Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Republican Plan For Balancing The Budget

Stop collecting as much taxes on the wealthy. Yes, did you know that taxing the wealthy has a horrible effect on our economy? If they can't buy that new yacht, then the terrorists have already won.

Yahoo! News - GOP's Estate Tax Push May Work in Senate

WASHINGTON - House Republicans call it the "death tax," but their effort to repeal permanently the estate tax has itself succumbed three different times upon reaching the Senate. This year, though, four additional GOP votes may give the measure the boost it needs to enter the tax code.

"Death should not be a taxable event," said Rep. Kenny Hulshof of Missouri, who sponsored the Republican bill, scheduled for debate Wednesday. "The death tax has a very real, negative impact on our economy."

Promising faster tax relief with less damage to the federal budget, Democrats countered with a proposal to leave the tax in place for the largest estates but immediately increase the number exempt from the tax.

"It is certain. It is immediate," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the North Dakota Democrat who drafted his party's alternative. "It is a significant break from where we are now."
These wealthy Americans have already suffered enough! Give them tax breaks or give all those poor and middle class people with no health insurance death!

Maybe you didn't realize this, but the elimination of the estate tax is really a form of discrimination.
Supporters of the tax's elimination argue that any level of tax discriminates against some at the expense of others.

"Someone will fall below it. Someone will be above it," Hulshof said of arbitrary markers exempting some estates from taxation.
If congress doesn't stand up for this poor, helpless group, who will they have left to represent them, other than their lawyers, bankers, estate planners, money managers, all the people who work for them?

Thank G-d that Republicans are looking out for the big people! Somebody has to!

But don't fret if you're not a multi-bazillionare, the Democrats are doing what they can to stick up for the slightly littler big guy.
Many Democrats argue that the country cannot afford the roughly $290 billion it would cost over a decade to eliminate the tax while budget deficits mount and expenditures for homeland security and war increase.

The Democratic plan would increase the size of an estate exempt from tax to $3 million for an individual and $6 million for a couple beginning next year. It would reduce government revenue $70 billion.
Only 70-Billion dollars? Sheesh, that's a drop in the bucket. It's not like we have anything else to pay for- like Social Security, Medicare, and the Occupation of Iraq.

Originally posted at MyDD

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Loan Shark Prevention Act

David Sirota, fellow at the Center for American Progress, has a post detailing The Loan Shark Prevention Act that has been introduced by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The bill does three things.

1. Cap interest rates at 8% above what the IRS charges income tax deadbeats. Currently, the cap would be 14%, the same level that the Senate approved by a 74-19 vote in an amendment offered by Sen. Al D’Amato in 1991.

2. Cap bank and credit card fees at $15, instead of the astronomical late fees that are now regularly assessed.

3. Ban the credit card interest rate bait and switch. Credit card companies are doubling or tripling the interest rates of consumers even though they always paid their credit card bills on-time. The reason? Maybe they were one day late on a student loan payment three years ago. Maybe they took out another loan for a medical emergency. Or maybe they did nothing wrong at all. Today, credit card companies can raise rates for any time for any reason. This bill would restrict that.
They all sound like perfectlly reasonable ideas, meaning that they have zero chance of passing...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Right-Wing Christians Support Assisted Suicide

Just posted this over at MyDD

Boy was I surprised when I got a letter today from the the conservative Christian wackos at the American Family Association that advocated for assisted suicide. But that's just what the letter advocates.

The title of the message was enough to really shock me:

Terri's Case: The Roe v. Wade of Euthanasia: Terri's father says the courts are in control of this country
You mean the courts have the control to say whether something is legal or not? My god! This madness has got to end.

But this is what really caught my eye:

they said Terri must die. Not in a humane manner, but by starvation.
I really had no idea that this was about letting termanally ill patients die with dignity, but if it is, I'm all about it. Don't let Terry die of starvation! Let her die humanely! Give her some pills or something less painful! (If a PVS patient has any feelings to begin with).

Ah, but the madness is just beginning. You see, this is just the first step that the evil cabal of Activist Judges are taking in their persuit to purify the American race. Like Hitler before them, these Judges are out to eliminate the impure elements of our society.
Now that the courts have ruled that a disabled person--Terri Schiavo--must die, who is the next disabled category to go? Those with Alzheimer's? Those with incurable cancer? Those who are paraplegic
Well, where else should these judges start? I doubt that killing a bunch of Mexicans, Jews or Chinese people would be received with as much fanfare and elation as killing a brain-dead woman. Every movement begins with one step.

Anyway, here's the rest of the article. And yes, they do say that they're against Euthenasia, but how can you really be for allowing someone suffering from a terminal desease to die humanely and against allowing them to humanely end their lives? We all know Right-Wing Christian Zealots are rational thinkers, so the only thing I can guess it that they truly are for assisted suicide.

Remember, Terri committed no crime. She signed no will stating her desire to be starved to death. How her injury occurred remains a mystery. She was on no ventilator. She was not brain dead. Her parents offered to take her home and care for her at no expense to anyone other than themselves.

But her husband--the man who years ago abandoned her and moved in with another woman and had two children with that woman but refused to divorce Terri--said he wanted her dead. Strange, but he said nothing about Terri wanting to die until seven years into her disability. For the past 14 years he has denied Terri any therapy. Thirty allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation were filed in court by the Florida Department of Children and Families. But the judges disregarded all that.

Instead, they said Terri must die. Not in a humane manner, but by starvation.

TAKE ACTION BELOW!

Liberals have been salivating over a case like Terri Schiavo's to use in pushing euthanasia. The promoters for activist liberal judges are poised for major gains.

How arrogant and powerful have activist judges become? Here is what Robert Schindler, Terri's father, said about the judicial system that sentenced his daughter to a slow, agonizing death by starvation: "What I think you're seeing now is a display where the judicial system is...flexing their muscles. They're showing who's in command of this country. And we're not. The public is not, and the people you elect to Congress are not. The judges are. And woe to this country with those people in power. We've lost control."

And it only took conservatives 200+ years to figure it out. Well, nobody ever accused them of being quick witted.

But these brave Christian soldiers are not about to let something like the Constitution of the United States of America stand in their way of keeping a brain-dead woman on life-support. No, the sanctity of life is too precious to allow "activist judges" to determine who can live and who can die. That's the job of HMOs.

The only body that can stop liberal activist judges from controlling this country is the U.S. Senate. In a few days the Senate will vote on ending the liberals' filibuster of conservative judges who see their sole responsibility to be that of interpreting the Constitution. What the liberals want are activist judges who will create laws they cannot get passed through Congress. The Constitution requires a simple majority of 51 votes. The liberals want to require 60 votes to end their filibuster.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

This will be the most important vote taken in this session of Congress. Tell your two U.S. Senators to vote to change the rule to a simple majority as the Constitution requires. If the Senate fails to do that, then a minority of 40 Senators and their cohorts on the bench can, and will, force their agenda on every American.

For those who want to take action, you can find a link to e-mail your senators here.

This was the letter that I wrote:

There will soon be a vote in the Senate to end filibustering of judicial nominees. I expect you to vote to end a filibuster of a judicial nominee by a simple majority of votes. Afterwords- I expect you to take the constitution, light it on fire, and annoint yourselves as supreme dictators of the land! This is a one party state- it's high time we started acting like it!

It is time for liberal activist judges to stop usurping the power given to the Congress and the Executive branch from God Almighty. God did not give these judges the right to "judge" right from wrong, let alone determine what is "legal". What's next- creating a balance of power in this government? How then would us good Christians force the rest of our nation to accept Jesus as their one true savior?

I look forward to hearing from you on this very important matter. And thank the lord that we have good Christians like you in congress ready to stand up "for the voiceless and powerless" like all of those huge Credit Card Companies you serve, or the Enrons whom you allow to to "free" the little people of all of their burdonsom money.

Signed,

Christion Idiot

Krugman: The Enemy Within

Paul Krugman has been pointing to the rise of the revolutionary Right since Bush was handed power by the Supreme Court. In his column today he takes a look at the Shiavo case and examines the threat that the Theo-Cons pose to our Democracy.

Democratic societies have a hard time dealing with extremists in their midst. The desire to show respect for other people's beliefs all too easily turns into denial: nobody wants to talk about the threat posed by those whose beliefs include contempt for democracy itself.

We can see this failing clearly in other countries. In the Netherlands, for example, a culture of tolerance led the nation to ignore the growing influence of Islamic extremists until they turned murderous.

But it's also true of the United States, where dangerous extremists belong to the majority religion and the majority ethnic group, and wield great political influence.

...

One thing that's going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose. Randall Terry, a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents, hasn't killed anyone, but one of his former close associates in the anti-abortion movement is serving time for murdering a doctor. George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case, needs armed bodyguards.

Another thing that's going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right.
The rise of the ChristoFascists in this country should be seen as a direct threat to our liberal Democracy. If these people have their way more juries will be sentencing people to death based off of Biblical readings in the near future. And since this is clearly against the very nature of our government, the ChristoFascists will be attempting to place judges on the bench who have a blatant disregard for our nation's laws.
But the big step by extremists will be an attempt to eliminate the filibuster, so that the courts can be packed with judges less committed to upholding the law than Mr. Greer.

We can't count on restraint from people like Mr. DeLay, who believes that he's on a mission to bring a "biblical worldview" to American politics, and that God brought him a brain-damaged patient to help him with that mission.

What we need - and we aren't seeing - is a firm stand by moderates against religious extremism. Some people ask, with justification, Where are the Democrats? But an even better question is, Where are the doctors fiercely defending their professional integrity? I think the American Medical Association disapproves of politicians who second-guess medical diagnoses based on video images - but the association's statement on the Schiavo case is so timid that it's hard to be sure.

The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister, and everyone realizes that Ariel Sharon is at risk.

America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.
The simple fact that Sharon is now counted as moderate, and is targeted by the Religous Right of Israel, says a lot about how far that nation has moved to the right. Anyone who truly believes in and has love for freedom and democracy should be scared. The TheoFascists are on the march worldwide, and they threaten our values and our nation from both at home and abroad.

Friday, March 25, 2005

NY Times Takes A Look At The Real Estate Bubble

The New York times has an interesting series today on the replacement of the dot-com bubble with a real estate bubble.

eal estate-crazed Americans have started behaving in ways that eerily recall the stock market obsession of the late 1990's.

In Naples, Fla., some houses have been bought twice in a single day, an early-21st-century version of day trading. Buying stocks on margin has morphed into buying homes with no money down. The over-the-top parties of Internet start-ups have been replaced by flashy gatherings where developers pitch condos to eager buyers.

Five years ago, the cable channel CNBC sometimes seemed like a backdrop to daily American life. Its cheery analysis of the stock market played in offices, in barbershops, even in some bars. Today, "Dude Room," "Toolbelt Diva" and other home-improvement shows are the addictive fare that CNBC's exuberant stock shows once were.

"It just seems like everyone is doing it," Laurie Romano, a 26-year-old self-described real estate investor, said with a giggle as she explained why she was attending an open house this month for the Nexus, a 56-unit building going up in Brooklyn's chic Dumbo neighborhood. She and her fiancé, a dentist, had already put down a deposit on a Manhattan condo earlier in the week and had come to look at another at the Nexus.

Nobody can know whether the housing boom of the last decade will end as the dot-com frenzy did. But the parallels are raising alarms among many economists, even those who acknowledge that there are important differences between homes and stocks that significantly reduce the chances of another meltdown. For one thing, houses are not just paper wealth: you can live in them.

Still, perhaps the most troubling similarity, some analysts say, is the claim that the rules have somehow changed. In an echo of the blasé attitude that "new economy" investors took toward unprofitable companies, the growing ranks of real estate investors are buying houses they never expect to be able to rent at a profit. Instead, they think the prices of houses will just keep rising.

Indeed, the government reported yesterday that sales of new homes jumped sharply in February, in the biggest monthly increase in four years. A strong economy and an improving job market contributed to the gain. But many buyers were also trying to beat rising mortgage rates, which could eventually cool the market.
What happens if the dollar continues to fall, or if interest rates skyrocket for some other reason? I think we are in for a rude awakening.

*This is something Krugman has been talking about since 2002.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Reading My Mind: How to Turn Your Red State Blue

My man Outlandish Josh Koenig sent me
the following link today. If you want to know what schemes and conspiracies Minister Al-X has brewing (other than the usual world domination) give a look at the section Taking on creditors.

So what would a newly evangelical kind of progressive movement look like in 2005 and beyond?

Here’s an idea. One thing that nearly all Americans share is debt. Building a movement around credit reform—through the formation of local “debt clubs” that would be part of a national campaign, for example—would be one way for progressives to reach out to non-believers.

Almost one in seven households have declared bankruptcy. Many middle class families that took out second mortgages during the ’90s refi craze are now skating on thin ice. The average American family saw its credit card debt rise 53 percent during the ’90s. Credit card companies have dramatically raised late fees—revenue from which increased fourfold between 1996 and 2001—while reducing minimum payments.

The result is that people stay in debt longer and pay more. Using an industry standard 2 percent minimum payment, a $5,000 balance will now take 32 years to pay off, at an interest cost of almost $8,000. In the last decade, more than 14,000 payday lending establishments have sprung up across the country wherever there are working and poor people living paycheck to paycheck (including military bases). Their short-term, high-interest loans, which are easily rolled over, can approach annual rates of 450 percent.

Young people today are beginning their adult lives already buried in debt: The average college student now graduates with $18,900 in student loans, the bulk of it non-subsidized debt at commercial interest rates. The interest costs of these loans are likely to increase as Republicans seek to cut federally subsidized Stafford loans and Pell grants.
Yes I am an evangelical progressive, and yes I am going to be preaching credit and debt issues until we get some meaningful debt reform enacted, or until I'm assassinated by MBNA's thug brigade.

I've also been thinking of renaming myself Reverend Wedge- but I think it would lead to too many wedgie jokes...

NO LINK between lower taxes and higher growth

Over at Kos, Jerome a Paris has an article which shows, conclusively, that there is no link whatsoever between lower taxes and higher growth rates.



Republicans, when contacted for a comment, held their collective hands over their ears and chanted "free market good, Bush good, everything is good and right in the world, liberals are Satan" and other irrational gibirish.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Anthony Zinni, Chuck Pennachio, and the 2006 PA Senate Race

Just put up a post over at Young Philly Poltics about the PA race...

Here's a part:

I personally could care less what any of these polls say. PA is going to be hotly contested and anyone out there who found comfort in the polls where Casey was shown to be way ahead is fooling themselves. Underestimating Santorum and the Republicans is suicide.

That's why I really can't believe that the PA Dems are trying to anoint Bob Casey Jr. as the challenger to Santorum.

...

I can't think of a worse strategy than the one the Dems are currently employing in Pennsylvania. Hopefully the party, and maybe more importantly the party's financial backers, will look at these numbers, realize that their course of action is in err and make the necessary changes to insure a Dem victory in '06. Maybe a lightbulb will go off in Rendell's head and he'll realize "hey- bringing in outside candidates like Chuck Pennachio, and reaching out to potential candidates like Anthony Zinni would be great strategic moves for Democrats in the '06 races." More than likely they'll be blinded by their own confidence and their personal/political/business ties to each other. Which is why it's up to us in the activist and blogger world to make sure that we make this primary competitive- victory depends upon it.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Get Sick, Go Broke

This site has stories from people who have gone through bankruptcy due to Medical Bills. If you want to know the real effects that this bankruptcy law is going to have, give it a read. These damned deadbeats, with all their lavish spending on medications and emergency treatments! When will they learn that only the strong survive in life?
Get Sick, Go Broke