Friday, April 09, 2010

Bart Bows Out - Stupak Resigns

Politico:Bart Stupak D-MI has announced he will not seek reelection in 2010. Since changing his Health Care Reconciliation Act NO vote to Yes, under pressure and deals (bribes) from the Obama Administration, Stupak's chances of reelection in the Michigan 1st Congressional district have dwindled. Stupak initially refused to support the Reform Bill over language allowing for Federally funded abortions, and later changed his mind when Barack Obama signed an executive order (which is not a law)stating federal funds would not be available for abortion under his health reform act.

Stupak was under pressure from both the left and the right, before and after the health care reform votes. Apparently, he received calls at both his office and home.

A general surgeon Dan Benishek had announced his intent to run against Stupak. Visit Dan Benishek's website here at:

Speculation Rife on 2012 GOP Nominee – 2006 Eerily Revisited

The American media is at it again. All sources, from mainstream to blogs, are speculating on who will run and who will receive the 2012 GOP nomination. One can find a daily prediction via the airwaves and internet, on who is leading who in polls for the GOP nomination, who is attending what Conservative conference, and who is likely to pull ahead as the eventual GOP Presidential candidate. The obvious choices in 2012 are consistently in the limelight as evidenced by the articles on Sarah Palin in the Los Angeles Timesregarding Palin’s attendance at the Southern Conservative Leadership Conference being held in New Orleans. The gist of the article is that Palin has not “ruled out a run” for the GOP 2012 ticket. The The Boston Globe offers: “GOP Gathers, gets Look at Possible Picks for 2012” with Palin and Gingrich highlighted in the opening paragraph. (Interesting side note: That article speaks to the futility of any GOP candidate as it touts the current President:

“Only five times in the last century has an incumbent president lost reelection; the most recent were Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.”

Note to the Globe: Comparison between Carter and Obama have been made since last February)

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are also featured in a barrage of news articles, citing the fact that they are leading the pack of potential picks. The GOP sends out poll/fundraising packets listing those aforementioned as possible choices for the 2012 nomination, but again, that’s in a fundraising effort and using familiar and popular names insures a decent return on the investment.

Take a look back at 2006 to gain some perspective. In March and April of that year, a similar Memphis GOP meeting was held. At that time, the names being bandied about were Rudy Giuliani Los Angeles Times, Haley Barbour, John McCain, Sam Brownback (with a quote from Mike Huckabee, then Governor of Arkansas, Fox Newsincluded Romney, George Allen and Bill Frist in the fray – with Rudy Giuliani as the favorite.

Although several of those attending this similar conference did emerge to run for office, the “favorite”, Rudy Giuliani did not fare well, while the battle emerged as being between Romney, Huckabee and McCain (who was considered by pundits to be anathema to the GOP “TO SOME IN GOP, MCCAIN NOT QUITE RIGHT, SENATOR LEADING IN POLLS, BUT MANY CONSERVATIVES IN S.C. DON'T TRUST HIM”, Charlotte Observer

An interesting pattern appears to have developed – the pundits may be onto something – historically, individuals who have familiar names offer comfort and controversy. In the 2006 scenario, McCain who’s media attention was very positive until he began to move to the right (with exception of Conservative Pundits who preferred a Giuliani), eventually obtained the nomination in a three-way contest between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, appeared to come out of nowhere, and on a shoestring budget upended both McCain and Romney in the early Iowa Caucus. Of course, the early pundits championing McCain (even as he moved to the right), were on the money.

Today, the pundits are focused primarily on Romney, Huckabee (either ruling him in or ruling him out) and above all Sarah Palin. Palin has generated more speculation, the majority of it in the negative (or positive depending upon political bent of the media) that the other two mentioned. She is hardly a media darling, yet draws huge grassroots support (see Huckabee 2007), while Romney and Huckabee are given polite mention. There are other names in the fray, one of which is the Senator from South Dakota, John Thune. The New York Times article in November of 2009 takes a critical look at Thune as a possible 2012 nominee, noting that his “name keeps popping up” at no place other than “deep in the bowels of the GOP”.

In other words, it’s a not necessarily too early to be calling any frontrunners in the race, although pundits picks of the frontrunners, specifically Palin, is interesting. Should history repeat itself, then Palin, one would assume, would be the eventual nominee, a later day “Maggie Thatcher”, who was at first belittled by the UK Press as being less than worthy, and given time, came roaring back on what amounted to a stunning grassroots victory. Although maligned in the media, for the most part, Palin fits the 2006 John McCain mold perfectly, that is unless of course, John Thune does emerge from the “bowels of the GOP” to be a serious contender. One would expect, however, that Thune would be present at any of the given “conferences” held this year. Not necessarily, he is making 2012 headlines as evidenced by the AP’s, ”GOP Hopefuls Edge Right at Tea Party Watches”, including Thune in a list of contenders.

Therefore, as of now, it’s anyone’s best guess, and nothing more. Thune could emerge as the next “Mike Huckabee”, Mitt Romney is almost a given to be on the ticket, and Palin, although not having announced her intention to run (or not run), may actually sit this one out (see Maggie Thatcher). What one should watch is the following months, going into 2011, especially after the 2010 mid-terms – should the focus remain on two to three names above, one can bet that one of those will eventually be at the top (or bottom) of the 2012 ticket. Ron Paul, of course, will run and win every internet straw poll available. As it stands now, the two most likely to take the nomination (based on media predictions) Palin and Romney. No matter which would emerge as the nominee, one can bet that should the angst against Obama continue unabated through the following year (going into 2011), he will, like Jimmy Carter, be a one term President, and the next President could be more of an “historical” choice than the later. From a feminist point of view, should Palin emerge as the frontrunner, regardless of naysayers, then she would be the first women to sit in the Oval office. One has to remember that women were last to gain the right to vote in this country. Of course, one cannot count out a Clinton (Hillary) run in 2012.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Democrats on Spring Break – Avoiding Constituents if they voted For Health Care Vote and Increased Taxes

Markey(D-CO)at Town Hall - Not this Trip! image: Life
During the Spring Recess, as Democrats head home to their districts, theyare studiously avoiding “larger crowds”, sticking to letters to local newspapers instead. The AP article headlined: ”Vulnerable Democrats are tiptoeing on health care” describes several Democrats from Colorado to Michigan who are concerned about meeting constituents due to their vote on Health Care – in addition, they are “convinced” that once the public understands what is in the bill, that surely they will be re-elected. Who’s to blame – according to the AP: Republicans! Apparently, it is the Republican’s who are continuing to fuel discontent among Tea Party members over the reform. The problem with this article are two-fold – one, if the bill were so great, these Democrats (Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO), Dina Titus (D-NV), Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) and Mark Schauer (D-MI), would be out holding sessions informing their constituents about what the bill includes that makes it work for American’s. Not so, it is the rhetoric, rather than the meat and potatoes (so to speak) of the bill that they endlessly proclaim. The reason may be that these representatives either hold their constituents in contempt (i.e. – being Progressives there is a definite difference between someone who is “elite” (i.e. member of Congress, or someone who holds a four year degree and is a Progressive) or the “masses” (i.e. your average American) – The masses certainly cannot understand something so complicated, so therefore, they are incapable of knowing what’s good for them. (See standard reply from any Congressional email and/or letter re: Health Care Reform, or any other topic and it begins (Paraphrasing): “This is a complicated matter….” - as if to say, “You, the constituent, cannot possibly understand this or that”. One: arrogance or brainwashed stupidity – take your pick. Two, they have no clue as to what is actually in the bill they signed, but darn it, those Tea Party people do – therein lays the crux of the matter. First, the elite would consider those media maligned “Tea Party” members as uneducated masses – and secondly they must be Republican.

Due to the fact that the Congressional Reps, isolated through either ideology or arrogance, are truly ignorant of what they are dealing with, the public, hiding out seems the most logical step to take. Those in the Tea Party Movement (mainly, funny enough, women outnumber men and are mainly the organizers – see skewed poll with marginals from Quinnipiac here), have actually read the bill, gone through all the amendments and fully comprehend what this (and other bills on the table) contain.
The Reconciliation Act, aside from taking over one of the last profitable businesses a bank had (student loan industry), has a bevy of taxes attached to the Health Reform portion of the bill.

The Los Angeles Times has a partial list:

Tax hikes related to healthcare
Medicare taxes, effective 2013 ($210.2 billion) Payroll tax increases from 1.45% to 2.35% on wage income over $200,000 for individuals; over $250,000 for couples.

For taxpayers in that bracket, a new surtax of 3.8% on investment income.

High-cost healthcare plans, effective 2018 ($32 billion) 40% excise tax on health benefits that exceed $10,200 for individuals, $27,500 for couples.

Tanning tax, effective July 1, 2010 ($2.7 billion) 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services.

Flexible health spending accounts, effective 2013 ($13 billion) Limit to $2,500 a year contributions to tax-free health savings accounts.

Itemized medical-expense deductions, effective 2013 ($15.2 billion) Allow itemized deductions only for medical expenses that exceed 10% of income, up from the current 7.5% threshold.

To get an idea of the scope of the taxes associated with Health Care Reform, The Joint Committee on Taxation has the list and explanation in downloadable format here The download (PDF) file is under Recent Publications, JCX-18-10.

Therefore, according to those Democrats who feel “average Americans” will really like this bill once they get to know it, are in for a surprise. For example, the download includes a tax credit for anyone who is involved in an “exchange” (i.e. government run health care plan”, the rest of the nation – not so much as a dime. The Tanning Tax: those on the Hill most likely feel tanning salons are reserved for “people like them” and actors, actresses or the fabulously wealthy – while the average American who has a teenager, or who is planning on an evening out, understands that their daughter will now be paying a tax for that tan for the prom. Understanding that tanning sounds ridiculous – it is the point of how those members of Congress are so clueless as to take something so very minor and with an air of “better than though”, or “the taxpayer has no use for a tanning salon” . They should also be concerned about how those 16 to 19 year old prom goers are going to feel about this zinger. The limit to Flexible Spending accounts is interesting as it discourages people from paying for their own medical benefits – and of course, the rise in the percentage of dollars in deductions for medical expenses, affects many families earning far less than $100,000.

The best line in the article from AP via Yahoo Business News: in speaking about the 2010 mid-term elections: “There's even a chance the party could lose control of one or both houses in the midterm elections.” The House, historically, will turn over 25 seats in an off-year, however, with people (those pesky masses) paying more attention by the day, even the Senate is in play.
The Democrats, who appear to be isolated, or smoking something at the very least, have no idea of what the public is thinking, or who those Tea Party people are (mainly women, who are supposed to be in lockstep with the DNC), for that matter – and they show absolutely no sign of changing their approach to governing or, unlike their Republican counterparts, taking the time to get to know exactly what this Tea Party is all about – it will be their undoing.

Interesting Palin Video (Embed disabled) Feminist Unleashed.

Video below

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Obama Administration - Value Added Tax (VAT) May be Necessary to Trim Deficit

The Value Added Tax - trickle down effect: image:

Reuters: White House Advisor, Paul Volker, has acknowledged that a “Value Added” or “energy” tax may be necessary, as the ever increasing deficit becomes unsustainable. Volker , former Federal Reserve Chairman, (Carter Appointee), and White House Economic Advisor. appears to be in sync with the rest of the staff: a series of his lectures include: “The Implication of Globalism is Globalism” and his treatment of Economics vis a vis Foreign Policy: includes the following: “Most egregious to me is our continued failure to pay our dues to the United Nations.” It is no wonder, therefore, that a Value Added Tax, or “other tax” is in our future.

With entitlement programs growing exponentially larger by the day, under the Obama Administration, there has to be a way to bail out of the spend, spend, spend which has taken place in just one year. Although the 82 year old Carter appointee, speaking at a New York Historical Society program: “The Global Financial Crisis: America Making a Comeback”, suggested that the idea of such a tax is becoming more acceptable. That is, of course, if ones point of view is similar to that of Carter and Obama. However, if one is the taxee, the idea of adding a VAT on top of every other Federal tax citizens now pay is abhorrent. If one thinks that the VAT would replace other Federal Taxes think again, The Obama administration has even tied the Health Care Reform Bill to the Internal Revenue Service. Should one fail to be insured, the IRS will be seeking reimbursement.

Also, economists who hold such politically charged views may not be the best advisers when it comes to making sound decisions regarding our economy. A recent article by Curtis Dubay, at the Heritage Foundation speaks to the failure of the VAT in Europe to curb the deficit. (Excerpt)

There is a growing call by backers of bigger government for Congress to impose a value-added tax (VAT) on top of all the other taxes Americans already pay. A VAT is similar to a national retail sales tax but is collected at every stage of business production until its entire burden ultimately falls on the consumer.
Among its suggested advantages, proponents argue a VAT would be an easy fix for the deficit because it would be difficult to evade relative to the income tax.[1] Evidence from countries with VATs suggests otherwise. If Congress implements a VAT as an additional tax, businesses and individuals would try to avoid it through fraud, severely limiting a VAT’s ability to close budget gaps.

The author also suggests that Europe has not improved with the addition of a VAT, rather the opposite is true. Financials straights in Europe have led to rioting in Greece as economies cannot keep up with the entitlement programs and lack of revenue generated by the governments.
It is strongly suggested the Heritage Foundation article be read in its entirety Reports/2010/01/Value-Added-Tax-No-Easy-Fix-for-the-Defici

It is not that a consumption based, or fair tax, is such a bad idea, after all, it crosses all socio and economic lines, but, that is if the IRS is removed, and the Federal Income and other Federal Taxes rescinded. The likelihood of that is about the same as Barak Obama being elected to a second term in office.
At a time when 10% of the American populace is out of work (those that do work, the number that are on entitlements were, as of 2004, at 11%the loss of revenue coupled with increased needs for entitlements and new entitlement programs with historic costs passed by this Administration, the ability to pay (as the government cannot print money indefinitely), will eventually end, and that may be sooner than later. Those left holding the bag, will see an increase of 20% or more in taxes, making the ability to own a home, a car, or save for college, a mere memory of what this Great Nation once was – a land of Opportunity.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tea Party Ideology Trumps Obama in latest Rasmussen Poll - Analysis

Tea Party in Boston, A revolt against Taxes, image:
A poll released Monday, April 5, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports indicates that by a margin of 48 to 44% the “Tea Party” is viewed more favorably than Obama. A growing number, 63% of those considered “mainstream” (Rasmussen qualifies those as “Populist”), feel that the movements ideology is closer to their own than that of Obama. The Tea Party, as defined, is a multi-politically affiliated group of individuals who are fed up with the current systems use of tax dollars (i.e. the economy) – incumbents, regardless of party affiliation, are looked upon as a non-option for reelection if they had voted to increase government spending at any level. Additionally, only 16% of respondents identified themselves as part of the Tea Party, but are viewed favorably by the majority of respondents compared to the President (or left of center ideology).

Unions are also on the firing line, when compared to Tea Party Ideology, Unions are viewed at 33% favorability compared to the 45% who chose the Tea Party. The problem for Unions today, they are seen as closely tied to both the administration and the Democrat Party, and part of the tax and spend process. Obama’s own popularity in recent polls, suggest his approval slipping further after singing the health care reform bill: CBS News Poll April 2, 2010 – 44% approval, Gallop showed a rise from 44% on March 14 to 51% on March 21st attributing the rise in approval to the Health Care Reform Bill, (plus or minus 4% for the margin of error on most polls), Marist has Obama’s approval at 46% as of March 31st, and the balance found at Real Clear Politics gives the President a 47% overall combined polls approval.

Those most likely to disapprove are the unenrolled or independent that are deemed necessary to win elections. These are the voters who are in the “middle”, neither too left or too right. As expected, partisan ideology is present in all polls with the majority of Democrats approving of the Presidents performance, while the majority of Republicans disapprove.

What this means for November is simply put, incumbents, regardless of party, are in trouble if they voted on legislation seen as adding or projected to add, an additional burden to the deficit. Should an incumbent represent a State or Commonwealth as either a Senator or Congressional Representative, and should that State or Commonwealth have a large share of independent or unenrolled voters, then retirement is likely. Massachusetts, is a case in point, the Commonwealth’s electorate is represented by over 50% unenrolled or independent – newly elected Senator Scott Brown (Republican) was pushed over top by those unenrolled (and yes moderate Democrats who are aligning with the Tea Party in the Bay State), and Brown, one can be assured was not an anomaly. There are, at present, with one or two exceptions, competitive House races in every district in Massachusetts. Those, outside the Commonwealth, who follow sites such as CQ Politics will find that Massachustts is considered “Safe Democrat”, as was the January 19th Special Election. The problem lies in the fact that most pundits do not factor in the electoral makeup of the Bay State (or other States) when making these projections.

The one safe District in Massachustts is that held by John Olver, the large 1st Congressional District, the remainder, from the 2nd Hampden (Richard Neal), to the Massachustts 4th (Barney Frank), one can find all races at showing incumbents facing challengers from Republican, Independent and Democrats. With the mood in Massachusetts (and the balance of the nation) remaining the same, it is conceivable that Commonwealth, may not longer be the “Bluest State” come November.

Where are the polls? Massachusetts, and like States when usually considered “Safe Democrat” are not polled, unless and until, the writing in on the wall that an incumbent and/or political party is about to be up-ended. Pollsters began looking at the Brown-Coakley race a mere 2 weeks prior to the election when it was apparent that there was an actual race taking place. One can anticipate the same may occur with all Congressional races in Massachusetts as well as California. Should there be one pollster who does take that leap, will find that all is not “safe” in these blue bastions, and should also look to others across the country that may be considered solidly held, by one party or the other, (in the case where an incumbent voted for any legislation that, again, put taxpayers dollars on the line.)
It is the ideology of less government and self government that is driving voters away from “usual” and towards the beginnings of a “civilian” run government. With the President and members of Congress, as well as the Unions, all spotlighted continuously in the media as broadening and supporting the broadening of government, it will, in the end, result in a change that is long overdue and that would serve all political parties to take note.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Congress Plays “He Said – She Said” with Unemployed – 200,000 to lose benefits Monday – Analysis

Unemployment Lines in the 1930's preview of 2010? Image: Mt. Shasta News

The statistics are grim: the unemployment rate is currently at 9.7% and the administration has put the unemployed on notice that the situation will not improve soon. The fact that those counted in the 9.7% (or 15 Million Americans by Obama administration estimates, do not include those who have fallen off the reports due to exhausting unemployment claims. These figures do not include the “underemployed” which represents between a rise of 16.8% using “seasonally adjusted” data from the government to Gallops recent poll giving a 20.3% rate. The latest political football – 200,000 newly unemployed, who will not be receiving benefits immediately – this is due to a difference of opinion by the Congress as to how the government is going to pay for any additional unemployment claims.

One the one hand, Republicans asked the Democrats how they might pay for additional unemployment befits, while the Democrats resorted to the term “emergency funds” (which do not exist on paper), the Republicans asked the Democrats to stay through the weekend to work things out, and the Democrats declined, preferring to have the weekend off. The left blames the right, and the right blames the left, while, in reality, those underemployed and the unemployed who have fallen off the roles, and are no longer eligible for any benefits, added to those on the rolls, are not paying taxes necessary to sustain the program (and any other programs).

The IRS lost $138 Billion in 2009 due to unemployment and the underemployed. The logic follows that as more individuals join the unemployment rolls, fall off the roles, and are underemployed, these losses will become more severe. The fact that the Federal Government relies on income tax collected to pay for everything, should be sending a message to both the administration and the Congress, that job creation (besides the 17,000 jobs to be created at the IRS to oversee the collection of “fees” from those who cannot afford, or refuse to carry health insurance), should be a first priority – the recent job creation bill, passed by congress, creates more bureaucracy than actual hard jobs, and those jobs, (even with incentives to small businesses), will be hard to come by, considering that small business, will be burdened with the costs of complying with the new health care legislation (taxes are only a part of the problem with that program.)

Therefore, the 200,000 that will go without benefits, being used by both parties to gain political points, are just the tip of the iceberg, (although no less important that the other 15 million American’s), and that is due to the reasonable assumption that with the largest of corporations taking a huge financial hit (reported by CNN) , including John Deer and Caterpillar, they will either lay-off, put in place a hiring freeze, or move plants to nations who are more “tax friendly”. The preceding will lead to more unemployed and less income from the IRS to give to the federal government for things like unemployment benefits.

Therefore, the bigger headlines are being lost, and 200,000 individuals are being left holding the bag – (temporarily). To raise the type of money it will take to continue to fund existing and new programs (such as the massive health insurance reform bill), the little income that will be derived from the expiring Bush Tax cuts (which will resulting an across the board federal tax increase for every working American will be hardly enough. Real tax increase must be put into place to cover the losses and those will be across the board. Unless and until the spending is reigned in and the Congress acts responsibly when passing legislation (see Pork in every bill passed to date), in order to try and cover the current federal bills. The only sane way to deal with this is a concerted effort to make life more bearable for both Big Business and Small, as well as those left working, in the form of tax cuts, to increase hiring and revenue in the private sector, where the permanent jobs are created, and the taxes are paid. It is no wonder that the President as well Congress has seen a drop in approval, the Congress specifically reaching historic proportions. The partisan “he said-she said” will no longer cut it - both parties need to work together, and if one refuses (and that appears to be the Democrats who are in the position of power to either work or not work with the Republicans, who have made the offer on numerous occasions) in order to save our nation. The fact that a third viable party is necessary at this stage, perhaps a party of constitutionalists and fiscal conservatives, (Tea Party), is being raised at coffee tables nationwide. The current crop of politicians from both major parties, need to adjust and learn to play well together. One things that the Democrats cannot have failed to notice is that, although they did win, as they keep reminding any republican who will listen, there is a great deal of buyer’s remorse.

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