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Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Senate Republicans don’t care about people. They only care about big business, corporate donors, and their extremely wealthy friends. We knew that when a Republican controlled senate passed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. It gave huge tax cuts to corporations and provided a big tax loophole for pass-through income. The bill was advertised as a move that would lower taxes for workers and help businesses expand by providing them with more cash. Most workers saw very small decreases in their taxes and some actually saw their taxes go up a little, but businesses were left with a lot more cash in pocket and they used it to buy back their own stock to line the pockets of their already obscenely rich corporate executives. They did not increase investment any more than they would have otherwise and they did not provide any substantial increases in wages or benefits for workers. Some cities and states saw increases in wages because they mandated higher minimum wages themselves. Republicans in congress refused to increase the minimum wage like they always do.

Trump’s tax-cut was an expensive failure.

So they were fine with their 1.5 Trillion Dollar tax cut for the rich, but they aren’t so fine with a new and much needed coronavirus stimulus bill that will cost somewhere between one to two trillion dollars if most of that money is funneled to the people who really need it – the unemployed workers.

The Democrats focused their efforts on people first, not profits first. They would direct the money to the millions of people in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, ride-share drivers, salon workers, dental hygienists, etc.) who are all out of work. This is a huge sector of our economy. Workers need cash to buy food, pay rent and mortgages, and obtain healthcare – all urgent stuff. The stimulus bill should provide that urgent aid first. A one-time check in the $500 to $1,200 won’t provide the long-term aid they are going to need.

The spending should cover the cost of extending the unemployment insurance for at least a year or two. It should probably force large employers to provide sick pay for as long as is necessary for their workers to recover from COVID-19. The bill should prevent people from losing their jobs because of government-mandated work stoppages. It should make sure that everyone afflicted with the disease gets the healthcare they need regardless of whether or not they have insurance. To put it simply, the stimulus bill can’t be about “creating jobs” right now. It should be all about alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak, because it can’t help put people back to work until the pandemic is gone, and it looks like that isn’t going to happen for months.

The Republicans’ bill includes $5B for a corporate slush fund. It’s weak on worker retention and has loopholes. It’s treasury lending section is vague. It doesn’t provide provisions to protect people from evictions and foreclosures. It provides zero money for state and local governments. Is that because the states hardest hit are blue states? No additional spending on SNAP when the program will obviously be under extreme pressure. No direct payments for people who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It offers no help for the uninsured and no help for people with student loans.

What this all adds up to is, as James Martin wrote in The New York Times today, a Moral Evil. That’s suffering caused by the actions of individuals or, in this case, the inaction of individuals. And even worse; the deliberate redirection of resources that should be used to alleviate suffering of the most vulnerable people to the least vulnerable, most wealthy people in our country. That’s right. Who do you think will be the recipients of a slush fund?

Maybe enough Republicans in the Senate will read The Bible tonight and decide to do what Jesus would do (from the James Martin column):

Needless to say, when caring for someone with coronavirus, one should take the necessary precautions in order not to pass on the infection. But for Jesus, the sick or dying person was not the “other,” not one to be blamed, but our brother and sister. When Jesus saw a person in need, the Gospels tell us that his heart was “moved with pity.” He is a model for how we are to care during this crisis: with hearts moved by pity.

I’m not betting on it.

There is something very wrong with President Donald J. Trump

There is something very wrong with President Donald J. Trump

From NPR:

President Trump said on Tuesday “there’s blame on both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Va. The statement comes a day after Trump specifically called out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists — and three days after his initial statement on the protests, for which he was criticized for not condemning those groups and instead cited violence “on many sides.”

Tuesday’s apparent backtrack came during a televised event about infrastructure attended by some members of his Cabinet. Trump took questions from reporters, who asked about his earlier statements and their timing. When pressed, the president pushed back and began placing blame on counterprotesters and the “alt left.”

Instead, he returned to equating the demonstrators — who came to the college town to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, donning Confederate flags and swastikas, some carrying guns and shields, chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” — with counterprotesters.

… and in the transcript section at the bottom of the NPR piece is a very revealing Trump quote:

You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides [emphasis added].

Right… those racist bigots on the alt-right side are very fine people – model citizens!

This was part of a press conference that was supposed to be about infrastructure. Reporters were more interested in his response to the chaos in Charlottesville – and respond he did in ways that stunned pretty much everybody except leaders of the alt-right like Richard Spencer, who said he was “Really proud of him”.

Trump’s erratic, volatile statements elicit such strong responses from the public, the media, elected representatives and other government officials that his agenda gets buried in the dust. He is without a doubt the worst leader to ever reside in the White House. He lacks any sense of right and wrong, and is ignorant of how government works. He is overtly vainglorious and responds to those who criticize him with impulsive, petulant tweets.

How much longer can such a morally bankrupt, incompetent person hold the office of President of the United States of America?

One month? Six months? a year? a full term?

Wagers anyone?

Washington State fights Washington D.C. over Immoral Trump Immigration Order

Washington State fights Washington D.C. over Immoral Trump Immigration Order

We Washingtonians are blessed with a moral citizenry willing to speak out against the bigoted actions and orders of President Trump.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested a temporary restraining order against Trump’s travel ban; U.S. District Court Judge James Robart granted his request, John M. Koenig, former U.S. Foreign Services Ambassador to Cyprus, answers the moral question.

Front page story of today’s Seattle Times, “U.S. suspends enforcement of travel ban; Trump bashes judge”.

WASHINGTON — The government on Saturday suspended enforcement of President Trump’s refugee and immigration ban and scurried to appeal a judge’s order, plunging the new administration into a crisis that has challenged Trump’s authority — and ability to fulfill campaign promises.

The stand-down, a day after a federal judge in Washington state temporarily blocked the ban, marked an extraordinary setback for the White House. Only a week ago, the president had acted to suspend America’s refugee program and halt immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries that the government said raise terrorism concerns.

As the White House worked to reinstate the ban, Trump mocked U.S. District Judge James Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush, as a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” ruling “will be overturned.”

You can always count on Trump to insult the messenger who tells him anything that counters what’g going on in his self-declared “very good brain”. James Robart, the “so-called judge” is widely respected and was nominated for the federal bench by Republican President George W. Bush. At least Bush acted presidential. Donald Trump, on the other hand, continues to act in the same very un-presidential manner he did as a candidate. SAD!

On the opinion page of today’s paper, we get “America quickly losing moral high ground under Trump”, by John M. Koenig, who retired from U.S. Foreign Services and now lives in Bellingham.

After the first week of the Trump administration, however, I feel compelled to say this: I have never been so ashamed of American foreign policy as I have been in the past few days.

Today, America steps forth not as a sometimes misguided champion of values or proponent of enlightened self-interest. Trump’s America proclaims itself an unabashedly immoral actor, its policy openly selfish, subordinating principle to fear and greed, and destroying the foundation on which international cooperation rests. We strut as a bully in the world but cower timorously at home. This is a deeply inhumane and brutish foreign policy posture, likely to cause untold human suffering and disaster.

Some say we need to give the president and his team more time, but the new administration’s rush to cause harm counsels against much patience. Others argue for fighting the Trump administration’s destructive impulses from the inside, but that approach is rife with problems.

…How does one ethically hold a post of responsibility in an administration whose destructive and immoral program one fundamentally rejects? My children are grown, and I retired in 2015 after 31 years as an American diplomat. I do not face the dilemma that many of my former colleagues now confront. But I like to believe that, were I in their position, I would have the moral courage to go — and join the resistance on the outside.

Bravo! Washington is fighting the good fight, and winning.

Inequality, Redistribution, and the Problem with Capitalism by Blankfein, Binswanger, and Pope Francis

Inequality, Redistribution, and the Problem with Capitalism by Blankfein, Binswanger, and Pope Francis

About inequality:

[Goldman Sachs chief executive officer Lloyd] Blankfein also said that the financial crisis led to a “bit of a wake-up call” about income inequality. He said that was a good thing. “This country does a great job of creating wealth, but not a great of distributing it,” said Blankfein. “ But I don’t want to do something that stops our ability to build wealth.”

Here’s how Harry Binswanger thinks we should go about redistributing our nation’s wealth:

For their enormous contributions to our standard of living, the high-earners should be thanked and publicly honored. We are in their debt.

Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

While I read the Binswanger column, “Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%“, I thought that for sure he must be joking, especially when I got to “a modest proposal“, but I never got to a part where tongue was inserted in cheek. I reviewed his other stuff and Googled for more information and, as far as I can tell, he really is a selfish, prickish follower of Ayn Rand who actually believes what he writes.

Pope Francis had something to say about capitalisms failures in an exclusive interview for the La Stampa in which he responds to attacks on his criticism of “economies of exclusion” in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?

His response in the interview to critics like Rush Limbaugh who called him a Marxist:

Andrea Tornielli (Vatican Insider): The most striking part of the Exhortation was where it refers to an economy that “kills”…

Pope Francis: There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.

I came across that aphoristic quote while reading “This Fuckin’ Pope” at The Rude Pundit today. His post has much more to say about the importance of not only that papal quote but many others about politics and society. It’s a good read, so go there now.

So Blankfein seems to have some Catholic guilt in him, Binswanger has no guilt and no shame, and Pope Francis believes it’s best for people to direct an abundance of food and medicine to the people who don’t have it but need it very badly. You know, like Jesus did.

Ugly side of Republican conservatism on display with Obamacare rollout

Ugly side of Republican conservatism on display with Obamacare rollout

A recent Washington Post story tracked the efforts of an Affordable Care Act navigator, Courtney Lively, to help uninsured residents of Breathitt County, Kentucky, enroll in Medicaid now that it has been expanded under the Affordable Care Act, or in a private health insurance plan on the state’s exchange. Kentucky is the only southern state to both establish its own exchange and embrace the Medicaid expansion. Not coincidentally, it has a Democratic governor.

The article shows the ACA working as intended to help those most in need of health insurance. Breathitt County, for example, has a per capita income of just $15,000; 15% of Kentucky’s population or about 640,000 people are uninsured:

Lively, who has been signing people up since the exchanges opened in early October, said one woman cried when she was told she qualified for Medicaid under the new law. She said people have been “pouring in” to her office, an unused exam room in the back of the clinic, where her set-up includes a table, a two-drawer filing cabinet, manila folders, a planner to track her schedule, a notebook to track her numbers and a laptop that connects to the state health-insurance exchange, Kynect.

Here is a sample of the sort of people featured in the piece:

“So, is that Breathitt County?” she asked Woodrow Wilson Noble as she tapped his information into a laptop Thursday morning.

“Yeah, we live on this side of the hill,” said Noble, whose family farm had gone under, who lived on food stamps and what his mother could spare, and who was about to hear whether he would have health insurance for the first time in his 60-year-old life.…. “All right,” she said. “We’ve got you eligible for Medicaid.”

“I got some warts on me I got to take off, some moles,” he said. “I might have that colonoscopy done. My mom had colon cancer twice. I never had money to do it.” He said he was told it could cost at least $2,000.

“I got this pain in my left shoulder,” he said, lifting his arm and rotating it. “Might be arthritis, I guess. I don’t know.”

And another

“All right,” she said to her next client, a 52-year-old disabled master electrician who said his mother, two brothers and two sisters all died from lung cancer. He had been ignoring a spot on his lung discovered during a visit to the emergency room after he had broken his ribs several years ago.

He also vaguely recalled being told at the time he had something called “wedging of the spine.”

“What do I need here?” said Jeff Fletcher, who was being sued for those medical bills. “Proof of income?”

After a few questions

“All right,” Lively said after a while. “You are covered.”

“I’m covered?” Fletcher said. He slapped the table. He clapped twice.

“Woo-hoo! I can go to the doctor now?” he asked Lively. “I’m serious. I need to go.”

And finally Ronald Hudson

…a skinny 35-year-old who worked as an assistant director at the senior center and had just been released from the hospital after a blood-sugar spike.

He’d never had insurance before and said his hospital bills were up to $23,000 at this point.

“Good night,” Lively said, tapping in his information.

Kids: five. Salary: about $14,000 before taxes.

“You’re going to qualify for a medical card,” she told Hudson.

“Well, thank God,” Hudson said, laughing. “I believe I’m going to be a Democrat.”

Lively printed out his papers.

“RONALD’s Health Care Coverage Options,” one of them read.

“Oh, man,” Hudson said.

This is a side of America that most of us don’t see and many of us choose not to; the sort of poverty that shouldn’t exist in a society as rich as this one but does, and to an alarming degree. What follows, however, is a sample of the comments to the article from what I think we can safely say is the conservative side of the American divide:

funowobama1 11/25/2013 10:22 AM PST Is there poverty in the U.S. yes – but giving out free things does not make it better – a woman with 5 kids making 14k – no info on who the father(s) is/are – I have pay for her not being able to cross her legs – please show me the logiic in all of this make her pay something so she can feel the pain.

Skunk at the picnic

11/25/2013 10:12 AM PST

I’ve always wanted to forsake my own financial goals in order to subsidize a bunch of people who smoke, drink, never exercise or eat right or do anything else remotely associated with good health.


11/25/2013 10:09 AM PST

There is no such thing as poverty in America. The only people who believe there is poverty in America are the individuals who have never really seen it. Real poverty is no shelter, no food, no education and no healthcare (note I didn’t say “no health insurance”). I have seen real poverty very, very up close and personal and believe me it doesn’t exist anywhere here. Everyone in America (and Europe) has access to shelter, access to food, access to education and access to healthcare (note I didn’t say “access to health insurance”). Poverty in America is all about extracting tax dollars from the working class segment and redistributing it to the dependent class segment to create life long democrat voters. And that is truly evil.


11/25/2013 8:54 AM PST

The title should be edited as follows: “Freebie insurance folks sucking off middle class Americans who were struggling to keep their family afloat and now must pay triple for their family’s insurance to keep Freebie people insured are very happy to screw millions of Americans by playing victim.” Disgusting. Vote liars, Democrat party race-baiters, Constitution haters, and others OUT. Return America to the people who actually love it.


11/23/2013 6:27 PM PST

For Dem/socialists to feel self-righteous and morally superior from these poignant stories, how many people have lost – and will lose – their health insurance? Your socialist wet dream is all about screwing 85% of the people (who have some form of insurance) for the 15%. Destroy the current insurance system and replace it with a “caring, helpful” bureaucracy and you have the real reason behind Obamacare. POWER When the government has power over your health care, you’ll surely vote for the party (Dem/socialist) that has that power. One of the people in the story said it all: “Hudson said, laughing. ‘I believe I’m going to be a Democrat.” If he wants to keep his rationed and mediocre health “care”, then he will. How many of you lefties are “pro-choice”, BTW?


11/23/2013 7:13 PM PST

So “God fearing people” are responsible for people living in squalor? The poor on the most part make bad life decisions their whole lives and pass those horrible values onto their children, who in this day of birth control and abortion on demand, probably should not of had. The problem with Liberal compassion is that it makes everyone a victim of someone else, and never allows for the dysfunctional to take responsibility for their failures. The taxpayer is responsible for every girl that gets pregnant, the children of every boy or irresponsible man who fathers children with multiple women? Our welfare/entitlement state already is unsustainable, where does it end? As Margaret Thatcher so aptly pointed out “Liberals eventually run out of other peoples money”.

And although congressional Republicans and conservative punditry may not be as openly hostile to the poor, their overall message is still remarkably disdainful. While I doubt anyone can recall the last time they heard a conservative congressman or Fox pundit express any concern for the plight of the uninsured in America, nearly all of whom simply had no viable options for obtaining coverage, they have been apoplectic over the cancellation of policies held by relatively affluent individuals and families who can easily obtain other decent plans under the ACA.

Much of this is politics, no doubt. And some is a woeful and probably willful ignorance of the extent of poverty in America. But most of it is simply a stunning lack of empathy and a willingness to accept myths about the poor and peddle them as facts. As Michael Tomasky says in this piece in The Daily Beast talking about the House GOP’s bill to slash $40 billion in food aid to the poor:

…I think maybe you’ll agree with me that the single worst thing the Obama-era Republicans have done is try to push through a $40 billion cut to the food-stamps program. It’s just unspeakably cruel. They usually say publicly that it’s about saving money. But sometimes someone—one congressman in particular—lets slip the real reason: They want to punish poor people.

… The proposed GOP cut is such a piddling amount of money, in terms of the whole federal budget and especially when spread out over 10 years. But nearly half of it is quite literally taking food out of the mouths of children. What’s the point? The point really is that Tea Party Republicans think these people don’t deserve the help. That’s some fascinating logic. The economy melts down because of something a bunch of crooked bankers do. The people at the bottom quarter of the economy, who’ve been getting jobbed for 30 years anyway and who always suffer the most in a downturn, start getting laid off in huge numbers. They have children to feed. Probably with no small amount of shame, they go in and sign up for food stamps.

And what do they get? Lectures about being lazy. You may have seen the now-infamous video of Tennessee Congressman Steve Fincher, who told a crowd over the summer that “the Bible says ‘If you don’t work, you don’t eat.’” This while Fincher, a cotton farmer, has enjoyed $3.5 million in federal farm subsidies. This year’s House bill ends “direct payments” to farmers whether they grow any crops or not—except for one kind: cotton farmers.

Underlying the actions of congressional Republicans and the words of their base is a pernicious belief that if you’re poor you deserve to be so because you must wish it. Or to put it another way: “Find me a poor person and I’ll show you a lazy bum”.

Ignorance of their own country combined with a singular lack of empathy and a large dose of hypocrisy – this, increasingly, is the only side of the modern American conservative movement that we now see. And it is ugly.

GOP’s strategy: Attack the poor, protect the rich and blame the grandchildren

GOP’s strategy: Attack the poor, protect the rich and blame the grandchildren

eat the rich

If the recent government shutdown and brinkmanship over raising the debt ceiling has shown us anything, it is to crystallize the willingness of the Republican Party to attack, with almost breathtaking fanaticism, programs that are designed primarily to help middle and lower income Americans by strengthening the nation’s tattered safety net.

The Affordable Care Act, whatever its flaws, will cover millions of low-income Americans by an expansion of Medicaid (Oregon has already lowered its uninsured rate by 10% through the Medicaid expansion contained in the ACA) and provide additional millions with the opportunity to buy affordable private health insurance, with government subsidies to help pay the premiums for those who qualify.

At most the ACA is a modest reform of the private health insurance system, with an expansion of Medicaid thrown in for good measure to help those folks whose income puts them beyond the reach of the private insurance system. Yet even this modest law to help our least fortunate citizens is fought with the sort of tenacity and fervor by the right and the GOP that any reasonable person would assume would be directed only at a Canadian-style single payer system. It’s even more perplexing and disgraceful when one considers that the GOP itself has provided no substantive plan of its own that would come anywhere close to the goal of the ACA to provide near universal coverage.

The reason, of course, is that the GOP does not see universal health care coverage as a worthy objective at all.

This blatant disregard for middle and low income Americans is displayed, too, in its budget aims. The GOP insists that any budget negotiations will take place in the context of no new taxes; even loophole closures, being off the table. Instead, the GOP will discuss only government spending cuts. And where do they want to cut? Well, we’ve already seen the GOP House voting to cut $70 billion over 10 years from food aid to the poor from the Farm Bill. And with Democrats desperate to get out from under sequestration cuts to vital domestic discretionary programs, the GOP’s sole offer is to shift the bite to entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security- more beating up on the poor and elderly (and poor elderly).

The GOP’s justification for slashing important programs that primarily assist the non-wealthy of our society is the magnitude of our national debt and the continuing deficits which we are passing on to our children and grandchildren. Setting aside the fact that deficits are already falling, it’s difficult to view this angst over the burden we are passing to future generations as anything but insincere and self-serving nonsense – merely crocodile tears.

First, if the deficit mattered that much to Republicans, they wouldn’t take revenues off the table. At a time when economic data shows that the wealthiest Americans have increased their share of income following the Great Recession whilst everyone else has seen their incomes stagnate and when Mitt Romney’s unearned income and that of hedge fund managers is no more than 15% while middle-income working Americans pay 15-33%, it is an absurdity bordering on obscene to argue that the rich are overtaxed. Yet for these few, these happy few, the GOP is willing to go to the mat.

Second, Republicans never talk about the other deficits that we will be passing on to our children and grandchildren if we don’t find more revenues; for example $3.6 trillion in infrastructure repairs by 2020. And if funding for scientific and other vital research continues to diminish in real terms, how will we maintain our economic primacy going forward?

Anti-government mindlessness bordering on fanaticism, combined with an almost total disregard for America’s least fortunate citizens and a singular concern only for the wellbeing of its richest – these are the hallmarks of today’s Republican Party. With its deeply misguided aims and despicable tactics, it is doing more damage to America than al-Qaida or any nation that wishes America ill could hope to accomplish. It is well past time America fought back.

From the disorderly chaos of the splintered Republican Party, the Democrats formed a spine.

From the disorderly chaos of the splintered Republican Party, the Democrats formed a spine.

Today the Republicans finally realized that almost everyone in the country despises them and that, as a result, they lack the political capital necessary to force President Obama and the Democrats to defund the duly enacted Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. Instead their Tea Party Tantrum went pretty much exactly how the Democrats said it would: “It’s all there black and white – clear as crystal. You get NOTHING! You Lose!  Good DAY Sir!

We watched like Scooter here…

Mr-Fish-The-Horror sm

… but it was kind of like watching a Marvel Comics film. There may be a lot of drama along the way, but we knew who was going to win.

Jonathan Chait explains why in this excellent post for New York Magazine:

Most of the analysis has focused on the mind-boggling stupidity of Republicans in Congress, who blundered into a debacle that failed in exactly the way they were warned it would. The episode will be retold and fought over for years to come, perfectly emblemizing the party’s internal disorganization, mindless belligerence, and confinement within an ideological echo chamber that sealed out important warnings of failure. A grassroots revolt forced Republicans to shut down the government two weeks before the debt ceiling deadline, serving to weaken the party’s standing at the moment they hoped to hold the default gun to Obama’s head. (It’s possible the lesson they’ll take away from their failure will only be not to shut down the government and threaten default at the same time, requiring another showdown.)

But it also represents a huge Democratic success — or, at least, the closest thing to success that can be attained under the circumstances. Of the Republican Party’s mistakes, the most rational was its assumption that Democrats would ultimately bend. This was not merely their own recycled certainty — “nobody believes that,” a confident Paul Ryan insisted of Obama’s claims he wouldn’t be extorted — but widespread, world-weary conventional wisdom. Democrats would have to pay a ransom. Republicans spent weeks prodding for every weakness. Would Senate Democrats from deep red states be pried away? Would Obama fold in the face of their threat?

Part of what undergirded Democratic unity went beyond a (correct) calculation that it would be dangerous to pay any ransom at all. Democrats seemed to share a genuine moral revulsion at the tactics and audacity of a party that had lost a presidential election by 5 million votes, lost another chance to win a favorable Senate map, and lost the national House vote demanding the winning party give them its way without compromise.

I wish this episode was the last fart from a rotting corpse, but I know better. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachman and company will wage another losing battle or two before they lose the war.

Paul Ryan is a Fake Fiscal Conservative

Paul Ryan is a Fake Fiscal Conservative

Paul Ryan’s budget is a lie. Paul Ryan does not care about deficits. Paul Ryan cares about the redistribution of wealth – from the poor to the rich.

His tax plan includes a 10% reduction of the top tax rate from 35% to 25% and a new 10% tax rate for everybody else. The plan calls for the elimination of taxes on dividends, capital gains, and inheritance. Almost all of these types of income go to the very richest Americans.

People earning over $1 million, a group representing one half of one percent of all tax payers, would receive 37% of all tax savings. Their tax savings would average out to $265,000 a piece resulting in an increase of their after-tax incomes of 12.5%. The middle class would receive tax cuts that would increase their after-tax incomes by 1.9%.

The Tax Policy Center predicts that the loss of revenue would be $4.6 trillion over a ten-year period. Ryan says his budget is revenue neutral because he will offset the lost revenue with an equal amount of spending cuts and tax-loophole closures – none of which he has the balls to identify. Based on his comments about Obama’s military budget, we can safely assume there would be no cuts there, and based on his zero tax rate on dividends and capital gains, we can assume he isn’t going to close the hedge-fund manager loophole, so what does that leave? Sounds like safety-net programs is the only place left he could come up with $4.6 trillion in savings.

If he could get congress to pass those kinds of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, Pell grants, and unemployment benefits; people without jobs or very low paying jobs who rely on government assistance to get by would be in a world of hurt.

He’s not saying how much he would cut and from what programs because he knows congress would never approve of such drastic cuts. (Citizens would turn against those in office that cut their benefits, wouldn’t they?)

Ryan’s budget is not conservative. It’s just another multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth back to the super rich, and it would result in colossal federal debt. He calls his plan “A Roadmap for America’s Future.” If America’s future is found at the top of a ravine rimmed with the opulent homes of the super rich who drink Dom Perignon from crystal glasses as they gaze down at the masses of the burned out poor and middle classes, then Ryan is a brilliant cartographer.

He’s not.

Paul Ryan is a punk for the 1% and, for his extraordinary mendacity, he will be rewarded by them.

Bruce Springsteen Takes on the Marauders with Wrecking Ball

Bruce Springsteen Takes on the Marauders with Wrecking Ball

Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball, was released on Tuesday. It’s his 17th and most overtly political album. Several of the songs could end up being a soundrack to the Occupy Wall Street movement – especially “Death to My Hometown,” in which he rages against the greedheads on Wall Street:

So, listen up Sonny Boy,
Be ready when they come
For they’ll be returning
Sure as the rising sun
Now get yourself a song to sing
And sing it ‘til you’re done
Sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber barons straight to Hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Who walk the streets as free men now
They brought death to our hometown, boys,
Death to our hometown.

…and “Jack of All Trades” using the voice of a working man who sees it happen over and over again:

The banker man grows fat,
Working man grows thin
It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again
It’ll happen again, yeah they’ll bet your life

And they’ll win. (See post below.)

…but not before he thinks some bad thoughts:

If I had me a gun, I’d find the
Bastards and shoot ’em on sight.
The Greedheads are Back and Getting Richer with a Vengeance

The Greedheads are Back and Getting Richer with a Vengeance

Emanuel Saez has updated his study, Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States, with income data through 2010. You can dig right into the Excel file that produced all the charts in that report if you click righ here.

Saez writes that during The Great Recession years of 2007  through 2009, (or the Lesser Depression, as Krugman likes to call it), average real income per family fell by 17.4%, and average real income for the top 1% fell by 36.3%. The fall at the top was mostly attributable to a decrease in capital gains income due to the huge drop in stock prices.

Things started getting better in 2010. Average real income per family grew by 2.3%. Saez describes how that gain was distributed:

Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery.

And if anyone out there still isn’t sure what Occupy Wall Street is all about, now you have your answer.

Here’s a graph from the report that puts historical income inquality in perspective:

The graph shows the greedheads aren’t quite back to where they were before the recession but, incomes grew through 2011 and into 2012, so I have no doubt their ravenous grab of the lion’s share has continued. I suspect the 2012 charts will show them back at their peak or past it.