Friday, October 17, 2008

My commentary on a recent Wall St Journal op article

A Liberal Supermajority
Get ready for 'change' we haven't seen since 1965, or 1933.
(article from the Wall St Journal Opinion section, could not find the author's name)

If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional
majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to
it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the
House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

The current senate is essentially fillibuster-proof right now since we have a Dictator - er I mean President who threatens to veto (and does) any bill he doesn't like. Therefore rendering our system of checks and balances useless. Granted if I agreed with the Republican agenda, I wouldn't see it as a problem ; ) IMHO, a huge part of the problem is greed and corruption (lobbyists). I strongly favor term limits for the senate as it would help to keep some of this in check. I am reading this with a grain of salt as the Wall St Journal's readers for the most part are those in the top of the income brackets that would see a reversal of W's tax cuts. Seeing what the trickle down economy has done to fatten their wallets while people like you and I struggle even harder than we before bush Jr came into office. It is a theory that I strongly feel doesn't work.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the
most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history.
Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't
since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the
restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in
the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked
left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.

This is an interesting comment. I feel very much that the media and major news networks are pushing the RW agenda. I do a lot of research into the issues and records. Lots of times I need to really dig to find facts rather than opinions. Also we spent the first 6 years under the bush administration under "Conservative" control which was a period of unchecked right-wing ascendancy. . . more hypocrisy from the conservatives. (BTW, do you have any idea why they are called conservatives? It isn't the environment, it definitely isn't spending . . . Just curious).

The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this
year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape
legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed
Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before
legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the
following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.

Another change I would like to see is more transparency and relevancy in making of bills. They tack so many things onto the bills you don't really know if they were voting against the original bill or one of the 72 things tacked onto it.

- Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the
Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.

So only the rich have rights to health care?

Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after

Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.

The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate
alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default
government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be
rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr.
Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.

Not true.
Obama's plan:
- Create a national system
of competing, federally approved private insurance policies and a
public plan
that offers coverage similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, which provides coverage to federal employees and members of Congress. Individuals and small businesses could purchase coverage through this national exchange. (Not Medicare for all)
- Set national standards for private plans and forbid insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions.
- Require that children have insurance, offer tax credits to low-income families, and
coverage under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Obama has not specified what penalty parents would face if they don't have health coverage for their kids. (Kids can not help the situation they are born into. Don't all children have the right to see a doctor when they need to?)
- Impose a "pay-or-play" requirement under which large companies would either have to offer coverage or pay a portion of premiums for workers, or pay a percentage of payroll into the national public plan. Small businesses would be exempt from the requirement, but could qualify for a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent of premiums paid for their employees, to encourage them to offer coverage directly. Obama also wants to cover some of the costs of expensive health coverage businesses face for some employees.

McCain's plan:
- Give a health insurance tax credit of up to $5,000for couples and families and $2,500 for individuals. Those who chooseto buy insurance on their own would be able to use the credit to payfor their health coverage (personal note - pay towards the plan offered by my employer employee plus one (not family - just 2 of us) would cost me $8,160 a year), with payment going directly from the government to the insurance company. Nobody would be required to buy insurance for themselves or their children, and employers large or small would not be required to offer health insurance as a benefit.
- Tax the value of employer-provided health benefits. (personal note - so, my cost is $8160. My employer pays part of that as a benefit. Let's say for math sake the value is $10,000 a year. At a 33% tax bracket, my taxes have just increased by $3,300 - even though he just told me he will not raise my taxes). - Employees would pay federal income taxes (but not Social Security or Medicare payroll taxes) on the value of those benefits. The tax credit would offset those taxes (personal note - I thought the tax credit mentioned was to buy my own plan. Now it is to offset the taxes but is being sent to the insurance company and not to me. So, I will need to come up with an additional $3300 on April 15th.) Companies would not be taxed.
- Expand health savings accounts so that any money left over from the tax credit could be put into such an account, where it could be used for approved medical expenses (personal note - But the tax credit is going to the Insurance companies, so how will I have any to put into an HSA - which now is no longer pre-tax dollars).
- Allow the sale and purchase of insurance across state lines. No federal standards would be imposed, and insurance companies would not be required to cover preexisting conditions (personal note - More de-regulation. Why not, it worked so well for the banking industry).
- Expand high-risk pools that exist in many states to cover those who have been denied coverage or have high-cost health issues. Some financial assistance would be given to low-income people in such pools.
Source -
- The business climate. "We have some harsh decisions to make," Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom
(Like the companies that just gave McCain free cell towers even though he is on the Commerce Committee that oversees them?,
biotech and drug makers
(this has already been happening for over 3 years. It also hit the medical device companies),
among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the "Issues and Legislation" tab on Mr. Waxman's Web site for a not-so-brief target list. The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.
Again, trickle down econimics has served us well, hasn't it? At $4 a gallon Exxon was raking in record profits. Possibly due to oil speculators. but, interestingly enough - senate mentions investigations and suddenly we are paying $2.51 a gallon (might also be related to the election neing 2 1/2 weeks away. Will be interesting to see what happens on Nov 5th)

- Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of
way is "card check." Unions have been in decline for decades, now
claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The "Employee Free Choice Act" would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.

The bill also imposes a compulsory arbitration regime that results
in an automatic two-year union "contract" after 130 days of failed
negotiation. The point is to force businesses to recognize a union
whether the workers support it or not. This would be the biggest
pro-union shift in the balance of labor-management power since the
Wagner Act of 1935.

I haven't read much about the union issue because honestly, it doesn't directly affect my life, so I will refrain from commenting.

- Taxes. Taxes will rise substantially, the only question being how high. Mr. Obama would raise the top income, dividend and
capital-gains rates for "the rich," substantially increasing the cost
of new investment in the U.S. More radically, he wants to lift or
eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security. This would convert what was meant to be a pension insurance program into an overt income redistribution program. It would also impose a probably unrepealable increase in marginal tax rates, and a permanent shift upward in the federal tax share of GDP.

Obama's tax plan:
- Cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families with a tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couples.
- Provide generous tax cuts for low- and middle-income seniors,
homeowners, the uninsured, and families sending a child to college or
looking to save and accumulate wealth.
- Eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, cut corporate
taxes for firms that invest and create jobs in the United States, and
provide tax credits to reduce the cost of healthcare and to reward
investments in innovation.
- Dramatically simplify taxes by consolidating existing tax credits,
eliminating the need for millions of senior citizens to file tax forms,
and enabling as many as 40 million middle-class - - - Americans to do their
own taxes in less than five minutes without an accountant.

A consumer based nation such as ours does not produce goods. We buy goods and provide services (at least the ones that haven't been sent to India). If the consumers continue on the same path with inflation, soaring unemployment rates, decreased home values and increasing property taxes, we suddenly can't support a consumer based economy. Consumers stop buying and then what happens to the Corporations when there is no revenue? I have been to Caribou ONE TIME in the last 6 weeks. I used to go once sometimes twice a week. I have only purchased necessary items gas, groceries, beer, and school clothes for Bren (yes, beer is a necessity!). One exception, I still receive my monthly scrapbooking kit. So I have gone from spending on whatever whenever, and now we maybe order out every other week instead of once or twice a week. And my extraneous shopping
is $40 a month on my scrapbooking hobby. I can tell you that my small business has taken a huge hit from the economy. People are not buying. I have probably lost 70% in order numbers since spring, and my average dollar sale has gone from about $45-50 to around $15.

John McCain's tax policy
Keep Tax Rates Low: Entrepreneurs are at the heart of American innovation, growth and prosperity. Entrepreneurs create the ultimate job security - a new, better opportunity if your current job goes away.
Entrepreneurs should not be taxed into submission. John McCain will keep the top tax rate at 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the Alternative Minimum Tax. Small businesses are the heart of job growth; raising taxes on them hurts every worker.

It may be true that 79% of upper-income taxpayers have some
income from business, but Gillespie's definition of "small" business actually includes big accounting firms, law firms and real-estate partnerships, and "businesses" that are really only sidelines – such as occasional rental income from a corporate chief's ski condo. In fact, tax statistics show that upper-income taxpayers get far more of their income from salaries, capital gains, stock dividends and interest than they do from small business."

Cut The Corporate Tax Rate From 35 To 25 Percent: A lower corporate tax rate is essential to keeping good jobs in the United States. America was once a low-tax business environment, but as our trade partners lowered their rates, America failed to keep pace. We now have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, making America a less attractive place for companies to do business. American workers deserve the chance to make fine products here and sell them around the globe.
(George bush cut corporate taxes already once from 38.6% to the current 35%). What was the outcome of that? The large corporations sent jobs oversea. The idea that cutting taxes on them will create more jobs here has not been the case historically.

- The green revolution. A tax-and-regulation scheme in the
name of climate change is a top left-wing priority. Cap and trade would hand Congress trillions of dollars in new spending from the auction of carbon credits, which it would use to pick winners and losers in the energy business and across the economy. Huge chunks of GDP and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and a vast new global-warming bureaucracy. Without the GOP votes to help stage a filibuster, Senators from carbon-intensive states would have less ability to temper coastal liberals who answer to the green elites.

This goes back to jobs. The US has always been an innovator and a leader in new technologies. This is the opportunity of our generation to reclaim that title. (Outside of being a tree-hugger of course!) Seriously, we have an opportunity here to create new jobs that require skilled workers. We are seeing staggering unemployment rates. Business are closing and merging all over the place. Where are all of these displaced workers going to go? We need to create new jobs and this is a golden opportunity for the taking. Again, the word regulation keeps repeating itself over and over in this article. Remind me what happens when we keep de-regulating? BTW - I think carbon credits are BS, but renewable energy is our future.

- Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority
would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the "community organizer" left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress -- Democratic, naturally. Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness
Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

What is the problem with same day voter registration? MN has it. I am an election judge this year, and to be honest I would trust people registered the same day over peole registered on the street by someon who is paid by the number of cards they turned in. They show proper ID and are required to sign under oath that they are who they say they are. I really get the feeling the author of this article is prejudiced against the middle class. What is wrong with community organizers anyways? I am so Freaking tired of the fear and the hate that the RW are always propogating. Just let me hug my fu**ing trees and be happy becuase I have a job a family, friends, a home, and because I am a good person deep down.

The rest of the paragraph is pure speculation. What we should be concerned about are things like repealing the Patriot Act, the FISA bill, and other bills that have been passed that are unconstitutional.

- Special-interest potpourri. Look for the watering down of
No Child Left Behind testing standards, as a favor to the National
Education Association. The tort bar's ship would also come in,
including limits on arbitration to settle disputes and watering down
the 1995 law limiting strike suits. New causes of legal action would be sprinkled throughout most legislation. The anti-antiterror lobby would be rewarded with the end of Guantanamo and military commissions, which probably means trying terrorists in civilian courts. Google and would get "net neutrality" rules, subjecting the Internet to intrusive regulation for the first time.

If No Child Left Behind had been adequately funded it might have worked. Have a chat with a few teachers (I have a couple frineds who teach and have talked with them about it). It was mandated by Bush but never Federally funded. It becomes a bunch of bueracratic red tape that the school admistrators need to work through when they could be teaching. When programs are instilled and not paid for with federal tax dollars, your local taxes need to go up. Wonder why your property taxes keep skyrocketing (Ours have gone up 9-12% every year we have been here since we moved in - even though the value of our home is actually less now than when we bought in '03 regardless of the improvements we have made). What you need to look at is the actual spending done NOT the taxes, because those just get shuffled around in a variety of ways or proposed as levies, etc.

It's always possible that events -- such as a recession -- would temper some of these ambitions. Republicans also feared the worst in 1993 when Democrats ran the entire government, but it didn't turn out that way. On the other hand, Bob Dole then had 43 GOP Senators to support a filibuster, and the entire Democratic Party has since moved sharply to the left. Mr. Obama's agenda is far more liberal than Bill Clinton's was in 1992, and the Southern Democrats who killed Al Gore's BTU tax and modified liberal ambitions are long gone.

In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you've ever got.

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