed through the NH Senate.  He would respond, I will have to look into that because I am not really familiar with that bill.  My response was, “Really, you are the prime sponsor of the bill.”  I would never in a million years vote for former Senator Lambert.

If these are the people that the NH GOP plans to put up against Annie Kuster in 2014, I feel pretty secure in Rep Kuster’s reelection.

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