Deconstructing The Absurdity

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A New Low: Eric Cantor

In Republican Party, Tea Party, U.S Congress, U.S House of Representatives, U.S Senate, U.S States on September 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

Republican hypocrisy has been a pretty open issue. But today once again a Republican member in Congress has proved that being a politician means loosing all sense of humanity. House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) is asking for spending cuts to offset any spending done for disaster relief. YES! You read it right. Cantor wants to play politics when there are places who are still stuck without communication and waiting for relief. It’s nothing new for Republicans and specially Cantor to ask for spending cuts for just about anything. Even if nothing is being spent, they will end up asking for spending cuts. But, this is a brand new low for Cantor and the party he represents. HOWEVER! Do you think if Cantor’s district was devastated by a natural disaster he would have maintained his position on spending cuts? The 2004 emergency supplemental was proposed after five hurricanes hit the United States, including Tropical Storm Gaston, which did damage to Cantor’s home district of Richmond. Cantor voted against an amendment to an emergency supplemental bill for disaster aid that would have “fully offset” the cost of that supplemental with “a proportional reduction of FY05 discretionary funding” elsewhere. He wrote a letter asking for federal funding for his district. The federal assistance provided to Richmond following Gaston totaled nearly $20 million, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. 

But today it’s a different story. Cantor said, “Just like any family would operate when it’s struck with disaster,” Congress would “have to make sure there are savings elsewhere” to pay for the aftermath of the storm. “We are going to find the money,” Mr. Cantor told Fox News recently. “We are just going to have to make sure there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so.”

The situation has worsen since the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund is down to $713 million as a result of recent emergencies like the devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. That has prompted FEMA to delay consideration of long-term rebuilding projects that have not yet been submitted by local authorities.

Would Eric Cantor have a different view had Virginia taken most of the damage? Well at least not all Republican politicians agree with Cantor. New Jersey governor Chris Christie said, “Our people are suffering now, and they need support now. And they (Congress) can all go down there and get back to work and figure out budget cuts later.” Well at least someone gets it.

What’s the Deal? The good, bad and the ugly!

In Barack Obama, Debt Ceiling, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Tea Party, U.S Congress, U.S House of Representatives, U.S Senate on August 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

Ok! So a home-made disaster just got averted. A family member spread gasoline around the house threatening to light the match UNLESS you agree to buy him his very expensive car. The deal was done and you just bought him the car and he put the matchbox in his pocket. He is sending out the message that, ‘Don’t be too happy. I might think about lighting the match anytime in the future.’

That my friends is exactly how the U.S Congress and president Obama dealt with this home-grown crisis. It is a no brainer. For the GOP there was is better time to debate spending cuts when a Democrat is in the White House. Had it been a Republican, they would have raised the debt ceiling without raising an eyebrow. Rep.John Boehner, speaker was asked by CBS if he would continue to be the speaker of the house. His reply was, “Of course! I got 98% of what I wanted and I’m happy.” 

The house passed the debt ceiling bill 269 – 161. 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted against the bill. This bill was forwarded to the senate where it passed 74 – 26. It was sent to the president who immediately signed the bill into a law. The progressive caucus, liberals and democrats are fuming over this debt ceiling compromise and some calling it  a ‘satan sandwich’. Republicans and Democrats alike were not happy with the deal but they had to swallow it like a bitter pill. “I would like to say this bill solves our problems. It doesn’t. It is a solid  first step.”said Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas (R), a prominent fiscal hawk in the Republican leadership. “The default of the United States is not an option,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland (D). Mr. Hoyer urged lawmakers to vote not as members of either party, but as “Americans concerned about the fiscal posture of their country, about the confidence that people around the world have in the American dollar.”  This debt deal has no mention of any revenue’s which is a major sticking point for most Democrats. Both parties were worried about defections by party members and had briefings to explain the proposal. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., told House and Senate members in separate meetings that the administration had to cut the deal with uncompromising Republicans to avoid a default. Speaker John Boehner met specially with Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, an important voting bloc whose members were raising alarms about potential spending cuts for the Pentagon.

So where does this bill lead us? Who won and who lost? We have the facts and figures. Let’s dissect it.

This is President Obama’s video explaining the deal.

So the basic facts of the deal are:

  • $1 trillion of cuts over a 10 year period.
  • It guarantees that the debt limit will be hiked by $2.4 trillion.
  • Immediately upon enactment of the plan, the Treasury will be granted $400 billion of new borrowing authority.
  • After that President Obama will be allowed to extend the debt limit by $500 billion, subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress (would need 2/3 of both houses to block).
  • That initial $900 billion of increase in the debt ceiling will be paired with $900 billion of discretionary spending cuts, first identified by the bipartisan working group that had met under Vice President Biden, which will be spread out over 10 years.
  • Obama will later be able to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.
  • That increase will be paired with the formation of a Congressional committee (being called the Super Congress) of 12 members of Congress (6 from each party) that will be tasked with reducing deficits by a minimum of $1.2 trillion. That reduction can be composed of spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture of both.
  • If the Committee fails to reach $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, it will trigger an automatic across the board spending cut, half from domestic spending, half from defense spending, of $1.5 trillion.
  • The domestic cuts would come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans.
  • The domestic cuts would come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans.
  • If the Committee finds $1.5 trillion or more in savings, the enforcement mechanisms would not be triggered as $1.5 trillion plus the original $900 billion would equal $2.4 trillion, the amount the debt ceiling would be raised under this two-stage plan.
  • If the Committee finds between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, then the balance will be made up by the corresponding percentage of the enforcement mechanism’s cuts, still in a one-to-one ration.
  • There will be a vote on a balanced budget amendment. It would require a 2/3 majority in Congress. However, it is not likely to pass.

The Goods

The impact of this deal on the economy is mostly favorable for now. The economics team from JP Morgan says that federal fiscal policy will subtract around 1.5% points from GDP growth in 2012. The country would avoid a default and the cuts are big enough for the United States to retain its AAA rating. In fact it’s important to know that the credit agencies will not drop America’s rating. It’s just very simple economics. Any country would want to hold American credit.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was in the house. It was a wonderful thing to see her back in office. She got a 10 minute standing ovation from her colleagues with some of them even misty eyed. That, believe it or not is one of the plus points. Giffords voted on ‘Yes’ on the bill. She said, “I had to take this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash the economy.” It was refreshing to see a different ray of hope among utter chaos.

Both parties have some news to be happy. Republicans virtually got everything they wanted. All their criteria’s laid down by John Boehner were met. Perhaps the only thing which the right-wing is not happy about is the amount of cuts, which in their opinion is very less. It’s a haircut, is what they love to call it. Although the  Democrats are not happy, they too get to share some ‘glee’ in this deal. At least they should. After all the time they had to take definitive action, it’s something  they brought upon themselves. The debt ceiling is out of the 2012 discussions and the deal has been struck for a long-term. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are off the table.

The Bad:

The biggest ‘bad’ point of this outcome is the creation of the ‘Super Congress’ or the congressional committee which would consist of 6 members from each party. Congress will have to agree and pass the bill this committee comes up with without any questions asked. If, however, this ‘super congress’ cannot come to an agreement then what is being called a trigger would kick in. It would mean automatic cuts across the board ranging from defense to entitlements. These cuts will be large and will be something both the parties would wish to avoid.

There are no revenue’s in the deal. This is the only time in the history that a budget deal has been struck without any revenues making up for that $1 trillion cuts. I’d like you to take a look at this chart below. It shows the spending % and the revenue % under each president of the United States before Barack Obama.

Notice something? Who has more blues than reds? Clinton, Carter and Johnson. All Democratic presidents. Who has more reds than blues? Bush Jr, Bush Sr, Ford and Nixon. All Republican presidents. I’m not trying to make Republicans presidents look bad. My point is this? Spending has been greater all throughout GOP’s life. How do you hold another party accountable when your party have never followed what you’re fighting for. Follow what you preach. Let’s take Clinton for example. Look at the revenue’s. It’s a huge variation. Why? He barely had any wars during his time and so he could focus all his resources at home.

No tax increases. The Republicans got exactly what they wanted. A spending cut deal with absolutely no tax increases. Taxes, as part of the GDP are at a 50 year low.

No impact on the recession. In the near future this deal will not have any impact on the recovery from recession. However, if the dollar value drops along with the United States credit ratings (which the agencies are still speculating), the country will go back into a recession.

The Ugly:

Now it’s time for the worst thing to have come out this debate. Hold on to something. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

When the deal was done you would expect the markets to come back to its normal state. When congress gives a thumbs up to save the economy, the market reacts the same way, giving a thumbs up. That’s what usually happens. The last time congress voted against saving the economy the markets took a hit and we went into the worst recession. This time however, the congress did vote to save the economy and the markets still tanked. After the senate voted to pass the bill DOW lost 265 points.

The whole concept of the super congress is not setting well with either parties and mostly liberals. If the committee fails to reach a deal which most think would be the case, then the automatic cuts due to take place are going to be devastating for both parties. The ‘Super Congress’ is due to present its deal by Thanksgiving. The whole part of giving a group of people so much of power is unsettling. Specially when this committee will be dealing with everything on the table. As senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said, “For the committee, everything is on the table.” It becomes even more complex when you hear senate minority leader Mitch McConnel. McConnel told Fox News, “The chances of a tax increase passing with the appointees, speaker Boehner and I are going to put in (the committee), are very low.” With the debate already creating fiction I see a lot of fighting still to come.

The $900 billion worth of cuts come from fragile sectors such as infrastructure, education, clean air, affordable housing etc. The bill doesn’t include unemployment insurance extension and there are no payroll tax cuts.

It doesn’t help the job sector at all. With this deal the Republican side sent out a clear message. Jobs Jobs Jobs? Nope! Sob Sob Sob! 325 million job lost. 43 billion (-0.3%) from the GDP. The already slow economy comes to a screeching halt. 1.8 million fewer jobs in America. That -$241 billion (-0.21%) lost. The negative signifying the country going back into recession. Unemployment is a 9.2% and its only going to get worse as we roll into 2012 and 2013.

And the thing that is going to hut the most. In all these debt negotiations the FAA tax collecting authority has been neglected and now the government agency controlling air traffic is shut down. That means safety workers working without pay and all construction jobs frozen. It’s projected impact on the economy? The FAA shutdown cost American tax payers $30 million a day. 4,000 FAA workers are off work. 90,000 construction jobs at risk. Congress has been granting temporary extensions to the FAA for the past 20 times and now the Republicans have refused to even given the FAA a temporary extension. The FAA shutdown is projected to cost the American government $1.2 billion in revenue from uncollected airline ticket taxes in a quarrel between Senate Democrats and House Republicans who are demanding a $16.5 million cut in rural air service subsidies. Democrats say the subsidies fight is actually a ploy to get them to accept a GOP labor provision in a separate, long-term FAA funding bill passed by the House. Republicans deny that’s the case. Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions. Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies. Knowing the fact that air traffic controllers were caught sleeping one the job, I wonder how wise was it, on the part of the U.S congress, to shut down the FAA. The senate almost ready to go into vacation, house already on vacation, the FAA shutdown could go well beyond September. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said, “The House has tried to make this a battle over essential air service,” he says. “It’s not a battle over essential air service. It’s a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board].”

So if you’re a person about to travel and looking for someone to blame/ sue incase something happens to you while in an aircraft. You know who to pin the blame on. Delta Airlines!!! I know I will, since I have to fly in the next 17 days. Good luck to all those who are taking a flight soon.

And finally I leave you with a graph which shows the job losses over the last ten years. Job Creation! Something which the American government should start working on looks something like this. This however, was before all this chaos regarding the debt ceiling came up. Before all this happened. THIS is where we were heading.

The irony that’s killing Washington..

In Debt Ceiling, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Tea Party, U.S Congress, U.S House of Representatives, U.S Senate on July 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

In all my time of only covering United States politics, I have never seen Washington so stubborn and irresponsible. Yeah! They made some very bad decisions regarding policy and war. But that was mostly because of external causes. This right here is a self-inflicted disaster. It’s manufactured by the American government for the American people and America herself. For all this time this debt ceiling debate has been going on, we have been hearing these idealistic phrases. ‘Washington needs to cut down on spending, Too much spending is being done, We should live within our means, We should not spend what we don’t have.’ All these statements are mostly thrown out by the GOP and Tea Party supporters and politicians. On the practical side  we have to agree that spending needs to be curbed. Holy crap! We really need to stop spending on so many wasteful things. These GOP and Tea Party guys are absolutely right about this part. But somebody explain this part to me. HOW IS THE DEBT CEILING RELATED TO FUTURE SPENDING? Why are we confusing paying for dues and future spending. Yes, future spending needs to be reduced but you HAVE to pay for what you have already consumed. The Republicans love referring to micro economics of an average American household. The thought goes. The American government needs to spend like an average American family. “When someone is overextended and broke they don’t continue paying for expensive automobiles, they sell the expensive automobiles and buy a cheaper one. They don’t continue paying for country club dues, they drop out of the country club,”  Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. Perhaps they could sell their Mercedes or maybe the middle class families could forget about that vacation they were thinking of taking to the Seychelles. This statement of his shows a tremendous lack of understanding about the average American family on the part of Brown. Mr Brown most Americans do not have complete health care let alone a ‘country club’ membership. These severely deluded congressman forget that when you try superimposing micro economics over macro the two just don’t cover each other up. The American government cannot exactly function the way an American family does.

So the question often kept popping up in my mind. Why is the congress acting this way? What could they possibly be getting out of it. The already tainted image of U.S as a military power is getting even worse as a degrading economic power. Washington is falling apart with statements like ‘Nothing can pass the House’ and the president of America almost on his knees begging his fellow politicians to think about the country before pushing for their own agenda. Just think about it for a minute. The most powerful man in the world in control of supposedly the most powerful country in the world has to beg his own people to think before they act. John Boehner could barely pass his own bill in the house that he has a majority in. Now there are several reasons why his own caucus didn’t support his but I’ve already discussed that in my previous post. This is not about Boehner. This whole problem is so much bigger than one person or one party. Nobody can speculate the exact effects of the disaster of not raising the debt limit. Nobody knows because in all of American history there has never been a mention of America defaulting. In fact it’s unconstitutional (section 4, 14th amendment).

Coming back to the point of economics. Let’s take this latest bill that John Boehner forced through the House. Not a single Democrat is on board his plan and neither are 22 Republicans. But did that stop him from wasting tax payer dollars and creating wasteful bills. Harry Reid in the senate has already said that this kind of bill is D.O.A. It can never pass the senate leave alone the president signing off on it. Then why doesn’t Boehner make a constructive bill. Let’s see what the Boehner and Reid bills have to offer.

John Boehner’s Bill (House of Representatives)

  • The Boehner bill (including the July 29 changes) would save $917 billion.
  • It would cut about the same amount (about $1 trillion) from the 2012 and 2013 budgets (the only budgets that this Congress has any real authority over)
  • Creates a super-committee – a bipartisan committee of 12 members from both houses – to come up with a bill that reforms taxes and entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). Both houses would be required to vote on whatever bill the committee came up with.
  • It cap discretionary (non-entitlement) spending. The caps rise with inflation after 2014.
Harry Reid’s Bill (Senate)
  • The Boehner bill (including the July 29 changes) would save $917 billion.
  • It would cut about the same amount (about $1 trillion) from the 2012 and 2013 budgets (the only budgets that this Congress has any real authority over)
  • Creates a super-committee – a bipartisan committee of 12 members from both houses – to come up with a bill that reforms taxes and entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). Both houses would be required to vote on whatever bill the committee came up with.
  • It cap discretionary (non-entitlement) spending. The caps rise with inflation after 2014.
So there you have it. It’s not like both the bills are hugely apart. They have quite a few similarities. The reason why mentioned the similarities separately is because none of what is in Reid’s plan is a Democratic idea. The Democrats would never side for something like what Reid has proposed had it not been this extreme moment. Nancy Pelosi and President Obama are also doubtful of about leader Reid’s plan to some extent. The important point to be noted. The Democrats stepped out of their comfort zone. Heck they walked a mile from it. Now, I know by this point y’all must be asking. So what are the differences. Here they are:

Differences:
Reid’s plan assumes a drawdown of United States’ forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to save $1.2 trillion. These savings are not included in Boehner’s bill. House Republicans are calling this part of Reid’s bill a “gimmick”. They are saying that drawdown of troops will reduce spending no matter which bill is passed. Ok! So if you are so wise. Why hasn’t speaker Boehner proposed the same thing? No clue!

The Reid plan would raise the debt ceiling enough to get past the 2012 election in a single vote – a one-step process. The Boehner plan would require a two-step process – a small debt limit increase now, a large debt limit increase later which would be tied to the super-committee bill. This means once this debt limit crisis is averted. Another one would be following six months later. We’re all back in the same loop. Do they really think that the markets are going to approve of that idea?

AND that’s it ladies and gentleman. Broadly. These are the differences. After speaker Boehner failed to get enough votes to pass his bill in the House on Thursday, he added a balanced budget amendment requirement to the bill in order to get more Republicans to support it. This stunt that he pulled made it even more impossible to pass the senate.

When Boehner knew that this bill would never pass the senate. Why did he waste precious time in ramming through a pill that ultimately would be no good? In fact when he couldn’t get a majority from his caucus he added a clause that would most certainly kill the bill in the senate. Money lost, time lost and the country is still hanging by a thread. Why not work with the Democrats and come up with something really bi-partisan. None of the Democrats in the house signed up for Boehner’s proposal. NONE! The big question mark is here. Boehner did not step out of his comfort zone and on top of that he made it certain that the bill would be killed. Now that the bill has been passed onto the senate the Republicans in the house and the country can put their hands up and blame Obama and the Democrats. This has been their game plan since November 2010. Push your agenda and blame Obama. Is is still applicable now that the economic collapse of the United States is on the brink? Can any politician afford to push his/her agenda first?

Neither one of these plan had ANY tax increases. Something which the Tea Party and GOP are dead against. Republicans said they would not support a plan that increased taxes (even if it came from eliminating deductions, rather than increasing tax rates). Democrats said that they would not support a plan that did not include some tax increases (which could come from eliminating deductions). Ironically, the Reid bill, supported by Democrats, has no tax increases and the Boehner bill, supported by Republicans, most likely would increase taxes (by eliminating deductions) through the super-committee bill. THIS is the irony that is murdering Washington and the United States right now. Pray for the country. Each and every working individual needs it.

The Fall of the Speaker? Inside the work of John Boehner

In Debt Ceiling, Republican Party, Tea Party, U.S Congress, U.S House of Representatives, U.S Senate on July 29, 2011 at 8:39 am

John Boehner’s leadership is collapsing. Slowly and steadily Boehner is loosing control of his caucus. This new blow came after some Republicans said they would vote ‘No’ to Boehner’s bill to raise to the debt ceiling. His bill cuts about a trillion dollars in spending with no revenue and extends the debt ceiling for six months. After six months there will be another crisis in America. Boehner’s bill would also set up a committee to work on trillions of dollars in future deficit reduction either through more spending cuts or tax increases, which would then earn another future debt increase. It would also require both the House and Senate to hold votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. 

Several house Republicans including Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Dennis Ross (R-Florida), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Arizona) are planning to vote NO! on the Boehner bill. Rep. Jim Jordan who heads the powerful conservative caucus in the House  told reporters Tuesday morning, “There are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan,”. Voting yes “assures we get to watch them vote it down,” Gohmert said of the Senate. “That’s not terribly helpful.” Senator Harry Reid as made it very clear that even if the house manages to pass the bill it will be instantly killed in the Senate. “It will be defeated,” Reid predicted yesterday, calling Boehner’s plan “a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now.”

Since he could not get the votes simply by asking John Boehner is now rounding up Tea Party freshman and Republicans planning to vote ‘No’, for behind close doors discussions. Yesterday he released a statement saying, “Get your ass behind the line. I can’t do this job if you’re not behind me.” Who’s fear mongering now Mr Boehner? Today Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said that he is, “Bloodied and beaten, No!.”  And on Thursday again, Beohner could not gather enough votes to pass his bill in the house. Voting on the bill has been delayed to Friday. This is the second night in a row that John Boehner’s efforts to get a clear majority for his own bill from his own caucus is failing. But conservative Republicans in the House, many allied to the tea party movement, said they don’t just want votes on the amendment, they want an assurance it will be sent to the states. Mr. Jordan and other conservatives said they would prefer the Senate vote on the debt increase the House passed last week (cut, cap and balance), that includes deeper spending cuts and requires both chambers approve a balanced budget amendment and submit it to states for ratification before any debt increase happens. Both the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth, two key conservative activist groups, are also urging a “No” vote and said it will be one of the key votes they use in their annual lawmaker scorecards.

It doesn’t take a genius to see through John Boehner and his dire efforts to get some people on to his side. Maybe Mr Boehner you could drop some of your extreme idea’s and get some Democrats on board. But Boehner has never appealed to the Democrats. The worst part is he never tried. When Nancy Pelosi (D) was the speaker of the house she passed 308 laws in her first term and 254 laws in her second term. They included some major bills like health care reform, repealing of the ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’, better pay act, minimum wage act, stimulus, ethics reforms and financial reform. In John Boehner’s first term he only managed to pass 12 bills into law. YES! You saw it correct. JUST 12 bills. At this rate it can be estimated that by the end of his term he would have passed a total of 48 bills into law. That is however not taking into account situations like these where his own party and members of his own caucus revolts against him. Is John Boehner is successful speaker? Well unfortunately for him the numbers and statistics don’t lie. Maybe Mr Boehner you can try your hand at golf instead of politics.

Eh Righties! Can you hear us now?

In Debt Ceiling, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Tea Party, U.S Congress, U.S House of Representatives, U.S Senate on July 28, 2011 at 7:15 am

The very first thing John Boehner and Republicans in the house did when they came into power in 2010 was to read the constitution of America. Remember? If not then here’s the full new from back then.

Ironically congressman Steve Israel (D-New York) read section 4 of the 14th amendment. It reads:

 “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

So if President Obama does end up invoking the 14th amendment the GOP should have any issues about it right? Hey after all it was Boehner and his house mates who wanted to get the constitution clearly read out and understood by each member. Hope the Tea Party was paying attention.