Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Holy Shit: Michelle Bachmann does something reasonable

April 29, 2009

During her time in the United States House of Representatives Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) has been a laughing stock.  From calling on a violent revolution in the streets to blaming Democrats for swine flu, Bachmann has pushed the limit on reasonable thought.

Put the coke down.

Put the coke down.

But hold all insanity queries until tomorrow because Bachmann has temporarily regained intelligence.  Bachmann, along with Alan Grayson (D-FL), Ron Paul (R-TX), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Defazio (D-OR) and Corrine Brown (D-FL) signed a letter today encouraging more transparency in the activities of the Federal Reserve.

Here is the full letter:

Dear Chairman Spratt,

As you meet with fellow conferees to reconcile the House- and Senate-passed budget resolutions, we urge you to adopt the Senate provision regarding the Deficit Neutral Reserve Fund for Increased Transparency at the Federal Reserve in the final version of the resolution. This language calls for the Federal Reserve to identify banks and other financial institutions that have received more than $2.2 trillion in taxpayer-backed loans and other financial assistance since March 24, 2008.

Under Chairman Bernanke, the central banking system has opened a range of extraordinary funding facilities that are providing additional credit to banks, large financial institutions, and primary brokers, as well as guaranteeing commercial paper. All of this activity is happening in secret, with the Federal Reserve disbursing money and credit to the large financial institutions that have put our credit markets and economy at risk. The Federal Reserve has resisted FOIA requests, and will not make public even the terms of payment for the contractors it is using to run these extraordinary programs.

At the very least, Congress and the public should have knowledge about which banks are receiving taxpayer money, what they are doing with the money, and the credit risk taxpayers are taking on through the Federal Reserve. The Senate language encourages such transparency, allowing for audits and public disclosure of secret loans and financial assistance from the Federal Reserve to these large institutions.

We urge you to include the Senate language in the final Budget Resolution.

The Federal Budget today passed the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote.  How’s that for bipartisanship?

RWP Rating: Real Fucking Weird

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Full impressions and tons of photos from Tea Party Protest in Eugene, Oregon

April 16, 2009

Digg It!

There wasn’t a Tea Party protest in the city of Eugene and I suppose that is appropriate.  Eugene, known for raucous WTO protests in the early 90s, violent members of the Environmental Liberation Front, and more aging, balding, dread-locked hippies than a Bob Dylan concert, wouldn’t look kindly on right wing protests.  The protest was ultimately held in neighboring Springfield, known for its incessant insistence that it is the true Simpsons Springfield.

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I showed up just minutes before the protest started, following a Nissan SUV sporting an NRA seal and a yellow Support the Troops ribbon in heavy traffic all the way to the event.  It was held just outside Gateway Mall in Springfield, right next to a United States Post Office, in a park paid for by state and local taxes.

Eugene and Springfield host a population of approximately 210,000, not including the 20,000 students that attend The University of Oregon.   I’m not great at crowd size pinpointing, but I would guess that the attendance was between 500-800.   Local media did show up, but their reports can’t be trusted.  They were about as inconspicuous as an orange-vested hunter in a barren forest.  They didn’t mingle with the people, they didn’t speak to the people, they filed their report in thick make-up and black whore boots and went home to watch Dancing with the Stars.

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The atmosphere was like a County Fair.  Middle-aged professionals with their children and seniors with their oxygen tanks crowded the sidewalks, while their 20 to 30 year old neighbors stayed home.   Opportunists sold t-shirts out of their cars.

A man from the Americans for Prosperity organization dressed up as Thomas Paine, a man he has little to nothing in common with ideologically, and spouted platitudes of Freedom, Liberty, Free Markets, and Fair Taxation.  It was like being at a fucking campaign speech.  Do we really need to subject ourselves to this bullshit more than once every two years?

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Of course, the main thing that Fraud Paine talked about was the horrors of earmarks and the out of control spending in Washington.  Next on the docket was lower taxes.  Of course, the majority of the electorate doesn’t see the inherent paradox in this philosophy.  We have to pay for tax cuts.  If the Republican party wants more Defense spending, we need to pay for that through taxes.  But what the hell am I thinking?  I’m trying to bury this in an article that is too long for many of the Tea Baggers to consider reading.

That brings us to the true “substance” of the Tea Party Revolution.  The substance is the sheer number of slogans and issues represented by the protesters.  There is no unity here.  It’s not the rage against the WTO that made Sublime immortalize Eugene in April 26, 1992.   It’s a mish-mash of right-wing talking points that all lead to a few basic underlying messages.

  1. Congress doesn’t read bills.
  2. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are the only people to blame for the current economic crisis.
  3. Barack Obama is not “one of us.”
  4. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are dictators in Congress.
  5. Debt = “fiscal child abuse.”
  6. Democrats are godless.
  7. Democrats and Republicans are responsible for mess in Congress (even though they only single out Democrats)
  8. Advertisements for Glenn Beck.

I think I can fit all of the signs I saw today into each of those categories.  The problem is that there is no discussion at these events.  Because the attendees believe everything Fox spews, they accept these slogans as righteous.  Further exploration of these ideals needn’t be taken.  The people who attended the Tea Party today aren’t intellectuals who devour every word of George Will and David Brooks.  They listen to O’Reilly, Rush, Glenn Beck, and Neil Cavuto.  Additional research is unnecessary.

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What’s wrong with the youth today?  It’s a popular motto for many people in the twilight of life.  Today, I ask a different question.  What’s wrong with the baby boomers?  Why have they lost their taste for good, investigative journalism and rational facts?  We can have a real debate in this country if they would accept that their taxes are not increasing if they make under $250,000.  We can have different opinions about what we are going to do in the future.  We cannot have different opinions on facts.

The big takeaway from this is that right-wingers aren’t used to protesting.  When they do protest, they want to protest 10,000 different things at the same time so that they never have to do it again.   Abortion, Cap & Trade, Obama’s legitimacy as President, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Stimulus Bill, the Bailout, the Budget, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Gun Laws, “Christian” values, Earmarks, the free market, spending, Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, the Federal Reserve, the renegotiation of home loans, Obama’s bow to the Saudi prince, terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security, the Employee Free Choice Act, NAFTA, the Death Tax, and the IRS were all targeted today.

When you have 800 people with 800 different reasons for protesting, the message is lost in the crowd.  But the real reason they’re there is simple.  Mass media and lobbying firms have a hell of an influence.

More pictures:

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Quick Link: Auditor in California wants state to sell San Quentin, other federal land

April 2, 2009

Republicans in the California state legislature have some interesting ideas on how to raise enough money to make up for the state’s deficit.  One of them includes selling public land to private companies.  Who needs Yosemite?

RWP Rating: Strange

Full Story: Los Angeles Times

Sports Betting Smackdown: Delaware vs. The NFL

March 30, 2009

The state of Delaware is examining creative means to make up for its $606 million budget deficit next year.  Governor Jack Markell has developed a wholly unoriginal idea:  sports betting.  Now they’re speaking my language.

Fight!

Fight!

Markell proposed early this month that the state investigate whether legalizing sports betting could make up for the budget shortfall.  The NCAA immediately pounced, saying that Delaware would face repercussions if it did so, threatening punitive damages for state schools and withdrawal from consideration to host NCAA events.

But the debate continued and the sports world has sent out the big guns.  Lobbyists from the NFL conflated in Delaware in the past few days to urge lawmakers not to consider voting for the bill.   The NFL is also considering bringing football players to the state to fight it.

Markell fired back at the NFL, saying that they promote gambling by providing their audiences with analysts that predict the final score of every game before it is played.  “The notion that the NFL has aggressively and actively fought against betting on its games is belied by the very programming the NFL indirectly endorses and from which it handsomely profits.”

Only two states currently allow sports betting to take place, Nevada and Montana.

What could the NFL’s angle be in this position?  Is it that they are afraid their fans will think it undermines the legitimacy of the game?  There are a thousand bookies in Vegas that are willing to accept any wager a citizen from Delaware has on the outcome of a game.   By legalizing betting inside the state, Delaware would retain that money instead of sending it to the desert.

RWP Rating: Normal

FULL STORY: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20090329/NEWS02/903290386/1007

Real News of the Day: Republicans’ alternate budget proposal

March 26, 2009

I’m convinced that the Republicans are hellbent on making this country succumb to one party rule.  Republicans used to have real ideas for improving the country.   Eisenhower championed the Interstate Highway System, George H.W. Bush had the gall to call Reagan’s tax plan voodoo economics, and Ron Paul can still be taken somewhat seriously in modern economic debate.

But this alternate Republican tax plan is abysmal.

Incredibly appropriate.

Incredibly appropriate.

What happened today:  Senate minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) convinced House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) that they needed to get behind a Republican alternate budget proposal.   Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana) apparently conceived the plan during the last few weeks.  The congressmen held a press conference today and it was absolutely disastrous.

But what really happened: Mike Pence apparently acted like a college student that worked on a 20 page essay for weeks and then, hours before it was due, decided to forget about all the hard work and just slap together a 1 page summary.  All details were cut.   A simple pie chart at the bottom isn’t labeled and isn’t specific.  No, for that part I don’t even need to fall into the world of symbolism.  We have obtained the single chart from the alternate proposal.

Yes, this is it.

Yes, this is it.

What the alternate Budget contained: Two words.  Tax Cuts.  Yes, while criticizing Obama for increasing the federal deficit, these Republicans have the audacity to submit an alternate budget that would cease a huge amount of revenue.   Under the alternate tax plan, the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans would be slashed from 35% to 25%.  Those making under $100,000 will pay just 10% in taxes.  The alternate budget contained no cuts to federal programs.

Why it’s fucking irresponsible:  We have a HUGE federal deficit.  If we reduce revenue for the federal government we have less money to pay for the wars and the economic disaster.   That being said, we have to spend more right now.  I know it sounds stupid, but if the government stops spending right now, our economy will be shot to shit faster than a cheetah shot out of a cannon.  Examine the Paradox of Thrift for additional information.

Aftermath:  Reporters started asking questions.  Lots of them.  Involving specific numbers and details.  John Boehner was left bumbling about how they’ll have more details next week.  But they were the ones that called the press conference in the first place!  If you aren’t ready until next week, then hold the conference then.  Eric Cantor left in the middle of the conference.  Probably to catch another concert while pretending to be legitimate opposition.

This sucks for the American people.  We need real opposition in our government that holds the controlling party accountable for their decisions.  If all they come up with is a bunch of nonsense that completely contradicts their contention that Obama is going to drive us into more debt, then I have to assume that it’s all political posturing.  They are in no way interested in improving the country.  They are interested in playing politics.  And they can’t even get that right.