April 2012

No budget, no pay

Should Congress's pay be based on passing a budget?

The most basic responsibility Congress has is deciding how much money the government takes in and how much it spends. But Congress has passed its spending bills on-time only four times since 1952. In the last 14 years, annual spending bills have been submitted an average of four months late.  If Congress can't make spending and budget decisions on time, they shouldn't get paid on time either.

Americans elect

New online nominating process

If you are like me, you have already become tired of the rhetoric of the left and the right leading up to this November’s Presidential Election.  It seems that both the Democrats and the Republicans have lost touch with mainstream America.  With the current crop of politicians, we are forced to choose between big business or big government.  Yet, it seems that somewhere in the middle is what we should be working on.  Maybe it’s time for America to look outside the two mainstream parties for our country’s leadership.

Depressing Economic Recovery a GOP Tactic for 2012 Elections

Ideology is assuredly a player, but polls show Republicans are more concerned with beating Obama than with the economy and unemployment.

In another round of bad news for the Republicans (and good news for everybody else), our economic recovery hit another landmark this month. For the 24th week in a row, new jobless claims, those people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time, has stayed below 400,000. In fact, unemployment claims are the lowest that they have been since April 19th 2008, almost four years ago and just after the economic crash that kicked off the recession in the first place. The Republican narrative, in which Obama is a “failed president” and his policies have hurt our economic recovery, is holding less water as the President’s able to pass more of his policies and they seem to be having a greater impact.

The stock market is healthy, having closed over 13,000 for weeks now, and investors are seeing a return once again on their investments (Case in point: Apple pays dividends for the fist time in 17 years.) Manufacturing is thriving and federal incentives to return outsourced jobs to the U.S. are looking promising.  Unemployment is at 8.3%, down from 9.5% this time last year, and a number of industries in the country are thriving. All of this is happening despite a Eurozone on life support, record low public faith in our congress, and a summer-time downgrade of the U.S. credit rating (both the result of a summer-time attempt by the Republican Party to choke out the democratic process).

Fun Things Rick Santorum Says

And this is the guy Missouri Republicans want for president?

This long circus of primaries and candidate jokes is getting really tiresome, and we don’t have a single conservative candidate who is in touch with what it really means to be an average American today (but what else is new?). Rick Santorum, however, is an especially annoying face that won’t go away; in fact, he won the primary in my state, which is another bit of depressing information. I have to wonder what my fellow Missourians are going by when they voted for Santorum. Was it, perhaps, one of the following fun quotes by the Rickster?

Unzip the Mitt

What will we get when the real Mitt emerges?

A few days ago, Anne Romney, Mitt’s wife, said that “we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out…” so we can learn that he’s really not a boring stiff.  I worry – what is the real Mitt like?  What will we find beneath the Romney suit and tie?  Here are a couple of possibilities.

House GOP Passes "Pink Slime" Budget

Economist Paul Krugman calls the House budget "fraudulent" and "pink slime", a nod to that other heinous product.

The poster-boy for soft-serve conservative economics, Republican congressman Paul Ryan, has issued up another fatty budget proposal that was summarily passed by the Republican controlled House on Friday. The budget, which slashes benefits for the poor and unemployed, while protecting some of the greatest economic injustices in our current tax code benefiting the wealthy, is all political. It’s a bit of banner-waving for the “limited government” parrots in the GOP, and is likely to back-walk what limited economic progress we’ve made since the crash of 2008. In any case, it will never be passed in the Senate, and so we continue the dance of “who can lead worse”.

The new Ryan budget, in the words of economist and writer Paul Krugman, are “fraudulent” and “pink slime” (though Krugman admits that pink slime has some nutritional value while Ryan’s budget does not). The (now) House budget proposal depends on two very important truths, both of which are more fantasy than reality.

1)    That by closing tax loopholes the government can save trillions of dollars in lost revenue. Those tax loopholes, which supposedly exist in multitudes within our Gordian Knot of present tax codes, will need to generate $700 billion a year in order for the House budget to hold water. That’s a lot of loopholes. Unfortunately, Ryan’s budget doesn’t specifically name a single one. There are two reasons for this. Most of the largest tax loopholes (where the most federal revenue stands to be saved) are within the corporate tax code, a bit of corporate welfare that the budget wants to actually protect. The second is that if he started naming some actual loopholes, he’d have to provide all of them, and there aren’t enough to generate an extra $700 billion a year. Lack of specificity is a political lubricant, and this is what makes his budget “fraudulent”.

More Homework Supposedly Equals Better “School Results”

But what ARE school results?

I am a big homework hater. I did hours a night growing up, as my fellow straight-A overachiever students did. We all played the game and did a bunch of boring busywork and memorized a bunch of things just to forget them later (after the test, of course!) because our teachers told us to, not because we wanted to learn anything. No, if that happened, we were often discouraged, since it wasn’t on the test, or we didn’t have enough time to cover that, etc.

Liberal hate

Please, give it a rest!

I discussed some of these questions several weeks ago, but am revisiting it because the left just keeps on putting their foot in their mouths. On the morning after former Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent heart transplant, television and radio news shows displayed an interesting end-run maneuver. I made it a point to watch several of these news programs on Saturday and Sunday, in order to gauge the slant the commentators would take.

What’s Left to Buy?

After eliminating all evil, we’re pretty much left with dandelions. In our own yards.

A little while ago I wrote about how we are boycotting a few stores—such as Auto Zone and Chik Fil A, one of my absolute favorite restaurants—because they contribute both money and manpower to anti-gay marriage campaigns. I have boycotted Curves due to their support of anti-abortion campaigns, Taco Bell for their refusal to pay tomato pickers fairly (this has since been resolved—as of the last I heard), and chocolate companies for their use of slave labor in harvesting their chocolate.

When we do this, I think it’s important—one of the most important things we do. Boycotting has been shown to be one of the best forms of activism, especially when it results in a net profit loss to businesses. If they don’t give a damn about what you say or think, they’ll sure give one when they start losing your money!