Monday, December 26, 2011

A Good Republican Response in a Washington Post Letter

Rich Nugent, A Congressman from Florida, had an excellent letter published in the Post this morning:

"We were pushing for a public policy (a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut) that was universally acknowledged to be more responsible than the Senate alternative (a two-month extension). We took this course not at some expected political cost to our opponents but rather at a known political cost to ourselves.

In short, we chose to put responsible policy before callous political self-interest. I’m unclear on why that was a bad thing."

Nugent also writes a defense of the Freshman House Republicans: "Is the House above politics? Of course not. But this year, we have made an uncommon effort to get Washington to face the hard questions — even when it was not in our own political interest to do so."

I just hope that the Freshmen Republicans and the supporters that propelled them to election in 2010 will not have gotten so discouraged by the successful media/Democrat campaign to turn this issue against Republicans that they give up on trying to make the changes that this country needs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

An Embarrassing Retreat By Speaker Boehner

In the end, House Speaker John Boehner decided that this issue (The Payroll Tax Cut Bill) was not worth fighting for. And he was right. Somehow, despite being on the "pro-middle class" side of this issue, Boehner and his Republican caucus were being painted by the media, the President, and the Democrats as anti-tax cut! Despite the fact that the Republicans in the House HAD PASSED a One-Year Payroll Tax Cut, while the Senate had only passed a Two-Month Tax Cut! But our media chose to gloss over that fact and only focus on the Senate's actions. The Senate chose to pass a two month extension because they wanted to go home for Christmas. And then the Democratic President, despite being adamant about a one year extension just weeks before, now insisted that the only bill that should be passed is the Two Month Tax Cut.

I have lived in this Washington DC area for 23 years now (unfortunately!) and seen how very similar maneuvers were portrayed. When President George W. Bush cut taxes for the lower income groups resulting in $600 checks in the Summer of 2001, Democrats scoffed at the amount as being barely enough money to buy a Big Mac Meal a week. But in 2011, our current president just touted his tax cut as being enough to pay for a pizza meal for regular Americans.

And the Senate should have been pilloried for being so arrogant as to assume that their version of the bill would be passed without alteration by the House. They immediately began their one month Christmas vacation after that vote, which left the House in the untenable position of accepting the Senate's bill as it is, or rejecting it. One could easily imagine an outrage being instigated at the arrogant Senate but since it was a Democratic run body, it was ignored. The Senate was being treated as the reasonable ones when they were the ones who had punted the issue off to a new year so they could go on vacations.

There's more to write on this and I will revise and edit this post later.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Month Tax Cut???

We are supposed to be happy that the Senate has compromised and agreed to pass a two month Social Security Tax Cut. What's the point -- besides the obvious which is allowing Congress to go home for Christmas even though they haven't passed the One Year Payroll Tax Cut which was passed by the House.

This Business Week article shows the problems faced by employers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

News Quiz Results

A friend on Facebook posted a Pew Research Survey that measured one's "News IQ." It asked 13 questions and both my friend and I were among the 8% who got all the questions correct. Pew conducted this survey from September 30 to October 11 among 1,1168 adults. From the analysis: "Republicans generally outperformed Democrats on the current quiz. On 13 out of the 19 questions, Republicans score significantly higher than Democrats and there are no questions on which Democrats did better than Republicans."

No surprise to me, but it certainly doesn't fit the stereotype of Republicans as know-nothing fundamentalist idiots, does it? One of the most-missed questions, especially among Democrats, was knowing that it was only the House of Representatives that is run by Republicans. President Obama and his allies in the media have done everything they could to pretend that all of Congress -- both houses -- are dominated by Republicans. Liberals like to paint conservatives as Fox News Channel watching, Rush Limbaugh listening mind-numbed robots. Well, if that's true, then at least Fox and Rush are filling our heads with accurate information!

San Francisco - $10 an Hour Minimum Wage(!)

Well, look at this news story: "San Francisco makes history by becoming the first city in the nation to scale a $10 minimum wage. The city's hourly wage for its lowest-paid workers will hit $10.24, more than $2 above the California minimum wage and nearly $3 more than the working wage set by the federal government."

Lately, I've been thinking about my high school days and comparing them with the sons and daughters of my friends. Back then, when the minimum wage was just $2.50 an hour, just about every one of us had a part-time job in high school, usually at a restaurant. But, as far as I know, none or very few of my friends' kids are getting jobs. School is too tough these days, they say. The schedules are very rigorous. Sure, having to work was a bit of a hassle and probably hurt our grades a bit, but what an honest introduction to real life. But, who's going to hire 16 year old kids for $10 an hour to wash dishes? Maybe the local community is just not looking to hire teenagers today as they were back in the 1970s.

Sure, it's nice to get a raise if you're making minimum wage, but the reality is that fewer jobs will probably be offered to make up for the fact that each individual must now make $10.24 an hour. Or hours will be cut. One personal example -- In my own home, there are a number of menial tasks for which it would be worthwhile to pay a small hourly wage to get someone else to do. But at $10 an hour, I'd just as soon do those jobs myself.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday's Debate

I missed the first half of last night's Republican Presidential Candidates debate which featured Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. I tuned in just as Romney and Gingrich were sparring over Gingrich's recent assertion that the Palestinians have never had a state. A substantive discussion which covered both our relations with Israel as well as criticisms of Gingrich for being too outspoken at times. A good discussion, with Gingrich stating that truth-telling is important for a leader to do, just as Ronald Reagan declared that the Soviet Union was an evil empire. Yet, at the end of the debate, the ABC commentators were sure that the key moment in the debate was when Perry and Romney had a dispute over a factual issue and Romney offered to bet Perry $10.000 that Perry was wrong. Well, "how out of touch with regular Iowans" that made Romney, huffed the ABC analysts. Maybe, but, that's hardly a substantial issue, is it?

And how ridiculous for Republicans to allow former Clinton campaign official and administration aide, George Stephanopolus to moderate the debate while only Gingrich and Santorum will agree to appear at a Donald Trump debate. For some reason, it is acceptable for a Republican debate to be moderated by the opposition, yet we won't see a Democratic debate moderated by conservatives will we?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Payroll Tax Demagogue

Our president has totally lost me. I was willing to give him a chance in 2008 since he and I are the same age and I thought that this generational similarity might prove interesting. By February 2009, I was disillusioned.

Day after day this last month, Obama touts the importance of his "Payroll Tax Cut" and how deeply it will impact the working class and/or middle class. He is allowed to give speeches without media criticism of this plan. The "Payroll Tax" is the Social Security Tax, and a bipartisan commission in 1982 established a plan to fund Social Security into the future. President Reagan agreed to this tax hike which raised the OASDI rate to 6.2% for both the employer and the employee. The funds raised by this tax are to be used to fund Social Security. In the early years, a giant surplus fund was to be created which would alleviate the big hit that would be taken when the Baby Boom generation began to retire.

President Obama's plan cuts the dedicated funding source for Social Security with his scheme to cut the combined OASDI rate in half, from 12.4% to 6.2%. Why has the media not shouted with outrage that the Senior Citizens are in danger?

Perhaps the funding mechanism for Social Security should be discussed, but Obama doesn't dare bother to propose a reformation of the plan, he just throws out a supposedly temporary "payroll tax cut." Now the Social Security funds will have to be found amongst all of the other competing programs and departments in the federal budget.

Worst of all is that this is all the President has in terms of an economic plan for this country. No one seriously believes that a temporary one year payroll tax cut will lead to a vibrant and growing economy.

For further reading on this issue, check out the AP story written soon after the proposal was unveiled. The media did indeed cover the issue when it was proposed, but lately all I hear from hourly news updates are clips from an Obama speech demanding the immediate passage of this vitally "important tax cut for the middle class."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Class Action Lawsuit Settlements

Another class action settlement landed in my inbox today. Ticketmaster has settled a lawsuit and it will give $1.50 credits toward future purchases of tickets. Now, really, who benefits from this? I'll tell you who? The Law Firm will receive $15 Million in this shake down while Ticketmaster gives out theses coupons which may end up making more money in the long run if more customers decide to buy tickets through Ticketmaster. A Buck-Fifty! Come On! On paper, Ticketmaster will be out $45 Million in coupons or mandatory charitable contributions plus $15 Million to the Law Firm.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hello Again!

Less than a year to the next election, so it's time to become active on the politics blog again. My Facebook friends John Chase and Matt Wold (also Grade School - High School/College classmates) are so good at inspiring heated debate for their respective causes. John is a conservative and Matt is a . . . well, what is Matt? Definitely not a conservative, but not really a Democrat either. A bit to the left of Obama.

Anyway, I'm going to try to resist the temptation to chime in on the Facebook discussions and refer all political talk to the blog. Keep Facebook social and friendly.

Topic for today is the CARD act of 2009. This law was passed by Democrats in early 2009 to protect us from the predatory credit card companies. Sounds good, but there are always tradeoffs. And, as we shall see with Health Reform (ObamaCare), we do not find out the true costs of legislation for many years. The CARD act has done the following: 1) Caused my Gas Rewards Card to slash their incentives so that the rewards are minimal. 2) Disallowed the ability of non-working spouses to use their total household income when applying for credit cards. So, if you are a SAHM, you will have a difficult time establishing credit in your own name -- you will only be able to be an authorized user on your husband's account. Kind of seems like a step backwards doesn't it?