May you have incompetent, offensive enemies.
President Obama and the congressional Democrats have the luck of the Irish, truly. They've already won the Battle of the Fiscal Cliff due to the good judgment of the people. That judgement takes facts into consideration. The sequestration process is a blunt instrument wielded by a Frankenstein process that accounts for nothing sensible in terms of solving the main concern of the public; the seriously flawed, destructive economic cycle that is dragging us to a place nobody sensible wants to go. The PEW survey to the left shows that a majority think the economy in general (60%) and the military in particular (55%) will suffer due to this pathetic process of histrionic policy making.
That puts the wisdom of the people in line with the judgement of over 95% of leading economists surveyed recently who say that "growth is likely to be negatively affected by the automatic federal spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in Friday." It makes sense. The economy is weak, unemployment, all those out of work seeking work, is around 22%, and many citizens are one paycheck away from their own fiscal cliff.
Here are some highly revealing polls and headlines from around the country late Wednesday, early today.
By Michael Collins
(Washington, DC 1/9/13) Let's say that on a Monday, you sit down and take a hard look at your finances. Your bills exceed your income, assets are just a feint memory, and there is no relief in sight. Reluctantly, you decide that your only choice is to declare bankruptcy. On Tuesday you say, I think I'll do some shopping before it's all over. You proceed to charge $2,000 on your VISA card for some jewelry and other non essentials. On Wednesday, you get a lawyer and file for bankruptcy.
Guess what? You still owe the $2,000 since the court will conclude that you made the purchases fraudulently. You knew you were filing for bankruptcy and made the charges any way. Even worse, the court may refuse to grant the bankruptcy filing all together as a result of the obvious fraud.
That is exactly what the Republicans in the House of Representatives are doing with their open announcement that they will vote against raising the debt ceiling without their solution to government spending. Since that announcement, has one single deficit hawk stood up and said, We must stop all spending as of this moment since we are proposing to default on those expenditures?
By Michael Collins
Wall Street and the big banks owe $1.5 trillion for the bailout (at least). The Super Congress needs to cut $1.5 trillion over ten years. Get the money from Wall Street and cancel the Super Congress. Problem solved.
Last month’s debt ceiling crisis was resolved when Congress and the Obama administration made a deal to cut trillions in federal spending over the next ten years. Congress identified the easy cuts, the low hanging fruit so to speak, for a total of nearly $1.0 trillion. At the same time, Congress and the White House created the “Super Congress” committee of six senators and six representatives charged with cutting another $1.5 trillion. (Image: Lucy White with permission)
The committee has unparalleled power to draft legislation, without the normal legislative processes of debate, deliberation, modification, and amendments. If seven of the twelve committee members vote in favor of the budget cutting legislation by the November 23 deadline (see chart in appendix III), the bill will be submitted to the entire Congress for an up or down vote. The bill will not be subject to any modification or change. Debate will be very limited. (Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Text-pdf)
By Michael Collins
The crazies in the United States House of Representatives would have you believe it were so. They say fix that budget before we'll raise the debt ceiling. If we don't get our fix, they announce, there's no deal. We'll just default until things get straightened out. (Image: George Romero)
Let's see what would happen to you or me. We are unable to pay our bills, unless we tap a special line of credit that we've used in the past, one that has never failed us. We'll have to raise some money and cut some expenses too.
We're tired of paying bills and just want to stop for a while. We file for bankruptcy following all of the required procedures. The minute we file, we're granted an automatic stay on our debt. We are now protected, no bills to pay.
Then we get a few visits from creditors. They let us know that they know we can pay. Other people owed money show up also and ask, what is your problem? You owe us the money. You can pay and you will. The combination of angry creditors and recipients of our funds forces us to do what we could have done in the first place.
We tap the line of credit, cut expenses, and increase income. We make the payments we could have made all along. Once again, we have the choice of fixing things long term or repeating the process yet again.
We are in the midst of a bum's rush - the quick eviction of a less than desirable in an unpleasantly abrupt fashion. The problem is we're the bums. Our eviction from the political process is all based the word of a firm that helped fuel the housing bubble, trigger the financial collapse, and found itself indicted by the State of Connecticut for "unfair, deceptive, and illegal business practices" in 2008.
Last week, credit rating agency Standard and Poor's threatened to downgrade the AAA credit rating of the United States of America by issuing a "negative" finding on the 'long term credit outlook" for the country. The firm's report said that Congress wasn't working diligently enough to reduce the budget deficit. The nation had better fix things quick or, as S&P threatened, "there is at least a one-in-three likelihood that we could lower our long-term rating on the U.S. within two years ." The mere threat of a reduced credit rating brought calls for quick and decisive action on proposals for deficit reduction.
We're not worth having around after 65, says Michael Collins. Why else would they want to kill us off?
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) proposed a Medicare plan that combines Social Darwinism and a bailout for health insurance carriers, even larger than the one provided by the president's health care reform legislation.
The specific features of the program are less important than the overall effect. In summary, Ryan proposes a plan that will starve most of those sixty-five and older of health care. Here are the numbers, based on Congressional Budget Office projections and elaborated by Dean Baker and David Rosnick (in 2011 dollars) (Center for Economic and Policy Research, April 2011)
The Republican crazies are in a celebrity death match with sleepwalking Democrats. It is a fabricated drama amounting to not much of anything in terms of the nation's well being. The stakes are supposedly the shutdown of the United States government at midnight this Friday. But the most pressing issue isn't discussed on Capitol Hill.
Why can't anyone in a position of power mention the unmentionable? There have been no net new jobs in the United States since 2000. There were 137 million employed citizens that year. There are 139 million employed citizens today. This comes into clear focus when you consider the size of the workforce for 2000 and 2010; 143 million versus 154 million respectively. There are actually fewer jobs in proportion to the workforce.
Isn't this a worthy topic? Shouldn't the story be carried nightly on a major network with a title like: Jobless America, Day 4112
Before it ever arrived at the president's desk for signature, the health reform act contained a fatal poison pill.
The most creative sector of the business community has a dagger at its heart in the form of the relentless, unyielding, and over burdening cost of health insurance. The self-employed and very small businesses have seen their insurance premiums climb 20% to 75% since 2009. To purchase an adequate family plan, a self-employed person will pays an amount 50% to 70% of the nation's median personal income, $32,000 a year, for family health plan. This includes premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses. That is twice the cost for relatively generous plans at medium to large size companies. Very small businesses, two to twenty employees, pay about the same (Image: Paul Henman)
Wasn't health reform supposed to take care of just this sort of inequity? Didn't the title of the bill say it all? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act There is no protection for the self-employed when they have these stark choices facing them due to unaffordable insurance rates. They can give up working for themselves; buy adequate insurance and take a huge hit to income; buy a substandard plan and hope that whatever comes up is covered; or, abandon insurance at real risk to their health and, in some cases, their lives.
By Numerian posted by Michael Collins
On December 7th of this year – the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor – the United States will celebrate seventy years of perpetual war. September 11th will commemorate one aspect of this long war – the War on Terror – but the calendar could be filled with other bellicose starts and stops: the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the War in Iraq (parts I and II), the Afghanistan War, and various incursions into places like Nicaragua, Grenada, the Balkans, and even South America as part of something called the War on Drugs.
What’s it like to be at perpetual war for nearly three-quarters of a century? Americans have become a fearful people. They are so alarmed at the possibility of a terrorist attack they have willingly given up important Constitutional liberties, even to the point of submitting to intrusive and degrading inspections at airport security. Fear of crime is such an undercurrent of American society that all new cars come with theft alarms. Americans spend billions of dollars yearly to protect themselves from identity theft, and they are greeted at supermarkets with sanitary wipes because of the fear that some stranger left dangerous bacteria on the shopping cart. Fear has caused Americans to turn upon themselves: Democrats against Republicans, Red states against Blue states, liberals against conservatives, Christians against the non-religious, rural against urban, South against North, blacks against whites, the middle class against poor people, and so on. This is a fractured nation, but at the same time a highly militarized nation, and is it any wonder that Americans love their guns, even though firearm violence kills 39 Americans every day?
(Washington, Dec 10) Bill Clinton showed up at the White House for an "impromptu" press conference to discuss the president's tax compromise with the Republicans. Clinton disclosed that "I make a lot of money now" and, as a result, he would benefit from the program. Then he endorsed the compromise calling it the best deal Obama could make. Clinton was particularly high on the Social Security payroll tax reduction. "According to all economic analysis, [this is] the single most effective tax cut you can do to support economic activity. This will actually create a fair number of jobs. I expect it to lower the unemployment rate and keep us going." (Image)
Across town, United States Senator Bernie Sanders was telling the simple truth that Obama and Clinton avoided. Reducing the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2% as a one year tax holiday presumes that the normal rates will be restored at the end of the one year period. Who would restore those rates? The very same party that passed the Bush ten year "temporary" income tax reductions. That same party, the Republicans, now claims that ending the Bush temporary tax cuts represents the greatest tax increase ever. Just as they forgot that those tax cuts were temporary, the new Republican majority will forget the payroll cuts were temporary. Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) agree that ending the tax holiday will be portrayed as a tax increase.
Walking into any “court” of late one might have a distinct impression that one has walked into a monarch's domain. The rule of law only applies at the discretion of the monarch. And that would be the judge sitting in that particular court.
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