Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paul Ryan Booed by Constituents Over Tax Cuts for Rich.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), architect of the House GOP's budget, drew a resounding chorus of boos at a town hall appearance in his district after touting the benefits of tax cuts for the wealthy. In a video posted by ThinkProgress, an attendee at the event this week told Ryan that he believes the rich should pay higher taxes to help close the deficit and strengthen Social Security. "The middle class is disappearing right now," he said. "During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire?"

Polls have shown increasing taxes on the wealthy enjoys strong public support across the political spectrum despite near-universal opposition from GOP lawmakers. Democrats have been hammering Republicans on the issue in recent weeks, jumping off Ryan's budget proposal, which cuts taxes for the rich while making major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

TPJ: The masses are starting to reach for their pitchforks. The Paul Ryan budget that drastically cuts Medicare (something I rely upon for my mental health services, but more importantly for medications) is far too radical for the middle class. We've already been asked to sacrifice with pay cuts, longer hours, cuts in benefits and skyrocketing gas and food prices. Take a chunk out of the ultra-rich for once!! They're the ones who can afford it. So, they only get to buy one yacht instead of two--I think they can survive. If sacrificing a yacht helps grandma and the disabled stay on their medical insurance? It's an easy decision.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Consequences of Not Raising the Debt Ceiling in America.

We the people, of America, are all concerned about the deficit but some want to take reckless, drastic measures in the name of, so- called "fiscal responsibility." We all agree that the deficit is too high but failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic for America and its economy. America would go into default with it's creditors--China, which would crater our bond ratings. A poor bond rating basically says to the world that we aren't a sound investment. But, the effects of a refusal to raise the debt ceiling would reach far beyond the bond markets.

Interest rates would skyrocket overnight, hurting an already shaky mortgage/housing market. This would inevitably lead to additional masses being thrown from their homes for failure to pay the newly raised interest rates on mortgages. But, that's not all that would hurt the average American if the debt ceiling isn't raised. The government would use what money it did have to pay the first in line--creditors, and freeze domestic spending. Social Security checks would halt immediately, which would devastate the already financially fragile seniors and disabled Americans.

The Federal Reserve would have to print money like a counterfeit money machine on steroids, which would flatten the power of the dollar and inflation would balloon. It would make make buying goods from overseas much more expensive to American businesses and the stock market would would drop severely. This would reverse an already fragile recovery of the economy and possibly drop us back down into a deep recession. We all want to reduce our debt but failing to raise the debt limit is not the way to do it. This isn't a time for standing on principle against debt--that can be better handled in budget discussions. Let's not risk the full faith and credit of the American economy on a Libertarian thought experiment.

The debt ceiling has never been capped since the days of Alexander Hamilton during America's first days as a new country!! Up until now, raising that limit has been a bipartisan effort to increase because both sides realize that to fail to do so, would be financial suicide.

Sources for this post: ABC News, "Debt Ceiling Fight Takes Center Stage: What It Means For You."

Source two: Sodahead, "If the U.S. Government Debt Ceiling Isn't Raised--What Happens?"

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

VIDEO: Obama Speech on Deficit Reduction. Addresses Medicare and Social Security.

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If you'd rather read a transcript of his speech, click HERE:

: President Obama hit the speech out of the park!! I thought it was one of the best speech's that he's given, and it reminded me of the grand visionary and defender of the American middle-class that I saw on the campaign trail in 2008. It was about time that someone stood up to the Republicans, (and their uber-rich cronies).

It's about time someone said America won't stand by and let our senior citizens, and disabled neighbors be thrown out of Medicare, as we know it, while the wealthy get yet another tax cut!! They just got a tax cut last year when they continued the Bush tax cuts for the rich; and now the Ryan plan calls for slashing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%!! Haven't the corporations already gotten a sweat deal with all those massive bonuses?!!

My favorite part of the speech was the following:
It's a vision [the Republican budget plan for 2012] that says America can't afford to keep the promise we've made to care for our seniors. It says that ten years from now, if you're a 65 year old who's eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn't worth enough to buy insurance, tough luck - you're on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.

This is a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. And who are those 50 million Americans? Many are someone's grandparents who wouldn't be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we'd be telling to fend for themselves.

Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can't afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can't afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that's who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that's paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm President.
TPJ: I was disgusted that the Republicans came out and trashed the president today before he even gave his speech!! How are Obama and the Democrats supposed to work together with the Republicans, for the American people, when the Republicans act this way? They came out and said not giving tax cuts to the rich was a "non starter." Meaning, they won't even discuss it, let alone compromise on it. Now, how are we supposed to take them seriously when they won't even put taxes on the table???

They want Democrats and Independents to slash Medicare and Social Security for seniors and the disabled without asking the super wealthy to pay a bit more in taxes? We're not talking about a huge tax increase for them either--it's more like returning to the tax level they paid under Clinton, when we had a booming economy!! I think the rich and corporations did very well in the 90's, "despite" the Clinton tax rates.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Republicans Looking to End Medicare and Social Security, as We Know It.

The Republicans have proposed major cuts in Medicare and Social Security in this coming long-term debt proposal. Yet, despite these cuts targeting seniors and the disabled, Republicans refuse to raise taxes on people making over $250,000. Despite most Americans supporting those tax cuts!! What happened to shared sacrifice?

There wouldn't be a problem with Medicare's long-term viability if Medicare was allowed to extend it's pool to healthy workers as well, which would lower costs for everyone in the pool.

Medicare is used mostly by seniors and the disabled, which are both groups of people who have a lot of health problems. So, obviously, if the Medicare pool is only made up of old and sick people then, of course, it'll be financially top heavy. Widening the pool was exactly what President Obama started to do with his health care reform plan.

A lot of people who aren't on Medicare or who aren't aware of it's services don't know that it involves a partnership with private insurance companies who make a profit from Medicare services. It's not run by "government doctors" and your prescription bottle doesn't say, "Dr. Obama." It says the name of whatever company's plan you chose within the framework of Medicare. And by the way, we can garner a lot of savings from Medicare if we require a higher premium from those retired millionaires.

The other reason to fight the Republican attack on Medicare is because a lot of blue-collar workers do very physically demanding jobs and need long-term health care plan that they can rely upon. It's not humane to demand people wreck their physical bodies mining coal to fuel our easy living lifestyle, and then turn our backs on them when their bodies give out. They deserve a system that won't deny them coverage because of their deteriorated bodies. Otherwise, we treat these hardworking Americans like Kleenex tissue; tear them to shreds and then throw them in the garbage bin.

As for social security, it doesn't add one dime to the deficit because it is self funded by current workers. However, I am willing to look at ways for shoring it up. The main avenue that I support is means testing benefits, which is about reducing benefits for those who are currently making millions of dollars. Their buckets of cash sitting around are more than enough to fund their retirements. The Republicans are still trying to privatize social security despite the recent stock market crash that would have wiped out any social security money invested in it. Some people talk of raising the retirement age, which would be disastrous for the blue collar worker whose hard physical labor takes a quicker toll on their bodies than in white collar jobs.

So, by just every measure, the Paul Ryan Republican budget is atrocious and overly punitive of seniors, the disabled and blue collar workers. And, none of this addresses the young people who are already well-along the path of paying into Medicare and Social Security!! People my age, (30s) are paying for seniors retirement, and we're happy to do so but we don't like the idea of being cut off from benefits when it's our time to retire. A gift certificate to Barnes and Noble, and box of band-aids isn't going to do it. We are supportive of cost savings to these programs but leaving us out in the dark to figure it out for ourselves when we're old and falling apart is pretty cruel.

PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Republicans Cheer for a Government Shutdown.

At the same time that Republican claim to be willing to work out a deal on budget cuts, they are also cheering for a government shutdown:

WASHINGTON – A Gallup poll released Wednesday and circulated by Senate Democrats found that Americans decidedly want to see the two parties compromise and reach a budget deal. But a majority of Republicans wanted their leaders to "[h]old out for the basic budget plan they want, even if that means the government shuts down." Independents in the survey said they support the compromise position by 60 to 29 percent.

TPJ: How can Democrats have an honest discussion and work toward a compromise when the other side is not so secretly hoping for a government shutdown because of their uncompromising, extremist views. Democrats widely support working toward a compromise while Republicans are strongly opposed to any kind of deal that doesn't allow them everything they want. They are like the kid on the playground who threatens to take the football home if he doesn't get to play the position he wants.

The irony for the party of "low taxes for the rich" is that a government shutdown that they cheer for would delay tax returns to those very same rich people. But not just them, they'd be delayed for average working families who rely upon those refunds more than the rich to pay the bills and keep food on the table. It's mind boggling that a political party wants so badly to punish government that they'd jeopardize our fragile economy by delaying sorely needed tax returns.

Oh, and if you're a business person who travels a lot internationally, a government shutdown will delay your passport services. You can thank Mike Pence, his government shutdown wet dream and his cheering Republican crowds for that one. He whipped the Tea Party faithful into a frenzy over such an extreme measure. The Democrats have met the Republicans half way on how much to cut the budget. However, these same Republicans have sneakily slipped provisions into the bill to chop away much of the Environmental Protection Agency and severely limit reproductive health screenings for poor women. How disingenuous can you get? You need look no further when questioning Republican seriousness on a compromise than this cynical attempt to sneak cultural wedge issues into a budget bill.

At a time when we are facing an aging nuclear reactor fleet, higher risks for deep water drilling and drinking water issues from fossil fuel extraction, cutting the EPA is a horrible idea!! The Republicans are turning a budget battle into everything from abortion to cutting protections for the health of Americans, in regards to environmental degradation. It's not very helpful or realistic to say the least. Come on, Republicans, work with us!! Compromise isn't a dirty word, it's how everything gets done: businesses, marriages and foreign relations.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Obama, Democrats, Republicans and the Budget Battle.

Obama said Democrats have already agreed to cuts well beyond the GOP's initial proposal, but that he was nonetheless committed to further negotiations to reach a final deal to fund government operations through the end of the fiscal year. Nobody gets 100% of what they want, and we have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point," he said. "We are now closer than we have ever been to get an agreement. There's no reason why we should not get an agreement." for the Los Angeles Times

TPJ: As usual, the Democrats have come half-way toward a budget cutting compromise but the greedy Republicans refuse to budge from their first demand. Have they ever bartered for anything before? I don't think they understand how to negotiate!! Their idea of a compromise is that the Democrats compromise their position entirely and agree to all of the Republican demands. I understand they want a bigger number to be cut from the budget but you can't always get what you want; and it's a start. It's a down payment.

I know the Republicans want to all have it all but that's just not realistic--that's not how life works. I know they are really drunk on power from winning the House of Representatives last year but the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. So, it's time they stop hanging out with the delusional Tea Party, come back down to Earth and be realistic with the Democrats on a compromise. If the Republican Party was a spouse, they would have been divorced dozens of times because of not learning the art of compromise.

John Boehner says they want the largest cut possible. Yet, if the Democrats are meeting them half-way toward the original Republican number, then perhaps that's simply the largest cut possible, given the reality that we have a two party system. The last thing we need with this fragile economic recovery is a government shutdown that could threaten it. And, yet, last night, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner spoke to his caucus of House Republicans and said to prepare for a government shutdown; in response the caucus cheered and gave him a standing ovation. Does that sound like a party willing to be adults and compromise?

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Battle for Ivory Coast.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Residents barricaded themselves inside their homes Sunday, blanketing windows and pushing furniture against doors as this country on Africa's western coast tensely awaited the final battle between the two men who claim the presidency.

So many of the wonderful people of the Ivory Coast are dying, in the process of dying or living as a refugee in Liberia or Ghana. The rest are caught up in their homes, hiding for days from chaotic gun battles between opposing forces fighting for power. The democratically elected leader's side is winning and in control of 80% of the country but I am worried for them and would like to ask you to keep them in your heart. The deposed leader who lost (fair and square) refuses to go and is murdering people to stay in control. The jerk is actually trying to use people as human shields.

It blows my mind that this is happening in a country I lived in for two years. However, it's even more mind-blowing when I can actually see neighborhoods and streets on t.v. (from news reports) where I've lived!! Especially in the city of Duekoue where the massacre occurred. I lived in the suburb of Angre within Duekoue. My hearts aches today wondering if any of the 400 killed in that massacre were friends or people I met. I hope all my friends over there are o.k., regardless of which side they support. May they all get through this hardship with safety. Africa has already been through so much hardship.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Afghans Kill U.N. Workers Over Florida Pastor Burning Quran.

By Tom A. Peter, Correspondent with The Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 2011

Kabul, Afghanistan

An Afghan mob apparently angry over a Quran burning in Florida set upon a United Nations compound Friday, killing as many as 20 employees and setting fire to several compound buildings.

TPJ: This Florida pastor has the blood of the United Nations employees on his hands. He has also put the lives of our brave soldiers at further risk in Afghanistan. But, he wants to be a crusader and doesn't care how many peoples' lives he ruins in the process. It makes me wonder if he's even read the Bible because Jesus would have never burned the scriptures of another religion. He was a man of peace!!

The sad irony here is that the Quran (koran) speaks of Jesus in complimentary ways, though not calling him the "Son of God." He is attributed the honorable title of prophet. So, by this pastor burning the Islamic holy book, he has inadvertently burned words that laud Jesus!! I hope he realizes the pain he has caused at some point in his life but I doubt he has the integrity or humility to do such a thing. My heart breaks for those innocent U.N. workers and their grief-stricken families.

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