The Republican government shutdown.

           I spent yesterday awestruck at how people would blame President Obama for this shutdown. As odd as it sounds these people are saying Republicans are doing the right thing. Shutting down the government to shutdown a law you don’t like is incredible. The ACA is law and that will not change. Why is helping people get affordable health care such a problem?

Republicans want to negotiate, at the last minute. The 18 times Democrats tried to negotiate and go to conference since April were apparently not good enough. Republicans shot it down everytime. Why negotiate at the last minute? To fool gullible Americans into thinking they care. They are not negotiating, they are trying to force an issue through hurting the American people and economy. That is not governing, I don’t know what it is. Sadly people buy into this.

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and all these other right wing radio host spread hate. They dislike President Obama’s policies, so they spew vitriol in order to polarize the public that listens to them. They spread lies about the ACA, which host Chuck Todd said the main stream media does not need to correct. Isnt the media a vehicle for the public to learn the truth or is it just a vehicle to spread Republican rhetoric. Sadly it seems to be the latter. They, those who are closest to the mess that is Congress know the truth. But the truth doesn’t seem to matter.

The American public is being duped by a party of hate. This is a party that was against medicare, social security, food stamps, extending unemployment, the Veterans Jobs Bill and VAWA. Isn’t it obvious that these people do not care about the American public. These are the people who give rich farmers free money, $200 billion to corporate welfare and believe corporations are people that aren’t governed by the same laws as people. This is a party controlled by corporate interests. The Tea Party was created by the Koch brothers, who have ties to the NRA and ALEC. How is that grassroots?

Republicans were giddy about shutting the government down, their own words. Michelle Bachman came out and said how proud she was of the stand they are taking. Do they not realize they lost the election? The people spoke, overwhelmingly in favor of the ACA and President Obama. Get over yourselves and move on. Govern our country and stop holding the people hostage. America does not negotiate with terrorists. Especially ones in our own government.

Immigration Reform, needs to be done, but how?

                    Talking to people about immigration reform is an extremely touchy subject. People have some very odd beliefs. One that you hear that is very disturbing is to send them all home. Where is their home? It is here, they do not understand that. We all come from immigrants.

             Immigrants are important to our economy. They do a lot of seasonal work that other Americans think they are to good for. Although many have come into America illegally, they are in many cases productive members of society. I personally do not know the process of naturalization but how would someone here illegally know it either.

                  I agree with naturalizing all people that are here illegally, aside from criminals who should be deported. We most certainly should have a pathway to citizenship. I like what has been proposed so far and believe that it can work. Give them 5 years to take the citizenship test, require them to Americanize, including learning English. They should then receive their Social Security numbers and have them start paying taxes. If they do not do this in 5 years they will be deported. They need not pay for any of this because once they become tax payers it will increase governments revenue.

                    I may have worded it crudely, but it is a basic idea that can be improved. Republican and Democrat lawmakers alike do not seem to have the werewithal to do what needs to be done. There are many good people here illegally who deserve the same chance at the freedom we all have. For the sake of these people and all Americans please get this done.

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President Obama’s budget is a smart move.

                  Since President Obama gave his budget speech lawmakers, Republican and Democrats alike have been taking shots at him. Democrats, especially liberals, feel that he us throwing the baby away with the bath water. Republicans, Tea Party members and conservatives said they wouldn’t agree with it before he even presented it. What chance did this or any other budget actually have?

             Paul Ryan and the Republican budget only exacerbated the problem. Austerity is his plan, look how well that is working in Europe. He attacks the poor and elderly, while keeping tax cuts and loopholes in place for the wealthy and corporations. The CBI said this actually adds to the National Debt.

            Patty Murray and the Democrats took a more balanced approach. Cutting the National Debt at a slower rate while not cutting nearly as much from Social Security and Medicare. It looks to overhaul the tax code, getting rid of tax loopholes and tax havens, creating several hundred billions of dollars through that alone. House Republicans will not pass it because it effects their wealthy donors.

             Here is the brilliance of President Obama’s plan. He is giving Republicans almost everything they want, while not getting much if anything in return. It is 2 to 1 spending to tax increases. Here is where the brilliance truly lies, if the Republicans refuse this it us outright proof that they refuse to work with him even when he gives them what they want.

               It is a calculated risk, but his team did their homework. The Republican party will not meet President Obama and the Democrats halfway or even if they get everything they want. He is proving that they say no just to say no. He is letting the party of no show their true face to the American public. It takes a strong willed president to take the risk he did. It is paying off.

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Chained CPI may happen but only if Republicans work with the president.

                Many people are worried President Obama is going to move Social Security to the Chained CPI method for COLA adjustments. The idea is something to be afraid of. It is essentially a benefit cut for people who cannot afford another cut. Thus falls right in with the Republicans assault on everyday Americans.

                Chained CPI explained in the easiest possible way is as follows. To figure your COLA they determine prices on a basket of goods. If the goods go up, normally your COLA increases. Chained CPI says that instead of a raise you will buy different goods in order to make up the difference. Instead of buying chicken you would buy ground beef for example. Where this doesn’t work is when a large portion of their income goes onto medical bills. The Chained CPI cuts their benefits, thereby putting them into a bigger financial hole.

            Of course this only effects the elderly, the poor or the disabled. Republicans continue protecting the rich. As they are pushing Chained CPI for these people, they are fighting for larger tax breaks for the wealthy. The tax breaks for the wealthy obviously created so many jobs (sarcasm).

                  President Obamas budget will only put Chained CPI in effect if he gets the balanced approach he is looking for. More tax revenue, closing loopholes that cost us billions of dollars a year, cutting corporate welfare and eliminating tax havens. That is not all, but some of what he wants. If Republicans don’t work with him the Chained CPI is not going to happen. Give the president a chance and stop listening to conservative media bashing him. He will do the right thing.

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Chain CPI is essentially a spending cut.

           Chained CPI or Consumer Price Index is a time series measure of price levels of consumer goods and services created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This index is not currently used by any U.S. programs, but is often discussed as a possible reform because many economist believe it better measures inflation and reduces the federal defecit through a combination if spending cuts and increased revenues. The Chained CPI is used to measure Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), overestimating inflation leads to a higher than actual living adjustment.

            The shift to a Chained CPI would harm low income children and the elderly the most. A long list of means tested benefits currently use non-Chained CPI, to adjust eligibility standards or benefit amounts. According to the Congressional Research Service in addition to Social Security these other programs rely on non-Chained CPI; Medicaid, SSI, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, SNAP or food stps and child nutrition programs including school meals. According to the CRS more than 50 other programs tied to the federal income poverty guidelines use unChained CPIs.

                    The government currently calculates Social Security COLA each year based on how inflation effects urban wage earners and clerical workers. Known as CPI-w. This index measures changes in the prices of a fixed basket of goods that are deemed to be representative of regular purchases by wage earners. The Chained CPI assumes that as prices increase consumers make substitutions in what they purchase.

            It would hurt people her arent in a position to switch to other goods and services when prices rise. Medicare premiums and out of pocket expenses eat up much of the elderlys budgets, this would force them to go without medical care that they dont have money for. It is food or medical care. Simpson-Bowles recomendations on Social Security attempted to soften the impact on elderly by proposing a minimum Social Security income . If it fell below the minimum because of the Chained CPI you would be paid this minimum income. Thus is not being proposed for other programs.

              The fact that Democrats and Republicans fight over this shows the different political philosophies. One, Democrats, is to protect the poor and elderly and the other, Republicans, hurt the poor and elderly to protect wealthy from paying higher taxes. The sad truth is that the wealthy can buy better protection than the poor, which lets you know why nothing gets done in Congress. With so many other places we can make cuts and get revenue this should be left alone.

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Tax code, yet another break for the wealthy.

                 President Obama was swept into office for his second term partly on the promise of raising taxes on the wealthy. He accomplished some of that in the fiscal cliff deal. But the,dollar for dollar cuts to spending Republicans clamor for doesnt work the way they want. We have gotten $2.50 in spending cuts to every $1.00 of extra revenue, so Republicans are right. Cuts and revenue should match dollar for dollar. Closing loopholes would be a goid start.

             If Congress can fix the tax code by getting rid of decades of deductions, exemptions and other give aways, they could actually lower taxes and balance the federal budget. From tax free saving accounts to deductiond fir gifts to charities, these uncollected taxes amount to a giant pile of stealth government spending. Some deductions come by accident, unintended consequences of adjustments to the tax code. Lobbyist fought for many others and many wealthy industries benefit from it.

            In 2012 tax breaks totaled more than $800 billion or about 1/3 of the federal revenues. Thats more than the government spends on Social Security, Medicare or National Defense according to the CBO. Cutting these on full would go a long way to closing the federal deficit, $1.1 trillion.

                 Most federal revenues come from personal and corporate income tax. Payroll taxes fund Social Security and Medicare. Most originally came from taxes on luxury items such as tabacco, spirits, sugar and throughout the 19th century they came from tarriffs on manufactured goods that were imported. The income tax was introduced during the Civil War and did not become permanent until the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913. During WWII income tax became what it is today, a mass tax on the moddle class.

                The payroll tax is 15.3%  and all earners pay it. The 12.9% Social Security tax only applies to wages below $87,900 – meaning that a $25,000 a year earner pays a higher effective tax rate than somepn making $250,000, because most of the $250,000 is exempt. Investment income and employer benefits, which accrue disproportionately to high income eaeners go completely untaxed. People who live off of inhereted wealth pay no pay roll taxes at all.

           At one point John Boehner agreed with President Obama that tax reform and a limted rate increase could generate almost $1 trillion and reduce the debt. He and the Republican party pulled the offer from the table when the President and the Democrat party won $600 billion in the fiscal cliff deal. Republicans are standing behind the mantra of no more tax increases. So I guess the fiscal watchdog Republicans dont want to lower the National debt.

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Is ALEC trying to privatize government services?

           For anyone not familiar with ALEC, they are corporate funded to start. They have a list of over 100 corporations that are members. ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. They have been in the news on & off over the years & liberals always talk about the unfair influence over our politics.

            State politicians & corporations work & vote behind closed doors to try rewriting laws that govern your rights. ALEC boasts on its website that over 2,000 state legislators are members. ALEC Exposed has identified nearly 1,000  state reps who are believed to be active members. This alone should show how corporate money has given them an unfair advantage over the average person.

           They actively promote privatization of public services & assets. They would privatze public functions such as child support services, foster care, adoption services, Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, prisons, schools & government labs. Through privatization schemes to outsource traditional government functions taxpayer dollars are diverted. They are diverted from the building of public assets & institutions to create long term revenue streams for corporations. Privatization had resulted in the loss of public sector jobs that have been crucial to the growth of the middle class. Which has created a system that favors lower paying jobs & higher profits for CEOs & investors.

            ALEC has helped institute new Voter ID laws, yes a group of corporations has assisted the REPUBLICANS in this endeavor. They also helped write the Stand Your Ground laws that contributed to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. ALEC wants to dismantle the public employee pensions systems. They won a major victory in 2000 when the Florida state legislature passed a bill setting up a 401k savings plan alongside the traditional defined pension plan for state workers. Jen Bush was govener at the time.

              In this brief overview I was just trying to show some of the undue influence corporations have in our politics today. ALEC wields political clout that no corporation or group of corporations should have. Over the last year quite a few corporations have left ALEC. I will have a series of posts on ALEC trying to dig deeper into their agenda. I hope this opened your eyes to do your own research & get more educated about money in politics.

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