Tag Archives: economy

NOT CAN,BUT HOW? THE BUDGET AND DEFICIT REDUCTION,By Louise Annarino,November 9,2012

9 Nov

NOT CAN,BUT HOW? THE BUDGET AND DEFICIT REDUCTION,By Louise Annarino, November 9, 2012

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)225-6205

(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

614-600-4231

beattyforcongress@gmail.com

 

Senator Rob Portman

37 West Broad Street,Room 300

Columbus, OH 43215

(614)469-6774

Toll-Free: 1-800-205-6446

 

Sen. Sherrod Brown

(614) 469-2083

(202)224-2315

Toll Free : 1-888-896-6446

 

 

 

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PRIVATIZING FIRST RESPONDERS: THE NEW CARPETBAGGERS, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

30 Oct

Privatizing First Responders: the New Carpetbaggers, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

April 22,1970. My friend Daisy Ouwelein saw the fruition of her organizing work on the campus of The Ohio State University as we celebrated the first Earth Day with millions of fellow Americans. Rachel Carson had published SILENT SPRING a year earlier, alerting us to the dangers of DDT and pesticides. In 1969 a massive oil spill despoiled the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Dead rivers carried industrial pollutants to the Great Lakes. Daisy had asked my help to promote and involve others in the day’s activities: Senatorial Candidate and former astronaut John Glenn spoke about his proposed anti-pollution legislation in Hitchcock Hall. Students learned about their “responsibility of the land” from the editor of Field and Stream magazine,Mike Frome, at the Ohio Union. Students walked the polluted Olentangy River which flowed through campus, many students needing medical treatment for rashes and infections after wading or being jokingly thrown in it. Organizing workshops were held on how to handle and fight environmental problems.

Earth Day’s founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey, (R-CA)to serve as co-chair. His National Coordinator  Dennis Hayes, with a staff of 85, promoted events across the country. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement. Students nationwide were already mobilized on college campuses in opposition to the Viet-Nam War. At OSU, students were in the midst of protests to end campus racism and establish a Black Studies Department, as well as end the war. The environmental movement became part of our generation’s understanding that the corporate world was using us as fodder for war and profit, with no concern for the destruction of human and environmental ecology.

Today, we see a continuing battle against these forces who refute the overwhelming evidence of climate change, genetically modify our foods, and wage war to seize and control natural and labor resources. They continue to pollute our soil/ air/ water, create disease in our children; and ask us to accept that “based on rates from 2007-2009, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites during their lifetime.” http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html#incidence-mortality

As I watch events unfold over eastern 1/3 of The U.S. from Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Sandy I wonder at those who would vote for a candidate who openly attacks environmental regulation and control, is unwilling to maintain and fund FEMA, who seizes and controls labor at home and abroad by outsourcing jobs,and who questions the very existence of climate change.  Presidential candidate Romney states that “it is immoral” for the government to pay for emergency responders, passing on the cost to his grand-children. Instead he argues that emergency response should be “privatized”. I for one do not want to sit in my attic as waters rise, wondering if a private company finds it profitable to rescue me, or if a private fire company thinks my home is worth saving from a fire. Think I exaggerate? It has already happened because of a  Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee.

Imagine if emergency services had been privatized in New York on 9-11; or today while first responders search and rescue in Atlantic City, NJ and across the Eastern Seaboard. Imagine if the unions of government workers had failed to oppose efforts to eliminate government workers. When there is trouble of this magnitude, when so many lives are threatened and our cities face unimaginable  infrastructure losses, “Who Ya Gonna Call?” Ghostbusters? No, city, county and state workers, the national guard and the coast guard. And who is going to coordinate this effort across geopolitical boundaries? And who is going to assist smaller towns and cities to handle the heavy costs incurred? The federal government, FEMA, and a president who keeps private profit out of the formula to maximize results at lowest possible cost, spread wide to absorb the sticker shock for an individual person or community. This is how it works best. This is what we have learned over time.

Those who ask us to privatize government functions are the new “carpetbaggers”. Like those carpetbaggers who descended upon a broken South when it was at its most vulnerable, to make personal profit as it struggled to restore some economic stability, today’s carpetbaggers have targeted the entire country,perhaps the entire world, as an “easy mark”. I have mentioned before the shell game https://worthingtonforobama2012.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/a-debate-or-a-shell-game-whom-does-romney-think-he-is-kiddingby-louise-annarino-october-1-2012/ being played out during the 2012 election. As you watch events unfold over the next hours and days, keep in mind that increasing environmental threats are real. Our first responders are even more important to our survival and entitled to not only our thanks, but to our financial support for the risks they take to protect us. They come when called out of civic duty; not to profit off our suffering.

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.

DO WE ALL HAVE ROMNESIA? OR WERE WE JUST NOT PAYING ATTENTION? By Louise Annarino,October 20, 2012

21 Oct

DO WE ALL HAVE ROMNESIA? OR WERE WE JUST NOT PAYING ATTENTION? By Louise Annarino, October 20, 2012

Honestly, if one more person is interviewed on camera to explain why she is still undecided about this election, I’ll….use your imagination!  The media needs to stop giving special attention to undecided voters; and instead, pay more attention to the candidates. Civic duty should be encouraged. Instead, we reward those who lack it while they act as if their decisions are more thoughtful than those who have been engaged all along. Hogwash!

Barack Obama has been president nearly 4 years and was running for the office a year before that. Mitt Romney ran for president 4 years ago and is now running a SECOND time. He appeared in numerous televised debates for the Republican Party nomination during the primary season. These two are not strangers in our news cycles.

Where have undecided persons been all this time? To think that the least attentive, least informed, and one could argue, least interested among us could decide an election is pathetic. Newscasters and pollsters, must stop coddling them and empowering their lack of civi engagement. What they think and the positions they take are not based on an accumulation of facts over time, but on last minute celebrity!

Playing to undecided voters allows newspersons to create drama and avoid hard realities. Playing to undecided voters allows candidates to wiggle out of earlier positions and pretend they don’t recall shameful past incidents. Playing to undecided voters rewrites what each candidate has, or has failed to, accomplish.

I’ll be watching the next debate. But, afterwards, I shall not be watching the focus group of undecided voters to see who they decide to vote off the island.

Meanwhile, if you are someone who still has questions because you work 2 jobs, have kids to deliver to school/work/activities and have been just too busy to keep up, you are faced with the fact that for months Romney has refused to provide details of how he would implement his policies (which change repeatedly), cannot do the math on any of his broad proposals, and thinks if he repeats a right-wing talking-point often enough it becomes truth. His secrecy regarding his off-shore holdings and tax filings is another issue. To counter the repeated challenge to his lack of details, secrecy and bad math he has charged President Obama with those same sins. Since  undecided voters have not been paying attention, and since newspersons like a hard fight to the finish, these charges are treated as an equivalent sin for Obama. There is no equivalency.

Obama says he would take us forward, building on what he has done and is currently attempting to do, and what he plans to do in the future. Please refer to my earlier blog WHAT HAS OBAMA DONE? HERE ARE 194 ACCOMPLISHMENTS! WITH CITATIONS! From PCTC Blog https://worthingtonforobama2012.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/713/ where you can see what Forward looks like. The list provided at the link was put together months ago. SInce then, the list has grown.

While Romney plays politics with foreign affairs, Obama governs the nation, acts as a well-respected leader of the free world, improves US trade balance, challenges China at World Trade Organization (WTO), stops a terrorist attack on the NY Federal Reserve Bank, hunts down those responsible for the death of our ambassador and diplomatic staff in Ben Ghazi, Libya, continues to  bring down unemployment and increase jobs, winds down the Afghanistan War, organizes cuts to the military budget (arms purchases, operational expenses etc.) while increasing the VA budget 40% and protecting VA from ANY cuts, and continues to  reduce the deficit ( $1.7 trillion in  2011) as illustrated below:

DEFICIT REDUCTION UNDER PRESIDENT  OBAMA’S BUDGET, 2013-2022

$ 2.2 TRILLION          +         $ 1.7 TRILLION         =                  $3.8 TRILLION

Proposed Policies        Savings Enacted  2011                  (figures rounded up)

 Not Included is Additional $1.5 Trillion War Savings 

[ Sources: Fiscal Year 2013 Budget, Table S-3, and CBPP Calculations,Center on  Budget and Policy Priorities…cbpp.org]

President Obama has put us on a safe footing. It is not where he wanted us to be on the path to full recovery, nor so far along as we could have been had Republicans in Congress spent as much energy trying to help the country as they did trying to destroy Obama.

If you are still undecided, or know someone who is, or know someone who would welcome a refresher course please forward this information to them before the next debate. Maybe we can remember what we know, even if Mr. Romney cannot.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY IN THE GAME OF POLITICS? By Louise Annarino, October 19, 2012

19 Oct

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY IN THE GAME OF POLITICS? By Louise Annarino, October 19, 2012

 

Contests leave a lot to be desired. “No purchase necessary.” Hah! Who believes that? Buy the wrong size drink or fries? No prize piece; no chance to win. Yet, we expect our candidate to win the presidency; “no purchase necessary.” CITIZENS UNITED shocks our sensibilities. But, it is only unique in its scale. This is not the first breath of life into corporations. That was done long ago.

 

Early Rome recognized a group as a single fictional person. As early as 1444, the Rolls of Parliament stated “they [the Master and Brethren of the Hospital] by that same name mowe be persones able to purchase Londez and Tenementz of all manere persones.” Blackstone defines legal persons: “Natural persons are such as the God of nature formed us; artificial are such as are created and devised by human laws for the purposes of society and government, which are called corporations or bodies politic.” Why create such a legal fiction? To allow corporations to do their business: lease, buy or sell property, hire and fire employees, enter into contracts of all sorts. As England moved from a cottage industry into guilds, and then into the industrial age entrepreneurs created new ownership groups to organize workers and manage production. They needed the legal fiction of personhood to conduct business.

 

Some of these management groups were benevolent bosses;many were not. Nevertheless, workers found it ever more difficult to assure safe workplaces, reasonable hours and wages, and fair treatment. Child labor was rampant, seven day/18 hour workdays were not uncommon. Tenements were built alongside work sites for ease of access and assurance of a constantly available workforce. Workers were locked in to work sites. We no longer remember this in the West, but we can see it happening even today elsewhere in developing industrial economies. We see the abuse of corporations from Shell Oil in East Africa to FoxConn (Apple supplier) in China. In the West workers united amidst bloody attacks to form labor unions, opposed at every step by corporations. Unions remain under attack in Ohio, Wisconsin, and in any state where there is a Republican governor, or Republican-controlled state legislature.

 

Corporations, like real persons, do not like ANY regulation or control of their behavior, especially while trying to make money off someone else’s labor. Their lobbyists assure politicians protect their interests and assure their unbridled freedom. In return, through campaign contributions, ALEC and SuperPacs they assure politicians re-election, a high-paying job after they leave public-service, and life-long connections to fictional persons of wealth and power. This, too, is not new.

 

Queen Elizabeth was a somewhat secret partner with English Seadogs, or pirates; overlooking their attacks on Spanish and French fleets, and taking a share of the loot. The difference between a pirate and a privateer depended on whom was being robbed and who helped do the looting. To the gentry of England, who along with their Queen loaned and outfitted ships hoping for a share of Spanish gold they were privateers; to the French and Spanish, pirates. Practiced in maritime attack, Elizabeth mobilized them to help defeat the Spanish armada and destroy Spanish dominance of the seas, and of the newly-discovered Americas. This opened an era of English exploration and colony development, including Jamestown, Virginia (named after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth).

 

So protected were these Captains of (Industry) the Seas that they were knighted by their Queen: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Richard Grenville were all first and foremost pirates. She bridled their freedom only to the extent she was permitted to share in their loot, enrich her coffers and assure her continued rule. Otherwise she assisted them in their piracy. Congress  limits today’s “Great Pirates”, corporations, only to the extent it is permitted to share in their loot. CITIZENS UNITED was inevitable. Any one of you have a game piece? Or only our politicians?

 

Labor unions, teachers unions, environmental groups, civil rights groups (African-American,Latino,GLBT,veterans,immigrants etc) don’t begin to have the power assured to corporations. There is no comparison. They are not given game pieces; they have to buy the right person to get a game piece! They have to elect a politician who will put them in the game. They have to elect a politician who will appoint judges and Supreme Court justices who will understand how the game is played and make it more fair to everyone; and, assure that everyone has an equal chance to win, assure that everyone has a piece of the game.

 

The person willing to do so, President Barack Obama, is the greatest threat to the Great Pirates… ever. The great pirates will do all they can to attack and defeat him; with the full support of those in Congress they control (with whom they share their loot), blocking his every move of the Ship of State. We cannot let them win. It will not be easy. We have little time left. We must support President Barack Obama for president. We must throw out those in Congress who help the great pirates. We must support labor unions, civil rights groups, environmentalists.

“We are in this game together” means nothing to the great pirates  because they hold all the game pieces. This must end if we Americans are to truly win; not just a second term for Barack Obama, but a chance for the 98% to play the game.

 

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.