Friday, December 17, 2010

Massive Earmark Budget Killed in Senate – Obama-GOP Tax Cut Package Passes at Midnight Hour - Analysis

Obama and Republican Leaders Put American on Road to Recovery - image csmonitor

The Senate effectively squashed a 1.3 trillion dollar “budget” that was laden with earmarks after Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) handed Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) the option of continuing operations until the Senate reconvenes in January . The government has run on this type of spending measure since early this year, as Democrats have failed to put together a budget. The Omnibus Bill that Senate Democrats had attempted to ram through in a lame-duck session, included 1900 plus pages and $1.3 trillion dollars in spending, which lawmakers would not have had time to read or debate before the end of this session. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry (D), yesterday asked why lawmakers in the Senate would need to read the bill (video of Kerry included:source Real Clear Politicts) – a comment that was earnest in his support for earmarks and spending projects hoped for by Democrats and some Republicans prior to the Congress changing hands with a fiscally restrained Republican Majority in January. Of import to Kerry were several items in the bill, including $8 million in spending for the Kennedy Institute in DC as well as $600,000 to study scallops! When the nation’s taxpayers are tightening their belts, and doing without, these types of debt heavy projects, adding to future individual tax burdens, are a slap in the face of Kerry’s and like-minded Lawmakers on Capitol Hill’s constituents.

After dropping the budget, the Senate and Congress agreed in a show of bipartisanship rarely seen in Washington since 2006 when the Democrats took control of both Houses, a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts, and additional tax cuts proposed by President Obama, was passed at midnight and sent to President Obama for his signature. The bill, worked out between the Obama administration and Republican members of the House and Senate, includes an extension of unemployment benefits in 26 states that participate in the Federal program for up to 13 months at a time when the unemployment rates is near 10%. With the tax cuts extended for two years, businesses that have been holding back on hiring, should begin to hire, incentives are included for new businesses that would add additional private sector jobs badly needed to support the government in new tax revenue. The tax cuts combined with the unemployment benefits are projected to add $800 billion to the deficit, however, that projection may change as entrepreneurs and small businesses develop (and pay taxes) and all businesses hire employees (more taxes from employees), effectively reducing the unemployment rolls (reduction in Federal Spending).

One cannot anticipate an overnight “fix”, however, as with previous tax cuts, the unemployment rate and increase in Federal and State Revenues were realized within a one to two year time frame. That said, with the elimination of a pork laden budget, which will be revised with the Congress reconvenes in January under new Republican leadership, with promises from Speaker Boehner (D-OH), to introduce spending cuts by the week, while producing a budget that is fiscally responsible, coupled with tax cuts designed to boost hiring on the parts of business and spending on the part of consumers with more money in their pocket, the process of recovery may be expedited.

The following year should be one which keeps those watching the Capitol on their toes, as Obama appears to be more than willing to work with the new majority who has indicated they will do the same, running the government as it should be, on compromise and openness with the American Public. However, once the 2012 campaign season kicks off – it may be difficult for those who will be on the campaign trail (including the President, all members of Congress, and over half of the Senate) to maintain this level of bipartisanship, or have the time to accomplish much while the various members are on recess to campaign. In that wise, the American taxpayer receives a double bonus, as a government that is run on a premise of fiscal responsibility for a year, will have the same cast of characters in 2012 that are adverse to passing bills without a thorough reading and debate.

The healing has begun and will continue with the new Congress in the first week of January 2011. That said, one issuer to see headlines regarding Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, espousing the “tax the rich” dogma, and attempting to stymie the Republicans from effectively downsizing government at every turn. It is, without the majority Democrats enjoyed for four years, akin to making a lot of noise and spitting into the wind while the Republicans and those likeminded Democrats govern with the President. It will be interesting to see which side the press of the nation takes, as this unfolds, one would have to lay odds against the President and the Republican controlled Congress – chances are that Pelosi and Reid will receive a great deal more airtime complaining about everything and anything. Not exactly the best strategy for winning hearts and minds for the “Progressive” cause of big government.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Massive Federal Budget Bill – MA Democrats Scramble for Earmarks – Scott Brown (R-MA) name erroneously placed on earmark request!

The 1900 plus page budget for the United States Government is now available for viewing online HERE . Included in the budget are billions in earmarks for a variety of projects that, depending upon ones point of view, might be shelved – permanently. The earmarks are so extensive that separate tables are available for public viewing by department. The Financial Services Earmark Chart at (here) includes 5 pages in small type by line item and Congressional Representative requests or “earmarks”. There is also an 11 page Agriculatural Earmark Chart (here), a 29 page table on each spending item requested by each Senator and/or Congressman (here). (and multiple tables follow) The later, includes a mere $600,000 request from Barney Frank (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) to study scallops. The Bill, from start to finish is peppered with two words in particular: research and salaries. The sheer size and scope of the Government can only be appreciated when one does a search for “salaries” in this document. For example: (from the Bill text) “ For salaries and expenses of the House of Representatives, $1,371,172,000” – one might ask does the Citizen legislature seriously require 1.3 Billion dollars for salaries? Of course, compared to the balance of the budget, that may be considered “chump change”.

Understanding why the Massachusetts Congressional Representatives and one Senator (Kerry) might not understand the publics distaste for Earmarks (otherwise known as wasteful and/or unnecessary spending) due to their keeping their jobs in 2010 (by the skin of their teeth and a lot of help from “Dream Act” voters). They are clearly deluded into thinking that Massachusetts ever shrinking pool of taxpayers actually supports the process. There is clearly no excuse for those in the 111th Congress who did not lose their jobs in the mid-terms and are (including the Massachusetts Congressional Reps) all up for reelection in two short years, to so clearly ignore the general public in the waning hours of the Democrat Controlled 111th Congress by loading the next budget (late as it may be) up to the hilt with unnecessary spending.

The lone Republican in the Massachusetts mix, Senator Scott Brown (MA-R), had his name erronealy attached to a pork spending project by an appropriations committee aid. He requested it be removed. (Boston Globe) Brown is clearly aware that the election in 2012 depends upon his (and any other Congressional Representative or Senator) paring down the budget, not adding “junk” items, or items that are clearly unnecessary. Apparently the balance of the Democrats and some Republicans in both houses don’t understand what happened on the 2nd of November 2010, of course, a good percentage of those that do not, were not faced with an electorate, and will not, again, be up for reelection until 2012.

Some of the projects deemed worthy by Boston Globe Standards include the following: $8 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute which, as noted by the Globe has already received 30 plus million in public funding There is also a $600,000 grant to research scallop fishing stock in New England. It is difficult to fathom, that while those taxpayers who are struggling to get by, watch $600,000 go to a University in order to study scallops, which, at $13.00 per pound in most grocery stores, is out of reach to the average household. As to the legacy of Edward M. Kennedy and an institute in Washington DC receiving any funding, let alone an additional $8 million, is purely frivolous.

In total the Massachusetts Democrat Delegation had requested 576 earmarks worth $1.4 billion which was “narrowed down in committee to merely 174 earmarks worth $213.4 million. (Boston Globe)
Therefore, as the 111th Congress, controlled by the Democrats, continues to throw away taxpayers dollars until the last hour of their tenure, it is hoped that those incoming Republican’s will do the job they were sent to D.C. to do, and reign in this nonsense. Incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner has promised weekly spending cuts. As to all the Congressional Representatives and Senators who are looking to 2012, understand that the issue of being fiscally responsible will directly impact ones chances of reelection regardless of Political Party Affiliation.

Best quote from a MA Congressional Representative in the Globe article goes to Richard Neal (who lost his bid to Sander Levin of MI to become the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee)

Representative Richard Neal, the Springfield Democrat, said yesterday that the earmarks for Massachusetts in the bill support jobs and would be helpful to the state’s economy.
“What’s missing in this discussion about earmarks,’’ said Neal, is that attempts to ban them “would transfer spending authority from Congress to the White House. I have always resisted anything that weakens congressional authority. I like to say, ‘You can get a meeting with your congressman. Try getting a meeting with the president.’ ’’

One might suggest to Congressman Neal, that is what’s missing from his fallacious argument is the fact that earmarks are a rather recent addition to the budget process and have nothing to do with taking away or giving any powers to the Executive Branch (which does have the power of line-item veto) as it stands.
Kudos to Scott Brown for not requesting any earmarks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Massachusetts Faces Budget Cuts – State Cannot Afford Mass Universal Health Care Coverage For “Financially Challenged” - Now Limits Enrollment! reports that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is facing up to a 1.5 billion in spending cuts due to shortfalls in the State’s income. Massachusetts has run out of taxpayers sufficient to cover its ever burgeoning give away programs, and with the “stimulus” set to expire, the reality of spending beyond what reality supports has hit home. Under the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick and a Progressive Democrat heavy legislature, the Commonwealth has experienced round after round of tax increases, with Patrick now asking for additonal funds for in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, (While under new Federal Guidelines, parents of students up to age 24, must complete loan and grant applications in order for their children to apply to college under new laws enacted by the Board of Education. In addition, under the new National Health Care program, parents must carry their children until age 26, regardless of where this “child” lives or if they are married. The Federal Government falls short of demanding parents cover their 26 year old child, spouse and children. Therefore, while taxpayers are increasingly being forced to cover “depending children” past the age of majority (21 in most instances); the State is giving benefits to those who are not residents of the State and or nation.)

The heaviest burden to the Massachusetts taxpayer is the Mass. Health Connector, which apparently has passed a new law no longer allowing enrollment at will, rather restricting enrollment periods to twice yearly. Therefore, if one misses a deadline, one is without insurance coverage from the “low cost” state plan. Additionally, steps have been taken by the state to exempt those who meet certain criteria for financial hardship to possibly eliminate the fees assessed by the Commonwealth’s Department of Revenue for not carrying “mandated” coverage. Perhaps increasing the Commonwealth’s citizens access to insurers (now limited to a handful) would spur competition and, not unlike the Commonwealths’ Auto Insurance reform, which allowed for more competition among insurers) drive down the costs, making health insurance as affordable as auto insurance.

One cannot get blood from a stone applies to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts taxpayers. The states loss of revenue is in direct correlation to those residents fleeing in droves to states where taxes are less likely to occur with such frequency. In addition, this phenomena is also about to cost the Commonwealth a seat in the U.S. Congress.

The solution is for Deval Patrick and company to begin to make hard choices in regards to which programs to ax and which to keep. The Commonwealth’s SNAP program (formally known as “Food Stamps”) which cost the taxpayers billions last year, currently comes in the form of a credit card, and anyone who is within the state boundaries is eligible, regardless of residency status. This card, according to the states records, has been used in the states high end grocery stores as well as convenience stores, which are not the most cost effective places in which to procure food. It is not without compassion for those who go without daily sustenance, however, management of this type of program would be better served by vouchers which would have specific guidelines limiting the program to actual “food groups” to be procured in specific grocery stores only, in order to order to prevent outright fraud and abuse. (Similar to WIC, a program in place that offers food assistance to Massachusetts residents paid for by the Federal Government.)

It is not a question of compassion, but a question of ensuring that those who do need assistance will not wake one day to find that the Commonwealth can no longer beg, borrow, steal or tax enough in order to cover their basic needs. If these services were provided to legal residents of the Commonwealth, and who met specific hardship criteria (living out of one’s car after losing one’s house would be a place to start), and were managed with an eye towards giving a hand-up not a hand-out (tired but true statement) the budget would find itself in fair shape in short order. (This of course, would be coupled with a cut in the corporate tax rate, to give incentives to businesses of all types to migrate to the Bay State and set up shop, hiring individuals, creating more taxpayers in order to help the truly needy.)

Of note: a new politically correct “ism” appears to have occurred: “financially challenged” - defined as someone who has no money - i.e. broke. This should apply to those taxpayers left in the Commonwealth.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Health Care Reform Act – One Ruling Will Negate Entire Bill - The Commerce Clause and Lack of a Severability Clause.

Article 9 of the U.S. Constitution - Clear and to the Point - see

Obama Vows to be the President of “No”.

When a Federal District Judge in Virginia, ruled that the Health Care Legislation which mandates all U.S. Citizens purchase health care insurance violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the hastily crafted, poorly written legislation that was rammed through Congress, was written without a severability clause. An Aid to the Democrats who were drafting the law, told a WSJ reporter that members had discussed a severability provision but deemed it wasn’t necessary (source: Kansas City Business Journal)

That’s what happens when one is in a rush to put one over on the general public, when it is clear that the public is not on board with a specific bill – mistakes happen. The mistake in this instance is the lack of a “severability clause”, without which, should one piece of the legislation be found unconstitutional, the entire bill collapses.

The Commonwealth of Virginia brought suit in Federal Court and won a ruling on the Commerce clause this week based on a State Law Virginia had the foresight to pass in March, of 2010 prior to the Congressional Passage of the Bill. Now the case goes to the Supreme Court, which is, by ideological makeup of the justices, has changed little with the inclusions of the Obama appointees who replaced likeminded justices. Therefore, should the suit brought be adjudicated by a majority along strict Constructionist standards, the Virginia ruling will hold, and the entire bill will negated. This will allow the current Congress and Senate to work with the President to craft a bill that will work; one which might include the ability of individuals to buy insurance across party lines, which is a proven model for driving down the costs of insurance.

This may prove difficult overall, as the new Congress is controlled by Republican’s whom the President has vowed he will resume fighting as soon as he gets the tax package/unemployment extensions passed. In trying to pacify the screaming leftists in Congress, Obama vowed not to work with Republicans, brilliant on the part of the Leader of the Free World to issue a statement one might hear on the playground. Perhaps he should call in Bill Clinton for that work as well; something might get done. It is no secret that both Congress and the President need to work together in order to further the interest of the nation. For far too long the partisan nonsense on the part of Pelosi and crew has held American hostage over ridiculous attempts by the then minority to stall passage of reasonable bills, and push for the ridiculous, which they promptly managed upon taking control of the House in 2006. It is not as if they have not had the time to accomplish much, yet, they have done nothing but tee off the American Public by passing legislation that a majority opposed, instead of working with Republicans (who were willing and able) to come to some sort of compromise that owl benefit the public. (Those people who members of Congress work for and without the “little peoples” support, will be out of a job – see midterm elections 2010).

What are the chances of any Congressional Representative, Senator or President being reelected if this nonsense persists and they are perceived to be the cause? Zero.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Women journalist and the next Speaker: Leslie Stahl’s Take on Boehner – The Quintessential American

Stahl: “I Really Liked Him, I did, I thought He was so Authentic.” Politico appraises Boehner’s Fashion Sense.

Leslie Stahl’s take on John Boehner has been interpreted as being partisan by some , bloggers however, the video (shown below), regardless of the perceived intent of Ms. Stahl, paints a picture of the man who will be 3rd in line to the Presidency, as not only a product of the American Dream (which is pivotal), but as someone who will do his utmost to move the nation forward. In an interview with editor, Ann Silvio, on the Boehner piece, (shown below), Stahl goes through her interview, stating emphatically; “I think people are going to like him”.

What the public learns about Boehner in the 60 minute segment is that the next speaker is a regular guy, a Catholic, who was born into a large family, and worked his way through college, through business and through politics. Boehner, was a Democrat until the Reagan revolution, a man who has no problem showing his emotion (which Stahl defends), and someone who will be tough when he needs to be, although one who is willing to cross the aisle. In other words, Boehner is the perfect Speaker of the House – from a seemingly left of center woman’s point of view. This speaks volumes about John Boehner’s ability as a politician: the fact that he is perceived by Stahl to be a regular all-around good guy and the support he may receive from Stahl's CBS’s viewership going forward. According to Neilson’s Sunday’s rankings 60 minutes averaged 12 million viewers the prior week.

It is difficult to comprehend (partisanship aside) a negative, especially with women: The final frames in the 60 minutes segment is of Boehner’s on being the next Speaker of the House – fading into the one final comment: “Welcome to America.”

It will be interesting, going forward from January to see how Boehner’s relationship with the Press will take shape. As of now, it appears that John Boehner has won more than one woman. Over at Politico, Karan Tanabe and Amie Parnes have dubbed Boehner as ”D.C.'s own Mr. Blackwell” Comparing Boehner to Blackwell gives an impression of wit and fashion sense.

Welcome to American indeed, where in Boehner’s vision, one is able to rise from humble beginnings, work their way through college, and one day become one of the most powerful figures in the U.S. Government. Regardless of one’s “take” on Ms. Stahl and other Journalist, both right and left, (not discounting CBS’s suspect brand of journalism - See Dan Rather’s story on George Bush’s service in the National Guard that was – fabricated, and the infamous 7 hour interview with Sarah Palin that Katie Couric and a team of editors pared down to Palin’s detriment.) one has to give credit where credit is due - Boehner for going into the “Lion’s den of 60 minutes” and Stahl for giving an honest presentation.

Profile of Leslie Stahl

CBS 60 Minute Segment on John Boehner

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obama Ditches White House Press Conference – Bill Clinton takes charge - Democrats Posture for Progressive Base

President Clinton took time to give a little help to Obama, taking over at the White House Press Conference - image Yahoo

President Obama brought a little help with him to a recent White House Press briefing - former President Bill Clinton. Obama did not stay to answer questions, rather turned the podium over to Clinton, who then defended the Presidents stance on reinstating tax cuts. Using the excuse that his wife was waiting for him, Obama walked away leaving Clinton virtually in charge, a move that was not unappealing to some pundits, including MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

As Obama has been faced with what amounts to a slap in the face (mildly put) from the hard left faction in his Congress (Pelosi, et al), he appears to require the need to bring in Clinton, the moderate, in order to deal with those who are fighting hard for the progressive line. It has gotten to the point, where some of the less sane members of the Progressive caucus, are considering letting the tax cuts expire as well as the unemployment insurance that is tied to those same tax cuts, in a deal brokered by Obama. In a recent interview one house member Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)suggested that in allowing the tax cuts to expire along with those unemployment benefits, Republicans would then take the blame. In other words, forcing the Republicans to capitulate on letting the tax cuts expire while pushing through the unemployment extensions. This is clearly not in the cards, Obama knows it, Clinton knows it, and the American public is now aware of the fact that Congress is the problem, not the President nor the GOP in this instance.

Apparently, Ellison, under the erroneous impression that tax cuts are not popular with the American public in general (there are conflicting polls on this subject, he must be using selective polling choices in order to get to frame his point of view, always a dangerous move, especially if one, has either been booted out of office, or will be booted out of office in 2012. What the remaining Democrats in the House, and most certainly those in the Senate, that do understand the tie between prosperity, buskin and the basic tax cuts, are likely to do in the event that nothing is done prior to the Christmas Break, is run the same deal January 5th, when the new Congress is installed, effectively putting everything into place retroactively.

This leads the base to believe that certain members are fighting for the Progressive platform, however, in reality, they surely cannot so dense in intellect that they are not aware this will take place with or without them, thereby making Ms. Pelosi, and all others statements and posturing nothing more than political in nature.

As to Obama leaving the podium to Clinton, appearances are everything and he should have, in this opinion, held his ground, using Clinton as the cheerleader when the need arose. To simply bolt with a weak excuse, leave the President appearing disengaged.

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