Tag Archives: economics


9 Nov


At President Obama’s first press conference he stated a willingness to consider any idea which fairly addresses the nation’s fiscal needs. However, he clearly and unequivocally asserted that taxes on earnings above $250,000 must be increased. He went further asking congress to immediately extend tax cuts on earnings below $250,000 rather than waiting for negotiations on deficit reduction and balancing the budget plays out,stressing the need for stability and certainty for small business owners.

In effect, the president seeks to stabilize small businesses and encourage their creation and expansion, and continue tax policies which economists agree will stimulate middle class spending, and which will help those small businesses grow. This is basic and sound fiscal policy upon which any honest politician, of either party, could easily agree. The only reason Boehner might not agree is to use the middle class and small businesses as a political tool to continue to shelter wealthy supporters and their corporate interests, at the expense of average Americans.

Republicans also make no secret of their intention to eliminate, starve into extinction, or privatize the social safety net: social security,medicare,medicaid,food stamps,WIC,unemployment compensation etc.

Will Rep. Boehner insist on continuing tax breaks for Big Oil while  delaying the Social Security retirement age for a woman who stands on her aching feet all day at a cash register, or a mechanic whose arthritic hands can no longer twist a wrench without pain, or a security officer who must chase a teen robber up and over a fence? Or will he agree instead to lift the cap on FICA taxes,increasing contributions from higher income earners? Such choices matter.

Will Rep. Boehner insist the Ryan Budget must be accepted in whole or in part before the House is willing to even consider the President’s Jobs Bill? Will veterans continue to wait for House Republicans to approve a veterans’ jobs program included in the president’s bill? Will farmers wait for House Republicans to pass the Agriculture Bill unless it contains Ryan’s proposed cuts of $1.6 billion dollars a year (four times the amount spread over five years in the bi-partisan bill passed by the Senate) to food stamps, WIC (women,infants and children),and meals on wheels for seniors and the disabled? Why must we wait?

What can we do to put a stop to such nonsense? ASK our Republican representatives and senators to answer questions regarding their positions on specific cuts. TELL our Democratic representatives and senators that we expect them to stand strong and speak out on our behalf. Remind both that they will soon be up for re-election and that we will not forget what they do.

The news pundits,once again,focused on whether a deal can be reached with Boehner since Obama is willing to compromise, discussing the need for Democrats to give a little. Chris Mathews even suggested the president should appoint Mitt Romney Secretary of Business, chuckling that he would not do so, but should do something like this…throw Boehner a bone? No,such talk is throwing over an election, throwing over the middle class. The first person Andrea Mitchell interviewed for reaction to Obama’s press conference today was  House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (D-SC) who concurred that when negotiating everything must be on the table. Feeling a bit nervous, I listened  to him then suggest that even social security would have to be reworked because we want  it and programs such as medicare and medicaid to be there in the years ahead. Okay, I thought, that is a no-brainer. But then he suggested one likely change is delaying the age at which one may receive benefits. There are alternatives methods to reducing program costs which don’t deprive people of, or delaying access to, benefits they have a right to rely on, and which they desperately need to survive with dignity.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps are not frills. They are not “stuff.” These programs are life support. We are not a poor nation;we are a very rich nation. Budgets define our priorities in this country; and, not our wealth. We can reduce the deficit and balance our budget over time. Either party is capable of doing so. The real issue is not can we do so; but how we do so. Hopefully, we do so while maintaining life support for the aged, the disabled, the hungry, the unemployed, the uneducated, and even the planet itself. We count on our president and our Democratic senators and congressmen to remember this, and to fight for us. John Boehner will be fighting for his political life, and the survival of his party; but, unless I miss my guess,not for us.

Central Ohio Contact List ( Rep.Joyce Beatty (D-OH) info not yet available):


Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)


(202)225-0704 Fax

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)

3000 Corporate Exchange Drive,Suite 310

Columbus, Ohio 43231

(614) 523-2555.

(614)818-0887 Fax


Rep. Steve Stivers

3790 Municipal Way
Hilliard, OH 43026
(614) 771-4968
(614) 771-3990 Fax

Joyce Beatty for Congress

233 S High St Ste #300

Columbus, OH 43215




Senator Rob Portman

37 West Broad Street,Room 300

Columbus, OH 43215


Toll-Free: 1-800-205-6446


Sen. Sherrod Brown

(614) 469-2083


Toll Free : 1-888-896-6446





A MORE PERFECT UNION, By Louise Annarino,October 29,2012

29 Oct

A MORE PERFECT UNION,By Louise Annarino, October 29,2012


One question on two fronts: “Where are we now in the election?” and “Where are we as a move forward as a nation?” President Obama’s interview this morning on “Morning Joe” answered both questions.


First we are in the final days of Obama’s final race for elected office. From his first campaign when he sat around a his kitchen table with four people creating a flyer to be copied at KINKO to the current campaign where hundreds of thousands of supporters in every state sit around kitchen tables to phone bank, cut turf for door-to-door canvasses, plan events, organize volunteers, order and distribute buttons/bumper stickers/yard signs, and schedule GOTV activities the energy and momentum has grown with the size of the crowds who attend his rallies. President Obama has re-energized interest in campaigns, registered huge numbers of new voters,and turned our record numbers of voters by connecting with Americans in a way we had not seen before in our lifetimes. He has connected and energized both those who respect and love him, and those who disdain and hate him. But, most importantly, he has taught us what a republic requires of its citizens.


There is a bittersweet feel to these last days of the Obama campaign. It is as if we are holding our breath while running one hundred miles per hour. The final sprint may not look pretty, but all that matters now is getting over the finish line first. Those who vote early are free to help the last runners make it over the line. While some of the drama is lost, the race is thus won. We can do this! We will do this working together.


Second, President Obama offered his description of where we are now as a nation when he stated the next president will answer two questions: “How big a government do we want? How will we pay for it?”


If we want  a smarter but more affordable and smaller government, President Obama is the candidate of choice. As an example,he explained that the U.S. spends 17% of budget on health care, while other industrialized nations spend only 11% (and have better record on outcomes). That 6% is our deficit. (Obamacare has already reduced the percentage of annual increases in health insurance premiums, and when it becomes fully operational and more competitive in 2014, cost is expected to drop even lower).


The Obama strategy of cutting what does not work and redirecting dollars to programs which are more efficient and save even more dollars illustrates how cuts can be done in a balanced and effective manner while reducing budget expenses. He reiterated that the money he saved (not stole as Mr. Romeny claims) within medicare was then spent within medicare to increase free preventive care which reduces costs, and closed the donut hole so medicare recipients can get their meds, further reducing costs.


He also suggested in the interview that we could become more efficient and cost-effective by creating a Secretary of Business, a one-stop shop replacing nine current divisions which create a headache for businesses. The only thing blocking such streamlining, he suggested, is Congress protecting its jurisdiction over various pieces of government. He reminded Joe Scarborough that he has created far fewer regulations than George Bush and is conducting an on-going review of current regulations to eliminate or redesign those which simply do not work.


President Obama believes his mandate for the next four years is to reduce the deficit. He also understands this cannot be done in an unbalanced manner which fails to consider how to make government more effective while maintaining necessary services. His focus is to “make things work” better and at reduced cost. When asked why he thinks he could get Congress to work with him when he has been blocked (by Republicans) the last four years he said he must “first clear away ideology by reducing the deficit”. Once that is accomplished he expects Congress to work on issues that have historically not been ideological: infrastructure – we have a lot of deferred maintenance of roads and bridges, immigration – both because neither party can ignore the fastest growing demographic AND because it is the “right thing to do.” He then asked Joe, “When did roads and bridges become ideological?”


The President has learned a lot over the past four years. despite obstruction, he has made government smaller, more efficient, work smarter and reduced costs. Every year things cost more. It is the rate of increase we must look at. The rate of increase has been subdued by President Obama. Employment has grown every year; job less rates have slowed. I cannot think of another time in history when an American president who has accomplished so much against such odds would not be re-elected by large margins. But, we have never had an African-American president before, either.


An article in yesterday’s “Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch” discussed a study which disclosed racism has increased during the Obama administration. I would reframe the findings differently. White Americans are recovering racists who must fight their way through racial stereotypes, acceptance of preference as a natural right, and subliminal need to feel superior to someone, indeed anyone, in our self-proclaimed “classless society”. Most of us do keep up the good fight against our inherent racism and prejudice. We know it is wrong, have learned to acknowledge that fact, and rejoice that we,too, have “overcome” it. But, it raises its ugly head most when we experience “congruence”.


Congruence is the coming together of two “things”.It is a powerful force. When white people see Black people as congruent it stirs up the deep need to feel superior. We justify that feeling by resorting to old stereotypes and acclaimed prejudices. It seems to me we are not increasingly racist; but, increasingly afraid of a loss of preference. When we see that an African-American man and woman can be president and first-lady, our preference as superior beings to an imagined inferior is lost. That is why we are seeing more racism. That is what we must fight; not one another, and certainly not Pressident Obama nor First-Lady Michelle Obama.


This is what we see within the Obama campaign. People of all races, ethnicities, ages,sexual orientation forcefully unconcerned about who may be superior or inferior but simply working together as equals. That is the where we are in this campaign. That is where we are in America today. That is how we are moving forward. President Obama has already made America a more perfect union (established more congruence). That is why we see more open displays of racism today; not because we are failing as a nation, but because we are succeeding. Imagine the power of congruence if republicans would see democrats,and our president, as equals instead of inferiors and worked together moving forward. That is what a second Obama term could look like. Thank you President Obama! We will move forward with you.



OBAMA BRAVERY VS. ROMNEY BRAVADO,By Louise Annarino, October 21, 2012

21 Oct

OBAMA BRAVERY VS. ROMNEY BRAVADO , By Louise Annarino, October 21, 2012


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines bravery as courage:

: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty


The Merriam-webster Dictionary defines bravado as:

1.a : blustering swaggering conduct,

b : a pretense of bravery

2.  : the quality or state of being foolhardy

We need a president who is brave; not one who displays mere bravado.

Bravery is:

  • making hard choices every day to do the right thing, knowing every move you make will be blocked; and you, demonized.
  • bringing Bin Laden to justice, despite the risks of the unknown.
  • encouraging emerging democracies to pursue self-rule, and allowing them to do so without self-interest trumping fairness and respect; knowing that people who feel strong need not prove they are not weak.
  • speaking softly while “carrying a big stick” or a small drone.
  • disrupting terrorists hives, even when you know a few bees will always escape, and doing it day-after-day; while helping build new and peaceful structures for those desirous of peaceful conflict resolution.
  • following a foreign policy which understands that conflict can be used to create better understanding only if a “win-win” methodology is in place.
  • accepting responsibility as leader for known and unknown, authorized and unauthorized acts of subordinates.
  • refusal to kneel to those who are your equals, or think themselves your betters; and willingness to kneel with those who are oppressed.
  • sharing your affection, your anger, your shortcomings, your strengths, your thoughts, your feelings, your achievements and your failures transparently.
  • not allowing anyone else to define who you are.
  • pledging to do whatever it takes, regardless of personal and political loss to create a more perfect union,keep America safe and at peace, save America’s middle class, and reinvigorate its economy.

Bravado is:

  • making the easy choice, or no choice, or letting others choose for you; seeking  approval rather than a consistent and strong character.
  • kicking the can down the Palestinian-Israeli road because you believe Mid-East peace is a hopeless quest.
  • encouraging any foreign leader or government which allow corporations and business enterprises abroad to underpay workers, to avoid fair work-place practices and safety standards, and to degrade the environment,despite the negative impact of off-shoring American jobs and  hurting America’s balance of trade.
  • increasing military spending for out-dated arms and munitions to private contractors while cutting spending on military personnel, veterans health care and benefits, and blocking a veterans jobs bill.
  • Threatening to invade countries with whom you disagree, widening the gap to peace and increasing the likelihood of war your own children will not fight.
  • pledging a “winner takes all” foreign policy.
  • disavowing responsibility for your current and former positions, policies, legislation, and decisions; instead blaming others whom you deem as irresponsible victims (at least 47% of our population) for the shortcomings of your own budget proposals.
  • acting as though no one is your equal, and you are more entitled than others to preference, wealth accumulation, and inside deals.
  • refusing to disclose, share, inform or reveal your shortcomings, your thoughts, your feelings, your failures, your tax returns, your financial interests, your off-shore accounts.
  • allowing Teapublicans, right-wing Republicans, moderate Republicans, FOX News, Roger Ailes, Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Focus on the Family, Jerome Corsi and his current audience to define you. The only person whom  you do not allow to define you is YOU.
  • pledging to Grover Norquist you will never raise taxes, knowing you can kick that can down the road to the states (ala Bush); while refusing to provide details as you plan to raise fees, cut deductions,close loopholes etc. once the election is over and the cameras are dimmed.

When I pulled up my kiddie-rocker to sit with my Dad and watch the Saturday Night Fights, sponsored by  “a little dab will do ya” Brylcream, we would each pick a boxer to cheer for. Television was in black and white back then, limiting one’s choice to the guy in the black trunks or the guy in the white trunks. We had a grand old time. There was always next week to pick the winner. This election is just as clearly defined as the guys in Black and white, but our choice is NOW. It is a clear choice between a brave man of courage, or a dissembling man of bravado.

I choose bravery. I choose Barack Obama.

DEFICIT LIVES,By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

14 Oct

DEFICIT LIVES, By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

The effort to make Americans fear deficit-spending could be better used discussing what we should do to stop deficit-living. Core areas of our cities, small towns and rural areas are struggling to survive. Poverty has dug a hole, a social and personal deficit, in which large groups of our populace reside. The stimulus has stopped the slide into the hole for most, offered a hand up and out for many, but too many see no way out.

How did we get here, with holes so deeply torn in our social fabric that the middle class has fallen through those holes along with the impoverished? When we did we stop building and strengthening America so all of us could keep the American Dream alive? Instead we allowed charlatans in the think-tanks, lobbyist firms, and the media to paper over the holes, and keep us entertained so we would not notice that the pretty prints they used were mere paper. It started out slowly, but with fall after fall widening the holes entire sections of the fabric split wide open, until the entire fabric was in danger of slipping out of our hands. President Obama took a firm grip, and sewed stimulus patches made of strong material over the holes, all the while warning us that the cloth was worn and need to be replaced; that the holes had so weakened the fabric that major change was needed,and that the fabric could otherwise tear again. But those who met secretly during his inauguration to plot his own down-fall through those holes, pledged to keep them open.

Republicans blocked President Obama’s efforts to select and install a new fabric to support our lives. Many confuse this fabric with the ‘safety net’ strung below it; but, it is not just the safety net which is in danger from Republican policies and the Romney-Ryan Budget, it is the entire fabric strung above the net. Yes, the safety net is struggling; but, not because it was not well-designed, nor well-built, but because it is overloaded by those who fell through holes in our social fabric. It was never intended to hold so many of us. The one way we can relieve stress on our safety net is to replace the social fabric and pull as many Americans off the safety net and back up into the middle class as we possibly can. This is what President Obama intends to do, what he has been doing, and what he will continue to do if re-elected. We must cast our vote to re-elect him president, and cast our vote to elect Democrats to the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and to state offices who support his vision and will work with him to get the job done. What we do not need are those who insist we cannot replace nor repair the whole cloth; but, must simply remove people from the safety net through privatization of medicare, social security etc.

The National Poverty Center reports that the poverty rate was  22.4 percent, or 39.5 individuals during the 1950’s. “These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

I still recall the photos of starving children, eyes wide with uncertainty, on the porches of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta which stirred President Lyndon Johnson to declare a War on Poverty in the 1960s, which led to the decline of poverty. President Ronald Reagan’s stance in the 1980’s was that we had lost the War on Poverty;and, that social safety net benefits did not justify its cost. We soon saw poverty levels increase.This Reaganomics view of poverty prevails today. But a new paper from Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan says it’s missing everything. “We may not have won the war on poverty, but we are certainly winning,” they write. When they looked at poorer families’ consumption rather than income, accounted for changes in the tax code that benefit the poor, and included “noncash benefits” such as food stamps and government-provided medical care, they found poverty fell 12.5 percentage points between 1972 and 2010.” In effect, they are explaining that the safety net does work.

The problem is NOT the safety net but growing income inequality in our social fabrichttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-12/record-u-dot-s-dot-poverty-rate-holds-as-inequality-grows During the last decade the highest quintile of earners saw their real income rise 1.6% and the top 5% saw their incomes rise 4.9%, while the middle class saw their incomes decline 1.9%. The very lowest incomes, those in the safety net, saw their incomes stay the same. None of this data means the income of those in the safety net is adequate. Nevertheless, the extremely poor (those with less than 1/2 of official poverty level earnings), remained at 6.6% of the population. The middle class has not fallen that low because President Obama’s policies stopped the fall. As more people returned to work in a steady rise over the past nearly 4 years, the fabric of America grows stronger as well.

More is yet to be done, as President Obama reminds us. We cannot reduce the deficit and continue Bush tax breaks for top earners. In fact we must increase their income tax rate,including an increase on capital gains. The estate tax must not be eliminated but increased for those at the highest earning bracket, who are the only persons currently required to pay estate tax, it having been eliminated for lower income earners decades ago. And we must end the round of ceaseless war which benefits military contractors, and corrupt government officials at home and abroad. President Obama, as Vice-President Biden affirmed in his recent debate with Congressman Paul Ryan insists that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 2014. He suggests that we instead, rebuild America’s education and transportation systems, repair and further develop American infrastructure, invest in small business development and manufacturing, research and develop green and innovative technologies, reduce and redesign our military capabilities for more cost effective security at home and abroad.

We can do all this and reduce the economic deficit. But, we must also end our willingness to overlook poverty, especially for those most greatly affected by it, our women and children.We cannot grow our economy when our children are not given the tools they need to compete and succeed. The National Poverty Center reports: “The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. (See the U.S. census chart below)

“There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010
Category Number (in thousands) Percent
All children under 18 16, 401 22.0
White only, non-Hispanic 5,002 12.4
Black 4,817 38.2
Hispanic 6,110 35.0
Asian 547 13.6

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

Those like Paul Ryan who argue we must reduce the deficit by reducing the safety net, decreasing income and benefits, weaken labor unions, reduce the size of government and lay-off government workers, privatizing government responsibilities as means to reduce government costs are “whistling Dixie” in more ways than one. Paul Ryan voted for unfunded Medicare Part D, which President Obama, unlike President Bush, has now included in his budget and improved through Obamacare by closing the donut hole. Including this expense within the Obama budget is really a disclosure of previously hidden Bush budget expenses. This is also true for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which were passed as emergency measures, not budget items; included by President Obama in his budget and added to official budget deficit figures, but not done so by President Bush.

One must also note that Bush war-funding was historically unprecedented. To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, the US raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. President Bush did nothing to control the burgeoning deficits of war. Republicans and Democrats, unwilling to leave troops in the field without funding, settled with uncompromising Republican leadership and allowed this strategic undercounting of the deficit to go unabated and continued to vote for emergency war-funding, outside the regular budget bills. The willingness to kick the can down the road has become a hallmark of Republicans as they block every Democratic bill to increase jobs, reduce deficit, and stimulate the economy during the Obama administration. They are not ashamed , but proud of this tactic in their strategy to make  President Obama a one-term president. In the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking with his well-heeled donors in May he takes this tactic a step further,when he said the Palestinians were not interested in peace, the chances of a peace agreement was remote and the whole issue should be kicked down the field. Kicking problems down the field seems to have become an accepted Republican strategy. The Bush tax cuts added some $2.8 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congressman Paul Ryan voted for those cuts. To his credit, Ryan also backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout, most of which has been paid back, and the auto bailout.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/. I mention this because it is disingenuous and hypocritical to blame the deficit on President Obama and democrats in Congress.

I first noticed this Republican disregard for current reality and for balanced budgets during 6 months of debate over Medicare reform in early 2003. I had falsely believed that Republicans were fiscally more conservative than Democrats. Clearly,I was wrong. Reagan, I was aware, had little to no regard for fiscal responsibility, but he had once been a Democrat after all !

Like many others, I saw the need for prescription coverage for seniors and hoped new legislation would allow the government to negotiate for lower costs and formulary control similar to V.A. cost-control efforts. Big Pharma lobbyists blocked, and continue to block such an effort. The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m., just minutes before it was scheduled to close, the clock was stopped for 3 hours with the bill losing, 219-215 while Republicans on the floor, and including President Bush by phone, strong-armed congressman to change their vote. “Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from ‘nay’ to ‘yea.’ After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that he was offered ‘substantial and aggressive campaign support’ which he had assumed included financial support.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/.

At about 5:50 a.m. the bill passed the House 220-215. The bill itself was finally passed in the Senate 54-44 on November 25, 2003, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 8. Now, Romney and Ryan threaten to eliminate Obamacare and its improvements of medicare, including Part D; plan to privatize medicare and social security. If these programs are more costly than they need be it is because of Republican refusal to rein in excess costs businesses extract from the program.

Medicare Part D did provide prescription coverage but did not reduce costs as much as it could have because of what it failed to include: it prohibits the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies, and it prevents the government from establishing a formulary. It did, however, provide a subsidy for large employers to discourage them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers (a key AARP goal). Obamacare now provides subsidies to small businesses which makes their overall provision of health care insurance affordable. Efforts to include negotiating costs for drugs under Obamacare was blocked by Republicans.

Clearly, it is not Obama’s efforts to reduce medical and insurance costs which makes these medial social fabric programs a drain on government coffers, but the effort of Republicans to protect and expand financial gain of private service providers. President Obama and Congressional Democrats do not seek unfair advantage over private providers; but seek to stop unfair advantage, fraud and abuse by such providers. Obamacare is already predicted to save medicare $716 billion in such provider and insurance company abuses. That money is being channeled to provide more preventive, cost-free health care services for medicare users. This is how we create a stronger social fabric for the middle class. Improving and increasing medicaid coverage is another part of strengthening American fabric.

During an economic downturn, individuals lose jobs, incomes drop, state revenues decline, and more individuals qualify and enroll in Medicaid which increases program spending. However,data indicate that declines in state revenues were a much more significant factor for state budget gaps than increases in Medicaid spending. “Total state revenues dropped by 30% in FY 2009 compared to total Medicaid spending increases of about 7.6% in that year,” http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/7580-08.pdf.

Today, 50 states plan or are implementing a new policy to control medicaid costs in multiple areas. State revenues have shown positive growth fro the last 7 quarters, as the unemployment rate continues to drop (now 7.8%) and the GNP continues to improve. States must continue to make delivery of service changes designed to improve care and control costs, thanks to Obamacare. Its “maintenance of eligibility” requirements generally prohibit states from restricting Medicaid eligibility or tightening enrollment procedures. Obama’s focus on wise and educated restructuring of programs for maximum efficiency and best practices in care delivery are another part of strengthening the American fabric.

But, and this is important, these improvements take time. They must however occur if the American Dream is to survive. While government works to  balance budgets, streamline and improve services, reduces fraud and waste it must never forget the impact of income inequality on those African-American, Latino and immigrant single-mothers. we must help them raise their children out of the safety net and up onto the social fabric of the middle-class. We must provide preventive health care, women’s reproductive health care, and children’s health care to everyone in America. We must be certain every child is well-fed, provided with stimulating day-care and pre-schools to ready them for a top-notch education. They need warm clothes for winter, safe after school and summer programs, neighborhoods free of crime and violence. We must not only show them a way out of poverty, but strengthen and empower them to follow the path. I am reminded of the United Negro College Fund motto “ A Mind Is a Terrible Thing  to Waste.” Our American middle-class motto must be “ A Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden would weave this motto into the fabric of America. They will not kick American children down the road, until the deficit is paid off. They will not continue and increase income inequality with tax relief to those who don’t need it. They will reduce the economic deficit AND the human deficit, by reducing income inequality.  That is how we strengthen the American fabric for all of us.

GAMING AMERICA: CASINO POLITICS,By Louise Annarino,September 26,2012

26 Sep

GAMING AMERICA:CASINO POLITICS, By Louise Annarino,September 26,2012


The economic hardships Americans are experiencing have been a long time coming. There have been numerous signs along the path to our economic bust;most of them ushered through our consciousness by snake oil salesmen with booming voices,explaining away our intuitive discomforts as a housing market boom, and investment boom, an hedge fund boom, a stock-market boom, and a commodities boom. BOOM, BOOM,BOOM! Such charlatans blew up our manufacturing base, our banks, our mortgage companies, our insurance industry, and our personal economic lives.


“Put your money down,folks!” You, too, can make millions. These salesmen, for that is what they are, started small scale selling pyramid schemes. Americans who got into the game late moved on from home-based sales of baskets, bowls and toilet-bowl cleaners to become dealers themselves,selling others the right to sell and keeping real profits at the top of the pyramid. There was something wrong with this picture but it changed so rapidly, and the booming voices were so distracting that many simply moved from one scheme to the next.


Pyramid sales schemes attracted lower income wage earners who could see no way ahead to break out of their economic class to reach all that America seemed to promise. They watched the investment class drive the cars they could not afford to buy, build McMansions they could not afford to heat and looked for a way out.


Those born into the investment class who lived on the returns from investment portfolios their parents had created for them were satisfied for awhile.They, too, looked for a way to become wealthier. They would make that wealth work for them. They became skilled in moving around investments like pieces on a chess board, increasing wealth as they won the games they joined. They bet their winnings on bigger games for larger stakes.


But, rich or poor, enough is never enough for most of us. Like children, we always want more and don’t always know what is good for us. We don’t mind hedging our bets. Low earners hedged their bets on pyramid schemes; high earners hedged their bets on hedge funds, created by the snake oil salesmen of Wall Street.


Those playing chess with American corporations as pawns saw another avenue for wealth creation. Instead of merely playing the game, they bought the board and all the pieces on it,after talking other investors into buying a potential share of the profits from the game. “Put your money down,friends!” The only risk was losing the game, but this could be ameliorated by selling off the poor-performing pieces;and, sometimes the better-performing pieces, to keep the game competitive. THe trick was to keep the game going until enough investors paid back the new owners’ costs, plus massive profits. The game itself, and the pieces on the board, had become meaningless.


Those running the game soon realized that the pieces on the chess board did not always cooperate. These game pieces had formed unions in order to make sure the game was played by the rules. But playing by the rules was getting in the way of profits for those betting on the game. No longer did the chess pieces have value other than a means of greater profit.Safety,reasonable hours,equitable pay,moderate health care coverage, and secure retirement benefits interrupted the unbridled movement of the chess pieces. “What if,” the private equity company who bought the board asked, “we could get rid of unions?” “What if we simply move the game” to a different city, county, state, and eventually country where such rules don’t apply? And take our profits offshore as well to avoid taxes?” “What if we sell off the tables,chairs,benches,game board and pieces;then,declare bankruptcy because we can no longer play the game without a board and equipment,avoid any debts we owe and pay off the investors whose money we used to make our own profits?”


We know what happened. How did we allow it? How do we find ourselves with one of the best snake oil salesman as a presidential candidate? How do we stop this from happening again?


It was when a friend with no finance or business training or experience tried to sell me an investment portfolio after becoming a part-time employee of an insurance company that I first realized how far we were into the game. As mortgages changed hands several times a year, from bank to bank, and between investment groups it occurred to me that not only had I no idea who held my mortgage;but, the company holding my mortgage had no idea of its worth. The walls raised by Glass-Steagall had been removed. Security and Exchange Commission/SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission/CFTC oversight had been limited by staff cuts meant to down-size “Big Government” and de-regulation. Snake Oil salesmen moved between both worlds, as traders and as regulators. The rules were gone, the walls were gone; and, the fox was guarding the henhouse.


President Obama did bring change to Washington. He also brought change to the snake oil salesmen who are furious that their “game is now up”. They attack Obama for the failures wrought by their own failed gamesmanship. They insist he hates capitalism and doesn’t understand how the game is played. Oh, he understands alright! He simply insists that we regulate the game; protect the game board, pieces and assets; and, assure a fair game. America is ours to protect. The game belongs to all Americans. Only Obama has America’s best interest at heart; not the snake oil salesman who wants to get back to his rigged game.


Is it mere coincidence that states are turning to casinos to generate wealth? Isn’t it all of a piece? Isn’t the game the same as that being played by the Republican party? Isn’t that what “Citizens United” is all about? Isn’t that what voter I.D. laws are all about? We won’t be fooled this election. The “Booms” we heard crash did not fall on deaf ears. We know a rigged game when we see it. We want no part of it. Vote for President Obama. Vote for those Democrats who refused to become snake oil salesmen running rigged games.

REMEMBER ROMNEYHOOD,By Louise Annarino,August 7,2012

8 Aug

REMEMBER ROMNEYHOOD, By Louise Annarino,August 7,2012


Ronald Reagan took office as 40th. president of the United States in January 1981. By the close of his term in 1989 he had slashed domestic spending, reduced aid to cities by 60%, slashed public service jobs and job training, reduced funds for pubic transit benefiting cities while retaining highway funds benefiting suburbs,halved the budget for public housing and Section 8 and sought to eliminate housing assistance to the poor causing a steep increase in homelessness,widened the gap between rich and poor,(wages for average worker declined and home ownership rate fell),deregulated the Savings and Loan industry (leading to corruption,mismanagement and collapse of S&L’s requiring $100 billion government bailout) and attempted to dismantle legal services for the poor. (see more at http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/135/reagan.html )Reagan told us as Romney,Kasich,Mandel and Ryan now tell us that big tax cuts would pay for themselves by generating higher tax revenues through greater economic growth. President George W. Bush tried Reagan’s strategy and failed, just as Reagan did. Why would we expect Romney to achieve a different result using the same strategy?


I was a supervising attorney of the Senior Citizen Unit for The Legal Aid Society of Columbus during this time. I handled a caseload of 200 open cases, 350 altogether; and supervised another attorney with an equally large caseload, two paralegals, and a secretary. Our goal was to assist clients over 55 whose income fell well below the poverty line set in the 1950’s. Our cases involved consumer fraud, public benefits,medicare and medicaid,food stamps,hospital and medical bills, wills and powers of attorney/guardianships, housing, banking, land-lord tenant issues, mental health and a multitude of other legal issues. One cut made by President Reagan resulted in the deaths of three of my clients, and extreme suffering for hundreds of others.


President Reagan talked code to bigots,racists and economically advantaged white Americans in an attempt to stigmatize the poor, gut anti-poverty programs,and justify his tax cuts. “During his stump speeches while dutifully promising to roll back welfare, Reagan often told the story of a so-called “welfare queen” in Chicago who drove a Cadillac and had ripped off $150,000 from the government using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards and four fictional dead husbands. Journalists searched for this “welfare cheat” in the hopes of interviewing her and discovered that she didn’t exist.”(see more at http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2004-06-20/the-real-economic-legacy-of-ronald-reagan ). Reagan would have loved the interenet and used it along with political ads just as Mitt Romney does today – promising to roll back or privatize government benefits, requiring drug tests of welfare recipients, describing members of NAACP  as people who want free stuff from the government, falsely accusing President Obama of simply mailing out welfare checks to people unwilling to work. Working with Republican and Democratic governors HHS recently issued a memorandum allowing states to apply for waivers for TANF work requirement so long as the more flexible state project “demonstrates attainment of superior employment outcomes in lieu of participation rate requirements.” This is typical Obama pragmatism. If the state can demonstrate a different plan moves more people from welfare to work, HHS will be flexible and grant a waiver. Romney’s assertion is a complete distortion meant to appeal to voters who believe in welfare queens, or as Romney might state “big bucks” unwilling to work, a clear racial-code slur.(see more at http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/07/13165243-dubious-claim-behind-romney-welfare-attack?lite).


I dread where Romney’s distortions to justify tax cuts might lead us; and, how many Americans will suffer and even die as a result of old,failed policies. President Reagan ordered the Social Security Administration to remove all current disability recipients from active rolls, and require each one to reapply for benefits. He was certain that too many were fraudulently claiming to be disabled. He saw a welfare queen behind every bush. The actual fraud rate for welfare benefits at the time was 1/4 of 1%. Yet, American voters were told the rate was so high, every recipient was a suspect. So suspect that every SSD and SSI recipient was terminated. Those terminated lost a monthly income and medicare or medicaid coverage, and food stamps. They had no where to live, nothing to eat, could not see a doctor or go to the hospital, ran out of life-saving medications. Disability recipients are the most fragile among us.


My staff immediately filed new applications, and appeals of termination, for each client in our open and closed files. We posted flyers at community centers, senior centers and elsewhere offering our services. Many fell through the cracks. We also filed appeals for termination of low-income housing, evictions, food stamps and medicare or medicaid. We negotiated with landlords, doctors, pharmacies and hospitals begging patience until our cases could be heard. Most of our clients tried to hang on so long as they could. Others were too proud and disappeared into the streets. Others became so depressed they committed suicide. Three of my clients died simply because they lacked medication,food,medical care, and housing. I recall one phone call from a case manager at The Franklin County Welfare Department happily informing that finally (after 5 months) he was restoring my client’s food stamps. He thought I would be grateful and happy but I was crying. He asked why, “ Mr. X died yesterday from complications from diabetes and malnutrition. You are too late.”  Every single appeal I filed was granted. Reagan was dead wrong;too wrong, and too many dead as a result.


At the same time, Reagan announced he was eliminating Legal Services Corp. which funded legal aid societies like mine nationwide. He was frustrated that government was paying lawyers to appeal denial of  government benefits. My annual salary at the time was $12,600. Average salaries for lawyers in the private sector was $65,000. Congress reauthorized Legal Services but Reagan vetoed the funding bill. Staff agreed to work without pay, give up management positions and not replace those who gave up and left the agency until funding could be restored. I found a live-in position at a rooming house with no pay but free rent, installed soda machines in basement to pay for my bus transportation to work, and took an evening and week-end job as a toy store clerk to pay school loans and buy food while handling an ever-increasing caseload and grieving for my clients who were being so unjustly maligned and hatefully treated so that taxes could be cut and military spending increased by President Reagan. Now, Mitt Romney, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Senate candidate Josh Mandel wants a repeat performance. They pit voters against President Obama and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown,using the same disingenuous statistics and history.


Remember the Alamo! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember 9/11! I ask you to remember Reaganomics, Trickle Down Economics, Bush Tax Cuts, and now Romneyhood. We cannot allow politicians to prey on false fears when we have something real to fear. We must never forget that code messages stoking race-baiting, homophobia, and misogyny with lies and distortions will lead to death and disaster. I wish I could have saved those clients.


14 Jul



My first small business was collecting newspapers and magazines from the garbage cans along the alley running beside our house when I was first old enough to pull a wagon. My Mother watched me and my brother as we trudged along pulling our load across the street to Mr. Schombarger’s junk yard. We placed the full wagon on the scale built into the roadway after the heavy trucks had cleared;then, climbed up the steps to the loading dock to watch the weight register on the huge scale above our heads. “Remember the numbers”, Mr. Schombarger would remind us. Next, we ran down the steps to empty the wagon’s contents into a bin provided by a worker, and pulled the empty wagon back onto the scale. “Okay, kids, come up and watch the numbers again”,said Mr. Schombarger, as he weighed the empty wagon. Subtracting the numbers gave us the weight we would be paid for our load. We were rich! Our business kept us in penny candy from Mrs. Rowe’s corner store every night, with an ice cream cone once a week, and if we saved our money, an occasional comic book. Whenever we needed more money we collected more paper. We were our own market.


I also ran errands for neighbors for ten cents (to Mr Van’s or Mrs. Rowe’s neighborhood groceries), for a quarter for a trip to the A&P uptown; cleaned woodwork and washed windows, a quarter; and helped with babies, free service. When I was 12 I began babysitting for $1 per child per night.


My brother had a paper route. Being a girl, I was not eligible for a route. He graciously offered me a chance to make some cash. If I delivered all his papers and made his route collections I got to keep 10% of his salary. I fell for the scam. I loved working, and getting around the sexist system firmly in place. Women still work the same jobs for less money. Some things never change. Ask Lily Ledbetter.


I once earned enough money to take my entire family to the New York World’s Fair for a full week by making fondant-rum candy shaped and decorated like small pieces of fruit. My father noticed my experiment, took the dish to his restaurant the next day and came home with 35 orders. Every day after school for months I made 30-50 dozen candies, placing 12 on each milk glass bowl lined with green Easter grass. Seeing the World’s Fair was a dream come true. Running a small business is in my blood. My dad and uncles had a small business for 38 years, The Center Cafe. It is daunting, calls for daring, and is plain hard work with long hours.They are our country’s economic lifeblood.


Everyone agrees small businesses are the engine driving America’s economy. Small firms of less than 500 employees make up 99.9% of America’s businesses. (see more at  http://www.smallbusinessnotes.com/small-business-resources/how-many-small-businesses-are-there.html). Of these, 96% have 50 or fewer employees.(see more at   http://useconomy.about.com/od/glossary/g/small_businesses.htm Only 3% of small businesses earn more than $250,000 per year. Approximately 70% of the wealthy don’t own a small business. Obviously, the wealthy 2-3% don’t want the amount they earn above 2% to lose overgenerous tax breaks. But they argue a different story.


Despite these facts, to president Obama’s announcement that he would ask Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for incomes below $250,000, Mr. Romney replied this is an unacceptable and burdensome tax increase on small business,never mentioning the impact on his very large business income. Congressional Republicans expressed their opposition stating that many small business owners report their business income as personal income. But, as the president correctly points out the tax increases is only on the amount earned over $250,000; and, it affects 3% of small businesses. Under the president’s plan 98% of households and 97% of small businesses would receive a tax cut. (see more at New York Times (7/10/12)


The factual distortions of Republican leadership, including those of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and House Leader, Rep.John Boehner (R-OH) each of whom should know better, do not serve the country well.  If the tax cuts expire for earnings $250,000 and up, the deficit could be reduced by $700 billion over the next 10 years. (For more, see Extend Bush Tax).


Yesterday, the Senate Republicans blocked The Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act using the filibuster to keep a vote from even reaching the floor. The bill gave business tax credits up to $500,000 for boosting payroll,thus hiring more workers. It gave a 1 year extension a 100% rate under which businesses can claim bonus depreciation tax deductions on capital investments to install new equipment, open more manufacturing lines etc. (see more at (http://influencealley.nationaljournal.com/2012/07/senate-republicans-block-small.php). The bill was estimated to create  nearly 1 million jobs, 650,000 in small mom and pop operations by use of a cap. Next week, Republicans are expected to block a bill which would give tax breaks to firms returning overseas jobs to the U.S. and raise taxes on companies that off-shore. Certainly, Mr. Romeny can’t be happy about the impact such a law would have on his off-shore ventures.


The rational given by Republican for blocking the bill that it was overpolitical underscores the true reason for blocking a bill which would move forward the country’s economic recovery…to block President Obama’s re-election at the expense of small business growth and more jobs here in the U.S.  While decrying the lapse of tax credits to earnings above $250,000 because of their distorted claim of a negative effect on small business, while blocking bills in support of small business is the height of Republican hypocrisy. Using the filibuster to play political games is immoral bully-behavior and we must call them out for such irresponsible and destructive behavior towards this country and its people’s welfare. The president has the bully pulpit; but,the Republicans are simply bullies who attack each of us to get to him. (see more at http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/republicans-filibuster-small-business-bill-block-job-creation/6dlhw1l?from= ).