September 13, 2011
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Last week I listened to the president outline a new plan to help create jobs. “Pass this bill right away!” the president implored. Initially, I was right on board with what he was saying, and was impressed that instead of the non-stimulating shotgun approach of the first bill, President Obama was firing targeted rifle shots with each line. Even better, he started off by saying the plan would be paid for.
Then, about 2/3 of the way through, things started going downhill.
First, the president pulled out some of the tried-and-true garbage talking points. He spoke of removing tax breaks for oil companies (hey, that *could* bring in a whopping $2 billion a year!), of millionaires and billionaires that don’t need tax deductions, and of the rich paying their “fair share” (I’m STILL waiting for specificity on what exactly their “fair share” is). he even pulled out Warren Buffet’s claim of paying less in taxes than his secretary (I suggest people read up on capital gains taxes vs marginal income taxes to understand why this is bogus).
Second, President Obama punts the responsibility for paying for the bill to the newly-formed supercommittee, who will already have to find a way to cut $1.5 trillion in spending before December. Seems to me there is a difference between saying something is paid for and saying “well, THEY are going to figure out how to pay for it.”
Then, for the coup de grace, the bill is rolled out on Monday…and its designed to be paid for via tax increases.
Though I don’t support the idea of absolutely no tax increases, the move makes the president look downright indecisive. Not only that, but he knows that under the current environment, the chances of passing his bill (which came under criticism from all sides shortly after the post-speech euphoria wore off) just went from possible to “snowball’s chance in hades.” Granted, a bill may get passed, but it definitely won’t fly through paid for just with tax increases.
March 23, 2011
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We’ve seen it many times. Candidate runs for President and says “I will do A, B, and certainly C.” They then get into office…and suddenly, a few of those promises are conveniently forgotten. With the recent actions in Libya, President Obama has joined the club.
First, a few quotes from then-Senator Obama about the US and military actions:
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.
Then-State Senator Obama on why the US shouldn’t go into Iraq, circa 2002:
“I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity … But … Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors …”
Fast forward to 2011. Quaddafi is no threat to the US. They only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil. But not only are we participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya, we did so without Congressional advice and consent. A complete 180-degree turn on both counts, no?
“Q and A with Presidential Candidate Obama”
“From Iraq to Libya, Obama Becomes a Hypocrite”
December 22, 2010
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One would think that politicians in Congress would think it normal to work all the time. But it seems that there is usually a good excuse to be used every election year: wait until after the election to avoid fallout.
What? Are you serious?
I along with many other people believe in a saying that goes: “what’s a politician’s primary job? To get reelected!” Now, maybe it’s that I don’t understand the game, or wouldn’t want to be a player in the game, or just think the game is stupid. But to me, if I’m in congress to get things done and represent the people, then I should be constantly working on the important legislation of the day, and letting the chips fall where they may. But let’s look at how the waiting game has been played by looking at the current lame-duck session.
In the last few weeks, there have been votes on bills to extend current tax rates, dont’ ask don’t tell, and the extention of unemployment benefits. While some politicians (namely Dems) said before the election that they “didn’t have the votes needed to pass (insert legislation here)” before the election, other politicians went on record condemning the action.
Quite frankly, the entire “we have to pass it now or the unemployed will lose their benefits and everyone will get a tax increase” drama was unnecessary. Regardless of what we heard in the media, are we to believe that there was seriously a concerted effort to hammer out those issues before the election? I think not. Both sides sensed blood in the water, and for the side in danger, they didn’t want to put themselves in a worse position. Don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the free access to the Congressional spa, do we?
December 6, 2010
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Upon further review of the Debt Commission report that got shot down last week, I found something interesting that most of us don’t even realize.
Budgets in Washington tend to factor in an automatic annual increase in spending. In other words, every year the amount spent on a given program goes up regardless of necessity–and trust me, we all know that an organization will find a way to spend the money in order to avoid a budget cut. Anyway, when the debt commission spoke of spending “cuts,” there was outrage from both sides (depending on the program to get the cut). But it turns out there were smoke and mirrors involved. The commission did not recommend actual cuts. What they did recommend was a reduction of the annual budget increases. In other words, they said “instead of programs x, y, and z getting automatic annual increases of 3%, lets just allow them to increase 2%.”
Translation: they couldn’t find actual spending cuts to be made! No reductions in spending. No freezes in spending. Just a slowdown in growth. Just wow.
I wish I could operate my home budget the way these folks run Washington!
November 15, 2010
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Congressional Rep Charles Rangel from NY will be on trial this week on ethics charges. Rangel has been in Congress for many years, representing his Harlem district. He has already threatened to walk out due to the fact that he ran out of money to pay his legal team. Look for this one to be popcorn worthy.
More here: Rangel Ethics Trial Begins
November 15, 2010
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No, I’m not talking about all those Canadian Geese that are blocking traffic and crapping all over your lawn. I’m referring to the “Lame Duck” session of congress. For the uninitiated, the term refers to the congressional session between the elections and the beginning of the new congressional term, when many of the members of congress are simply biding their time before they are shown the door and replaced. It’s a time where lots of shenanigans can occur; if you’ve been voted out and you only have a few weeks to “live,” you can vote on some things with no concern as to how it will affect you.
In this case, congressional democrats originally had lots of plans for the session. Unfortunately, November 2 hit like a category 5 hurricane and messed up their plans. But no worries, there will be fireworks. Here is a sample of what to watch for:
- The biggest issue to be resolved will be the extension (or not) of the Bush Tax Cuts. Republicans want all of them made permanent. Democrats want to draw the line at people making $200k/$250k individual/family. There is talk of a 2 year extension of all cuts, but Obama and Pelosi are holding firm that they want no compromise. Another compromise by Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) popped up over the weekend. We will see if anyone pays attention.
- The estate tax, aka the “death tax,” if not addressed, will go from 0% back to its original level of 55%.
- Funding of the government is currently done via a temporary spending bill. Congress will have to put in place a new spending bill for the year. Should be a simple thing, right? No. Dems are refusing to accept a Repub proposal to hold spending at 2008 levels to reduce spending.
Other things that may come up include “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (which needs to go), the DREAM Act (a little too soon and too controversial right now), and the Alternative Minimum Tax, which could hit a lot more people if nothing is done.