Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kristallnacht

Following the passage of the Health Care Reform Act, a brick was thrown through a window of Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s district office in Niagara Falls, New York.  Another brick was thrown through a window at the Sedgwick County Democratic Party office in Wichita, Kansas.  That brick had an anti-Obama and anti-health reform messages on it. A brick shattered glass doors at the Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York. A fist-sized rock was thrown through the front window of the Hamilton County Democratic Party in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio. The front door and glass panel were smashed out at Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s office in Tucson, Arizona.

A Rochester, N.Y. newspaper reported, that Mike Vanderboegh a former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia has been advocating that people throw bricks through the windows of Democratic Party headquarters all around the country. Vanderboegh wrote on his blog: “We can break their windows before we have to resort to rifles to resist their well intentioned tyranny.  These windows are not far away from where you are reading this right now.  In virtually every city and county in this land, there is a local headquarters of Pelosi‘s party—the Democrat party.  These headquarters invariably have windows. So, if you wish to send a message that Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows.  Break them now.  Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night.  Break them in broad daylight.  Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks.  Break them with slingshots.  Break them with baseball bats.  But break them. The time has come to take your life, your liberty and that of your children and grandchildren into your own two hands and act.  It is after all more humane than shooting them in self-defense. If we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.  Break their windows.  Break them now.”

Mr. Vanderboegh would have made an avid Nazi. Kristallnacht, (the night of broken glass), was a coordinated attack on the Jewish people and their property, on the nights of November 9 and 10 in 1938. Reportedly, 91 Jews were murdered and as many as 30,000 arrested and placed in concentration camps, 267 synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. It was done by the Hitler Youth and the Gestapo. It served as a pretext for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Holocaust.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lack of Civility

Prior to the Health Care Act being passed, House Minority Leader, John Boehner warned: “The next 24 hours are armageddon because the health care bill proposed by Democrats will ruin our country.”

Democrats extend health care to 32 million people, and Rush Limbaugh responded: "We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out."

On the Senate floor, Republican Judd Gregg compared health care reform to not only a huge asteroid, but a huge asteroid that will land on our children’s heads. Glenn Beck cried out tyranny and socialism. What is wrong with these people?

When, President Clinton’s economic plan passed and Republicans claimed, that it would be a one-way ticket to a recession. Clintonomics balanced the budget while creating 23 million new jobs and lifting millions out of poverty. Obamacare means a family doctor for every family.

Armed and Dangerous is the lingo, by which supposedly mainstream conservative politicians address their followers. Sarah Palin tweeted her followers: “Commonsense conservatives and lovers of America: ‘Don’t retreat, and instead—reload.’ Please see my Facebook page.” On her Facebook page was a message from her political action committee.  Twenty Democratic congressional districts that Palin is targeting with rifle scopes images over each of them.

Frank Rich wrote: “There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.”

Frank Rich also believes, that a black president, a female speaker of the House, a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman has the right wing of the Republican Party very fearful.

Many Republicans are aware, that they’re gradually becoming the minority in this country. Real change is inevitable and frightening, because a 2008 report from the Census Bureau projects that by 2042, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the population.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Scott Murphy

According, to Congressman Scott Murphy, the Health Care Act, that he recently voted for is more fiscally conservative and affordable for our nation, than the original House bill, because it contains new cost cutting measures that will help to slow the health care costs that have been devastating our families and small businesses. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, that it will result in dramatic savings for the American people by reducing the deficit by $138 billion in the first decade and by $1.2 trillion in the second decade,.   

The Health Care Act makes significant improvements over the House-passed legislation by eliminating the employer mandate for small businesses, providing meaningful tax incentives, as well as creating heath care exchanges that allow businesses to band together to negotiate better prices from insurance companies. 


Murphy reports, that none of the paper mill manufacturers in our district will be subjected to a special tax, and significant changes were made to the proposed tax on medical products manufacture in our district. Accordingly, the bill ensures that good paying jobs will remain in upstate New York and won’t give an edge to foreign competitors or encourage American companies to move jobs overseas. 

Scott Murphy wrote, that reform will put health care choices back into the hands of patients and doctors, and out of the profit-driven discretion of insurance companies. Insurance companies will be banned from the predatory practices of capping lifetime benefits, refusing those with preexisting conditions, and eliminating coverage after an individual becomes sick. It will allow every American to purchase health care on an exchange, just like members of Congress, while expanding coverage for over 30 million Americans, including an estimated 29,000 in New York's 20th congressional alone.

Furthermore, in our district reform would ban discrimination against 8,600 residents with pre-existing conditions, provide tax credits and other assistance for up to 151,000 families, extend coverage to 29,000 uninsured residents, save 1,200 families from health care related bankruptcy, and get full prescription drug coverage for 117,000 seniors on Medicare, by closing the donut hole.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Next Year and Beyond

As of January 1st, those on Medicare will qualify for free annual wellness visits.  And, insurance companies will be required to spend 80% to 85% of what they take in from premiums on actual medical care. If an insurance company doesn’t spend 80% to 85% of what you give them in terms of premiums on actual medical care, they’ll have to refund you the difference back.

Also, if they want to hike your rates, they’ll have to announce it, justify it and that justification will have to be reviewed.  They won’t just be able to unilaterally raise their rates anymore.

Denying coverage for children with preexisting condition goes into effect soon, but by 2014, it will no longer be legal for insurance companies to deny anyone coverage based on preexisting conditions.

The health insurance exchanges at that point for people who don‘t have coverage will also be up and running.  In addition to the ban on lifetime limits on benefits, which goes into effect shortly, insurers in 2014 will be banned from imposing annual benefits—annual limits, yearly limits on your benefits.

This legislation will lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades.

The threshold for imposing the Cadillac tax has been raised to health plans valued at over $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax won’t kick in until 2018.

According to Congressman Scott Murphy, the new legislation will save billions by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.  Include in the Health Care Act are provisions and administrative changes, that will save billions in waste, protect tax payer dollars and drive criminal waste from the system. It is fiscally responsible and will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Happens Now?

Within 90 days of Obama having signed the health reform into law, those who have been denied coverage because of some preexisting condition will get a path toward coverage.  They’ll have immediate access to care through high-risk insurance pools created by the government.

Ninety days after that, it becomes illegal for insurance companies to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions, and children will be allowed to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they are 26 years old.

Insurers will be banned from imposing lifetime limits on health insurance benefits and banned from rescinding your insurance, when you file a claim.

This year, our government will start offering tax credits to about 4 million small- business men and women, to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.

Tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with pre- existing conditions, the parents of children who have a pre-existing condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people's coverage, when they get sick; they won't be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.

All new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care; young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they are 26 years old.

Seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help. They'll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will over time fill in the doughnut hole.

Seniors will not have their guaranteed benefits cut, and this year Americans on Medicare will receive preventive care without co-payments or deductibles.

Once the health care reform is fully implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace, where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable quality insurance. They’ll be able to be part of a big pool and get the same deal that members of Congress get. When this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Politifact.com

According to Politifact.com. the Health Care Act is not a government takeover, like the Canadian or the British system? We differ because in Britain, doctors are employees of the government and in Canada, the government picks up all the bills for medical care.

We will continue to buy insurance, either on our own or we’ll get it through our employer. Medicare stays in place. There will be more regulation for insurance companies and that’s especially important for people who have to go out and buy insurance on their own.  It’s called the individual market. 

Our government won’t pay for elective abortions. Activists on both sides are unhappy with how healthcare plan deals with the abortion issue. There are detailed accounting rules within the legislation that say, if someone gets help from the government to buy a plan, but also puts up their own money, the insurance companies have to keep those funds separate. The argument is that the government is hosting an exchange, by giving people part of the money to buy their health insurance policy, and the people who are opposed to this just say the government should keep its distance completely from the issue, and that policies shouldn’t be sold that cover abortion on the exchange. 

Illegal immigrants will have no more benefits under this health care reform plan than they already have. There are longstanding laws on the books that say, if illegal immigrants show up in emergency rooms and they’re critically ill, that they must be treated.  Those laws remain in place. Many Americans will qualify for assistance from the government to purchase their own policies, however, illegal immigrants will not be eligible for that assistance. 

Bureaucrats cannot dictate treatment for individual patients, the plan is bureaucrat-free. However, there are boards, who will study treatments for effectiveness and they’ll publish the results of their studies. Medicare will also have a board to examine what are the most effective treatments, but bureaucrats won’t be allowed to pore over people’s individual health care records.  

Private insurance remains in place, but it’s regulated much more heavily.  Insurance companies will be told the minimum standards that they have to include in all plans. The public option, or one plan that would be run by the government didn’t survive the legislation process. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Conflicted

Audrey Scutto claimed, that we need to vote out the wimps and those, who are unwilling to support programs for the people. She insists, that citizens took this country in 1776, and that it is time to take it back again.

Angry people tend to be unreasonable. Last month, I heard an angry senior citizen claim, that he had voted for Democrats his entire life and, that they hadn’t done anything for him. I asked: What about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? He didn’t reply.

Another Democrat was angry at Scott Murphy for not promising, that he would vote for the Senate health care bill and used a much more derogatory word, than wimps to describe members of Congress. I suggested more civility and told him, that he didn’t know how Murphy would eventually vote. Less than 8 hours later, Congressman Murphy announced, that he would vote for the Senate healthcare bill.

We should be promoting more civility and engaging our government not as an enemy, but instead encouraging and supporting our political leadership to enact the progressive change for which 52.9 percent of the country voted in 2008.

Accomplishing Obama’s agenda hasn’t been and won’t be an easy task, because every Republican member of the House voted against the Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Health Care Reform Act.

We took back our country in November of 2008, but now some angry, irrational citizens, who don’t understand the importance of pragmatism and persistance seem to be willing to throw it all away.

The same special interests that spent tens of millions of dollars trying protect the insurance industry and kill health care reform at all costs now want to channel their tea party anger into demolishing the rest of Obama’s agenda for change, by defeating congressional Democrats in November.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sin

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave said: “I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”



It is a sin, that more that 44,000 Americans die every year, because they don’t have health insurance. Many Americans, who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services. Hospital emergency rooms pass on their additional costs to those of us, who have health insurance.

Many righteous Republicans are masquerading as staunch defenders of Medicare. They’ve hated Medicare, since Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America's freedom. In 1995, Newt Gingrich tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare, and Republicans went so far as to shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those cuts in Medicare.

Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare's rising costs, they're seeking to dismantle the whole program. The "Roadmap for America's Future" is a budget plan released by Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. The proposal is a clear indication of Ryan's vision, and it represents what Republicans would do if they return to power.

The Republican economic agenda hasn't changed one iota in response to the economic failures of the Bush years. Ryan offers a plan for the privatization of Social Security that is basically identical to the Bush proposals of five years ago.

The Republican crusade against health reform was utter hypocrisy. They tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Real Threat

The number of uninsured people in 2008 was 46 million. It’s sure to spike upward as rising medical costs and soaring premiums make policies less affordable and employers continue to drop coverage to save money. The Congressional Budget Office projects 54 million uninsured people in 2019; while the actuary for the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects 57 million.

People without insurance often postpone needed care, and many get much sicker as a result. That is morally unsustainable. It’s also fiscally unsustainable for hospitals, to pass on the cost of the uninsured, who show up in emergency room to those with insurance and the taxpayers. As the number of uninsured rises, our hospital bills will rise.

The Senate’s reform bill would reduce the number of uninsured by an estimated 32 million by 2019, but the Republicans’ paltry proposals would have cut that number by only three million.

Many Americans think that health insurance reform doesn't matter, because they already have coverage. Consequently, many resisted changing the insurance system for fear that significant reform would threaten what they have now. The real threat to health care coverage in our country was doing nothing. Rising costs of insurance premiums are pushing more people into the ranks of the uninsured.

At the same time the actions of the health insurance companies, who fought to stop health reform show clearly why we need it. In California, beneficiaries recently received letters from Anthem Blue Cross announcing their rates would go up as high as 39 percent. Last year, large insurers requested premium increases of 56 percent in Michigan, 24 percent in Connecticut, 23 percent in Maine and 20 percent in Oregon.

Without reform, premiums would have continued to rise and we’d continue to be at the mercy of the worst insurance company practices and abuses.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Arm Yourself

Yesterday, I received this important message from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“We are coming down the home stretch on passing President Obama's historic health care reform. And while the media is focusing on the politics and procedures of the House of Representatives, I want to focus your attention to what I think is much more important: What is in the bill that will improve your life and the lives of your family.

“Below are five reasons health care reform is good for you, your family and the economy. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but after months of debate dominated by false charges of government death panels and socialized medicine, I believe now is the time to fight back with facts.

“1. Insurance Company Reforms. 
Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or issue exorbitant rate hikes when we get sick and need care the most.

“2. Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors and Stronger Medicare
More than half a million New York seniors will be rescued from the Part D "Doughnut Hole," receiving access to affordable, lifesaving prescription drugs through a stronger, more efficient Medicare system.

“3. Affordability - Competition for Consumers, Small Business Tax Credits
1.6 million New Yorkers and 250,000 New York small businesses could receive tax credits to help them purchase  affordable health insurance plans that are right for them.

“4. Preventative Health Care, Lowering the National Deficit
By focusing on preventative health care, we'll be able to cut waste from our health care system, and reduce the national deficit by $138 billion in 10 years and $1.3 trillion in 20 years.

“5. Fortunately, 2,7 Million New Yorkers Will Finally Have Access to Affordable Care
They will no longer need to go right to the emergency room when they get sick; lowering costs for everyone.  And while our state is facing a historic budget crisis, this legislation will provide billions more through Medicaid to help treat children and families who have been hit the hardest in these difficult economic times.

“Please arm yourself with this information and share it with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Real change is never easy, and this has been a long and hard fought battle, but we are on the eve of an historic opportunity for America. Together, we will deliver a bill to the President's desk that gets us one step closer to affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Firm Foundation

The Recovery Act was a bold initiative not only to rescue our country from a potential second Great Depression, but also to build a new economic foundation for the future. We were hemorrhaging more than 700,000 jobs a month with the middle class under assault and financial institutions on the brink of collapse.

Even though, the Obama administration has much more to do, the evidence is clear, today the Recovery Act is working.
Public and private forecasters ranging from the Council of Economic Advisors to Moody’s Economy and IHS Global are now
saying that the Recovery Act is responsible for about 2 million jobs nationwide. 

Our economy grew 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, which was the biggest gain in six years and many economists say is largely due to the Recovery Act. The Recovery Act provided over $100 billion in tax relief for American businesses and families. This past year, the Recovery Act supplied over 42,000 small business loans that provided nearly $20 billion in much-needed capital.

The Recovery Act funded tens of thousands of projects nationwide this year that are not only creating jobs right, but also laying a long-term foundation for economic growth, including investments in high-speed rail, health technology, broadband, a smarter electrical grid, clean cars and batteries, and renewable energy.

While we’ve made tremendous progress, our work is far from finished. Many projects are just now getting underway that will be creating jobs throughout 2010 and beyond. And on behalf of the President, I can say our Administration will not stop until every man or woman who wants a job can find one.

In one year, the Recovery Act has helped pull us back from the brink of economic disaster and is helping lay a firm foundation for our economic recovery.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Worthy Candidate

Yesterday, the Delaware County Times published the following letter:

Congressman Scott Murphy’s Congress on Your Corner at the Delhi Fire Hall was an opportunity, that I greatly appreciated. We were requested to ask brief questions, however some in attendance only seemed to be interested in disrupting the meeting.

Rep. Murphy was not prepared to tell me, whether he’d vote for the healthcare bill that the Senate passed in December. He admitted, that he didn’t voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act when it passed the House by a slim margin.

I asked Rep. Murphy, if he decides to vote no, and his no vote results in the American people not getting affordable healthcare, was he prepared to apologize to the families, of the more than 44,000 Americans, who die every year, because they didn’t have health insurance.

I ended my brief exchange with Rep. Murphy, by telling him that I was a fan of Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida.

It was Democratic Congressman Grayson, who said: “If I have to choose between my job and saving the lives of 44,000 Americans a year, I know what my decision is.” His ethical code indicates, that he cares a great deal about the less fortunate.

Most likely, Rep. Murphy will make his decision this month and the voters will make their decision in November. It remains to be seen if angry, impatience voters will vote for Murphy, who in my opinion is a very knowledgeable and caring candidate.

Hobart Trustee, James Barr wrote:“Scott Murphy doesn’t really care about this area. He just cared when he was looking for votes. I hope you’ll think twice next election!”

After listening to Murphy and observing Mr. Barr’s behavior at the Delhi Fire Hall, I’ve concluded that Barr was unnecessarily disrespectful and disruptive. I think, I’ll be voting for Scott Murphy in November because he knows the issues and sincerely wants to help his constituents. Even unpleasant people like James Barr.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Late yesterday, it was announced that Congressman Murphy had committed to voting for the healthcare bill.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Knuckle-Dragging

Some Republicans like a politician who stands up for what he believes, even if he believes the Republican Party is populated by a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.

The candidate leading the Florida Republican primary to determine who will take on Rep. Alan Grayson, the Democrat who represents the Orlando-based district, is none other than Grayson himself. Grayson is a freshman congressman, who has quickly built a nationwide following of progressives.

A poll conducted by Middleton Market Research has Grayson leading the 13 Republicans candidates with 27.8 percent among Republican voters. Rep. Grayson mocked the GOP health care plan by saying that it amounts to telling people not to get sick and if they do, to die quickly. The poll shows, that he received more support than all of the Republican candidates combined.
Although, 57.7 percent said they were undecided no Republican candidate scored above 3.7 percent. Grayson did particularly well with women. Apparently, referring to a Washington lobbyist as a "K Street whore" didn’t turn female voters away.

Grayson told the Huffington Post that some of the support comes from Republicans who appreciate that he speaks his mind, while some is due to his far-superior name recognition. But the poll also found at least one area where Republican voters thought favorably of him.

In 2009, Grayson, who carries a copy of the Constitution with him, passed a resolution calling on schools to teach the document for one week in September each year. Over half of the Republicans polled said that they were more likely to vote for Grayson because of that resolution. He has distributed tens of thousands of copies of the Constitution throughout the district, including one to each high school senior. This September, he plans to go to high schools and teach the Constitution personally in his congressional district.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coffee Party

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry with the federal government, the highest level in 14 years, and many have sought solace in social networking.

In her Silver Spring apartment, Annabel Park started a “Join the Coffee Party Movement.” Within weeks, she was swamped by thousands of comments from strangers in diverse locales, such as the oil fields of west Texas and the suburbs of Chicago. Those comments included: “It is not us against the Govt. It is democracy vs corporatocracy.” ... “I just can't believe that the Tea Party speaks for all patriotic Americans.”

It’s original intent was to promote civility and inclusiveness in political discourse, engage the government not as an enemy but as the collective will of the people, push our political leadership to enact the progressive change for which 52.9 percent of the country voted in 2008.

Learned Hand was a federal judge during WWII, who in 1944 said: “What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias...”

I’m not interested in finding solace in social networking, nor am I interested in being an angry, patriotic American. However, I am interested in promoting civility, inclusiveness and, that our government protect us.

We had a strong regulatory structure that came out of the depression and for 50 years, we had no real financial failures until the Reagan years and Republicans began deregulating our financial system. There is a need to rebuild our regulatory structure, and do it right so that we don’t repeatedly have financial disasters, which result in the continued destruction of the middle class.


Furthermore, unrestrained imperialism and militarism have endanger both the financial and social well-being of America. Unfortunately, a decision to mount a campaign of imperial liquidation may already be too late, given the vast and deeply entrenched interests of the military-industrial-legislative complex.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Corporate Spending

The process of undoing the great harm done by a narrow majority on the Supreme Court in its recent Citizens United vs. FEC decision has begun. A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused specifically on how, in light of the Court's misguided decision, our representatives in Congress can protect our political process from excessive corporate spending.



The Founding Fathers crafted a Constitution and adopted a Bill of Rights to guarantee the fundamental rights of the American people, not corporations. Corporations are different from individual citizens. They do not have the same rights, morals, or motivations. They cannot vote. They are legal constructs designed to conduct commerce, nothing more.



The differences between people and corporations are obvious, and they were not lost on the great Chief Justice John Marshall who wrote in 1819: "A corporation is an artificial being ... the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it..."

When the conservative activist majority on the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as individual citizens to spend as much as they like to influence the political process, they ignored longstanding precedent and in fact redrafted our well-established campaign finance laws.



At the core of the First Amendment is the right of individual citizens to speak and to be heard in the political process. But if the Supreme Court's recent decision goes unchecked, it would not take much corporate money, relatively speaking, to outspend every candidate for every political party at every level of American government.



When the Citizens United decision was handed down, it was the most partisan decision since Bush v. Gore. The conservative activists on the Supreme Court went beyond the proper judicial role to substitute their preferences for the law. However, the Citizens United decision is more damaging, because rather than intervening to decide a single election, the Court’s intervention will affect all future elections.



We must insist, that our representatives in Congress enact specific legislation aimed at restoring our democratic process in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. We must email to our friends and family to continue building awareness about the grave implications of this wrongly decided case and the importance of closing the floodgates of corporate spending in American elections.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Get Involved

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has pointed out:

“The ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned virtually all restrictions on campaign spending by corporations.  They can now buy as much TV time as they want to influence our elections.  It’s a troubling assault on the core value of our democracy - "one person, one vote." 

“Elections must be decided by the American people, not by the corporate special interests with the deepest pockets.  This decision tilts the playing field way too far away from everyday people and toward big corporations.

“We cannot let this decision be the last word.  Our vibrant democracy depends on it. We need new measures that put strong limits on the amount of corporate cash affecting our elections.

“The Supreme Court’s actions are as radical as they are dangerous. In one fell swoop, a narrow majority of five justices reversed decades of congressional legislation and well-established legal precedent.

“I’m most worried that, just as both parties were reducing corporate influence through an increase in small online donations, this decision gives more and more power to the privileged few.

“That’s not how America is supposed to work, and I pledge to do everything I can to stop it.  Stand with me today. The powerful special interests are chomping at the bit for the opportunity to pour millions into our elections.

“Organizing a powerful grassroots movement to change the rules is the only way to stop it. Please get involved right away.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

Same Old Song

As recently noted in 2001 and 2003, Republicans used reconciliation to jam through Bush’s tax cuts that exploded our deficit. Deficit are increased by both unnecessary spending and unwise tax cuts.

Republicans insists, that in order to create jobs, we have to cut all taxes so that there’s more money available to be put to work in the private sector. They want to go back to what the Bush administration had been doing before this economic crisis. Republicans want Obama to adopt the exact same polices, that were in place for eight years leading up to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The Recovery Act is often referred to as the stimulus package. It was passed without the vote of a single House Republican and only 3 Republican Senators. The bill, include $27 billion for highway and bridge construction projects. The legislation extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans. It made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through Cobra and include 25 different tax cuts. There are million Americans working today, who would otherwise be unemployed. Two hundred thousand are working in construction and clean energy. Three hundred thousand are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders, who remain employed. That kind of spending is specific and necessary.

Small businesses have historically been the engine of job creation in this country. Therefore, Obama has proposed that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. Many small companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow, but the banks on Wall Street are mostly lending to larger companies.

Our president has proposed a new small-business tax credit, for small businesses, who hire new workers or raise wages. He wants to eliminate all capital gains taxes on small-business investment and provide a tax incentive for all businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Enjoyable Activity

I’m finding, that responding to Mr. Eckardt’s letter and others on line to be rather enjoyable. In response to a portion of my rebuttal to Eckardt’s letter an anonymous writer disagreed with my opinion. Of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to continue the debate.

Anonymous post at 3:45 p.m., that I had the gall to finger point the Republicans when it comes to fear-mongering. That is correct, but I also have the courage of my convictions to provide my real name. The writer claims that Al Gore and his global warming turned climate change agenda has been scaring the heck out of people. Gore’s claims aren’t scare tactic, but a warning, based on scientific facts.

Anonymous is also correct that for years “the left” has been promoting “entitlements.” The leftist element of American society are responsible of things like amending the Constitution to allowed non- white, female, illiterate, and those that don’t own land to vote.

Leftist Teddy Roosevelt ran on a platform of healthcare for all. Woodrow Wilson support the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited gender-based restrictions on voting, thereby giving women the right to vote.  

Franklin Roosevelt signed the “Social Security Act” in 1935.  Truman’s Fair Deal expanded Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing. LBJ was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld Civil Rights, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, and aid to education.

Obama is trying to make the lives of all Americans better, which is a highly cherished tradition for left of center presidents.
 
The most streamline, cost effective way to deliver healthcare is to have a single payer universal healthcare for every American. It would guarantee less confusion and red tape. It would eliminate the practice of corporate healthcare lobbyist bribing our public officials. Consequently, Republican would never even consider such a plan.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Economic Hit Men

The third response to Mr. Eckardt’s letter in the Daily Star, that was posted on 3/10/10.

I am convinced, the President Obama with the help of a Democratic Congress will provide a better life for our grandchildren and their children. Rep. Arcuri and Obama are not the gangsters, who have looted our nation because they can be trusted to fix the problems.

Statistics by the Bureau of Economic Analysis clearly demonstrates that it was the New Deal spending that got us out of the Depression. In 1932, unemployment was 23.6%. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, it was 24.9%.  It dropped to 21.7% in 1934, 20.1% in 1935, and 17.0 by 1936.

The Depression did not end until World War II, and it definitely was not tax cuts that ended it. The Republican mantra of less government and tax cuts did not end the Great Depression, in the late 1920s and it will not end it now.

FDR was in office for six years before the Depression ended and unemployment came down. In 1936, voters overwhelmingly reelected FDR with the largest margin since George Washington. He carried every state, but Maine and Vermont and in 1940 and 1944, voters again reelected Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Republicans are terrified that Obama will succeed, because he is following the same prescription to heal our economy, as FDR did in 1933, following the terms of three consecutive Republican presidents.

I know about the Great Depression because my mother and grandfather spent the late winter of 1932 surviving mostly on turnips and sugar sandwiches. I visited my grandfather, when I was 4 years old and remember clearly a sugar sandwich for lunch.

The economic corporate hit men have again hit America and millions of our citizens have been sentenced to a slow death.  Fortunately, Obama and most Democrats in Congress are doing everything possible to prevent the situation from getting worst for current and future generations of Americans, but congressional Republicans refuse to take responsibility for being wrong on taxes, two wars and now the healthcare debate.   

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Better World

This is a continuation of my rebuttal of the letter posted on 3/10/10.

Senior citizens must reject the I got mine to bad for you creed of the Republican Party and instead embrace the Golden Rule. Although, versions of: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” are shared by 21 world religions, many Americans don’t subscribe to the Golden Rule. Sadly, members of Congress disregard the ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It’s also called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights. The young have been looking out for the old for decades and we senior citizen should reciprocate.

Congressman Arcuri supported the Cap and Tax bill, because most of us want to leave our grandchildren a cleaner Earth. The concept of cap and trade involves our government limiting the amount of pollution companies are allowed to release. Credits are issued, which allow companies to pollute a certain amount, as long as the aggregate pollution equals less than the set cap.

Since, some companies can reduce polluting emissions more inexpensively than other companies, they may engage in trading any extra permits. Companies that can more efficiently reduce pollution sell permits to companies that cannot easily afford to reduce pollution. The companies that sell the permits are rewarded while those that purchase permits must pay for their negative impact. This system would theoretically reduce carbon dioxide by over 80 percent by 2050 and significantly reduce the rate of global warming. This system would create billions of dollars for the government to spend on consumer energy programs and doing so at the lowest total cost.

Obama has proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency enforce global warming pollution limits under the Clean Air Act. The biggest polluters, Big Oil and Coal, are standing in the way because they don’t want to have to do anything to clean the environment that they’ve been polluting.

Obama has a plan that would enforce limits on global warming pollution clean up the environment, and create jobs by making factories and power plants more efficient and encourage wind and solar technologies.

Bush had refused to enforce provisions of the Clean Air Act, even after the Supreme Court ordered him to do so.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Accomplished

As a child I remember the words of FDR and those words still ring true.  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

William Eckardt is a fear-mongering political hack, who is trying to win an election by taking advantage of the elderly. This senior citizen isn’t buying it, because I recognize, that the Democratic Party passed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those programs demonstrate, that they’re the political party, that care about the poor and middle-class Americans.

The favorite tactic of the far right is fear-mongering, because it’s the only argument available to them. Fear was used by the Bush administration to scare Congress and the American people into a trillion dollar war in Iraq.

The Health Reform bills passed by the House and Senate cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion. The Medicare Advantage plan costs taxpayers on average 14 % more than the traditional Medicare plan. The House proposed changes to make them equal to what the government pays for traditional Medicare services.

Republicans are masquerading as staunch defenders of a program they’ve hated, since Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy our freedom. In 1995, Newt Gingrich tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare and Republicans went so far as to shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting cuts in Medicare.

Arcuri and Obama never supported death panels language for seniors. Republican Senator Grassley told his constituents in Iowa: “And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you’re going to die. And you ought to plan these things out. And you know, I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on Grandma.”

Grassley knew at the time, that there is no provision, no wording, no sentence, nothing in any bill that provides for a government panel to end Granny’s life. The reason, he sought to deceive his constituents, might have had something to do with his having received over $2 million from the drug and health insurance industry since 2003.

Accusations of forced euthanasia is untrue. Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans. 


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Still Fooled

On 3/8/10, the following letter written by William Eckardt of Oneonta was published in the Daily Star.

“Central New York seniors, take heed, because from now until Election Day 'wolf man' Mike Arcuri will be dressing in sheep’s clothing attempting to fool us into thinking he truly cares for the needs of seniors. His recent voting record demonstrates he’s more interested in pleasing 'His Highness' Obama than caring for those of us who have paid our dues to society.



"This summer, Arcuri, acting like a thief in the night, shoved thousands of Central New York seniors under the bus by voting to steal $500 billion from Medicare so that illegal aliens could get a free ride.



"Arcuri supported Obama’s 'death panels' language for seniors whereby government bureaucrats, not our doctors nor our loved ones, will have the final say in deciding our eternal destiny. It’s called, “thumbs down” health care with Hitler, I mean Obama, playing the 'Grim Reaper.'



“Arcuri supported the 'Cap & Tax' bill that would substantially increase the cost of living for seniors, most of whom live on fixed incomes. More sinister however, is that 'Cap & Tax' would allow government bureaucrats to interfere with the selling of our last bit of equity, our homes.



“As grandparents, we hope for a better life for our grandchildren and their children. That’s no longer possible because Arcuri and his Obama-led gangsters have looted our nation so badly that our grandchildren and their children will be bankrupt at birth.



“No matter what Arcuri says, his record of dumping on senior citizens speaks for itself.



“He simply can’t be trusted, especially dressed in sheep’s clothing. This is no longer a political party line issue, it’s now a matter of survival. Seniors and soon to- be seniors, let’s throw 'wolf man' Arcuri and his sheep’s clothing out to pasture this fall.”

******************************************************************************************************************************
I made several lengthy responses to Mr. Eckardt’s letter on the Daily Star’s on line comment page. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting excerpts from those on line rebuttals on this website.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Untrue

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post stating: “The use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation against the will of the American people would be unprecedented in scope. And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government, and damage the prospects of bipartisanship.”

Healthcare reform bills passed the Senate with 60 votes and the House by a slim majority. Today, Democrats are seeking to pass the last fixes to align the two bills by using a process called reconciliation.

Reconciliation has been used 22 times in recent years. Under a Republican-controlled Senate, it was used 16 times and under a Democratic-controlled Senate, it was used six times.

Sen. Hatch admits: “Both parties have used the process, but only when the bills in question stuck close to dealing with the budget. In instances in which other substantive legislation was included, the legislation had significant bipartisan support.”

That is untrue. In 1989, a Republican controlled Senate used the reconciliation process to overhall Medicare for physician payments. In 1996, they used it to overhaul welfare. In 2001 and 2003, Republicans used it to jam through Bush’s tax cuts that exploded the deficit. Republicans passed the first of Bush’s tax cuts with 50 votes, and a vote from Vice President Cheney, who as president of the Senate broke the tie. That certainly wasn’t significant bipartisan support.

In 2005, Republicans used the budget reconciliation maneuver to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for domestic oil drilling and the Deficit Reduction Act. With Vice President Cheney's vote the Deficit Reduction Act passed on a 50 to 51 vote. The 2006, Tax Relief Extensions Act was passed using reconciliation. The final vote was 54 to 44.

Monday, March 08, 2010

An Ethical Code

Our founding fathers recognized, that they couldn’t predict the future. Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison: “No society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth always belongs to the living generation.… Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it goes longer, it is and act of force and not of right.”

They wanted the Constitution to be a living document for future generations to make better. Consequently, our founding fathers included Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution, that provides and extensive list of the powers of Congress. The list concludes with: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

The Declaration of Independence was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Some Americans consider Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance and Universal Healthcare the creation of a cradle-to-grave dependency class, but many of us view these programs as the fulfillment of a promise made by our founding fathers.

Although, versions of: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” are shared by 21 world religions, many Americans don’t subscribe to this Golden Rule. Likewise, many members of Congress disregard this ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It’s also called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Eight million Americans lost jobs during the Bush presidency with the exception of Mexico and Turkey, we’re the country with the highest income inequality level. The fact that so many of our fellow Americans have been denied an opportunity to pursue happiness, seems to be responsible for what some have called a “nanny state.”

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Terrorism of the Minority

On 3/5/10, W. A. James had a letter published in “The Oneonta Daily Star.” An excerpt from the letter stated:

“I am of the opinion that our civic-minded Congress and Senate will mount a full-court press on the First and Second Amendments. They are already chipping away on the First. If big government can muzzle our freedom of expression and our right to bear arms, there will be nothing to stop them from trashing the rest of the Constitution. Read your history as this happened pre-1940 in Nazi, Germany. More czars, anyone? Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.”

Mr. James may not be aware, that Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution provides and extensive list of the powers of Congress. The list concludes: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

I present the following information to educate not as a scare tactic. Our founding fathers wrote the Constitution without the benefit of a crystal ball, and things have changed significantly. In 1787, the Constitution allowed only white, male, literate, land owners to vote. In the early years of our Republic, the population ratio between the most populated state, Virginia and the least populated state, Delaware was 12 to 1. By 2004, that ratio was 70 to 1 between California and Wyoming. Currently, the Senate is skewed in favor of sparsely populated states. In theory, if the 26 smallest states held together on all votes, they would control the Senate, with a total of less than 17% of our population.

Larry Sabato is a Rhodes scholar, who has taught at the University of Virginia since 1978. He has suggested that we expand the Senate to 136 members to be more representative. This could be accomplished by granting the ten most populous states two additional senators each, the fifteen next most populous states one additional senator each, and the District of Columbia one senator.

James has taken a page from Bush/Cheney's playbook by using fear mongering to gain support. A majority of voters didn't buy Republican fear mongering in 2006 midterm elections, nor in 2008, presidential election.

Hopefully, voters have learned, that the Republican Party offers fear, because it’s not interested in solving problems.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ultimately

In a letter published on 1/7/10, in the Oneonta Star, Robert Beckman wrote: “…those are just a few examples of the distortions and lies that Mr. O’Leary and his ilk in Congress have resorted to...” The letter was posted on this web site on 1/10/10.

Beckman mischaracterized my statements. He’s referring to a rebuttal letter of mine, in which I disagreed with the assertion: “While there are an unfortunate few that cannot afford health care insurance, most are satisfied with their current plan and doctors.  Too bad for them.”

Beckman claimed: “Mr. O’Leary states that 46 million Americans are without health insurance.  However, the Census Bureau, in the government’s official report on uninsured, said that of those 46 million Americans, 9 million were people who made more than $75,000 a year and who chose not to buy health insurance.” 

We agree, that 46 million Americans are without health insurance.  I used that statistic to make the point, that there are more than “an unfortunate few,” that cannot afford healthcare insurance.  I made no comment regarding those making $75,000 a year or whether, they should be included in the Census Bureau’s statistic. Still, 37 million Americans are more than “an unfortunate few.”

Beckman continued: “Another claim by Mr. O'Leary is that half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partially the result of medical expenses.  Included in Mr. O’Leary’s figures is a person who may owe a hospital $500 and have total liabilities of $500,000.”

I wrote: “Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses.” Apparently, Beckman didn’t understand the “at least partly” portion of that statement.  

Ultimately, thoughtful readers will determine whether my statements were distortions and lies, or specific and accurate.

My rebuttal began: “I got mine, you get yours, seems to be the creed of the Republican Party.” That creed isn’t to be confused with the Golden Rule.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Final Proposal

It’s the time to make a decision about the future of health care in America. The debate has lasted a year and every idea has been put on the table. Every argument has been made and both parties agree that the status quo is unacceptable, because the situation gets worst every day.

Our President’s final proposal draws on the best ideas from all sides, including several put forward by Republicans in the nationally televised seven hour healthcare summit. Obama’s proposal will put Americans in charge of their own health care, by ensuring that neither government nor insurance company bureaucrats can ration, deny, or put out of financial reach the care our families deserve.

Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform and the President has asked leaders in Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next two weeks.

Reform has already passed the House with bipartisan support and the Senate with a super-majority of sixty votes. It deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was used to pass both of Bush’s tax cuts.

Obama’s proposal would change three things about the current health care system:

First, it would protect all Americans from the worst practices of insurance companies. Coverage won’t be revoked, premiums won’t be arbitrarily raised and insurance companies won’t be allowed to use a pre-existing condition to deny coverage.

Second, his proposal would give individuals and small businesses the same choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves. Obama’s proposal says that if you can't afford insurance, our government will offer you tax credits based on your income.

Third, Obama’s proposal would bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the federal government. It would bring down our deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades. Those savings mean businesses small and large will be freed up to create jobs and increase wages. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and reform is vital to keeping America economically strong.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Masquerade

Reform bills passed by the House and Senate cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion. The current Republican party line is to oppose efforts to seek cost savings in Medicare.

The Medicare Advantage plan costs taxpayers on average 14 % more than the traditional Medicare plan. The House proposed changes to make them equal to what the government pays for traditional Medicare services.

Republicans are masquerading as staunch defenders of a program they’ve hated, since Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America’s freedom. In 1995, Newt Gingrich tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare and Republicans went so far as to shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those cuts in Medicare.

Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they’re seeking to dismantle the whole program. The “Roadmap for America’s Future,” is a the budget plan released by Representative Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. The proposal is a clear indication of Ryan’s vision and it represent what Republicans would do if the return to power. They would begin with spending cuts of about $650 billion over the next decade.

The Republican economic agenda hasn’t changed one iota in response to the economic failures of the Bush years. Congressman Ryan offers a plan for the privatization of Social Security that is basically identical to the Bush proposals of five years ago.

Rep. Ryan’s roadmap tells those presently or about to be covered by Medicare: “You’ll still be eligible for traditional Medicare,” and the plan “strengthens the current program with changes such as income-relating drug benefit premiums to ensure long-term sustainability.”

The Congressional Budget Office did an evaluation of the roadmap. They report: “Some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced.” In short, there would be Medicare cuts. The Republican crusade against health reform is utter hypocrisy. They tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Payback Time

When the Obama took office, his immediate duty was to stop the recession from turning into a depression, because economists were warning another great depression was a possibility. He had to make unpopular, but necessary decisions swiftly. It was time to do what was right.

The Obama administration helped stabilize our financial system, not because he felt any compassion for big banks, but because not doing what was needed would have endangered the savings and dreams of many more millions of Americans.  He and congressional Democrats were committed to ensuring that if taxpayers were going to provide temporary assistance to keep our financial system afloat, then it had to be temporary. They were determined to get back every single dime loaned to the banks, that are considered to big to fail.

Obama wants the largest banks to be assessed a fee so that taxpayers are reimbursed for the assistance that they’ve given. Of course, the banks aren’t enthusiastic about that idea.

Although, it wasn’t popular most congressional Democrats helped shore up the American auto industry.  They understood, that many Americans felt like those companies should reap the consequences of bad management decisions in the past, just like any other company would. However, if GM and Chrysler were allowed to go under, hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans would have paid the price. The employees of those manufacturing companies, suppliers and dealers all across the country would be collecting unemployment insurance.

The Obama administration insisted, that if the management of GM and Chrysler were willing to take the tough, but necessary steps, to become more competitive, our government would invest in their future. Subsequently, auto production in the United States of America is up 69 percent from the first three months of 2009.  GM’s CEO recently said that the company would repay $6.7 billion in loans from taxpayers with interest by June.

The steps taken to shore up the banks and auto industry were separate from the Recovery Act.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Wall Street Influence

In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter, "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."
                                                         
Last March, during the last round of AIG bonuses, Democrats offered up a bill to get Troubled Asset Relief Program funds back from bailed out banks, automakers and other financial firms. Most of the TARP losses are expected to come from the bailout of insurance conglomerate AIG, American International Group Inc.

The bill passed the House by a huge margin, 328 to 93. Of the 93 Congressmen, who voted against it, 87 were Republicans, including the top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, and the number three Republican in the House, Mike Pence. They voted to let those AIG bankers keep their bonus money. Democratic candidates are eagerly awaiting Republican votes in favor of the AIG bonuses, again this time around.

Furthermore, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan released his alternative Republican House Budget Committee’s plan to privatize Social Security as an alternative to Obama’s budget. If Republicans get their way Americans would be able to invest a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into secure funds consisting of equities and bonds. Thereby, gambling their life savings on Wall Street.

Joe Conason at Salon.com pointed out, that the only annuity fully exempt from the economic ruin brought on by the investment banks and insurance giants is Social Security.  If Republicans actually want to talk about doing away with that safety net, Democrats should consider accommodating them with a smile.

The “Boston Globe” noted, that in a six-day span just before the Massachusetts Senate election, Republican candidate Scott Brown collected nearly $450,000 from donors who work at financial companies.

Last month, a Supreme Court ruling allowed corporations to pour unlimited money into American politics. Reportedly, conservative-minded, libertarian-minded tea partiers are disgusted by the Supreme Court ruling on the grounds that it undermines individual freedom to participate in American politics, because individual participation gets crushed by unlimited corporate participation in our political process.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Buffett’s Solution

On Fox News, Warren Buffett recently said: “I would try to get a unified effort saying this is a national emergency to do something about this. We need the Republicans, we need the Democrats. We are going to cut off all the kinds of things like the 800,000 special people in Florida, or the cornhusker kickback as they call it, or the Louisiana Purchase.

“We are going to get rid of the nonsense. We are just going to focus on cost and we are not going to dream up 2,000 pages of other things. And I would say, as president, I am going to come back to you with something that is going to do something about this because we have to do it.”

It is nice to focus on costs, but there are approximately 45,000 Americans dying ever year because they don’t have healthcare. Perhaps, the bill needs to be 2,000 pages long in order to ensure, that Buffett and his friends on Wall street don’t find ways to sabotage the goal of getting most Americans covered. The Republican Party has not and will not cooperate with Obama on a meaningful healthcare bill. This will most likely be the last opportunity to get healthcare for another decade.

Healthcare reform passed the Senate with 60 votes and the House with a slim majority. Now, Democrats are seeking to pass the last fixes to align the two bills using reconciliation.

During the process of reconciliation, the House of Representatives will be responsibility for getting rid of the special items given to the people of Florida, Nebraska and Louisiana.

Reconciliation has been used 22 times in recent years. Under a Republican-controlled Senate, it was used 16 times and under a Democratic-controlled Senate, it was used six times. In 2001 and 2003, Republicans used it to jam through, the mother of all deficit increases, Bush’s tax cuts.