My answer to your survey question, “Did you like the ideas the President proposed for our economy during the address?” is No. In truth, for me it is not that simple. I know from our conversations and abundant experiences, the query is not meant to close doors; nor will you draw erroneous conclusions from the “data” collected. I understand that you wish to hear from your constituency. Therefore, I write. I will present support for my opinion. The Economic Policy Institute, CaRDI, a Multidisciplinary Social Sciences Institute of Cornell University, and Michael Winerip, Education Journalist for the New York Times will serve as my surrogates. I understand that the immediate opinion polls show broad support for the President’s speech. However, I suspect a more nuanced look may reveal that more feel as I do. Perhaps, my words will also speak for the people who merely marked “Yes,” “No,” or “I do not have an opinion” on your and other surveys. I can only hope that you might take a moment to ponder.
The President proposed many ideas that I believe relate to our economic health. He spoke of taxes, the energy policy that has taxed our nation. As a father, he addressed what I know concerns you too, education. Indeed, I thank you once again Congressman for your active support of public education. Enrolling your children in our local community schools speak volumes. I believe to be one with the people is to live amongst us. Sadly, few in Congress chose the life of the common man.
In regards to health care, which Mister Obama also touched on in the State of the Union speech, last evening, the Congress’s separation from society-at-large is evident in policies passed and again in the President’s speech. Possibly, he too has forgotten how the real people live.
The President did propose one plan I endorse I think The Buffet Rule enacted would be beautiful. I believe this might help to more fully embody an actual Democratic Progressive tax structure.
Indeed, I actually think an increased tax rate for all is the ultimate in wisdom. Even Conservatives such as Commentator-Columnist Ben Stein and former Reagan Economic Advisor, David Stockman are in favor of this more realistic plan. President Eisenhower too would applaud this way of doing taxes. You likely recall under Ike, the tax rate for wealthiest Americans was ninety-one percent. Republicans are not alone in their support of a Buffet Rule. Progressive policy wonks, such as Robert Reich, advocate for higher taxes over all. Right, Left, and Middle, we might have a consensus. I sincerely endorse such mutual sagacity.
Many Economists regardless of political affiliation see the correlation…Services require salaries, supplies, and a tax structure that supports all that are needed to sustain the health of a nation.
However, this aspect of the State of the Union speech was, for the most part, the only point I applauded. The Buffet Rule aside, overall the ways in which the President proposes we build a nation, for me, only furthers the folly.
I have long been troubled by the belief that we can eat cake endlessly; yet never buy the ingredients to make it let alone bake it. Some may ask, “Where is the beef?” I yearn to learn where are the eggs needed to bring the cake into being. For that matter, do we have any butter, flour, or milk? As the President does, I ponder what is spilled. It seems all our society thinks it takes to make batter, is sugar.
We want gas to power our cars. However, we want the price to be low. I loathe the idea that we might invest in more fossil fuels! The process is quick for it is familiar. Nevertheless, it is extremely dirty. Quick and dirty is not as I desire. Mother Nature tells us daily that she believes as I do. Climate change costs us dearly; still, the President’s energy related positions push for more oil and gas. Please allow me to offer a portion of a comprehensive Cornell University study.
The Boom-Bust Cycle of Shale Gas Extraction Economies. The extraction of non-renewable natural resources such as natural gas is characterized by a “boom-bust” cycle, in which a rapid increase in economic activity is followed by a rapid decrease. The rapid increase occurs when drilling crews and other gas-related businesses move into a region to extract the resource. During this period, the local population grows and jobs in construction, retail and services increase, though because the natural gas extraction industry is capital rather than labor intensive, drilling activity itself will produce relatively few jobs for locals. Costs to communities also rise significantly, for everything from road maintenance and public safety to schools. When drilling ceases because the commercially recoverable resource is depleted, there is an economic “bust” — population and jobs depart the region, and fewer people are left to support the boomtown infrastructure.
Congressman, as I listened to and read the State of the Union text, I cringed. George W. Bush was all I saw and heard. Mister Obama spoke of our energy policy and how investments in “clean power” would improve our economy. I believe our continued investment in fossil fuels, foreign and/or domestic hurts us. Be it income distribution, equal access to goods and services, or more importantly to me, the harm done to the planet, our continued commitments to natural gas, petroleum, “Clean coal,” and nuclear energy are anathema, as is the President’s education agenda.
As energy does, education relates to the economy. You may recall this an issue near and dear to me. For as long as he has been in office, in respect to schools and learning Barack Obama baffles me. He speaks of the need for creativity and curiosity in the classroom, and then quashes the possibility! Often, Mister Obama refers to how teaching to the test is counterproductive to learning. Yet, all that he and the DOE put in place are Race to the Top and Waivers. Programs. Each encourages more and more examinations and commercialization!
While the public is led to belief that the President understands why programs established under President Bush failed, it seems, in deed, this Head of State has only furthered the stress felt in schools.
In truth, I never understood why President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, a man whose work the business community and the Grand Old Party admired. Again I think of George W. Bush and Jeb! Economically we move further away from a Democratic Progressive system and closer to the regressive realities of privatization. Public Schools are closed in favor of “Choice” Learning Centers. Charters, while labeled public, more often drain dollars from the more egalitarian school system. These institutions rarely provide the performance statistics promised. Many, in reality, are privately run management firms. Education is not their mission; earnings are!
We need only look at who is invited to the White House Education Round Tables. Pedagogues are not welcome. Their voices are intentionally absent from the conversation. Influential “investors” sit with the President and his Secretary of Education. These same persons now occupy our public schools. Thus, economically speaking, education is now a growth industry!
The President said in his speech, “For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning, the first time that’s happened in a generation.” I inquire Congressman, how do we evaluate the minimal cost to the federal government and the so-called rise? Hmm?
By adding just one-third of one percent to state coffers, the feds get to implement their version of education reform.
That includes rating teachers and principals by their students’ scores on state tests; using those ratings to dismiss teachers with low scores and to pay bonuses to high scorers; and reducing local control of education.
Second, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and his education scientists do not have to do the dirty work. For teachers in subject areas and grades that do not have state tests (music, art, technology, kindergarten through third grade) or do not have enough state tests to measure growth (every high school subject), it is the state’s responsibility to create a system of alternative ratings.
In New York, that will have to cover 79 percent of all teachers, a total of 175,000 people. The only state tests for assessing teachers are for English and math, from fourth grade to eighth.
Yet, the President and Arne Duncan have persuaded the public and policymakers that the invisibles, learning and the effect a mentor has on our offspring, can be measured in a day, an hour, or on one single assessment. I know not of you; however, in my life, even when I scored well on a test, the results did not reflect my learning. Guesstimates, short-term memory, the fluke that is a coincidence, these are not calculated in our high-stakes assessments. However if it were possible to accurately evaluate these, then perhaps the reliance on test scores might make some sense, although still very little.
I am reminded of a statement President Obama made in his speech last evening that I do agree with. “Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives.” I think every individual outside the Hall can also point to a Professor or Academic who transformed what would be. Yet, we punish our mentors when their students do not perform on command.
I cry for the young and the old. In truth, tears flow for every American. The reason, in a society such as ours, there is no reverence for humanity, nay-human health. Congressman, please indulge me as I reflect on health care coverage. President Obama stated, “That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”
Oh, my. Once more regression is our nation’s reality. May I present a bit to ponder…This quote is taken from an Economic Policy Institute Report.
The private plans are only competitive because they play on a tilted playing field. When that is not enough, they resort to hard-sell tactics that take advantage of vulnerable seniors-practices that prompted an ongoing congressional investigation. They also create road blocks and traps that prevent seniors from being fully reimbursed for care.
Medicare privatizers spend a lot of taxpayer money lobbying Congress, and their story keeps changing. The original rationale for private plans was that competition would lower costs, so payments were capped at 95% of the average Medicare cost for each county. The plans still prospered by cherry-picking healthy seniors, a problem that was only partly abated through risk adjusting. Since it is now established that these plans are actually less efficient than the public one, the current claim is that they help minorities and other underserved groups, an argument that also has little merit, according to research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.”
Oh Representative, I lived in California when Proposition 13 and the “No New Taxes” hymn were born. Today, I realize through President Obama’s speech, this tune grows louder. The nation, and our democracy die. Free Enterprise thrives.
Having read to the end, I hope you will understand. All the information I offer in my missive to you and so much more influenced my answer to your survey question Congressman. “Did you like the ideas the President proposed for our economy during the address?” No, I did not. I wonder; did you?
I look forward to future conversations. May we discuss what for me is the greatest dilemma; The State of the Union divides us as do the plans the President proposed.
I am a discontent and distressed taxpayer! “Disgruntled” is a word that might describe my deep dissatisfaction with how my tax dollars are spent. Yet, on April 15, 2009, typically thought of as “Tax Day,” I felt no need to join my fellow citizens in protest. I did not attend a “Tea Party”. I too believe, in this country, “taxation without representation” is a problem. One only need ponder the profits of lobbyists to understand the premise. Corporate supplicants amass a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investments. The average American is happy to realize a two-digit increase. Nonetheless, as much as I too may argue the point, assessments are paid without accountability, what concerns me more is my duty dollars did not support what I think ethical projects.
My cash funded the unconscionable and the President stated “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
Had outrage for criminal intent and actions been voiced, I too might have rallied round bays and buildings with buckets of brewed leaves in hand. Yet, it seemed amongst the tea teetotalers, no one was incensed by the illegal, and what I believe to be immoral practices.
The “Teatime” participants I heard did not mention the myriad of misery Americans inflicted on adversaries. Fury for the previous Administration’s torturous policies did not appear in the papers, or, at least, I did not read these statements. Talk of the recently released memorandums (pdf) did not evoke much discussion. The current crop of “grassroots” demonstrators spoke of how the Obama budget might burden their personal lives. Angry activists vocalized a preference not to pay levees. Few, if any, reflected on the benefits received.
While our grievances may differ, we share a conviction. I too am troubled by what the Obama Administration, which I helped to elect, thinks correct.
However, unlike the anxious Americans who voiced their dissent for levees paid, I am happy to give my tax dollars to the government. For me, funds that help supply public services are vital. I welcome the opportunity to better ensure there will be police, firemen, and women. I take comfort in the knowledge children and adults may use libraries to peruse quality books. I embrace legislation intended to better instruction. In my life the importance of education cannot be understated. Bridges built and maintained, roads paved, traffic signs and signals, functional sanitary sewer systems, and diseases controlled and prevented . . . As a concerned citizen, I am glad I can contribute to these ventures.
I object to what I think unlawful and debauched. I cannot condone interrogations authorized and acted upon, in my name. My angst is exacerbated by the current Administration assertion; these crimes are not punishable by law. Those who tortured only did as was commanded. At the time, the Department of Justice declares, “superiors” stated such harsh techniques were legal.
What I would call cruel and unusual punishment, the prior President, his Vice, and Cabinet thought proper. Each Executive stated these torturous measures were necessary to protect Americans. The people heard proclamations that what “we” did was justified. It was effective. Only months ago, Vice President Dick Cheney explained; “The professionals involved in that [so-called torture] program were very, very cautious, very careful — wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. . . (I)t’s been a remarkably successful effort. . . . I think those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.” (Memos aside. Please peruse Torture Memorandums. )
Dick Cheney and his compatriots seem to distinguish between citizens of this country and those who might be identified as “foreigners.” To further elucidate the spokesperson for the Bush White House stated; “These are not American citizens. They are not subject, nor do they have the same rights that an American citizen does vis-à-vis the government.”
The newer Administration may concur; civil rights afforded to our countrymen may not be offered to individuals classified as combatants. While I disagree with that contention, I do believe as the Obama White House does. International Law states, all living creatures have an inalienable right to be treated humanely.
Thankfully, President Obama and his Cabinet condemn tortuous practices. Yet, the current Administration announced there is no need to prosecute. Mister Obama affirmed, “(A)t a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
I must ask; does this declaration ensure history will be repeated? Individuals such as I accept that tribunals will not transform what was. Punishment may not convince those who engaged in criminal behaviors to change. I seek no retribution. Yet, I do think there is a need to prosecute the culpable. Humanitarian principles lead taxpayers such as I to declare, torture, by any definition cannot be tolerated. As a society, we have seen how people are easily numbed by what peers think, say, and do. Studies show the prevalence of video violence has an influence on what we later think is acceptable.
In America, ideally, not ideologically, we understand profound principles unite us. The greater good, the commonweal, take precedence over individualism. As is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish” in this country, we care. Our fellow citizens, and future generations matter to us.
Perhaps this profundity explains why concerned citizens, those who happily contribute to tolls are distressed by the Obama Administration’s declaration, there will be no prosecution.
Persons such as I, who are troubled by torture, understand the past permeates the present and will be the future, if what is worrisome is avoided, accepted, or is left unattended. We, the peaceful people who are proud to pay levees of love, are not comforted by an act of contrition. Nor does the knowledge that President Obama released the memorandums as required by law reassure us.
If intentionally inflicted physical and psychological harm can be characterized as just, and some Conservatives, such as the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, thinks it does, then it makes sense to tax payers who supported the previous President to sanction the acts outlined in recently released memorandums as sound.
Many Conservatives share this sentiment, although not all. Lest we forget former Presidential candidate John McCain’s succinct statement on one the techniques the Bush Administration authorized. “They should know what it [waterboarding] is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” A man who lives with the memory of being a Prisoner of War, the Arizona Senator emphatically stated, torture is ineffective. That is until Presidential politics altered his position.
Could it be that candidate McCain did as the current President has done, bow to a constituency that does not demand prosecution for what the United States has defined as criminal since its inception.
Opposition to torture was verbalized before the United States became a nation. The Declaration of Independence reminds residents of this territory, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In 1863, in the midst of the brutalities of the Civil War, President Lincoln forbade his forces from acts of cruelty, including torture. After the barbarities of World War II, America led an emergent community of United Nations to adopt in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its provision that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (Art. 5).”
It was only during the 2006 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (pdf) that the United States turned a blind eye on its history. Perchance the topic of terror, or the threat envisioned as the Twin Towers fell turned Americans against principled actions.
Tax and Terror Codes; Reviled, Renewed, or Rejected?
No one can know with certainty what caused a country or countless within the continent to reject the prescribed canon that is the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, it is clear, the American people do not insist political power be checked. Collectively, cynicism was and is adopted. With that acquisition, the country accepted deplorable directives. The American populace chose to forego authentic representation. Hence, the electorate allowed for the more heinous atrocities that followed. Today, only personal financial concerns bring people to their feet and out onto the streets.
The transition was subtle. Distrustful of government, the public grew to expect the worse. Now we receive it. We pay for torture and are pleased when a President proclaims of “a dark and painful chapter in our history,” this too shall pass. Personally, I fear it will not. My fellow citizens did not address my angst when they dumped dried evergreen shrubs on lawns or in a bay. The President’s decision to disregard what he too called interrogation techniques outlined in the official communication that “undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer” does not bring me joy.
While I did gladly pay my financial assessments, and I did not voice my dissent for torture with tea, I remain a discontent and distressed taxpayer.
The Influence of Media Violence on Youth. By Craig A. Anderson, Leonard Berkowitz, Edward Donnerstein, L. Rowell Huesmann, James D. Johnson, Daniel Linz, Neil M. Malamuth, and Ellen Wartella. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Volume. 4, NO. 3, December 2003
Tax time is reason enough to reflect on our budgets, personal and national. How realistic are our expenditures? Do we spend more than we earn? Does our income allow for a few irrational indulgences? Do discretionary dollars exist? Might we consider our ample debt. Does this represent a temporary deficit, easily resolved, or an obligation that cannot be paid promptly. We may wish to rethink our reality. At home, families have taken scissors to credit cards. More than the minimum payment is made. The intention is to lessen liabilities and increase savings. In the month of April, after we pay Uncle Sam, most of us concluded, it is time to clean our own fiscal house. Next, we move to the nation’s ledger.
The largest share of our moneys go to military operations. The terror tax has become a tremendous burden of American household and communities. Yet, few wish to rethink this “duty.”
Much to the chagrin of those who do not favor debt, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for on credit. Taxes were not increased to pay for the two wars. Indeed, President Bush cut tariff obligations for the American people while he increased the number of dollars devoted to military operations.
The cash spent on what most would agree were and are protracted conflicts was not placed on the official ledger. Nor did it exist in American coffers. What were classified as “emergency supplemental” expenses were made available on loan. Other countries, rich in resources, furnished the dollars the United States desired. The currency would need to be re-paid, with interest! That concept alone could be considered a tax on terror, or an attack on Americans who disfavor debt.
The current Commander-In-Chief promised he would not engage in such tactics. The Obama Administration would be transparent. What would be spent on war would be visible in formal, administrative, concrete calculations. To that end, in February 2009, perhaps before most Americans filed a return, President Obama submitted his budget. Headlines screamed, Obama’s budget is the end of an era.
Cash and Change On Hand
Change had come. Obama re-thought Bush policies. More money would be officially allocated to military operations. The Pentagon Does Well with Obama Budget. The financial planned commitment to the Pentagon is an abundant $533.7 billion. This amount represents a 4 percent increase over the previous 2009 allocation. This total excludes money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget includes an additional $75 billion in 2009 for “overseas contingency operations,” a reference to the battles still ablaze in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locales. Come 2010, $130 billion more will be available for combat.
Cautions presented six months ago, on October 15, 2008, by the Congressional Research Service apparently were not heeded by the new Administration. Citizens also did not realize, cash for these conflicts is not countless. It never was. Calculations were offered. However, then, as now, the numbers were ignored. Perhaps, all aspects of the ostensibly perpetual wars were not rethought.
The War in Afghanistan has cost U.S. Tax payers $172 billion to date, with a request for roughly $13.4 billion to fund the war through the remainder of Fiscal year 2009 expected in March or April. This brings the total cost through FY 2009 to $185.1 billion.
This figures reflect the budgetary cost alone. Projected costs over the long term are likely to total more than half a trillion dollars when future occupation and veteran’s benefits are taken into account. Interest payments could add another $200 billion to that figure. (1) All told, this is more than the size of the recent bailout of Wall Street, and rivals the historic economic stimulus bill just passed by Congress.
Countries outside the United States have spent additional billions on the War in Afghanistan, with the UK contributing roughly £4.5billion (2) and the cost to Canada totaling $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion in Canadian dollars through 2008. (3).
Thus far, you and I, the American taxpayer, borrowed one hundred and eighty five billion dollars, or more, to fight a war thought futile in Afghanistan. In Iraq the dollars devoted to deploy each troop, one individual, was $500,000. That is five hundred thousand dollars! The money spent on a single soldier sent to Afghanistan is expected to be eight-hundred thousand greenbacks.
Financial Future in Doubt
Many Progressives may wish to wail, “George W. Bush is to blame.” However, people from the political Party that takes pride in the actions of this President might rethink that truth.
Days before American tax payments were due, Mister Obama asked Congress for an additional eighty three and four tenths billion dollars ($83.4) to fund the war just through the end of the year! After Mister Obama assured Americans supplemental expenditures to pay for wars would not be requested, the President rescinded the pledge. Excuses were made. Explanations given. Citizens were told the additional allotment would be the first and the last made by President Obama.
It seems circumstances caused the Chief Executive to rethink his stance on spending and Afghanistan. Perhaps, citizens will also rethink their position. In truth, only the people have the power to insist, it is time to cut the funds for war.
The mail arrived. It was from MoveOn.org. Overwhelmed with work, I thought to delete it. I noticed the surname of the sender was the same as a friend of mine. Only that [cosmic] coincidence led me to open the message and peruse. I read Daniel Mintz’s words with interest, for he spoke of what I miss in the news. Mister Mintz did not focus on the folly of a few executives at American International Group, Incorporated (AIG). The representative from MoveOn offered what is more real to me, an average American.
As we’ve seen with AIG this week, the powerful don’t give up their special treatment without a fight. They’re spending millions on lobbyists to quietly kill the provisions that would make them help pay for America’s priorities. 1 And despite all the posturing in Congress over AIG’s bonuses, too many senators are still listening to the banking and insurance lobbyists on the issues that aren’t in the headlines.
So we need to speak louder than the lobbyists . . .
Today’s Washington Post calls it “a populist budget” 2 because it cuts taxes for most Americans while ending unfair tax advantages for the richest among us. The best part is that it takes all the money we’ll save and invests it in critical national priorities that will help build and strengthen the middle class.
Obama’s budget gives tax breaks to working families instead of CEOs. And it closes the tax loopholes for special interests that cost us billions, like:
The loophole that lets companies take tax breaks for sending jobs overseas. This will save us more than $200 billion over the next decade. 3
The loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a 15% tax rate on their income, instead of regular income tax like the rest of us. That will save us more than $20 billion. 4
The loophole for big oil companies that gives them huge tax breaks even when they’re posting record profits, saving us more than $30 billion over the next decade. 5
The loophole that gives the richest Americans bigger tax breaks for their deductions. Right now, a teacher who contributes $1,000 to the Red Cross gets a $150 tax break. A Wall Street executive making the same contribution gets a $350 tax break. 6
Quality references were offered for each claim. Research for me is more real than rhetoric. Almost as an automaton might, as I read, I reached for the telephone. I smiled at the thought that I might respond as directed. I called my Senator in Washington, District of Columbia.
I was surprised when I heard a ring. Too often, when I have attempted to connect with this individual Senator I receive a busy signal. Bill Nelson is frequently busy, but it seems he does not always speak on my behalf. His record on the issues that are most meaningful to me is as inconsistent as is my ability to speak with someone in his office. I am; however, thankful that Senator Nelson, is at least closer to my truth than Senator Mel Martinez, of Florida is.
As the phone rang and rang, I wondered, would I only have an opportunity to leave voice mail. No; a man answered. He said, “Senator Nelson’s office.” I shared with the gent as I later did with MoveOn.org. Now, I offer what was said with any reader who might wish to consider.
In my conversation with Senator Bill Nelson’s office, I shared my name, address, and my serious concern for the constant distractions. Rather than attend to substance, the need for green jobs, health care for all, quality education provided equally for our children, America cries of a discontent for bonuses. While the ten percent of the AIG bailout bestowed upon the privileged in additional benefits may be important, for me, it is not the cause for my greater apprehension.
Tax loopholes, the levees unpaid by the wealthy, the money held back without an approval of the Obama budget, I believe these are far more significant, if we are to create other than the economic crisis we now have. I reminded the office worker, the last Bush budget proposed was for $3.1 trillion. That submission did not include the supplemental costs of war we all knew were coming! In truth, I am fascinated by a fixation that promotes falsehoods. I think the Obama financial plan is far more restrained than George W. Bush’s expenditure ever were.
The Senate associate listened, or so I hope. He was extremely quiet. He closed the conversation by saying he would pass my message on. A perceived lack of enthusiasm on the part of the gentleman I spoke with leads me to wonder; can I or we believe much will change.
Please, if you have not already dear reader, as a concerned citizen, would you too call your Senators, Congresspersons, anyone and everyone who might have the power to help pass the Obama budget. I offer a few ways to locate your Representatives.
Bush proposes $3.1-trillion budget, Military spending would grow and retiree health benefits would shrink under the plan. Democrats in Congress assail it. By Maura Reynolds and Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar. The Los Angeles Times. ?February 05, 2008
There are conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary. Consider; Fat and jolly. Short and sweet. Tax-and-spend-liberal. These words, while often far from tantamount, are in the minds of many, inexorably tied.
I was fat. However, I did not feel jolly during those days, months, and years. I am short. Sweet? I am not especially so; nor am I sour. Balanced might better describe me, which takes me to the next paired, or triad of adjectives. I like my taxes progressive, my spending minimal, and I am a liberal.
However, I do not support the oft-titled tax-and-spend-liberal Democratic President’s appointment, Timothy F. Geithner. Perhaps, some would say, I do not appreciate the need for an economic expert. This duo of descriptive qualifiers, I believe, can be an oxymoron, just as the others might be. It seems those farthest “Left” on the political aisle may concur.
Russell Feingold [Wisconsin Democrat], Thomas Harkin [Iowa Democrat,] and Democratic Socialist, Bernard Sanders [Vermont Independent] voted nay when asked to approve Timothy Geithner for Secretary of Treasury.
The case of Timothy F. Geithner and his confirmation may enlighten Americans and alter conventions associated with language.
The new Treasury Secretary, his history, and who approved his appointment might help Americans understand that conjoined words provide a contrary perspective.
Timothy F. Geithner has a troublesome history of unpaid taxes. While he apologetically addressed this serious concern in Senate hearings, he could not negate the fact that he, an “economic expert” made more than a slight error. A man who works with ledgers, looked past his own numbers. For four years, he left levees unpaid. Only an Internal Revenue audit, supposedly, helped him to realize his records were wrong.
The most Progressive Senators thought this tale difficult to swallow. Legislators frequently labeled as the more extreme liberals, Feingold, Harkin, and Sanders pondered economic ethics. For these few an awareness for dollars due is required if one is to serve as Secretary of the Treasury. Hence, these Democrats decided the President’s selection for the Cabinet position was not a suitable choice.
From their vote, it might be assumed, the three thought morals must be considered in the definition of monetary expert. Perchance the Senators mused; if a fiscal guru is not immediately responsive to his or her own legal responsibilities, liabilities, how could that person be put in charge of the nation’s currency.
As one who is frequently characterized as a tax-and-spend-liberal, I know that moral values, and a code of consciousness concern me, especially when I consider Timothy Geithner as an economic expert..
I am exceedingly conservative, especially with money. I may not be an expert; nevertheless, I believe legal liabilities must be paid. Currency cannot be spent frivolously. Coins, I believe are meant to be saved. These pieces of eight add up.
This tax-and-spend-liberal, me, thinks people, no matter their rank or royalties paid to them must be responsible for what they owe society. The radical rationale I embrace dictates that as a part of the populace I must pay my fair share.
I think it vital that I, as a citizen, contribute to the greater good. Unlike Timothy F. Geithner, President and Chief Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since November 2003, and as of moments ago, Secretary of the Treasury., I would never withhold my taxes. The idea of it troubles me as it does my fellow so-called tax-and-spend-liberals, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and Bernie Sanders.
An economic expert, I will never be. Yet, I trust a levee, thoughtfully used, can strengthen the community. Admittedly, I observe that in America, much money is spent with reckless disregard. Witness, the credit crisis, and how a financial sage such as Timothy F. Geithner, does not sparingly dole out dollars.
That said, I remain secure in the knowledge that when we, the people, pool our resources, we can ensure that adequate educational facilities exist for all. Fire and police protection can be provided for everyone. When we pay the levees, libraries can be constructed, a supply of clean and fresh water flows, and waste is managed. A cultured and civilized community can thrive.
Tariffs afford us safety, sanity, and a sanitary environment. With the help of fellow citizens, the good life that taxes allow for is possible, even for Mister Geithner, who pays his duties selectively.
The monetary expert who played a prominent role in the management of the financial crisis that has engulfed Wall Street, failed to pay federal taxes for Social Security and Medicare from 2001 through 2004.
The fiscal sage had the funds. The current Secretary Geithner was a gainfully employed Senior Official at the International Monetary Fund,
In 2006, after the Internal Revenue Service audited the esteemed economic guru, Timothy F. Geithner paid his taxes for 2003. He presented a partial compensation for 2004. Secretary Geithner was able to avoid recompense for 2001 and 2002. The statute of limitations for these liabilities, fortuitously for the fiscal wizard, had expired. Hence, he was able to retain the gains that might have helped pay for schools, streets, libraries, water and waste management.
Likely, this respected representative of the people spent the money on personal pleasures. Now, with the authority vested in freeloader Timothy F. Geithner, he will have the ability to spend more of the tax dollars. Money, the most liberal among us, do not wish to squander.
The three tax-and-spend-liberal Senators, in practice, honored the adage, a book cannot be defined by it cover. People must peruse the pages carefully if we are to comprehend the content. The Democrats who did not approve of the appointment extrapolated and said, before we determine who is an economic expert, we must consider the ethical way in which that individual spends cash. A Treasury Secretary must, at least, consistently attend to accounts payable.
Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Bernie Sanders, and I would say, perchance, it is time to examine conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary. Perhaps, Americans could better define tax-and-spend-liberals and economic experts. It would seem countless of those whose politics are more progressive pay taxes and do not wish to spend. Those who think it fine to avoid the fees that contribute to the greater good of society, fritter the funds. They are not more liberal, just more liable.
The chap was well-dressed as was his wife. She expressed her distain with her husband’s choice. He would cast his ballot for John McCain in this election year. Taxes were his only concern. This lovely lady declared herself an active Democrat. She had been a Clinton supporter, Hillary that is. Now, she was decisively behind Barack Obama, and proud of it. I might not have known this or much else about the couple of strangers; however, in the year 2008, everyone seems anxious to share political concerns.
Times, as the adage states, are “tough.” Yet, life goes on. Families still celebrate birth dates, nuptials, and anniversaries. People continue to purchase gifts, although most do not feel they can afford to shop. Persons do not purchase until they drop. Instead, individuals in stores stop and chat of the financial crisis. They speak of fears and folly. Countless recount tales of pink slips received. Others anxiously await what they cannot predict. Will they soon be among the 6.1 percent unemployed Americans?
Those in malls understand the woes and are apprehensive they might be next. With more citizens out of work, millions find they cannot pay the mortgage. Ruthless subprime rates raked many United States residents over the proverbial coals. Home loan representatives, who indulged in illicit although not illegal, practices, have helped cause an abundance of foreclosures. Many Americans are out on the streets.
Rage, resentments, and calls for a revolution, are rampant. However, on the issue of tax policies those who benefited under the Bush plan want no change. Dollars held tightly in the palm of an individuals’ hand make sense to those such as this stylish gentleman I met more than a month ago.
For me, the discussion of government assessments began long before America became acquainted with “Joe the Plumber.” It commenced when, I met a couple, whose names I do not know. Perchance, as I tell this tale, I will call them John and Jane Doe. The man, woman, and I did not exchange names, although we had an extensive conversation. The three of us were in a second-hand store. Still, we all wondered whether we could afford to buy even one item.
Today prices are high. The cost of living soars. Incomes are depressed; dollars are too. Small businesses suffer. Workers employed in large and little companies fear they will not be able to survive. In September 2008, 159,000 jobs were lost. This monthly calculation is the worst seen in five years. Americans are not surprised. This computation confirms what most have felt. The economic downturn is severe. Hence, the trepidation for higher taxes.
Talk of tariffs adds to the daily stress people experience in hard economic times. John Doe expressed, for him, the only issue of import is levees. His spouse Jane sighed. Restless, she pleaded to her husband, “There is more to consider.” However, her husband remained resolute. This genteel gent was concerned with his own fortune, not with societal failures. The proposal presented before the public by Barack Obama, says persons such as “Joe the Plumber” and the fine fellow who stood before me, are reminiscent of Socialism. Republicans and Independents who see themselves as rugged individualist react strongly to the idea of wealth redistribution. Democrats attempt to remind all Americans of history.
A prominent Republican, Abraham Lincoln, first introduced the strategy that would rearrange the division of riches. During the Civil War, as costs to run a nation and sustain a war effort could no longer cover expenses, President Lincoln imposed an income tax, a progressive rate of return applied to revenue. Responsibly in 1862, the then President of the United States, choose to seek and preserve fiscal common sense. Unlike the current Commander-In-Chief, the former Chief Executive believed budgets must be balanced. Thus, citizens were charged a fee on income in order to pay for the conflict between the States.
The Civil War Commander also grasped an awful truth; if war is profitable, people will prefer the fight, President Lincoln hoped to ensure economic gain would not be an incentive for bloody battles. While his plan worked, the prosperous protested, just as they did during the Persian Gulf conflict.
Commander-In-Chief Lincoln struggled in his efforts to find a way to pay for the Civil War. Initially, President Lincoln turned to bankers to pay for the battles. After all, the citizens called barons of capitalism, in a derogatory fashion, had the money and the means. Yet, then, just as now, financiers would not fund what they thought an uncertain future.
In the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, lenders groused; loans are liens. Repayment is required. The individuals of yesteryear who wished to secure and retain personal profits were more than reluctant to part with cash. Indeed, they refused. The stranger who stood before me and “Joe he Plumber’ might relate. They too do not want to contribute a penny more of their cash to assist the country. Miserly might best describe the early proprietors of principal. The term may also apply to the gracious gentleman in my presence, the person I refer to as John, or to “Joe,” the man who fits pipes for his wages.
President Lincoln, may too have been as these fellows are, early in his career. However, wartime realities transformed him. As Chief Executive of a country divided, Abraham Lincoln realized the toll discordance takes. Lincoln learned to consider Thomas Paine a prophet. He acknowledged, as the astute author penned in Common Sense, as the population increases, individuals and small clusters of people can no longer care for themselves, friends, and family. Nor can a modest collective control the chaos that comes when people are overwhelmed by a desire to be the one and only.
John may wish to ponder the wisdom his wife expressed. Plumber Joe may want to join him. What the two thoughtful men might define as Socialism is, what Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln would classify as a society where government is of, by, and for the people.
Perchance, the truth of what became self-evident after the Republican experiment of 1862 had a profound effect on what occurred decades later. The excise became permanent with the adoption of the Constitution’s 16th amendment in 1913. Earlier the Supreme Court had rejected the duty; however, Congress, members of the Grand Old Party and Democrats together, overturned the decision.
Income tax has allowed America to civically function and build communities that flourish for near a century and one half. For the last one hundred years, citizens of this country have endured, enabled by a tax system that secures education for all. The current tax structure redistributes wealth so that we all might travel on paved roads, feel safe on secure bridges, and enjoy the creature comforts of cheap electricity, and access to ample water. John McCain, Sarah Palin, “Joe the Plumber,” persons of their ilk, and perhaps John Doe may prefer to be without the luxuries Americans take for granted. Fear of what they characterize as Communism or Socialism, could cause our society to crumble further.
That is exactly what the person I refer to as Jane, John’s life-long partner had endeavored to communicate as the three of us exchanged philosophies on the floor of A Consignment Shoppe. Jane attempted to assert the Bush Administration engaged in redistribution. George W. Bush gave to the super-rich and took from the poor and Middle Class. The trickle-down theory was in truth a splash up. The abundantly affluent were doused in dollars. Common citizens crumbled under the weight of the wealthiest gains.
Jane hoped she could explain, as did I. Our efforts proved futile. Neither of us had, close at hand, the evaluation of experts. Perhaps, had John been able to see the charts and graphs, had he read the terms of an agreement with Barack Obama or with John McCain, he would have recognized as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and we did.
New Tax Cuts
Refundable “Making Work Pay Credit” of 6.2 percent of earnings up to a maximum earnings of $8,100 per worker
Refundable “Universal Mortgage Credit” of 10 percent of mortgage interest for nonitemizers up to $800
Eliminate income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year
Make Research and Development and renewable energy production tax credit (wind, solar) permanent
Extend childless Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) phase-in range and increase phase-out threshold; increase EITC phase-in rate to 45 percent for families with three or more children; increase add-on to EITC phase-out threshold for married filers to $5,000
Make Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable and equal to 50 percent of child care expenses less than $6,000
Make saver’s credit refundable and change to a 50 percent match of the first $1,000 of contributions
Rename the Hope Credit the “American Opportunity Tax Credit” and expand it to a refundable credit of 100% of the first $4,000 of college expenses
Mandate automatic 401(k)s and automatic IRAs
Allow first-year deduction of 3 and 5-year equipment, deny interest deduction (expires after 2013)
Reduce maximum corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent (phased in by 2015)
Increase the dependent exemption by two-thirds (phased in by 2016)
Convert Research and Development credit to 10 percent of wages incurred for Research and Development, make permanent
Increase maximum capital gains rate to 20 percent for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples)
Require information reporting of basis for gains
Make permanent current rates on capital gains and dividends, (0 and 15 percent)
2001/2003 Tax Cuts
Permanently extend child credit expansions, 10, 15, 25, and 28 percent rates, and changes to tax implications of marriage
Restore 36 and 39.6 percent statutory income tax rates in 2009
Restore phase-out of personal exemptions and itemized deductions (PEP and Pease) for households making more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples), increase the PEP and Pease threshold
Make permanent all provisions other than the estate tax repeal
Alternative Minimum Tax
Extend and index 2007 AMT patch
Extend and index 2007 AMT patch, further increase exemption by additional 5 percent per year after 2013 (temporarily)
Make permanent estate tax with $3.5 million exemption and 45 percent rate
Make permanent estate tax with $5 million exemption and 15 percent rate
Provide taxpayers with simple returns the option of pre -filled tax forms to verify, sign, return to IRS
Create optional alternative tax with two rates and larger standard deduction and personal exemption
Revenue Raisers and Tax Havens
Eliminate oil and gas loopholes
Close loopholes in the corporate tax deductibility of CEO pay
Tax carried interest as ordinary income
Reallocate multinational tax deductions
Impose a windfall profits tax on oil and gas companies
Require publicly traded financial partnerships to pay corporate income tax
Codify economic substance doctrine (requires transactions that qualify for tax benefits have economic justification beyond those benefits)
Create an international tax haven watch list of countries who do not share information with the U.S. and require greater financial disclosure to decrease tax shelters
Repeal domestic production activities deduction
Eliminate oil and gas loopholes
Unspecified corporate base broadeners
Income-related federal tax subsidies for health insurance purchased through new health insurance exchange
Require employers to provide insurance or pay a percentage of payroll to support the national plan
Small business healthcare tax credit of 50 percent of employer paid premiums
Replace exclusion from income for employer sponsored health insurance with refundable credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families who purchase qualifying health insurance
As economic experts evaluate the numbers, calculate the computations, and consider how the Presidential challengers will pay for public works and raise revenues, the conclusion the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center professionals reach is a resolute reminder from the past. If John McCain is elected, American wealth will be redistributed as it was under George W. Bush. The smallest percentage of the population, the select few who qualify as super-rich will prosper. Should voters place Barack Obama in the Oval Office, we the poorer Middle Class will survive, perchance, even thrive.
The two candidates’ tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income. In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution . . .
The infrastructure [the supply of power and water, public transportation, telecommunications, roads and schools,] the luxuries that make life in America lovely will not exist without taxes. The discreet dude, John Doe, who spoke of his stocks, bonds, and levees imposed on income could have come to the conclusion that if we hold on tightly to what we, as individuals have, our hands are not open and free to build a greater communal wealth. The Oracle who resides in Nebraska understands this.
The “Sage of Omaha” thinks the strategy Barack Obama wishes to exercise is wise. The multi-billionaire investor states Barack Obama “is going to bring outstanding ideas” to the White House. Warren Buffett worries that America, under John McCain might stay the course that has not served us well. As the nation’s economy free falls into a downward spiral, Warren Buffett reasons.
“I think that the US has followed and is following policies which will cause the US dollar to weaken over a long period,” he said.
After voicing support for Obama, Buffett nonetheless noted the US economy had managed to do “awfully well” despite a depression, two world wars, and many financial crises.
“They say in the stock market … buy stock in a business that’s so good that an idiot can run it because sooner or later one will,” he added.
“Well, the United States is a little like that. We can take a little mis-management from time to time,” Buffett said.
The Presidential candidate, McCain understands that Mister Buffett may muse of more than his personal pocketbook. However, John McCain grieves not for one vote lost. Senator McCain and his handlers trust in human nature. Common people disregard the good sense of one who is unaffected by the financial crisis.
The Arizona Senator has faith; if he devotes his attention to everyday Americans, he can still win the presidency. The people’s choice is a reflection of how the public feels about the economy. If John McCain can convince John Doe, the man who might be an Investor, and Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the self-described soon-to-be owner of a profitable small plumbing business, that Barack Obama, like Abraham Lincoln before him, is a Socialist, Senator McCain will be successful in his bid for the White House.
Granted, if McCain become President, John Doe may not be provided for. Jane, his spouse, and I are sure Senator McCain will not care for our needs, but then Commander-In-Chief aspirant and Arizona affluent, McCain does not want the vote of those who recognize the rich reaped greater treasures from the Bush redistribution of wealth plan. Senator John McCain does not desire the vote of Obama supporters, such as billionaire Warren Buffett, who he cannot sway with slams of Socialism.
John McCain’s only wish is to seize a commitment from constituents who have not learned from history. The abundantly affluent Arizona Senator desires to hold on to those voters who are apprehensive. He seeks support from citizens who declare, as the Republican candidate does, the proposed tax plan of Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, is as Abraham Lincoln’s redistribution of wealth strategy was, “Socialism”
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat the cry is the same, “We want change!” For well over a year Americans have heard the words. Barack Obama is “The change we can believe in.” Currently, the cry is McCain is the change candidate, and certainly, he is. This Presidential aspirant, a celebrated “maverick,” has altered the conversation and transformed his candidacy. More than once, the media counted the former prisoner of war, John McCain, down and out; yet, the Arizona Senator rose as a Phoenix from the flames. Many Americans trust that the formidable fellow who fought for his country with blood, sweat, and tears is the best person to serve as President of the United States.
Rock star that the media says he may be, Senator Obama does not excite the masses, at least not here in America. Oh, he has his loyal followers. Delusional is how opponents define them. However, ask some of the electorate: committed Hillary Clinton supporters, Independents, and those within the Grand Old Party whether they trust that Barack Obama can or will transform the country, in a manner that is consistent with these voters views, and the answer will be a unqualified “No!”
Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman may have said it best for the persons who think Barack Obama is but an empty suit, “Sen. Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.”
The American people, anxious for a new American Revolution, do not want Barack Obama to lead them. Near fifty percent of the population does not trust the junior Senator from Illinois. Nor do they have faith in what they tout is a Washington insider, the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Joseph Biden.
Some say Obama is inexperienced, elite, out of touch, or they resent that he is too even tempered. John McCain seizes on the theme of ‘change.’ These individuals trust, the independent-thinker, the Senator from Arizona was and will be the candidate who can transform America. After all, those who are Right recall that Senator McCain decried partisan rancor in Washington. He reached over the aisle in the past. People who call themselves Conservatives trust that McCain will be a consensus builder when he needs to be. Yet, he will remain as philosophically independent as is his nature. John McCain stood up to his Party, and President in the past. He will do so again, The soon-to-be Commander-In-Chief vows change is coming. The Wall Street Journal avows John McCain is “The Change.”?
John McCain reminds citizens of this country, Democrats “tax and spend.” He, a Republican is different. Senator McCain says, “If you believe you should pay more taxes, then I am the wrong candidate for you.” The man of the people, who made a good life for himself understands the outrage. John McCain states, the electorate only need look at the tax plans each of the candidates propose.
More than half the population has no faith in the “elitist” candidate, Barack Obama. They trust as the McCain commercials avow. Barack Obama will raise taxes. The evidence, as calculated by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, affirms he will. Presidential hopeful will increase the levies charged to citizens whose income ranks among the rafters. Persons who earn $227,000 [two-hundred and twenty seven thousand dollars] upwards to $603,000 [six hundred and three thousand dollars] will realize a $12.00 average duty swell.
Average Tax Bill
Average Tax Bill
$603K – $2.9M
Source: The Tax Policy Center
The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers (see Figure 2). By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase-a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.
McCain would lift after-tax incomes an average of about 3 percent, or $1,400 annually, for middle-income taxpayers by 2012. But, in sharp contrast to Obama, he would cut taxes for those in the top 1% by more than $125,000, raising their after-tax income an average 9.5 percent.
Potential President John McCain concurs; his opponents tax plan is disgraceful and despicable. Barack Obama has the audacity to raise taxes an additional twelve dollars a year to those who already pay too much. That is not hope. A person who earns two hundred and twenty seven thousand up to six hundred and three thousand dollars works very hard for the income they take home. Certainly, these individuals cannot afford to bestow twelve dollars more to a do-nothing government. Those who toil for the wages they merit need relief. The government takes too much, far more than is reasonable. These persons have every right to retain the income they earned. The seven thousand eight hundred and seventy-one dollars John McCain’s plan would provide are but a mere pittance in comparison to what these individuals deserve.
The people who pound the pavement for a meager million dollars salary cannot contribute one dime more to the community budget that pays for police and fire services. The additional dollars needed to maintain the roads that rot beneath our feet must not come from small business owners. Bridges built or repaired must be funded by bonds, foreign investors, or on credit as they are now. Surely, with all the duties the government already collects, there are adequate resources. “I will not donate one more dollar to the Feds,” say the rich, or Republicans who feel overly burdened.
Potential President John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin do not worry of the debt the Bush Administration brought upon itself. The nonconformist from America’s western State, Arizona, mused aloud as he stood in a sea of Republican Convention goers, “I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We (the Republican Party) were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us.” The reluctant rebel expressed his regret for what but a few from the Grand Old Party did. “We lost — we lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption.” The senior Senator assured the throng of supporters that would not happen again, at least John McCain would not succumb to special interests, that is, except for the few Very Important Persons. John McCain is the change and he cannot be influenced by dollars.
The power brokers from the McCain campaign lavished attention on Mr. Johnson (Robert Wood Johnson IV, the billionaire heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and owner of the New York Jets) and others like him – his itinerary was a parade of exclusive receptions for V.I.P. donors. Before the convention ramped up Tuesday evening, Mr. Johnson, 61, was among a cluster of McCain campaign officials and supporters hovering outside a suite guarded by an aide. As Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and senior McCain adviser, chatted in one small circle, Mr. Johnson, 61, was at the center of another next to her, before he disappeared inside the suite with Mr. Davis.
Mr. Johnson has long been a player in Republican politics – he was a Bush Ranger in 2000 and 2004, raising more than $200,000 in each election. He has personally given more than $1 million to Republican candidates and committees over the years.
But this year, he emerged as perhaps the party’s most coveted donor. In May, after turning his office into a war room for more than a month and making sometimes 50 calls a day, he orchestrated a fund-raiser in New York City that brought in $7 million in a single evening for Mr. McCain, by far the largest amount collected up to that point by a campaign that had been struggling to raise money.
More recently, Mr. Johnson rode to the rescue of the Minneapolis-St. Paul convention host committee, helping it close a more than $10 million budget shortfall in a matter of weeks by writing a sizable check himself, getting his mother, who hails from Minneapolis, to do so as well, but also soliciting numerous large contributions from his circle of wealthy friends. . . .
“I’m not a real believer in limits,” Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson rarely speaks at length with reporters. But in a series of conversations, he said he was motivated by a belief in Mr. McCain . . .
Millions of Americans believe in John McCain. He is the candidate of change! They trust, as President, John McCain will face the national debt with his signature relentless dynamism. Republican Party loyalists do not fear the possibility; John McCain will become another George W. Bush. This soldier is above reproach. He has a proven record. The concerns of lobbyist would not influence John McCain. He learned his lesson after the Keating debacle. John McCain was devastated when a “favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended his political career.” Times have changed for John McCain and now he is ready to change times for the nation.
John McCain will not do as his predecessor has done. An endless conflict will not drain the budget of trillions of dollars as it did during the Bush Administration. John McCain, a prisoner of war knew how to win this one, the battle in Iraq, or that one, the fight in Afghanistan. John McCain is not a hothead. He will be more cautious before he places troops into battle.
Surely, one needs only consider the surge strategy. It is obvious; John McCain has demonstrated Democrats are definitely not the cure for what ails this country. If the policies proposed by the “inexperienced” Barack Obama are to stand, to be sure, internationally, internally, and especially economically, the nation will fall. More would be placed on the proverbial credit card.
Governor Sarah Palin has the experience needed to create smaller government. She will help ensure that the McCain Administration reduces the financial burden on the average American. Sarah Palin is an asset to the McCain campaign’s efforts to diminish waste and eliminate levies. The public trough is too large; it must be obliterated. People can pull themselves up, by the bootstraps. That, after all is the American Dream so many have achieved.
As many resources reference, The Wasilla Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2003, within the body of Table 1, reveals total government expenditures increased 63 percent when Mayor Palin was in charge. In fiscal 2003, the last year in which this superior executive approved the budget, the sum costs the City of Wasilla incurred, with the exclusion of capital outlays, were $7,046,325. In fiscal 1996, the year prior to a Palin Administration, budget expenditures were $4,317,947. The municipality doled out a mere sixty-three (63) percent more than they had before this fiscally responsible financier entered into office.
Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years, according to a newly updated analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Neither candidate’s plan would significantly increase economic growth unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases that the campaigns have not specified.
Compared to current law, TPC estimates the Obama plan would cut taxes by $2.9 trillion over the 2009-2018 period. McCain would reduce taxes by nearly $4.2 trillion (see Summary Revenue Table and Tables R1 and R2). These projections assume the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire in 2010 and that the Alternative Minimum Tax is fully effective with 2008 exemptions.
Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin would be better than Barack Obama at the helm. Her “Barracuda” ways would lead American out of a fiscal slump. The former Mayor of Wasilla has shown us all, she knows how to organize a community and balance the books. One only needs to look at her record, or the ledger submitted to the State of Alaska, to know that even as a young city executive, this woman could create a budget. She could change the dynamics. Indeed, Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin, showed herself to be the candidate of change. Sarah Palin proposed and built a Multiple-use Sports complex for but $14.7 million dollars. A bond paid for the construction of the facility.
Sarah Palin transformed a balanced budget into a serious debt or so it would seem, near nineteen million dollars. However, she had reasons. The Hockey Mom thought it essential to provide ice time for the hundreds of youngsters who needed a place to practice. Mayor Palin invested in the local infrastructure. The stories of sons and daughters desperate for a rink were many.
Rebecca Dargis, who lives near Wasilla, says her two home-school sons struggle to find ice time for their competitive hockey team. They often have to play games without practicing, or if they do find ice time, it’s at odd hours like during church on Sundays or late on weeknights, she said. . . .
Even the Valley’s four high school hockey teams, which get priority at the rink, have to trade off practicing at 5:30 in the morning because it’s one of the few times available, Colony High School hockey coach Eric Troisi said . . .
A sports complex has been talked about for some time. Several years ago, Valley voters turned down a state grant to build a sports center, said Curt Menard Sr., who served on a nine-member steering committee Palin created to look at options for building a sports center.
The state grant required the borough pick up the tab for operating the center, Menard said.
Wasilla city residents would also have to pick up the tab for operating this center, but Blair said it eventually will pay for itself.
His company estimated the facility will cost about $600,000 a year to operate and will generate about $550,000 in user fees in its first year. After that, it should break even, he said. . . .
Borough land manager Ron Swanson said officials were concerned the center would not pay for itself.
Swanson said the borough-operated Brett arena, opened in 1983, has yet to break even. But it came close last year, generating about $350,000 of the $380,000 it cost to operate.
Nonetheless, as an agent of change, and a maverick much like John McCain, Sarah Palin helped to persuade her constituents the could have their Multi-use Sports Complex, pay an additional tax, and play on the ice too. Mayor Palin had the power to plead her case as few did. This sensational political aspirant can and did sway many to do as she thought fit. Hence, money was spent, but only to serve the community. Service to the community is change we can believe in.
As many resources reference, The Wasilla Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2003, within the body of Table 1, reveals total government expenditures increased 63 percent when Mayor Palin was in charge. In fiscal 2003, the last year in which this superior executive approved the budget, the sum costs the City of Wasilla incurred, with the exclusion of capital outlays, were $7,046,325. In fiscal 1996, the year prior to a Palin Administration, budget expenditures were $4,317,947. The municipality doled out a mere sixty-three (63) percent more than they had before this fiscally responsible financier entered into office.
While Sarah Palin can spend, it matters not for she knows how to garner funds. As Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin embraced earmarks. As a small-town Chief Executive and later as a Governor Palin did not hesitate to seek spectacular sources for greater income. According to a Washington Post article by Paul Kane, Mayor Palin secured almost $27 million in projects for her tiny hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.
Had he known, and the assumption is he did not, the honorable John McCain would have been chagrined by the prospect that, the Alaskan politician employed a lobbying firm to help provide the six thousand seven hundred (6,700) residents of Wasilla with multiple millions in attractive Federal allocations.
John McCain was familiar with the fact. Perhaps his refrain would be. Of course, some are concerned with her past practices. Americans must remember, while Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin was young. She was new to her position. Perchance political realities had overwhelmed her. Granted, more recently, as Governor of the State, Sarah Palin again sought and found abundant funds. She needed to. While it is true, under her leadership, the state of Alaska requested 31 earmarks, more per person than any other State had. The total worth of this requested treasure chest is $197.8 million. The money will be made available in next year’s federal budget, according to the website of Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. That does not mean that she is a spendthrift. Sarah Palin simply knows how to work within the system.
Earmarks are close to sacrosanct in Alaska, which routinely reaps more money per resident for such projects than any other state because of the seniority and aggressiveness of Mr. Stevens and Mr. Young (both now mired in unrelated corruption inquiries.)
Perchance, the possibility of a Vice Presidential nomination gave Sarah Palin reason for change, or the conceivable indictment of Senator Stevens caused the Governor concern. Sarah Palin has changed. The Vice Presidential nominee has been publicly critical of requests she, Senator Stevens, and others made for $223 million in federal funds.
The dollars meant to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Gravina Island, became a source of contention once detractors labeled the project, “the Bridge to Nowhere.” Governor Palin understood her earlier error.
As a candidate for Governor in 2006, Sarah Palin supported the bridge and the use of Federal funds to construct it. After she became the Chief Executive in Alaska, Governor Palin was happy to take the dollars initially intended for the structure. Sarah Palin stopped the bridge to nowhere! This Governor knows what it means to build a bridge without the help of big government dollars.
She said she would use federal funds for other purposes. Tis true, she changed; and yet, perhaps not as much or as quickly as the soon-to-be President John McCain would have preferred. Still, Republicans take heart. Sarah Palin is not at the top of the ticket. That honor is reserved for Senator McCain.
Still, she is a superior choice for Vice President. The earmark story shows she can be transformed in a moment. More importantly, she can transform an assembly of Convention goers and a television audience of millions. Sarah Palin is the change Republicans can believe in! She spoke of how Barack Obama had written two memoirs and had not yet authored a governmental Bill. That statement was powerful.
The people in the audience at the Republican Convention, as well as television viewers throughout the nation, responded very well to the words of Governor Palin. Her delivery is what America needs in a President. This bit bull who wears lipstick can and does perform. Thankfully, she is no Barack Obama. Sarah Palin has executive experience. Barack Obama has only a speech or two to tout, and zero legislation. That is, unless you consider the reforms that directly address the dreaded earmarks Sarah Palin is so famous for, or the love for lobbyists Sarah Palin and John McCain have each grappled with. Senator Obama is personally responsible for a litany of laws that might threaten the mavericks who are certainly the candidates of change.
Throughout his political career, Barack Obama has fought for open and honest government. As an Illinois State Senator, he helped pass the state’s first major ethics reform bill in 25 years. And as a U.S. Senator, he has spearheaded the effort to clean up Washington in the wake of numerous scandals.
In the first two weeks of the 110th Congress, Senator Obama helped lead the Senate to pass the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act, a comprehensive ethics and lobbying reform bill, by a 96-2 vote. This landmark bill was signed into law by the President in September 2007 . . .
Most importantly, the final reform bill contained a provision pushed by Senator Obama to require the disclosure of contributions that registered lobbyists “bundle” – that is, collect or arrange – for candidates, leadership PACs, and party committees. The New York Times called this provision “the most sweeping” in the bill, and the Washington Post said: “No single change would add more to public understanding of how money really operates in Washington.”
In January 2006, Senator Obama laid the groundwork for the reform package that the Senate eventually adopted a year later. He started building a coalition for reform by helping to author the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act introduced with 41 Democratic sponsors. The bill proposed lengthening the cooling off period to two years for lawmakers who seek to become lobbyists and requiring immediate disclosure as soon as public servants initiate any job negotiations to become lobbyists . . . In addition, Senator Obama sponsored three other ethics-related bills in the 109th Congress that went even further on ethics, earmarks, and legislative transparency . . .
Then there was the The Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission Act. This bill was widely endorsed by reform groups. Common Cause: stated, “[T]his legislation would do more to reform ethics and lobbying than any other piece of legislation introduced thus far because it goes to the heart of the problem: enforcement.” Public Citizen extolled Senator Obama “for having the courage to challenge the business-as-usual environment on Capitol Hill and introduce far-reaching legislation.” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington offered commendation. “This is the first bill that deals seriously with the lack of oversight and enforcement in the existing congressional ethics process. . . . This bill will help restore Americans’ confidence in the integrity of Congress.
Perchance, there are Bills Barack Obama authored. Apparently, the Illinois Senator wrote legislation that passed in his home State, and also in the United States Senate. Nonetheless, Senator Obama lacks the qualifications John McCain and Sarah Palin have. The change he claims is not as the nimble moves of two rebels might be. Senator Obama does not know how to tell his tale in a manner that obfuscates truth. He is not practiced in propaganda. Nor does he pander as skillfully as the Grand Old Party dissenters do.
Senator Obama has not divorced himself from his Party, as Sarah Palin and John McCain have. Barack Obama is not talented in the art of treachery. On the other hand, his Republican opponents have mastered the craft of change rhetoric. The McCain Palin twosome can successfully run as Party loyalists, while they claim to be outsiders. All are in awe, as Americans suspend belief. Indeed, this pair has changed the election. Ultimately, the partnership will fix Washington.
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama does not compare. He does not steal slogans or secure multi-million, billion dollar endorsements as well as John McCain and Sarah Palin do. Barack Obama works to serve the poor, the underclass, and the community. What can these little people do for him? Nothing!
Senator Obama is not as slick in the art of deceit and deception. It is dubious that he can change what he does not understand. Politics is a game. People are but pawns. Perhaps, Joseph Lieberman was correct. “Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.”
Republicans have faith, Barack Obama needs further training. It will be a time before he knows how to present the status quo as though it is a true transformation. The record speaks volumes. American voters might wish to assess, what sort of change this country can believe in, the illusionary image created with smoke and mirrors or the authentic alteration that comes from within a community well-organized!
What do you talk about when you, a Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate have nothing good to say of yourself? What can be said to encourage people to endorse you when your proposed policies will hurt them? What do you talk about when you cannot explain, the last years that define the failure of your Party?
You speak of others. Then, no one will notice what you do not want them to acknowledge. When you are not as wondrous as people hope you will be, criticize someone else. Slice, dice, and place people on the defensive. Lessen the worth of one who looms too large for your liking. Then, attention will be diverted away from you. A common enemy can be your cause. If people in your Party have someone to actively oppose they will joyfully join you in a quest to conquer.
If you have nothing good to say of yourself or your plans, consider the options. You might lie by omission. Certainly, what someone does not know will not hurt him or her, or more importantly, you will not be scathed. Build on a your personal tale. We have all experienced pain and suffering. A real-life crisis will cause a heart to bleed. People relate to a sad saga or a situation. Perceived strength can be an asset. Everyone loves a survivor. As a society, we admire those who sacrifice. Be that person, the saint who suffers in silence, or share the story of a sympathetic son, a daughter, a husband, or wife.
When you have nothing to say that might help endear you to those you most wish to influence, then say nothing of the economic decline that you helped to create. Do not remind the many of a corporate culture that endorses you and yet, denies people adequate pay or employment. If your words will cause worry to those who have lost income and a sense of self then do not dare mention the numbers out of work. As a Party or person who permits big business to outsource jobs, you must not speak of opportunities that no longer exist for the poor and Middle Class here at home.
The unemployment rate jumped to 6.1 percent in August, its highest level in five years, pushing the troubles of American workers to the center of the political debate as the presidential campaign enters its final weeks.
For the eighth consecutive month, the nation’s employers shed jobs, 84,000 last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. In all, 605,000 jobs have been lost since January. The steady rise in unemployment, from 5.7 percent in July and 5 percent in April, is one that many economists associate with recession.
If you are among the rich or the Right who deny health care coverage to all children, and to every citizen do not speak of the millions who must declare bankruptcy due to an illness. Do not tell the tale the will push people away from you at the polls. If you have nothing, good to say of the medical coverage your Administration will offer say nothing at all. Surely, you cannot quote the analysis. You do not wish for people to ponder.
In the July 23 update of its analysis, Tax Policy Center (TPC) added a preliminary estimate of the candidates’ health care proposals. Because the campaigns did not provide complete plans, TPC assumed certain details. We conclude that the McCain plan, which would replace the current exclusion for employer-paid premiums with a refundable income tax credit of up to $5000 for anyone purchasing of health insurance and make other changes to the healthcare system, would increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years and modestly trim the number of uninsured.
The Obama plan, which would make relatively low-cost insurance available to everyone through non-group pools and subsidize premiums for low and moderate-income households, would cost $1.6 trillion, but would also cover virtually all children and many currently uninsured adults.
As a candidate who wishes to tax the Middle Class, and not the affluent, do not tell the masses what you will do once in the Oval Office. They cannot know for a common man or woman will not cast a ballot if they see or hear the projected statistics. There is no need to remind millions of Americans of what will alienate them, the actual reality.
The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers (see Figure 2). By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase-a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.
McCain would lift after-tax incomes an average of about 3 percent, or $1,400 annually, for middle-income taxpayers by 2012. But, in sharp contrast to Obama, he would cut taxes for those in the top 1% by more than $125,000, raising their after-tax income an average 9.5 percent.
Say nothing or say what will generate gratitude for you, for your service, for your chutzpah. Be bold. Be brave. Be brassy. Be brazen, just be safe. Say nothing of what will bring attention to you. Divorce yourself from your political past and your Party. Be the agent of covert change. Certainly, that is what citizens who know nothing of what you have not said will believe in.
Each evening I go to sleep and hope that in the morning when I awake, the nightmare will be over. I am unsure whether it has been days, weeks, months, or years since I felt as though there was reason to expect all would be well. I contemplate the plight of many, and my heart bleeds. I wonder; can we say we live for the Seventh Generation or must we accept that our progeny will not survive.
In America, adults believe a healthy economy equates to profits, not authentic assets. Mature minds act as though people are worth less than a pocket full of coins. Yet, individuals of age whose priorities are askew, determine what is best for the beloved young. Frequently, those old enough to support themselves think of little but their individual survival. Rarely, do working stiffs realize they are part of a community. In America, until there is a time of crisis, it is every man or woman for his or herself.
It seems we, as a society, do not recognize that in each moment, we are part of a whole. Each and every one of us belongs to a community. Americans feel isolated, insulated from their neighbors. As inhabitants of Earth, we are one. What any of us does, will affect another. Yet, we ignore this truth. We disregard much. We allow for what occurs, as long as we do not think it will harm us directly.
This week, the Bush Administration took advantage of our apathy. The Administration altered the regulations of the State Children’s Health insurance Program [SCHIP.] Few Americans will blink an eye. Most people are focused on providing for their families in the only way they know how. They work. Parents of the millions of children without insurance have learned to accommodate. Some never knew they could apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.
Residents of this country think themselves too busy, too stressed, too overwhelmed to worry about those outside their circle. They go about their day doing what they know needs to be done, and do not realize what they overlook. What occurs, even to the offspring they say they love is often too much to bear. To ideate our intention, then ruminate on our reality is painful.
Greensboro, N.C. – During the four years that her children were uninsured, Cassie O. Hall used the emergency room as their pediatrician. When Tayana had an asthma attack or Darren developed a stubborn rash, they would head to the hospital and settle in for a long wait.
The children never got physical exams or booster shots. And as the unpaid hospital bills stacked up, the threshold for a visit grew higher. “They would have to be half-dead before I would take them,” said Ms. Hall, a day care operator who could not afford private insurance.
It was only in May that Ms. Hall learned that her family qualified for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides subsidized insurance to children of the working poor. That she had never heard of the joint state and federal program made her typical of countless parents of the estimated eight million uninsured children.
Despite a decade of marketing efforts by governments and private foundations, nearly 30 percent of children who are eligible for the health insurance program and are not covered by private plans have yet to enroll, according to a new government study.
The reasons for this are ample. In America, families are in flux. People move. Households split. One parent or another might think they are not responsible for the health care coverage of their child. Those without often hide. They are embarrassed by their circumstances.
If a mother or father changes jobs, insurance may come or go. Transitions may initially be thought temporary. Perhaps, what occurs is merely characteristic of our culture. People are busy. They wait for a catastrophe before they act.
Possibly, the public will not express their concern because they do not recognize the depth of the dilemma. Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Peter R. Orszag understands the reasons for this. In a letter addressed to United States Senator, Max Baucus, Chairman of the Committee on Finance he offers some insight into the information regarding uninsured children.
In response to your letter of July 10, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has examined available estimates of the number of children who lack health insurance, but are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance program (SCHIP). Some empirical studies have found that there are between 5 million and 6 million such children. In contrast to those studies, the Administration recently estimated that a much smaller number, 1.1 million children, lack health insurance but are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.
In an August 2005 report prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and completed by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) and the Urban Institute using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) researchers stated, in 2003, 8.4 million children are uninsured. As noted, there is ample reason to believe the number is now much higher. However, it is difficult to know what is valid. Unfortunately, few care. They have no time for such technicalities.
All around the nation, for adults, life goes on; day-to-day perceived “necessities” overwhelm them,. Mature and “civilized” persons “must” consume petroleum products. Grown-ups are required to ravage the terrain in an attempt to supply for our infinite “needs.” We fight for freedom so that we might incinerate more oil. We spoil the soil with waste from our factories. Waterways are boulevards for gas-guzzling boats. American citizens devour foods contaminated with chemicals.
In the meantime, roads crack. Rivers fill with filth. The ozone layer deteriorates, as does the health of the planet. Our children may feel the burden of our lifestyle more than we do. Their little bodies are more susceptible to environmental influences. Healthy habitats seem a thing of the past.
While we wallow in war and work for our individual riches, we ignore what matters most. The quality of our shared existence; the importance of our common well-being, the children, their health, and ours.
Currently, young persons, those older and the elderly acquire chronic respiratory illnesses at a rate not thought possible. The weight of the world settles in the bellies of a population grown fat. We trust that someone, somewhere, will do what we dare not, consciously choose to care about more than the moment. We seek a quick fix to all that ails us. Perhaps, drugs will reduce the pain; however, who can afford a prescription. Parents struggle to pay their own bills. Children dependent on the care of a mother, father, guardian, or two parents often realize that unless they are severely ill, medical procedures must be postponed.
Many parents of uninsured children say they cannot afford unexpected medical bills and emergency room visits. They report that they avoid medical costs whenever they can by treating illnesses at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. Almost all say they postpone medical care for their children and put off buying prescription drugs when they can. A parent of an uninsured child in Miami said, “We try not to get sick. I try not to think about it too much.”
Americans avoid much in word and deed. Citizens feel powerless. They perceive the government is separate from them. Senators, Congressmen, and women, even the President does not represent the common folk. The conventional wisdom is “‘Politicians are crooks.” The public, for the most part sees no reason to be politically active; apathy is rampant in the United States.
We do not understand that we “the people” are the authority. Democracy defines ‘government’ as of, by, and for the people. Our vote counts. Yet, in a nation where the Administration implements regulations that conflict with the intent of the law, citizens forget, they have the clout. In recent decades, Americans are reluctant to go to the polls.
When the populace does vote, and embrace their authentic power, image, or electability, govern most decisions. Candidates are sold to the people. Pretty or popular persons are thought profound. Yes, money moves much, perhaps all. Certainly, the power of wealth is influencing the state Children’s Health Insurance Program. Consider the Bush proposal.
[President Bush] He has proposed about $5 billion in new funding for children’s health insurance over five years, for a total of $30 billion — an amount that the Congressional Budget Office says would be too little to keep covering even just the number of children enrolled in the program now.
George W. Bush is not alone in his desire to under-fund the needs of the nation and its residents. Most Americans want to keep their earned income in their personal pocket. Residents in my region proclaim property taxes are too high; they must be cut. The possibility alone has caused massive layoffs in this community. City workers were awarded pink slips. Immediately vandalism rose in public facilities.
Weeks ago, the nation heard of the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis and discovered there are thousands more troubled structures throughout the States. As we, the people, spend billions, trillions on defense, our infrastructure crumbles beneath us. Our progeny fall to pieces before our eyes, and we do little to help them. Indeed, the rules are changed so that less of the littlest people will be cared for.
The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.
Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a month-long Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.
After learning of the new policy, some state officials said yesterday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.
“We are horrified at the new federal policy,” said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. “It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”
Stan Rosenstein, the Medicaid director in California, said the new policy was “highly restrictive, much more restrictive than what we want to do.”
The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level – $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent- $82,600 for a family of four – but the change is subject to federal approval.
California wants to increase its income limit to 300 percent of the poverty level, from 250 percent. Pennsylvania recently raised its limit to 300 percent, from 200 percent. New Jersey has had a limit of 350 percent for more than five years.
As with issues like immigration, the White House is taking action on its own to advance policies that have not been embraced by Congress.
Immigration is not the only issue of import that calls the White House to action. Frequently, the Bush Administration wields its power to protect entrepreneurs and discounts the value of employees. The Executive Branch plans to do so again and again, much to the detriment of everyday folk. Only weeks ago, workers died in mines notably too dangerous for man. Wealthy businessmen or women, such as the colliery owner prefer to pay fines when “government” imposed industry standards [laws enacted for the good of the greater community] are not meet.
Mattingly: Robert Murray bought the Crandall Canyon mine only a year ago and, until the accident, it was one of his safest mines. But “Keeping Them Honest,” we checked government records, and found they list Murray as the head of 19 mining operations in five states. Only seven are active underground mines, and four of them have injury rates above the national average. At the Galatia mine in southern Illinois, the rate of injuries has exceeded the national average every year since Murray bought the mine in 1998. The rate of injuries was almost cut in half from 2003 to 2006, but the mine has also racked up over 3,400 citations in the last 2 1/2 years, 968 so far this year, with nearly a quarter considered significant and substantial.
Ellen Smith, Mine Safety & Health News: You wonder how that many violations can build up in that little amount of time. Now, you have to remember he’s challenging a lot of the citations, but when you look, he’s also paid a lot in fines.
Mattingly: He paid almost $700,000 in fines from 2005 and 2006. So far, this year Galatia has been hit with 31 major citations, each exceeding $10,000. That’s more violations than any other mine in the country and second in total fines. (on camera) And Galatia wasn’t Murray’s first big problem. In 2003 managers at his mining company in Kentucky were found guilty of violating safety standards and attempting to cover it up. The company was ordered to pay a $306,000 fine.
(voice-over) Requests for comments from officials at Murray Energy were not answered. CNN asked Murray about safety records of his other underground mines at a news conference Monday. Murray said he would only talk about Crandall Canyon.
Mine owner Robert Murray apparently recognizes that he, just as George W. Bush can control the conversation. People will not protest loudly or for long. It is [usually] safer to talk about the weather. Let us discuss our current climate conditions.
Citizens in the Midwest experienced rains such as they have never seen. Cities built on concrete cannot absorb the deluge. The few trees that budgets maintain are toppled. No matter.
We have come to expect and accept global warming as a fact. We do little or nothing to change the course nature now takes. We discount the health of the planet, just as we disregard the well being of our babies or our own bodies. Man does not seem to recognize a need for the oxygen foliage and flora provide, evident by deforestation and the lack of tree-lined streets. Nor does he or she realize the health of our children correlates to the physical and moral condition of our broader communities.
Today, winds gust at speeds not recorded in year’s prior. Hurricane Dean in Mexico, is now on people’s radar. I am reminded of how, during the 2005 hurricane season, people in the plains expressed their resentment for the possibility that they may need to supplement the effort to rebuild with Federal funds. Some thought those that live in areas such as Louisiana and Florida silly to request financial aid from those that reside in other areas of the country. The cry was, “It is not my concern.” Followed by “Why should I care?”
Perhaps, I can respond to that query in a meaningful manner. When we do not care for others or their needs; ultimately, we will likely realize we did not care for ourselves. We are indeed, all connected.
Deamonte Driver had a toothache. He was 12 years old. He had no insurance, and his mother couldn’t afford the $80 to have the decayed tooth removed. He might have gotten it taken care of through Medicaid, but his mother couldn’t find a dentist who accepted the low reimbursements. Instead, Deamonte got some minimal attention from an emergency room, his condition worsened and he died. Deamonte was one of 9 million children in the U.S. without health insurance.
Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that will cover poor children in the U.S.
The major obstacle? President Bush is vowing to veto the bill, even though Republican and Democratic senators reached bipartisan agreement on it. The bill adds $35 billion to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next five years by increasing federal taxes on cigarettes.
The conservative Heritage Foundation is against the tobacco tax to fund SCHIP, saying that it “disproportionately burdens low-income smokers” as well as “young adults.” No mention is made of any adverse impact on Heritage-funder Altria Group, the cigarette giant formerly known as Philip Morris.
According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, with every 10 percent rise in the cigarette tax, youth smoking drops by 7 percent and overall smoking declines by 4 percent. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, says: “It is a public health good in and of itself and will save lives to increase the tobacco tax. Cigarettes kill and cigarettes provoke lung cancer, and every child and every [other] human being we can, by increasing the cigarette tax, stop from smoking or slow down from smoking is going to have a public health benefit, save taxpayers money from the cost of the effects of smoking and tobacco.”
Two programs serve as the health safety net for poor and working-class children: Medicaid and SCHIP (pronounced “s-chip”). SCHIP is a federal grant program that allows states to provide health coverage to children who belong to working families earning too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance when their employers do not provide it. It’s the SCHIP funding that is now being debated in Congress.
The Children’s Defense Fund has published scores of stories similar to Deamonte’s. Children like Devante Johnson of Houston. At 13, Devante was fighting advanced kidney cancer. His mother tried to renew his Medicaid coverage, but bureaucratic red tape tied up the process. By the time Devante got access to the care he needed, his fate was sealed. He died at the age of 14, in Bush’s home state, only miles from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer treatment and research facilities.
Our children depend on us and we ignore their pleas and their plight. Possibly, we are as we remember. Our parents counted the available cash, they pinched pennies, or saved for the rainy day. Perhaps, we are far worse. We are not the providers our mothers and fathers were, and there in lies the problem.
We cannot be certain these numbers are accurate. As stated earlier, the current Administration tweaked the accounts. Thus, what we believe to be true may be as dependent as our children are. Nonetheless, we must understand that uninsured children will suffer even if Congress can override an expected Presidential veto.
As of late August 2007, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Bill [SCHIP] is not the healthy plan it was intended to be. For months, the White House wrangled with members of the House and Senate; they argued over the finer points of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, The cost and the conditions necessary for application were in question. Lawmakers see a need to expand the program. The Bush Administration favors cuts. While Congress was in recess, during the quiet days of summer, the Executive Branch stepped in and stripped the law. The effectiveness of a popular children’s health insurance program is now lost. In its current form, the Bill is but a skeleton, bare to the bone. New rules mandate States . .
– Assure the federal government that at least 95 percent of children currently eligible for S-CHIP or Medicaid are enrolled in one of those programs.
– Make sure that an S-CHIP family’s contribution to its health care costs (premiums, co-pays and deductibles) is only slightly less than the family would pay for a comparable private insurance plan.
One can only sigh as Ann Kohler, New Jersey Deputy Commissioner of Human Services does. She shrugs and states this part of the law is unfair. “I cannot imagine any state being able to comply with that.”
Judith Solomon, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, used to run the outreach program for Connecticut’s S-CHIP program. She says you couldn’t get that enrollment rate up to 95 percent even if you knocked on every door in the state looking for eligible kids. There are language barriers – people who just don’t want public assistance – and it’s a population that’s always in flux.
“Children are born, children age out, they reach age 19 and are no longer eligible,” Solomon says. “Family income goes up, family income goes down; it’s a very dynamic situation.”
Once again, we are reminded, the elders focus on financial matters more than physical realities. In this nation, people are not the priority. Political gestures, those that favor friends, take precedence. For the President, insurance companies are more likely to fill his pockets than the poor and impoverished will. For we, the people, particularly those whose purses are empty, might we stop and consider what brings us greater fulfillment. Is it our children, our community, or our self-imposed ignorance. Might we embrace empathy, love our neighbors more than the almighty buck, endow our children with quality health care services, and enjoy what truly matters, people and the profound affect we have on the life of our community.
Sources for State Children’s Health Insurance Program . . .
Having been among the uninsured for decades, while working full time in respectable professional positions, I cannot imagine a nation more insensitive than this one is! We, as a nation attend to the health needs of those we intentionally maimed and massacred, the civilians of Iraq [and our own soldiers,] more so than we do to our local citizenry, those suffering or simply surviving in this nation. With this novel plan, circumstances will worsen.
I thank you Congressman Jim McDermott for pointing this out.
Madam Speaker, we already pay enough for universal health care in this country, but we are not getting it. The administration misleads the American people by having the Secretary of Health and Human Services say, and I quote, “You are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage.” The truth is that every other industrialized nation in the world has a universal health system except the United States. Half the bankruptcies in this country are due to health care costs.
I discovered long ago that many were as I. They were embarrassed to admit that they were without medical coverage. People look down on the uninsured, as though they are uninformed, uneducated, lacking in intelligence rather than struggling to survive. Funds are few when we live in a society that strokes the needs of the already affluent and disregards the needs of the common folk. It seems in America, we just do not care. Creating a community or a country that thrives is not our agenda. Here it is every man or woman for him or herself. Businesses no longer promote loyalty. Profits are their goal. Margins are steep. Mister Bush now wants to make these steeper.
What is already scarce, adequate health care, will be made more scarce if President Bush has his way.
The Census Bureau estimates that 175 million Americans obtain private health insurance through employers, while 27 million people are covered by insurance bought outside the workplace. The rest, with the exception of the 47 million uninsured, are covered through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and military health care.
Under Mr. Bush’s proposal, people buying health insurance on their own would receive a tax break similar to the one that has historically been available to people who receive coverage through their jobs. The plan is tied to the average cost of family health coverage, which is currently $11,500 a year.
I must stop here and ask how will those that are already strapped purchase a plan, or pay taxes on policies that already deplete their budgets? Granted, Mister Bush has never needed to balance a budget. Congress seems to cater to his whims and allocate funds for what is not placed in the financial plan [consider the Iraqi war] however, most of us do not have infinite resources to turn to.
More and more in America, people are foregoing health care services because they simply cannot afford them. Even those that have insurance realize there are and pay handsomely, the deductibles. More and more, corporations are “asking” employees to pay for their health insurance policies. Those companies that still supply this necessary benefit require their personnel to pay a large portion of the costs. Where might workers find the funds to cover the proposed tax? Nevertheless, here are the details
It [the Bush Health Care Plan] would work like this: The administration would cap the amount of benefits that can remain tax free at $15,000 for a family and $7,500 for an individual. Anyone whose health insurance cost more than that would pay taxes on the difference. For example, a family with coverage costing $16,000 a year would pay taxes on $1,000.
The cap would also be used to establish the amount of the new deduction for people who lack coverage. In this example, a family buying insurance on its own could take a $15,000 deduction – even if the insurance cost less. The cap would rise with some measure of overall inflation, but would not necessarily keep pace with the costs of medical care and health insurance.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage the president, said, “The vast majority of people with employer-provided coverage will benefit as well.”
One of the nation’s leading experts on tax policy, C. Eugene Steuerle, a Treasury official in the Reagan administration who is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said the proposal “would probably help increase the number of people with health insurance at no cost to the budget.”
Yes, let us provide a false sense of security while penalizing the people at no cost to the government. I once believed that the government was of, by, and for the people. We worked together for the greater good.
United we are strong. When divided, us and them, management or employee, government or gravelling low-life, we fall. Nevertheless, the great “uniter” continues to divide us. Thank fully, even entrepreneur see the flaw in this logic.
The administration official said the White House envisioned health insurance companies offering new plans to meet a growing market. But employers expressed doubts.
“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to help Paul pay for coverage,” said E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, which represents retailers of all sizes. “I do not think the president will find many backers in the employer community for this proposal.”
In trying to address the problems of the uninsured, Mr. Trautwein said, “we should not start by endangering coverage for people who already have it.”
Voices of calm, those that care have been speaking of the benefits of a Universal Health care system for decades. However, their rational falls on deaf ears. I submit some of the reasoning for your review once again.
Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care as a right of citizenship? The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship. 28 industrialized nations have single payer universal health care systems, while 1 (Germany) has a multipayer universal health care system like President Clinton proposed for the United States.?
Myth One: The United States has the best health care system in the world. Fact One: The United States ranks 23rd in infant mortality, down from 12th in 1960 and 21st in 1990
Fact Two: The United States ranks 20th in life expectancy for women down from 1st in 1945 and 13th in 1960
Fact Three: The United States ranks 21st in life expectancy for men down from 1st in 1945 and 17th in 1960.
Fact Four: The United States ranks between 50th and 100th in immunizations depending on the immunization. Overall US is 67th, right behind Botswana
Fact Five: Outcome studies on a variety of diseases, such as coronary artery disease, and renal failure show the United States to rank below Canada and a wide variety of industrialized nations.
Conclusion: The United States ranks poorly relative to other industrialized nations in health care despite having the best trained health care providers and the best medical infrastructure of any industrialized nation
Myth Two: Universal Health Care Would Be Too Expensive
Fact One: The United States spends at least 40% more per capita on health care than any other industrialized country with universal health care
Fact Two: Federal studies by the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting office show that single payer universal health care would save 100 to 200 Billion dollars per year despite covering all the uninsured and increasing health care benefits.
Fact Three: State studies by Massachusetts and Connecticut have shown that single payer universal health care would save 1 to 2 Billion dollars per year from the total medical expenses in those states despite covering all the uninsured and increasing health care benefits
Fact Four: The costs of health care in Canada as a % of GNP, which were identical to the United States when Canada changed to a single payer, universal health care system in 1971, have increased at a rate much lower than the United States, despite the US economy being much stronger than Canada’s.
Conclusion: Single payer universal health care costs would be lower than the current US system due to lower administrative costs. The United States spends 50 to 100% more on administration than single payer systems. By lowering these administrative costs the United States would have the ability to provide universal health care, without managed care, increase benefits and still save money.
With a deep sigh of relief, I see that there are those that do represent the people’s interest or try to.
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said Monday that the tax changes, which Bush will promote in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, would encourage employers to stop providing health insurance.
”Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage,” the lawmaker said.
Stark, who oversees a key House Ways and Means subcommittee, said he would not consider holding hearings on the proposal, which includes a trade-off. Contributions from employers toward health insurance would begin to be treated as taxable income. At the same time, a standard deduction for taxpayers with health insurance would be set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals.
The White House says 80 percent of workers with health insurance through their jobs would see a tax cut as a result of the change. But about 20 percent would see a tax increase — those workers whose health insurance cost more than the standard deduction.
The change in tax policy is one of two major health proposals announced by Bush last weekend. The other would take some federal money now going to hospitals and other facilities and give it to states for programs to reduce the number of uninsured.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said there are better uses for some of the $30 billion a year the government spends on bills for the uninsured.
”When you subsidize institutions but not people, oftentimes the institutions get taken care of, and the people don’t,” he said.
Leavitt said he can redirect some on the money on his own, but he needs help from Congress for other transfers.
I thank you Secretary Mike Leavitt. May I reiterate, for emphasis your own words.
”When you subsidize institutions but not people, oftentimes the institutions get taken care of, and the people don’t!”
Please I plead with this administration and all those apathetic souls that allow those in authority to choose for them. Please may we work towards Universal Health Care. May we show those in other nations that we are the superpower we claim to be. Let us be a compassionate as all other industrialized countries are. Let us care for all our people, impoverished, common, and affluent.
Please peruse the plan and thoughts about the further health care inequity . . .