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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inherit The Wind

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Senate in West Virginia, John Raese, explained: “I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that’s a great thing to do.  I hope more people in this country have that opportunity as soon as we abolish inheritance tax in this country.”

Actually, the inheritance tax applies only to estates larger than 3.5 million dollars.  For the 99.8 percent of Americans not affected by the estate tax, there is the minimum wage, which Mr. Raese also wants abolished. 

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Senate in Nevada, Sharron Angle claims, that unemployment benefits can neither be increased nor extended because that “has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job. There are jobs that do exist.  That’s what we’re saying, is that there are jobs.”

The Tea Party and Republican candidate for the Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, says this is academic, because unemployment insurance is unconstitutional.  His own wife received unemployment insurance after losing a temp job he got for her.  Mr. Miller also called Medicaid unconstitutional.

Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith wrote the screenplay for the movie “Inherit The Wind.” 

As the attorney for the man on trial for teaching evolution, Spencer Tracy pointed out to the judge: “Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your honor, with banners flying and with drums beating, we’ll be marching backward.  Backward through the glorious ages of that sixteenth century when bigots burned the man who dared bring them enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!”

The angered Judge replies, “I hope counsel does not mean to imply that this court is bigoted.” 

Spencer Tracy mutters: “Well, your honor has the right to hope.” 

The Judge warns: “I have the right to do more than that.” 

Attorney Spencer Tracy insists: “You have the power to do more than that.”

If Raese, Angle and Miller become Senators, I fear, that our children and grandchildren will inherit a country that is of the people, by the people and for our corporate masters.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

John Raese

Republican John Raese has launch his political career to become the next senator from West Virginia. In a debate with, Joe Manchin the Democratic nominee for the senator, Raese insisted the health care bill as pure, unadulterated socialism. 

Multimillionaire Raese said: “I disagree with the fact that you’re going to see insurance companies and doctors come under the penmanship of the federal government. I disagree with all of that....I’d like to repeal every part of it because it is pure, unadulterated socialism. It is the worst bill that has ever come out of the United States Senate and House.” 

The Affordable Health Care Act is not a socialist bill.  Actually, it’s reform within the context of a for-profit system. Unfortunately, even within the present for-profit system are opportunities for health insurance companies to make even greater profits, than in the past.

Eventually, we may have to change the system to a single payer system such as Medicare for all. Obviously, Medicare is not a socialist system and the government hasn’t taken over hospitals, much less doctors. Profits for the third quarter, at United Healthcare is up 23 percent.  There is not a thing socialist about those kind of profit. 
 
Americans need to understand, that under the current for-profit system, one out of every $3 goes for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing and paperwork, that can hardly be described as a socialist system.

Those candidates for Congress, who insist the Affordable Health Care Act is socialism, should be asked how they feel about Social Security Insurance.

Although, the healthcare legislation is flawed it moves America in a direction where insurance companies aren’t controlling everyone’s life anymore. Remember, even worse than government controlling corporations is corporations controlling the government.

Some insist, that there is no question that if Republican take charge of one or both houses of the Congress, they will repeal health care. However, if Republicans do attempt to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, Obama would veto it and it’s very unlikely that they would get the two-thirds of the votes to override the President’s veto. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Corporate Taxes

Republican Senate Candidate in Connecticut, Linda McMahon claims: “We can do better by creating the environment to attract business. We can lower our corporate tax rate. You know, we have the largest tax rate, corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent. The average is 18 percent.”

Republican Senate Candidate in Nevada, Sharron Angle reports: “We also need to talk about taxation as well, you know, the corporate tax rate. Why is Ireland at 12.5 percent? Here, we’re at 25 percent to 35 percent.

Republican Senate Candidate in California, Carly Fiorina argues: “Indeed, I would argue there are some additional tax cuts we need to make.  When we’re dealing with a 35 percent tax on business when the world averages 18 percent, we’re increasingly uncompetitive.

The net taxes that lots of corporations pay work out to be significantly less than 35 percent and that is the reason billionaire Warren Buffett warned on CNN in 2005: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.” 

Recently, Obama pointed out: “Although, on paper corporations have a high tax rate, in terms of what people actually pay, there are so many loopholes in the tax code, that effectively they pay a very low rate.” 

Republicans running for office this year promising to cut that onerous corporate tax rate. However, Bank of America, Citi Bank, GE, and many other corporations are already paying a net tax of zero dollars. It’s not true that corporations generally pay onerous taxes in this country.  In fact, many of the largest corporations pay nothing and continue to get tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas.

Last year, Americans paid the lowest level of taxes since 1950. It’s a fact, that 95 percent of Americans got a large tax cut from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Small businesses have historically been the engine of job creation in this country, therefore one-third of the money in the economic stimulus package was for tax relief for families and small businesses. There were also tax cuts for small businesses, who made investments and loans to over 42,000 small businesses.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Change the Policy

The Senate declined to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, DADT the law enacted in 1993 that prevents gay and lesbian individuals from serving openly in our nation’s military.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the issue to repeal DADT in the Senate Armed Services Committee and it was approved by members of that committee last spring.

Congressional Democrats voted last May for an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2011 defense authorization bill that would repeal this discriminatory policy, but although, it passed in the House, a Senate filibuster prevented further discussion and movement on the issue.

The men and women who serve in our military put their lives on the line every day to protect our nation. They deserve our support and respect, and shouldn’t be asked to change who they are in order to do their job. DADT policy bases evaluation of their job performance upon details of their private life, rather than the quality of their service, and disregards the American value of equal employment opportunity.

Those practices aren’t only unfair, but also unwise, because the policy has the potential to cause a critical troop shortage while we have significant military commitments across the world. To date, about 14,000 service men and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of DADT regardless of honorable service or their usefulness to their units.

It’s time for Congress to repeal this discriminatory policy and allow all qualified individuals to serve and protect our nation with honor and without fear of discrimination.

Obama insists, that DADT will be repealed on his watch, but he doesn’t want to do it by an executive order, nor does he want it done by the judicial system. Congress voted to put that policy in place and it’s the responsibility of Congress to stand up for what is best for our military and change the policy.

Obama is not going to let Republican members of the Senate off the hook. He’s going to force them to change the policy or face the consequences at home.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vote Democratic

I’m voting Democratic because of what that party has done for the American people.

Woodrow Wilson supported the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited gender-based restrictions on voting, thereby giving women the right to vote.

After three Republican presidents in a row, the Great Depression started in 1929. Franklin Roosevelt became president in 1933, and unemployment had reached 24.9%, but by 1936 it had dropped to 17.0%. Roosevelt signed the “Social Security Act” in 1935. The Republican mantra of less government and tax cuts didn’t end the Great Depression, develop the atomic bomb or win WW II.

Truman’s Fair Deal expanded Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing. He urged Congress to approve the Marshall Plan, a plan that reduced communist influence in Western Europe. The popularity of the communist parties faded and the trade relations forge in North Atlantic alliance persisted throughout the Cold War.

In 1969, the first humans landed on the Moon. Thus, fulfilling President Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s. LBJ became president after the assassination of Kennedy and completed Kennedy’s term and was then elected president by a large margin in 1964. Johnson was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld Civil Rights, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, and aid to education.

The 10 principles Carter proposed for a national energy plan was opposed by the oil and gas industry. Reagan had solar panels removed from the roof of the White House, ignored the 10 principles Congress had approved and gutted or terminated Carter’s programs.

Clinton created jobs, significantly reduced unemployment and brought about a budget surplus. Republicans haven’t produced a president in the past 40 years that balanced a budget.

Obama is trying to make the lives of all Americans better, which is a highly cherished tradition for Democratic presidents.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carbon Tax

Hank Groth is disappointed that Congressman Murphy voted for a Cap and Trade bill.

America is addicted to foreign oil and it’s threatens our economy, environment and national security. Instead of prolonging our addiction to oil, we need to look beyond fossil fuels and invest in new solutions. It’s projected, that over the next 10 years, America will be sending $10 trillion on foreign oil, which represents the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

Senate Republicans continue to oppose the Cap and Trade legislation that has already passed the House. Experts agree that it’s the fairest method to lower our dependence on fossil fuel and in encourage clean energy.

While reaping the largest profits in history and destroying the Gulf of Mexico, BP and other big oil companies have been taking more than $35 billion of taxpayers money in special subsidies and tax break.

The good news is that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power. Studies show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world by far. We should be investing in clean energy businesses that would create jobs right here in America, instead we’re writing checks to dirty, polluting international oil companies.

Scott Murphy will not be getting contributions from Big Oil, but I’m not so sure about Mr. Gibson.

It has been estimated, that over 8 million jobs have been lost since the recession started in December 2007. Certainly, angry voters wouldn’t hold Obama responsible for those lost jobs, until the Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had an opportunity take hold.

For the first time in years 863,000 new private sector jobs have been created, and only 70% of the stimulus money has been obligated so far. 

Pragmatism and patience are needed, because the Obama administration is doing everything possibly to create clean energy jobs in this country.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Protecting Americans

Mr. Groth urges readers of the Oneonta Daily Star not to vote for Scott Murphy, because he voted for "Obamacare,"

Actually, there is no such program as Obamacare. The Affordable Health Care Act was signed into law by Obama, but it wasn’t the program that he wanted. Instead it was the best that the Senate was able to come up with. Obama is pragmatist, who would never make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Rep. Murphy voted for a bill that protects 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.

Health care reform gives seniors and their families greater control over the care they receive and makes preventive care and an annual physical free of charge. It gives our government the ability to reject insurance companies' unreasonable rate increases to prevent them from unfairly raising Medicare costs.

It helps Democrats keep a promise to America's seniors, by strengthening Medicare by cracking down on fraud and waste and keeping it solvent for decades to come. And, most importantly, it protects guaranteed benefits, eligibility and the right to keep your doctor for all seniors. It creates a voluntary program that would help seniors and people with disabilities get support to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

Seniors who fall in the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug coverage have already starting receive $250 checks to help cover the cost of prescriptions. Next year, prescription drug prices will be cut in half when seniors hit the doughnut hole, and within ten years, the new law will have closed the gap completely.

Murphy vote for a program that according to the Congressional Budget Office should cut the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years, and as much as $1.2 trillion, the following 10 years. The healthcare reform bill should bring $1.3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next two decades. A report from Congressional Budget Office indicates that the Health Care Act is the most significant effort to reduce our deficits since the Balanced Budget Act in the 1990s.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dragged Into Poverty

Hank Groth of Hamden claimed: “Scott Murphy will follow along with the Pelosi gang on whatever they come up with to drag our country into poverty.”

Apparently, reality is optional for Hank Groth, because he has decided to ignore, that when Reagan came into office, we were the largest exporter of manufactured goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet, and the largest creditor.  The consequence of Reaganomics has been that in just 29 years, we’ve become the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, exporter of raw materials, which is the definition of a third world nation. Today, we’re in debt more than any country in the world. 

Republican deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy began gutting the earnings and purchasing power of the middle class and crippled the nation’s economy. This has resulted in a decaying infrastructure, cheap imports, poor health, job out sourcing, increased consumer debt, privatization of public services, free-market monopolies, a corrupt financial sector and corporate-controlled media and government.

According to Treasury Department statistics, when Reagan took office in 1980, the national debt stood at $930 billion. In Reagan's eight years, debt increased by $1.692 trillion dollars and there was a budget deficit in each of his eight years largely fueled by tax cuts and increased defense spending. When he left office, the debt stood at over $2.6 trillion. That is triple what he inherited.

The national debt then increased by $1.587 trillion under the first President Bush, reaching $4.2 trillion by 1992. Under Clinton, $1.54 trillion was added to the debt leaving it at roughly $5.7 trillion by the end of his second term. When George W. Bush was sworn in, the national debt stood at $5.7 trillion. In his eight years it increased by $4.899 trillion to roughly $10.6 trillion.

From Ronald Reagan's presidency to the end of George W. Bush's - 28 years covering January 1981 to January 2009 - the national debt went from $930 billion to $10.6 trillion - an increase of $9.67 trillion. If you subtract the $1.54 trillion added to the debt during the Clinton years, there was a $8.13 trillion increase under Reagan and the two Bushes. That means 84 percent of the debt incurred from Reagan to Obama occurred in the 20 years under Republican presidents.

In 2000, Clinton handed Bush a huge budget surplus, which Bush turned into giant deficits. White House budget director Peter Orszag insists, that roughly 50 percent of the borrowing that will be needed over the next decade stems from Bush’s refusal to pay for the 2001 tax cut, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and a prescription-drug benefit program for Medicare recipients. 

The outlay of federal funds for 2009, was $2,650 billion. Fifty- four percent went to our military and forty- six percent went to non-military programs. Only 30 percent of our total budget was spent on Human Resources.

Obama and Pelosi are exploring ways to get control of our deficit. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit for the 2010 budget year that ended Sept. 30 will total $1.29 trillion. That's down by $125 billion from the $1.4 trillion in 2009.

Democrats didn’t drag our country into poverty in 1929 and they didn’t do it this time. They’re attempting to get our economy back on track and Scott Murphy is an important member of that team.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Higher Taxes?

Hank Groth wrote: “We all know that Scott Murphy voted with Pelosi for higher taxes on small businesses, so who is fooling whom?”

We do? I’m not aware of the first female Speaker of the House, Pelosi even suggesting higher taxes on small businesses. Apparently, someone is either fooling Mr. Groth or he’s making this stuff up.

On 2/13/09, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed, and one-third of the money in the economic stimulus package was for tax relief for families and small businesses. Money went for cutting taxes, because people were struggling to pay rising bills with shrinking wages. There were also tax cuts for small businesses, who made investments and loans to over 42,000 small businesses.

Recently, Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act and within 2 weeks of it taking effect, more than 2,000 small business owners received more than a billion dollars’ worth of new loans.

The Small Business Jobs Act expanded tax cuts for all the equipment investment small businesses make this year. It’s designed to help small business owners upgrade their plants and equipment, but also encourage large corporations to get off the sidelines and start putting their profits back into the economy. The Act has $55 billion in tax cuts for businesses that make job-creating investments over the next year.

Thousands of small business owners across our country have been waiting months for legislation to pass and the loans and tax cuts they’ve needed to grow their businesses and hire new employees.  Unfortunately, it was held up all summer by a partisan minority until a few courageous Republican senators put politics aside.  Just imagine the difference it could have made for small businesses and our economy had it happened months earlier.

My question is were does Hank Groth get his misinformation?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hank Groth

On 10/19/10, Hank Groth of Hamden had the following letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

“The New York Democratic machine must be worried. Just recently, I received advertisements from them belittling Chris Gibson with lies about his stance on small businesses in New York state. We all know that Scott Murphy voted with Pelosi for higher taxes on small businesses, so who is fooling whom?



“Scott Murphy voted for cap and trade and he voted for "Obamacare," which seems to be losing ground with a lot of the Democrats on the Hill. I feel sure that Scott Murphy will follow along with the Pelosi gang on whatever they come up with to drag our country into poverty.



“Chris Gibson is a breath of fresh air. He is an honest family man with values, and he cares about our Constitution and will not sell us down the river. He's for small business and all business that will bring back jobs in New York state. He has served his country honorably in the service, and I feel he is the right person for the job.



“I urge everyone to cast their vote for Chris Gibson this November. Oh yes, another reason to vote for Chris Gibson, Jim O'Leary likes the other guy!”

Allegedly, Hank Groth received advertisements from the Murphy campaign belittling Chris Gibson with lies about his stance on small businesses in New York State.

This writer has received campaign literature from the Murphy campaign and none of it belittled Gibson or distorted his stance on small businesses. Mr. Groth’s letter would be much more believable, if he would have quoted one of those belittling advertisements and allow the readers to judge for themselves.

I’m not done with this misleading rascal, but it will take several days for me to lay out the facts for Mr. Groth.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chamber of Commerce

In his State of the Union Address Obama warned: “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations to spend without limit in our elections.  I don‘t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.  And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”

The US Chamber of Commerce denies charges that it’s funneling foreign money into congressional races. It insists that its internal accounting rules prevent any foreign money being used for political purposes. However, since the US Chamber is organized as a 501©(6) business league under the federal tax code, it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. Consequently, the full extent of the foreign influence on its political agenda is unknown. 

The right-wing Chamber of Commerce is spending $75 million to impact the midterms across our country. Its objective in to put people in Congress who will answer to giant corporations and keep people out of Congress who will fight for middle class Americans.

“Think Progress” launched an investigation, that found, that the Chamber funds its political attack machine and campaign contributions out of its general account which solicits foreign funding.  In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6).

“Public Citizen” President Robert Weissman insists, that U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s agenda is to create an America controlled by multinational corporations.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

COLAs

More than 58 million Social Security recipients will go another year without an increase in their monthly benefits.

This is only the second year, since the automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1970s. The cost of living adjustments (COLA’s) are determined using an inflation measure approved by Congress in 1973. Based on inflation so far this year, the trustees who oversee Social Security projects have determined there will again be no COLA’s next year.

To determine whether to give Social Security recipients a raise, trustees look at the inflation rate from the third quarter of each year. In 2009, when the trustees looked at the inflation numbers in July, August and September, and saw, that energy prices had shot up and they approved a 5.8 percent increase in Social Security benefits.

In 2010, the numbers didn’t add up not to raise benefits and the latest figures suggest that there will be no raise in 2011. If there's a decrease in inflation estimates, benefits remain as they are. The next increase in benefits could come in January 2012.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont wants Congress to pass $250 in emergency relief for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans. He hopes to revive a bill that was backed by President Obama, AARP and veterans groups, but blocked on March 3 by all but one Republican senator.

Senator Sanders said the estimated $13 billion cost in help for seniors is only a fraction of the $70 billion in annual tax breaks that Senate Republicans are pushing for the wealthiest Americans.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has confirmed that another vote will be held after congressional elections on a bill to
provide a $250 payment to Social Security recipients.

The only way Social Security gets in trouble is if Congress votes not to honor U.S. government bonds held by Social Security and that’s not going to happen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Team Effort

After, Obama took office, the Republican Party became the Party of No. Regarding health care reform, Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told an attack group that if they’re “able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

Obama responded: “This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking up American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.”

The chant for the Obama campaign was “Yes We Can”, but many of those that voted for Obama have ignored the “We” in that slogan. Unless, Obama continues to have support in the House and Senate, change will not occur. It’s the sustained support of the voters that produce change. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, it’s a team effort. It’s up to us to sustain this democracy and reclaim our birthright from corporate lobbyist.

Instead of disdain for politics and politicians, we need to value politics and what politicians do. My distain isn’t for politicians, but for those that don’t become informed and don’t vote. Your vote matters and it’s your responsibility to become informed and vote.

Speak out, write letters to the editors of newspapers, because silence is complicity. Remember, the situation that America finds itself today, wasn’t caused by politicians, it was cause by voters and those that failed to vote. In a democracy, we get the government, that we deserve.

A piece of information, you may not have heard is that recently, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit for the 2010 budget year that ended Sept. 30 will total $1.29 trillion. That is down by $125 billion from the $1.4 trillion in 2009.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Us and Them

In a recent letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star, William Masters wrote:

“What is bigger than the national debt? Republican deception, distortion and fear mongering. Earnings of working people have been flat for years. Republicans want businesses to be competitive but not our workers, who can only dream of the American dream.



“The cream of the profits now rise to the top. What has trickled down? Unemployment, lower housing values, debt and massive spending to rescue the rich.



“Schools are failing because the American hope has faded for the 20 percent of kids in the stricken underclass whose families struggle with less than 3.5 percent of the national income. The 20 percent at the top took home half of it. The richest 1 percent have more money than the bottom 90 percent.



“The Republican mentality on the Supreme Court sponsored free spending ("speech") so corporations can take over the political process. Republicans resisted even revealing who pays for what.



“They are not conservatives. Theirs is a radical effort to preserve privilege and to confine government to that task only. They easily talk of cutting Social Security while pushing the military industrial complex, prisons (we lead the world in using prisons) and cutting economic safety nets.



“They resisted extending unemployment benefits, are against unions and raising minimum wages, reacted against curtailing tax breaks for exporting jobs and are against enacting new incentives to bring jobs home.



“Essentially, the Republicans have been installing an American aristocracy. They are not the voice of the people; they are the apologists for institutionalized inequality.



“America now has a bigger gulf between "us and them" than the other industrial nations. This is toxic to health. Studies show that health, social stability, community morale and even life expectancy suffer under our inhumane distribution of wealth.



“Fair-minded folks should vote Democratic.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reality is Optional

It’s alleged that Obama has added more to the national debt in the first 19 months than all presidents from Washington to Reagan combined.

Apparently, reality is optional for those that intensely dislike Obama, because they’ve decided to ignore what happened after Reagan.

When Reagan came into office, we were the largest exporter of manufactured goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet, and the largest creditor.  The consequence of Reaganomics has been that in just 29 years, we’ve become the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, exporter of raw materials, which is the definition of a third world nation. Today, we’re in debt more than any country in the world. 

Post FDR and preceding Reagan, most Americans were experiencing prosperity. Today, with the exception of Mexico and Turkey, we’re the country with the highest income inequality level. Since 2000, income inequality increased rapidly, which continued a trend that goes back to the 1970s.

Republican deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy began gutting the earnings and purchasing power of the middle class and crippled the nation’s economy. This has resulted in a decaying infrastructure, cheap imports, poor health, job out sourcing, increased consumer debt, privatization of public services, free-market monopolies, a corrupt financial sector and corporate-controlled media and government.

According to Treasury Department statistics, when Reagan took office in 1980, the national debt stood at $930 billion. In Reagan's eight years, debt increased by $1.692 trillion dollars and there was a budget deficit in each of his eight years largely fueled by tax cuts and increased defense spending. When he left office, the debt stood at over $2.6 trillion. That is triple what he inherited.

The national debt then increased by $1.587 trillion under the first President Bush, reaching $4.2 trillion by 1992. Under Clinton, $1.54 trillion was added to the debt leaving it at roughly $5.7 trillion by the end of his second term. When George W. Bush was sworn in, the national debt stood at $5.7 trillion. In his eight years it increased by $4.899 trillion to roughly $10.6 trillion.

From Ronald Reagan's presidency to the end of George W. Bush's - 28 years covering January 1981 to January 2009 - the national debt went from $930 billion to $10.6 trillion - an increase of $9.67 trillion. If you subtract the $1.54 trillion added to the debt during the Clinton years, there was a $8.13 trillion increase under Reagan and the two Bushes. That means 84 percent of the debt incurred from Reagan to Obama occurred in the 20 years under Republican presidents.

In 2000, Clinton handed Bush a huge budget surplus, which Bush turned into giant deficits. White House budget director Peter Orszag insists, that roughly 50 percent of the borrowing that will be needed over the next decade stems from Bush’s refusal to pay for the 2001 tax cut, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and a prescription-drug benefit program for Medicare recipients. 

Republicans never call for cuts to our bloated Pentagon budget or oppose tax cuts for the wealthy. The expense of Human Resources is dwarfed by military industrial complex spending.

The outlay of federal funds for 2009, was $2,650 billion. Fifty- four percent went to our military and forty- six percent went to non-military programs. Only 30 percent of our total budget was spent on Human Resources.

Obama has explored ways to get control of our deficit. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit for the 2010 budget year that ended Sept. 30 will total $1.29 trillion. That's down by $125 billion from the $1.4 trillion in 2009 - the highest deficit on record.

The Affordable Health Care Act was a major step in getting our deficit under control. According to the Congressional Budget Office health care reform should cut the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years, and as much as $1.2 trillion, the following 10 years. The healthcare reform bill should bring $1.3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next two decades. A report by the CBO indicates that the Health Care Act is the most significant effort to reduce our deficits since Clinton’s Balanced Budget Act in the 1990s.

It has been estimated, that over 8 million jobs have been lost since the recession started in December 2007. America lost America lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008. Certainly, angry voters wouldn’t hold Obama responsible for those lost jobs. An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in. On February 13th, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed by congressional Democrats and surely the 650,000 jobs lost in that month weren’t a consequence of his policies. In fact, the job losses from this recession prove to be much more severe in the first quarter of last year, than anybody had anticipated. We were hemorrhaging more than 700,000 jobs a month with the middle class under assault and financial institutions on the brink of collapse. 650,000 jobs in December 2008. Certainly, angry voters wouldn’t hold Obama responsible for those lost jobs. An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in. On February 13th, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed by congressional Democrats and surely the 650,000 jobs lost in that month weren’t a consequence of his policies. In fact, the job losses from this recession prove to be much more severe in the first quarter of last year, than anybody had anticipated. We were hemorrhaging more than 700,000 jobs a month with the middle class under assault and financial institutions on the brink of collapse.

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. Even though, the Obama administration has much more to do, the evidence is clear, that the Recovery Act is working. Public and private forecasters are now saying that the Recovery Act is responsible for saving about 2 million jobs nationwide. 


Although, our country has a long way to go, for the first time in two years over 165,000 new jobs were created by employers. A year ago, the Dow moved above 8,000, but it’s now above 11,000.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Clayton Holdings

“Time” magazine issue of Feb. 23, 2009 presented a list of those responsible for the current economic crisis. Ranked at the top of their list was Angelo Mozilo the chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corporate. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission has fined Mr. Mozilo $67.5 million.

In 2009, Chrystia Freeland, who wrote for “Financial Times,” suggested, that it wasn’t Countrywide alone, but in fact part of a system, where the banks, as they did historically, no longer held the mortgage. Consequently, investment banks no longer had a direct financial incentive to care whether people were going to pay their mortgages back.

Recently, Clayton Holdings, a Connecticut-based firm that analyzes home mortgages for banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and government agencies, provided its data to the Financial Crises Inquiry Commission, a bipartisan panel created by Congress to investigate the roots of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The firm had been hired by Wall Street investment banks to analyze mortgages given to borrowers with poor credit, which were then packaged and sold to investors during the boom years. The firm revealed that as much as 28 percent of those loans failed to meet basic underwriting standards.

Clayton Holdings had flagged those loans as potential problems, but Wall Street banks ignored the warnings of the rating agency nearly half the time and purchased those loans anyway to sell them to unwitting investors. Investors were never told that the biggest home loan due diligence firm in the country had found potential defects in those mortgages.

Wall Street firms knew they were deceiving the buyers. The implications of the data released could bolster the case of pension funds and other investors in their pursuit to force Wall Street banks to take back the bogus mortgages they had peddled. Many lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent housing market collapse. So far, Wall Street has been winning that battle, but that could change in light of this new information.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paul Wenner

Paul Wenner wrote: "The decision is not whether we ration health care, but whether we ration it with our eyes open."

Rationing health care is indeed a serious problem. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, about 44,000 adult deaths occur every year, because folks lacked health care.

Dr. Donald Berwick is serving as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and he did make the above statement. His agency is facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Berwick is the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and has spent decades as a practicing physician and a Harvard professor. He's dedicated his career to finding ways to make our health care system work better for patients and cost less for taxpayers. He has the support of hundreds of health care groups and experts, including the AARP, the American Medical Association, and the CMS administrators under the most recent Republican presidents.

Mark McClellan, who served as Administrator of CMS under Bush from 2004-2006, said: "What happens at CMS in the next few years will determine whether the new legislation actually improves quality and lowers costs.  Don Berwick has a unique background in both improving care on the ground and thinking about how our nation's health care policies need to be reformed to help make that happen."

The new tasks and deadlines put in place by the Affordable Care Act call for exactly the kind of vision that has earned Dr. Berwick bipartisan praise and his is deep firsthand knowledge of our health care system makes him the right Administrator to tackle the law's requirements, particularly that CMS improve nursing home care, reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, and expand coverage to millions of Americans who need it most.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Emily West

Yesterday, Emily West a senior at Franklin Central School had the following letter to the editor published in the Oneonta Daily Star. The letter was written for Stephen DiCarlo's Participation in Government class.

“Same-sex marriage, also referred to as gay marriage, is marriage between two persons of the same sex. Already, five states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality. It's time for New York to have it, too. This is basic fairness.



“According to several Internet sites, including Facebook, same-sex couples today are denied 1,324 rights and protections to which straight married couples in New York state have access. Passage of marriage equality legislation will undo this gross injustice.



“Same-sex couples suffer legal disadvantages in areas of housing, inheritance, property, parenting and more. Two men or two women who are in love and are in a committed relationship should have the same rights and benefits as opposite sex couples.



“The pursuit of happiness and right to marry are basic rights all Americans have. If being in a same-sex marriage is something that makes a person happy, he or she has the basic right to it, and should be allowed to marry that person because it doesn't harm anyone else if two people who love each other put it legally on paper.



“‘I'm a supporter of gay rights. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being ... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private lives is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.” _ Paul Newman.



“New York should follow the other five states and legalize gay marriage because it is right for same-sex couples to be guaranteed the same rights as all other couples.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Community Colleges

One of the main recommendations of Obama’s Economic Advisory Board was to expand education and job training. Executives from some of America’s top companies insist that they need a steady supply of people who can step into jobs involving a lot of technical knowledge and skill. 

Throughout history, whenever we’ve faced economic challenges, we’ve responded by harnessing the talents of our people and that’s one of the primary reasons that our country has prospered.  In the 19th century, we built public schools and land grant colleges, that transformed not just education, but our entire economy.  In the 20th century, Congress passed the G.I. Bill, and unleash a wave of innovation that helped to forge the great American middle class. 

We’ve failed to live up to that legacy.  In a decade, we’ve fallen from first to ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees, which represents a huge waste of potential, and in the global marketplace and a threat to our position as the world’s leading economy. 

Obama has set a goal, that by 2020, America will again lead the world in producing college graduates and believes community colleges will play a huge part in meeting that goal. Today, community colleges are the largest, fastest-growing, most affordable segment of America’s higher education system.  For generations, these schools have been an option for many students who didn’t have other options.

Community colleges are forming partnerships with businesses in their communities, ensuring that students are trained for jobs that need to be filled. Countries around the world are looking at community colleges as a model to increase workforce preparedness and college graduation among their own citizens.

Community colleges are equipping students with the skills and expertise that are relevant to the emerging jobs of the future. Obama has challenged the American people to graduate an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Small Business Jobs Act

In the month of September, our economy gained 64,000 jobs in the private sector. We’ve now seen nine straight months of private sector job growth. More than 850,000 private sector jobs were gained this year, which is in sharp contrast to the 750,000 jobs that America lost the month Obama took office. 

Layoffs by state and local governments of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other vital services personel, would’ve been much worse without the federal help, that congressional Democrats provided over the last 20 months. Republicans in Congress have consistently opposed helping state and local governments, but that position doesn’t make much sense, especially since the weakness in public sector employment is a drag on the private sector as well. 

Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act and within 2 weeks of it taking effect, more than 2,000 small business owners received more than a billion dollars’ worth of new loans.

The Small Business Jobs Act expanded tax cuts for all the equipment investment small businesses make this year. It’s designed to help small business owners upgrade their plants and equipment, but also encourage large corporations to get off the sidelines and start putting their profits back into the economy. The Act has $55 billion in tax cuts for businesses that make job-creating investments over the next year.

Thousands of small business owners across our country have been waiting months for legislation to pass and the loans and tax cuts they’ve needed to grow their businesses and hire new employees.  Unfortunately, it was held up all summer by a partisan minority until a few courageous Republican senators put politics aside.  Just imagine the difference it could have made for small businesses and our economy had it happened months earlier.

The trend in job growth is encouraging, but for millions of honest, hardworking Americans effected by the most devastating recession of our lifetimes. The only piece of economic news that folks still looking for work want to hear is, “you’re hired.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IPOs and NDCs

After Tea Party voters ousted longtime Republican senators Bob Bennett of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, “Washington Post” columnist Dana Milbank checked their conservative credentials to see how they stack up against Republican leaders of the past.

He discovered, that based on their actual voting records, the American Conservative Union gave Murkowski a 70 percent rating and Bennett an 84 percent rating. Prominent Republicans leaders of the past Bob Dole and Howard Baker both had a lifetime rating of 82 percent. Gerald Ford, who became president had a mere 67 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. 

It would appear, that the Republican Party have a long-term problem, if they keep narrowing the range of what is acceptable as a conservative in the short term. 

If the Republican Party wants to be a national party, the needs to be capable of governing and in order to do that the GOP must widen its base to include people center-right, not just from the far right. 

The GOP is at war with itself. The so called RINOs, Republicans in name only, are under attack from IPOs i.e., electable in primary only.  Currently, Christine O’Donnell is viewed as the most obvious IPO, because many folks believe, that she can’t win a general election in the state of Delaware. Former Governor Palin is another prominent IOP, since many consider, that although she could win the Republican Party nomination for the presidency, she would not win the general election. 

The supporters of the electable in primary only candidates, are pleased to rid their party of RINOs, because they consider compromise and pragmatism to be a dirty word. 

The Democratic Party has a similar problem with their far right. It’s referred to as NDCs i.e., November doesn’t count, which like the IPOs, they don’t care who wins the general election either, because they want to control the nominations from the far left.

Both the IPOs and NDRs seek to make their limited perception of the perfect the enemy of the good.  

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sam Pollak

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Oneonta Daily Star. Today, in his weekly column, he tells readers what he would say if give a microphone for 10 minuets at a Tea Party gathering.

The following is an excerpt from his informative and amusing comments:

“Ahem ... my fellow Americans, while I admire the fact that you've all gotten involved with your country's political process, I've gotta tell ya, folks, I have no idea what you're talking about most of the time, and I doubt very seriously whether you do, either.



“All I keep hearing are all these vague catch-phrases. One is: 'We need to take back our country.' Now, what the heck does that mean? Take it back from whom? There was an election for president two years ago and a Democrat won. Fair and square. If you don't like him or what he's doing, vote for the Republican next time.



“‘Cut my taxes' is another one. The Obama administration did. Its stimulus package gave you a tax cut as long as you weren't making more than $250,000.



“You say government spending is out of control and Washington should balance the budget. Where were all you people when George W. Bush was turning surpluses as far as the eye could see into deficits as far as that same eye could see? Why is it that your Tea Parties didn't begin until a Democrat was in the White House?



“It's not enough to just howl at the moon, folks. If you're serious about the deficit, you've gotta say what you're willing to cut. Social Security? The Defense budget? Medicare? I don't hear anyone here talking specifics about anything.

“And some of these whack-job politicians you're supporting? If you truly want to be taken seriously, get yourselves some better candidates.



“Carl Paladino for governor of New York? C'mon, folks. Do you really want to support a guy who forwarded racist and pornographic e-mails hither and yon _ not just once, but over and over?



“Someone, who having fathered a love child 10 years ago, without any proof accused his opponent of philandering, and called the Assembly speaker a ‘criminal’ _ again, without any proof?”


Friday, October 08, 2010

Saint Peter’s Church

According to Rev. Kevin V. Madigan, who is the pastor of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in lower Manhattan, when he began reading about the history of his church in preparation for the 225th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone, he discovered there were parallels between the opposition their founders faced and those Muslims have encountered in proposing a community center and mosque near ground zero.

Built in 1785, St. Peter’s is presently the oldest Catholic church in New York State and sits two blocks from the site of the proposed Islamic center.

In the 18th-century New York City officials urged project organizers to change the church’s initial location, from what was then the heart of the city, to a site outside the city limits, and the Catholics complied. They had no choice, since there were only about 200 Catholics in New York in the late 1700s, and most of them were poor. St. Peter’s Church would never have been built without a gift of $1,000 from a papist, King Charles III of Spain. Many early Protestants in the United States saw the pope as the enemy of democracy, and feared that the little church would be the bridgehead of a papal takeover. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the project was completed.

Today, there are also fears about wealthy foreign backers. Some opponents of the $100 million-plus Muslim Community Center project claim that it will be financed by the same Saudi sheiks who bankroll terrorists, however organizers say they won't accept any foreign backing.

On Christmas Eve 1806, two decades after St. Peters was built, the building was surrounded by Protestants incensed at a celebration going on inside. Protesters considered the religious observance as an exercise in “popish superstition.” Protesters tried to disrupt the service and dozens were injured, and a policeman was killed.

Father Madigan insists, that Catholic New Yorkers have a special obligation, that the discrimination suffered by their forebears: “ought to be an incentive for us to ensure that similar indignities not be inflicted on more recent arrivals.”

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Tax Code

In 2005, billionaire Warren Buffett warned on CNN: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.” 

Obama has pointed out: “Although, on paper corporations have a high tax rate, in terms of what people actually pay, there are so many loopholes in the tax code, that effectively they pay a very low rate.” 

With respect to the debate that’s now taking place regarding Bush tax cuts, keep in mind that the Democrats suggested extending those tax cuts for all income up to $250,000.  However, if you’re making $300,000, you’d still get a tax break on the first $250,000 worth of income.   You’d pay a slightly higher rate on the $50,000 above that.  If you make half a million dollars, you’d still be having tax relief on the first half of your income.  On the other half above $250,000, you’d have a slightly higher rate, that would take us back to the Clinton level of taxation, when the economy was doing much better.

Actually, 98 percent of small businesses have a profit of less than $250,000.  Continuing tax cuts to those making over $250,000 would require borrowing $700 billion dollars, which will add to our deficit, plus the cost of paying interest to those, who are willing to buy our debt. 

Obama would like to keep taxes low on small and large businesses to create more jobs, however, I’d like to see all of Bush’s tax cuts expire on Jan. 1st. Thereby, making sure that Democrats are not accused of putting off debt onto future generation.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

The Senate declined to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, DADT the law enacted in 1993 that prevents gay and lesbian individuals from serving openly in our nation’s military. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the issue to repeal DADT in the Senate Armed Services Committee and it was approved by members of that committee last spring.

Congressman Scott Murphy voted this May for an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2011 defense authorization bill that would repeal this discriminatory policy, but although, it passed in the House this summer, a Senate filibuster prevented further discussion and movement on the issue.



The men and women who serve in our military put their lives on the line every day to protect our nation. They deserve our support and respect, and shouldn’t be asked to change who they are in order to do their job. DADT policy bases evaluation of their job performance upon details of their private life, rather than the quality of their service, and disregards the American value of equal employment opportunity.

Those practices aren’t only unfair, but also unwise. They have the ability to cause a critical troop shortage while we have significant military commitments across the world. To date, about 14,000 service men and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of DADT regardless of honorable service or their usefulness to their units.

It’s time we repeal this discriminatory policy and allow all qualified individuals to serve and protect our nation with honor and without fear of discrimination.

Perhaps, the resistance to repealing DADT has nothing to do with the effectiveness and cohesiveness of our military, but instead is the results of a few Senators pandering to the religious principles of Christian fundamentalism.

In Florida, Daniel Webster is running against Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson. Grayson insists, that his Republican opponent, advocates that if woman becomes the victim of rape or incest, the woman must bear her attacker’s child. Rep. Grayson points out: “there are certain people in this country who want to create a theocracy in America, who want us to be ruled by their own principles, their own ideas about how the rest of us should live.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Exiting Afghanistan

“So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.” - Barack Obama

Obama was opposed to the war in Iraq from the start, however as Commander-in-Chief , his commitment is to bring that war to a responsible end. He has ended our combat mission in Iraq and has pulled 100,000 troops out of Iraq since taking office.

After 9/11, most Americans understood the necessity of invading Afghanistan, because 3,000 Americans had been killed. The Bush administration wanted to make sure that al Qaeda didn’t have a safe haven inside Afghanistan to plan more attacks. Had we not gone into Iraq, and instead stayed focused on Afghanistan, by now our military may have created a stable situation. Today, we need to have a significant presence, because when Obama took office the situation in Afghanistan had badly deteriorated over the course of seven years, and the Taliban had taken back over half of the country. The Afghan government remains very weak and in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, al Qaeda is still plotting to attack the United States.

Afghanistan is the second-poorest country in the world.  It has a 70 percent illiteracy rate.  Afghanistan is much less developed than Iraq and had no significant traditions of a strong central government that could provide civil services to its people, or basic infrastructure of a modern nation state.

During Obama’s presidential campaign, he insisted, that we need to make sure that we get Afghanistan right. Since taking office, Obama committed additional troops, money and resources to train Afghan forces to ensure that the Afghan government can provide basic services to its people. He hasn’t made an open-ended commitment and has announced a time frame within which Afghans must start taking more responsibility for their own country. In July of 2011, our military is going to begin a transition of shifting responsibility for security from our troops to Afghan troops.

Monday, October 04, 2010

More Protection

Wall Street reforms will give consumers more protection and power in our financial system, without stifling competition or innovation. Obama’s special adviser, Elizabeth Warren is setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That agency will be dedicated to setting ground rules and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system. It will empower consumers, by mandating, that clear and concise information be provided to customers, when they're making financial decisions regarding loans, mortgages and credit cards.

Instead of competing to offer confusing products, companies will compete the old-fashioned way, by offering better products. Consumers will have more choices for consumers, more opportunities for businesses, and more stability in our financial system. Unless your business model depends on bilking people, there is little to fear from these new consumer protection rules.

Wall Street reforms will give shareholders new power in the financial system. They will get what is called “a say on pay”, a voice with respect to the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives. The Securities and Exchange Commission will have the authority to give shareholders more say in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger role in determining who manages the company in which they've placed their savings.

Americans don't begrudge anybody for success when that success is earned. However, it offends our fundamental values, when we learn about enormous executive bonuses being handed out at firms, even as they are relying on assistance from taxpayers, after taking huge risks that threaten their firms and our financial system.

Some bonuses have actually created perverse incentives to take reckless risks that contributed to present financial crisis. Reckless risks led to situations, in which stock and pension holders, who had the most to lose had the least to say in the process. That will change!



Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ron Mitchell

On line edition of the Oneonta Star had Ron Mitchell insisting: “the unprecedented spending of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid cabal had deepened and prolonged the recession. “And the light at the end of the tunnel is still not in sight.”

An indication of light at the end of the tunnel is that our economy is growing at a rate of 6%, which was the biggest gain in six years. Although, our country has a long way to go, April saw a gain of 290,000 jobs, which was the largest number of jobs added to our labor force in four years. May saw job gains of 431,000 jobs. We’ve had 8 consecutive months of private sector job growth for a total of 75o,000 jobs. That includes 44,000 manufacturing jobs, which is the most manufacturing jobs added to our economy since August 1998. Customers are spending more and the savings rate has improved by 6%. Last month, the stock market had its best September gains in 71 years, and on Oct 2nd, the stock market hit 10,868.

Furthermore, Mr. Mitchell claimed: “Capitalist creates wealth and prosperity, socialist destroy wealth and create poverty.” Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. Wall Street reforms have brought new transparency to many financial markets. Part of what led to the current crisis were firms like AIG were making risky bets, using derivatives and other complicated financial instruments, in ways that defied accountability. Many practices were so confusing and complex that the people inside those firms didn't understand them, much less those who were charged with overseeing them.

Obama isn’t a socialist, because he believes, that there is a legitimate role for those financial instruments in our economy, because they can spur investment. A lot of companies have use those instruments to legitimate ends. For example, a business might hedge against rising oil prices by buying a financial product to secure stable fuel costs, so an airlines might have an interest in locking in a decent price. The problem was, that some markets operated in the shadows of our economy, invisible to regulators, and invisible to the public. Reckless practices became rampant and the risks accrued until they threatened our entire financial system.

Wall Street reforms are designed to respect legitimate activities but prevent reckless risk taking. The Obama administration wants to ensure that the loosely-monitored gambling in our financial system, that put taxpayers and our economy in jeopardy are a thing of the past. The only people who ought to fear the kind of oversight and transparency that have been put in place are those whose conduct will fail scrutiny.

Although, Republican President Eisenhower launched the most massive government undertaking in our history known as the Interstate Highway System, he wasn’t considered a socialist. Some complained that the program was too costly, however it turned out to be the one of the most successful long term economic stimulus programs in American history.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

TARP Money

American International Group (A.I.G.) stated they had reached a deal to pay back the Federal Reserve Bank of New York nearly $46 billion in TARP, taxpayer bailout funds.

The company’s bailout repayment is due October 3, as the original terms of the loan allow A.I.G. two years to pay back the Feds. The company originally borrowed $20 billion to shore up its failing business. However, AIG needed to return money to the Feds for an additional $26 billion loan as a preferred stake that must be redeemed.

The plan includes the conversion of $49.1 billion of preferred shares the Treasury Department holds in AIG common shares, and increased the governments ownership stake by 12 percent to the nearly 92 percent.

The entire conversion is expected to take place early in 2011, and AIG plans to utilize their own funds to cover part of the repayment, which AIG plans on realizing from the sale of their MetLife overseas operations.

All toll, the taxpayers had bailed out AIG to the tune of nearly $182 billion dollars, desperately needed tax dollars that certainly would help fund other economic recovery measures including aiding the nation’s unemployed workforce.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an unemployment bill, which would have been fully offset with the use of recovered TARP funds. Senate Republicans objected to the use of TARP funds to apply towards unemployment extension payments simply stating, the nations unemployed workforce was not worthy of consideration to use funds set aside to bailout large corporations.

Congressional Democrats passed the bill to help states save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off, but Republicans said no. Rep. John Boenher, who is eager to take over as Speaker of the House dismissed them as government jobs that weren't worth saving. He considers the jobs of those, who teach our kids, keep our streets safe, and put their lives on the line for us, not worth saving.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Competitive Edge

From 2001 to 2009, the average wage of middle-class families in America actually declined by 5 percent.  Job growth was slower during that period than at any time since World War II, at the same time as the costs of everything from health care to college tuition were skyrocketing. Those at the top were getting very wealthy, but the middle class, which is the heart of our economy were finding it harder to get ahead. 

The reasons for those hardships have a lot of it had to do with policies that had been put in place, whose basic premise was that if we cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires, and cut back on rules and regulations for how our industries and companies operate, and then we cut everybody loose to fend for themselves, that somehow the economy would automatically grow, but it didn’t work.

America become less competitive internationally, so manufacturing jobs were moving overseas. Countries like China and India and Brazil were investing heavily in their education systems and in infrastructure. We used to be ranked number one, in the proportion of college graduates, but we now rank number 12. We used to have the best public school system in the world, but now our youth rank 21st in science and 25th in math. All the things that had made us the most productive country on earth have been slipping away, and we’ve lost our competitive edge.

We need to put much more emphasis on math and science in order to develop new technologies and innovation.  We need to started investing more in research and development.  We need to invested in infrastructure that would lay the groundwork for a 21st century economy, not just roads and bridges but also broadband lines and a smart electric grid that could make us more energy efficient. We have a new energy policy that emphasizes clean energy solar and wind and biodiesel. 

We had to fix our health care system, because it was a huge drag on businesses and families and the federal government. Congressional Democrats have align what we take in to how much our government is spending so that our health care system is presently sustainable.