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Senator Coburn – Same As It Ever Was

Campaign Complaint

Yesterday, while on Face the Nation, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma began whistling the same old tune. A new devastating tornado, must demand budget cuts before disaster relief. Senator Coburn has been a vigorous supporter of offsets for disaster relief funding. Senator Coburn is living that old Talking Heads tune which has the refrain – Same As It Ever Was. Senator Coburn is again whistling the same tune. I guess this is probably a good thing. At least he’s been consistent. He is treating his own state exactly the same as he treated other states when they needed disaster relief, although I’m not sure it’s a good thing when you are cold and callous.

We all pay taxes. The taxes need to go for something. One of the problems that I have with the current “cut taxes culture” is that we don’t think about what the things are that we really want to pay for. Do we really want to pay for the F-22 Raptor? If so, this a plane that cost tens of millions of dollars apiece. Do we want to pay to upgrade our bridges that seem to be collapsing at an alarming rate? Do we want to pay for disaster relief for the floods in San Antonio? The tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma? Hurricane Sandy that hit New Jersey and New York? If so, we need to quit cutting taxes and start paying for some things.

From the Huffington Post:

“We’ve created kind of a predicate, that you don’t have to be responsible for what goes on in your state,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while discussing the success Oklahoma has had in using state and private funds after the tornadoes.

Coburn said he doesn’t oppose any federal money going toward the state, however.

“Big storms like [Hurricane] Sandy, or like this tornado — there’s certain things that we can’t do that we need the federal government to do,” he said.

By |2013-05-27T20:31:12-04:00May 27th, 2013|Environment, FEMA, Party Politics|Comments Off on Senator Coburn – Same As It Ever Was

GOP: Let’s Get Tough

When the GOP took the House, they promised to focus on jobs and the American economy. Over the last year, they’ve taken a hard line on multiple issues. None of these issues were going to help the job market or the average American worker. Back in April the GOP was going to shut down the government by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars for domestic programs. That didn’t work so well. Then, in August, we had the debt ceiling debate where, once again, the GOP was prepared to shut down the government if they didn’t get what they wanted. There is no compromise. It was their way or shut down the government. Next, the issue became disaster relief. Eric Cantor and the rest of the GOP hardliners insisted on having offsets in order to release disaster funds. Of course, they only wanted to cut domestic programs and wouldn’t agree to (or even talk about) cutting military programs or about raising money by taxing the wealthy. That also did not work out for the GOP. Then, just last month, the super committee was supposed to come up with super tax cuts and Republicans on the committee stood resolutely by their opposition to raise any revenue. Basically, the committee did nothing. Finally, the GOP decided that they were going to stand up against renewing the payroll tax cut. This is a tax cut which has helped average Americans. This is $1000 directly into the pocket of everyday working Americans and for some inexplicable reason the GOP opposed it.

I shudder to think what the Republican-led House is planning for 2012.

By |2011-12-30T08:25:05-04:00December 30th, 2011|Economy, Party Politics|1 Comment

70% of them are not worth a nickel

It was just four years ago when hundreds of thousands of other progressives, including myself, were pleading with America to restore democratic rule. That was all we needed. The Democrats in charge of this topsy-turvy world would turn right side up. Democrats, who wad railed against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said they hated the war but had to vote for it. They convinced us that all we needed to do was change the man in charge. Vote George Bush out and Barack Obama in. Then, everything would be okay. Well, not so much. Unemployment is hovering at approximately 10%. I’ve been trying to come up with a scenario in which we can get unemployment down to 5% with,in a couple of years, but I just don’t see that happening. We are stuck. We can’t get unemployment benefits renewed because Republicans and some Democrats are dead set against unemployment benefits without offsets. Why is it that tax cuts never need offsets but unemployment benefits do?

From Dean Baker: Unemployment insurance provides the sort of boost to demand that the economy desperately needs. That is why neutral parties such as the congressional budget office or economist Mark Zandi, a top adviser to John McCain’s presidential bid, always list unemployment benefits as one of the best forms of stimulus.

Republicans give two reasons for opposing benefits. First, they claim that benefits discourage people from working. Second, they object that the Democrats’ proposal will add to the national debt.

On the first point there is a considerable amount of economic research. Most indicates that in periods when the economy is operating near its capacity, more generous benefits may modestly increase the unemployment rate. However, they are less likely to have that effect now. The reason is simple: the economy does not have enough jobs. The latest data from the labour department shows that there are five unemployed workers for every job opening.

In this context, unemployment benefits may give some workers the option to remain unemployed longer to find a job that better fits their skills, but they are unlikely to affect the total number of unemployed. In other words, a $300 weekly unemployment cheque may allow an experienced teacher the luxury of looking for another teaching job, rather than being forced to grab a job at Wal-Mart.

However, if the teacher took the job at Wal-Mart, then this would simply displace a recent high-school graduate who has no other job opportunities. That might be a great turn of events in Republican-econ land, but it does not reduce the overall unemployment rate, nor does it benefit the overall economy in any obvious way.

The other argument the Republicans give is that these bills would add to the national debt. For example, the latest extension of unemployment benefits would have added $22bn to the debt by the end of 2011. This means that the debt would be $9,807,000,000 instead of $9,785,000,000 at the end of fiscal 2011, an increase of the debt-to-GDP ratio from 65.3% to 65.4%.

It is possible that Congressional Republicans, who were willing to vote for hundreds of billions of dollars of war expenditures without paying for them, or trillions of dollars of tax cuts without paying for them, are actually concerned about this sort of increase in the national debt. It is possible that this is true, but not very plausible.

Currently, I’m looking for somebody to be in charge of Congress. I’m looking for the Senate to be something other than a wasteland where bills go to die. I’m looking for someone to push the Senate out of its malaise. It is nice to stand in the well of the Senate and make speeches about fiscal responsibility and the recklessness of the Democrats. It’s another thing to propose a real viable solution. To stand around and say that tax cuts are the answer is to be devoid of your senses.

From TPM: “…there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”

The CBO and other budget experts strongly disagree. And Democrats want to preserve the Bush tax cuts for people making less than $200,000-$250,000 a year — but only for them. Allowing them to expire for wealthier people would raise hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years, which could allow them to offset the spending Republicans currently decry.

However, the GOP’s top budget guy, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), disagrees. He said Kyl’s prescription — offset spending with tax increases or program cuts, but treat tax cuts differently — is exactly right. “It makes a lot of sense, because, you know, when you’re raising taxes you’re taking money out of peoples’ pockets,” said Gregg when asked by TPMDC. “When you’re spending money, you’re spending money that is — it’s not the same thing because it’s growing the government. So I tend to think that tax cuts should not have to be offset.”

This is exactly what I’m talking about. It is impossible to reason with an ideologue. Many in Congress would not know how to formulate a logical argument even if they had a hour-long lesson with Plato. They got elected because they believed in or would tow the party line. I’m not talking about just Republicans. I’m talking about Democrats also. We have to figure out a way to make Congress work for us. We have to make our congressmen resistant to PACs and responsive to us and to logical arguments. How much would you give for our Congressmen and Congresswomen? More than a nickel?

By |2010-07-14T03:51:02-04:00July 14th, 2010|Bush Administration, Congress, Economy, Taxes|Comments Off on 70% of them are not worth a nickel
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