Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Christmas T-shirt design: WHEN WATERMELONS ATTACK!

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This is how this T-shirt design came about:

On June 29, right after we got back from a trip to Edisto Beach, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter came to supper.

During their visit, I was carrying the tray to the baby’s high chair to the sink to wash it off--and suddenly, I was flat on my face on the floor, with my right shoulder in a lot of pain!

"WTF???" I yelled, only I didn't use the acronym.

I had fallen over a watermelon that somebody I normally love but who gets more like his daddy every day had left smack dab in the traffic pattern of our kitchen.  I landed hard on my knees and elbows.  

My right shoulder jammed upwards into the socket. Suddenly, it was so painful I couldn't use my right hand on my computer drawing tablet, among other things.

Jim took me to the doctor the next morning instead of playing golf, which was only fair.  My doctor x-rayed it and said she didn't see any broken bones, but was not ruling out tendon damage.  At best, it was a bad strain, she said.

After the accident, Jim had blamed the watermelon, and smashed it against the deck rail and tossed it into the back yard, where it fermented in the sun for a few days.  

Then, a day or two later, he was putzing around in the yard—and a swarm of drunken, belligerent yellow jackets who had spent too much time on the watermelon attacked him!  

15 stings.  We had to wash Jim down and apply Afterbite, Benedryl gel, and Benydril by mouth.
He couldn't sleep for the itching that night.

 I figured Justice was served, and he agreed.

Anyway—back to me--my arm kept hurting, so I went to an orthopedic surgeon I know. 
I wanted his opinion on the shoulder situation. 

I trust him because his mama is a friend of mine, and when he was a kid, she used to help him collect road kill and other dead forest animals to boil the flesh off of, so he could study the bones. 

So  I’m pretty confident that he knows how bones are supposed to fit together.

He sent me to Physical Therapy.


Pysical Therapy didn't fix the problem at that time. 

My young friend operated on my rotator cuff Sept. 23. 
He had said it would be "easy!"  an hour, hour-and-a half at the most!"
(It did not occur to me until later that he meant it would be easy for HIM...)

I've been rehabbing the shoulder ever since then. A long and painful process.  
But this time, Rehab worked!

This watermelon drawing is the first cartoon I've been able to do on my computer with the drawing tablet and stylus since the injury.

So, of course, the annual Christmas T-shirt--(which usually reflects something I've been thinking about at some time or another during the year)--HAD to be a watermelon.  
With a few yellow jackets.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


While following tweets during last night's GOP Iowa debate, I came across one which said, "I wish someone would draw a map of Donald Trump's hair."

Okay. Here it is:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ron Paul Caricature: still learning on iPad...

There is so much wrong with this...not up to my standards.
But pain from rotator cuff surgery still limits artwork on my computer tablet.  I'm getting a little faster & more comfortable with this SketchBook app for iPad, which lets me draw with my right hand--just not used to it yet...practice, practice, practice!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This cartoon was done on my iPad--the third cartoon done this way so far. 
Obviously, I have a lot of practice ahead of me to regain my original style--(see the caricature of Grover Norquist)--and the work still takes too long.
I'd like to evolve into a more sketchy style.  But that will come with practice. 
At least I can do this much, and it's fun!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

doing cartoons again...slowly...

I did this on my iPad, using a new application (for me) called "SketchBook." 
Still trying to learn how to use it, but I've really been impressed with things my colleague cartoonists  are doing with it--the best thing is that working on the iPad doesn't hurt my shoulder as much, which means I can work longer at a time!
I did the sketch for this weeks ago on paper with pencil and scanned it into my computer.  I emailed it to myself, opened on my iPad, imported it to SketchBook, and used it as a "layer."
I outlined it on another layer and colored it on another, then merged the layers-minus the original.
Hope to be doing more art--like caricatures of candidates and lawmakers--soon!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Okay, so I fell over a watermelon June 29th, landed on my elbows, & jammed my right shoulder violently upward (see blog entry "Watermelons and Yellow Jackets.").

It's been hurting ever since--and the right is my dominant hand.  For a cartoonist, pretty devastating.

It hurts REALLY bad if I try to use my right hand for any length of time, as in, say, playing "Angry Birds" or drawing cartoons.

After shots in the joint and weeks of physical therapy, I still can't draw with my right hand (or play "Angry Birds) without significant pain.

My young whippersnapper of an orthopedic surgeon (who LOVES his job) says I have a tear in my rotator cuff, which is apparently a muscle you need to draw or play Angry Birds.  

He's gonna have to go in there, drag the muscle back into place, and suture it.  He says it's "easy."

I'll have surgery September 23, and won't even have to spend the night in the hospital.  But my arm will have to be immobilized for several weeks--after which--yep--MORE weeks of physical therapy.

The last cartoons I did for my blog with my right hand were Grover Norquist and Rick Perry as J.C. Calhoun.  

They both nearabout kilt me.
And drawing with my left hand takes DAYS.

So any new cartoons may have to wait for a month or two.

Meanwhile, maybe you'll enjoy the cartoon I did for Dr. John Heller and the surgical team at the Emory Spine Hospital after they spent nine and a half hours one day last January, fusing many of my lumbar vertebrae together.

They left so much hardware in my back that I'll never be able to board a plane again without the full body scan.

But they fixed my back so well that by the time of the watermelon incident, 6 months later, my spine scoffed at the jolt.  No pain there!

Anyway--that's why no good cartoons for a while.

But I'll be back!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Again with Grover Norquist--because you just can't have enough Grover

Tonight, I was working on a rather complicated cartoon about the Supercommitteee, and listening to the President's Jobs speech.
When President Obama mentioned that "some of you have signed a pledge promising never, ever, to raise taxes for the rest of your lives..."
I thought of Grover.
So I put the Supercommittee cartoon aside for later, and reprised Grover Norquist.

I believe this Grover will be, as we say in the cartooning bidniss,  an "Evergreen."

Saturday, September 3, 2011


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Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of Congress (except Joe Walsh), and my fellow Americans:

As many of you already know, our country is in a grave economic crisis tonight.  Jobs are disappearing, wages are low, our banking system is dysfunctional, and America's credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in our history. 

The great federal safety nets for the poor and elderly are under attack as never before.  Decent, affordable health care continues to elude the most vulnerable members of our society.

But these difficult problems are being made harder to solve by your inexplicably personal animosity towards me, which began with my 2008 election.  You won't admit this--even to yourselves--but since you let Rush Limbaugh do your talking (and much of your thinking) for you, he's made that pretty clear.

It was my health care reform plan, or, as you Republicans like to call it, "ObamaCare," which eventually formed the excuse you needed to summon an AstroTurf rebellion against "Big Government Spending" in 2010.  From this bogus boogeyman arose the "Tea Party"--a group of people whose horror of my occupation of the White House is one thing they all have in common.

That year, conservative Republicans captured a majority of seats in the House of Representatives--many of you defeating more moderate Republicans or long-serving Democrats.  You freshman class of the House, and some older-serving members, call yourselves Tea Party Republicans.

Another element of the 2010 election outcome is the large number of you who have signed the decades-old Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge.  You have thoughtlessly sworn with your signatures to oppose any and all tax measures, no matter how much sense they make or how badly revenues are needed. 

If Grover says it's a tax, it's a tax.
Because you could never be trusted to figure that out for yourselves.

The goal of this newly empowered group of Republicans is--as expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell-- to deny me a second term as President.
And you are apparently ready & willing to cause major financial hardships to your own constituents to achieve that goal.

This became clear to me during the Debt Ceiling Debate, when I sought to work with you in a bipartisan way to solve the Deficit problem.  I accepted so many of your demands that I angered my own party.

Every time I have reached across the aisle, no matter how outrageously insane my offer seemed to me and to my party, I got my hand bitten.

So, you want me to be a one-term president?
Fine.  I'm a one-term president.

I'm a one-term president facing a legacy shaped largely by you. 
My legacy will be that I wanted to do good things, but that I was "too weak” to pass my own programs while you controlled the House and veto-proofed the Senate.

I will be blamed for the Bush Recession, and it won't matter that many of my earlier programs helped avoid a deeper Recession--or even a Depression. 
It won't matter that the short-lived Economic Stimulus was effective in slowing the crashing Economy.
It won't matter that I was not too "timid" to take over General Motors amidst almost universal criticism; or that, today, GM is once again standing on its own and has paid back the debt it owed to the treasury.
No one will remember that, until 2011, unemployment was on its way down.
It won't matter that "ObamaCare" will prove to have positive results.
It won't matter that I was not "too weak" or indecisive to give the order to take out Osama Bin Laden. 
It won't matter that I was not "dithering" when I gave the order to military snipers to kill Somali pirates who were holding an American ship's captain hostage. 
It won't matter that I was not "too professorial" to enlist the help of NATO to keep Libyan madman Moamar Khaddaffi from slaughtering civilians in his own country.
It won't matter that the same multi-national intervention seems to have led to Khaddaffi's retreat from Tripoli, and a brought new hope of self-government to the Libyan people. 

None of that will matter, because I will be remembered for "backing down," time and time again on domestic issues.  I will be remembered for naively trying to compromise with people who never had any intention of compromising in the first place. 

I was too blind to comprehend the monstrous truth, until it was too late--that you Republicans are actually willing to hurt your own constituents--just to keep me from getting reelected.

My bad.

So now, you have a one-term president; one with not much hope of a positive legacy.

But do you know what that is? 
That is a politician with nothing to lose, politically. 
If you didn't like me before this, you REALLY won't like me now that I have nothing to lose. 

From now until President Perry is elected, I will focus like a laser on what I, Barack Hussein Obama, think is best for the people of this country that you profess to love so much.

As it is obviously impossible for me to alienate Congress further, from now on, there will be no "discussions" or "meetings" in the White House at which your presence will be required. 

Furthermore--I will brook no personal disrespect from any one of you, public or private. I caution you strongly not to test me on this. 

I will compromise on absolutely nothing.

I have directed the Attorney General to investigate and begin drawing up indictments for the leaders of every financial institution that received TARP money and hasn't paid it back; for every executive on Wall Street and in the banking industry whose overreach got this Recession started; and for anyone else in that arena who is suspected of violating his or her fiduciary duty to the citizens of The United States of America.

Meanwhile, I am nationalizing the banking system--all of it--temporarily, just the way I did with GM.

I'll give it back after it's fixed.

CEO's and other executives of financial institutions who escape indictment by the Justice Department but whose companies have not repaid TARP monies lent to them by the US taxpayers will see their stratospheric personal compensations reduced drastically. They will lose their bonuses.

And don’t come whining to me about “Class Warfare!”  I’m just a repo man here

The millions of dollars collected from reducing the salaries of the overcompensated will be placed in an Infrastructure and education fund, to put people to work rebuilding roads, water mains, bridges, airports, and developing much-needed additional mass transit, among other projects.

Those who don't have the skills or the experience to work on such projects will benefit from the educational arm of the fund, which will partner with Community Tech Schools to see that these workers get the training they need.

Those members of Congress and the Governors of their states who have rejected federal funds for your states since my Presidency began will not be troubled by new offers of federal help.
I will leave it to you to explain to your constituents why their tax money is being used to create jobs elsewhere.

As for the rest of Congress, as I said, I am focusing like a laser on what I think is best for this country.

Therefore, I will personally go over every request for every project or earmark in your own state or district.

Those I deem worthy and in the public interest, I will promptly approve and recommend for funding.  These will be listed

Those which are obvious favors to big campaign donors, but are still worthy and in the public interest, I will put on another list.

Those that are expensive, frivolous boondoggle favors for big campaign donors, I will place on a third list.

The three lists will be posted online and copies emailed to newspapers in your states.  You will be given either: the praise and credit for serving your constituents well; or you will suffer the embarrassment of helping your constituents and yourself at the same time; or you will be humiliated by the exposure of your greed, and your constituents will make up their own minds what they want to do with you.

Then, I will send the lists of your requests to the House, where they will no doubt be tucked, as usual, into some larger bill for passage.

I have enjoyed these three years as your president, and I look forward to our remaining year together.  I think this will be fun.

Thank you,

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

So, How Do You Know When Your Blog Misses One Mark and Hits Too Many Others?

When you have to explain it to a Danish friend?
When you have to explain it to your HUSBAND!
(AND, when the explanation is longer than the original blog...)

I previously set out to write a "book report" on Rick Perry's book, FED UP!

I even drew a picture of Perry as John C.Calhoun, which further confused everyone.

So, here's my explanation to Leif, my Danish friend, of the offending blog. I hope it will enlighten some of my other flummoxed readers as well.

Great Dane--

I drew Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is running for President, as John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina senator who led SC to be the first state to secede from the Union in 1861, igniting the Civil War. (And we all know how well THAT turned out for South Carolina!)

The reason Calhoun gave for his actions was "state's rights"--by which he meant the right of any state to declare any Federal Law null and void.
The U S Senate voted against that notion, because the U S Constitution gives the states power only over property and interstate commerce, among other seemingly piddly things.

Calhoun then opined that states could therefore ignore Federal orders regarding slavery because slaves were "property" and that the institution of slavery could not be legally weakened by any Federal law. And--by the way--states also had the right to "secede" from the Union if they felt that their "rights" (in this case, the right to hold slaves), were violated.

So--Rick Perry, the Texas Governor, has written that he thinks the Federal Government sticks its nose into the business of the states way too much. Many states, including South Carolina, agree, and are happy to reject Federal funds for education and Health Care because, as they say, there are "too many strings attached.".

They don't wish to comply with such Federal regulations as: teaching Evolution in the schools; refraining from prayer in public settings (separation of church & state--1st Ammendment to the Constitution, first article of the Bill of Rights); mandating that states regulate the pollution they produce; insisting that all industries comply with workplace safety regulations; and the administration of health care and other federal programs the way that the US Government believes they should be administered.

So, even though the taxpayers of all the states contribute to the funds offered by the government, the ultraconservative leaders of South Carolina and other states proudly reject the money anyway.

Rick Perry's book (about which the blog was written), places a great deal of importance on the notion of states' rights. He bases his argument on the Tenth Ammendment to the Constitution, which stipulates that any powers not specifically granted to the United States, nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution, belong to the states.

I am comparing Rick Perry--and have drawn him--as S C's John C. Calhoun for that reason. His disdain for the very Federal Government he is running to lead makes him imminently unfit to hold the office he seeks.
I probably bit off more than I could chew with all that. I need to keep these blogs simpler.
Even Jim said it was too long...
Again, here's Rick Perry as J.C. Calhoun..the last drawing I 'll do with my right hand for a long, long time...


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Why I Have to Learn to Draw with My Left Hand…

This is sort of the way the whole thing played out …on June 29, right after we got back from Edisto Beach, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter came to supper.

During their visit, I was carrying the tray to the baby’s high chair to the sink to wash it off--and suddenly, I was flat on my face on the floor, with my right shoulder in a lot of pain!

"WTF???" I yelled, only I didn't use the acronym.

I had fallen over a watermelon that somebody I normally love but who gets more like his daddy every day had left smack dab in the traffic pattern of our kitchen.  I landed hard on my knees and elbows.  

My right shoulder must have gotten jammed in its socket, because that was—and is--where the pain lodged.

I couldn't use my right hand on my computer drawing tablet, among other things.

My hand is fine--but moving it really hurts my shoulder.

Jim took me to the doctor the next morning instead of playing golf, which was only fair.  My doctor x-rayed it and said she didn't see any broken bones, but was not ruling out tendon damage.  At best, it was a bad strain, she said.

After the accident, Jim had blamed the watermelon, and smashed it against the deck rail and tossed it into the back yard, where it fermented in the sun for a few days.  

Then, a day or two later, he was futzing around in the yard—and a swarm of drunken, belligerent yellow jackets who had spent too much time on the watermelon attacked him!  

15 stings.  We had to wash Jim down and apply Afterbite, Benedryl gel, and Benydril by mouth.
He couldn't sleep for the itching that night.

 I figured Justice was served, and he agreed.

Anyway—back to me--my arm kept hurting, so I went to an orthopedic surgeon.
I’ve seen him before, and I wanted his opinion on the shoulder situation. 

I trust him because his mama is a friend of mine, and when he was a kid, she used to help him collect road kill and other dead forest animals to boil the flesh off of, so he could study the bones.  I take that as a sign of dedication.  I’m pretty confident that he knows how bones are supposed to fit together.

He sent me to Physical Therapy.

I’ve been going to Physical Therapy for this shoulder for weeks now, and although it’s gotten stronger, the pain hasn’t gone away.  It still really hurts when I use my right hand to draw on the computer, like for my blog.
My surgeon friend has prescribed an MRI, since I’m still having pain, to see if there’s a rotator cuff tear.  If there is, depending on how bad it is, he may have to operate--after which my arm will be immobilized for a month or two.

I really don’t want to stop doing the blog, but it hurts too much to draw—so I have decided to try to learn to draw with my left hand. 

My first attempt to draw Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is, well, not up to my standards.  I may have to try to do a “cartoony-er” style to accommodate the spastic actions of my left hand…

So the art you will see here for the next few months will be part of a learning process. 

I hope yall will bear with me as I try to learn this thing….


Monday, August 29, 2011

A sort of book report by Kate Salley Palmer

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(Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title)

by Texas Governor Rick Perry

Rick Perry wants you to know that he really hates the Federal Government.  (But he thinks AMERICA is great!)

The first chapter in his book is titled, “America is Great, Washington is Broken.”

He touts two organizations that I thought were different until I looked online and saw that one is actually part of the other.  The umbrella organization is “Texans for Public Policy foundation,” and nestled within it is “Center for Tenth Amendment Studies.”

The Tenth Amendment contains just one sentence:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.”

Rick Perry seems to use “federalism” and “states’ rights” kind of interchangeably.  One of his notions of “federalism” is that people who think and believe alike should all live together.  I’m serious.

This is from his book:

“Crucial to understanding federalism in modern-day America is the concept of mobility, or “the ability to vote with your feet.”  If you don’t support the Death Penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas.  If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.”


Then, he goes into all sorts of history about the Articles of Confederation, and The Federalist Papers, and our Founders agreeing with him and all. 

Then there’s a lot more stuff about how Texas works and states like Massachusetts and California…don’t.  (He might want to keep those thoughts to himself in a general election…)

But!  Just in case you had the notion that his type of states’ rights, or federalism, resembled the sort of thing preached by John C Calhoun and that led to The Civil War--you don’t know Rick!

Again, from his book:
[Slavery and the hindrance of the Civil Rights movement] “were inexcusable chapters in American History—particularly for the southern states most responsible.  These chapters were often defined by some who championed “states’ rights,” and thus the concept of federalism has been understandably but mistakenly weakened.”

“But” (continues Perry), A “careful reading of history” shows that “active, liberty-loving states contributed to the destruction of Slavery in America.”

By 1850,” he continues, “half of the states in America were free states.”

The Underground Railroad, he claims, was “federalism, or certainly local control, in action.”

 He concludes this amazing blindness to the facts by admitting that:

 “We can never know what would have happened in the absence of federal involvement because we cannot rewrite history.”

So, there it is--Governor Perry utterly rejects the notion that his position has anything to do with the original notion of states’ rights as interpreted by, say, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.

And it ticks him off that we would even THINK such a thing.

But I found this on a site about the origins of the Confederacy (the 19th century one.)

Source: Macmillan Information Now Encyclopedia "The Confederacy."

[John C. Calhoun] “based his [States’ Rights] theory on the assumption that the people (not the government) in each state were sovereign and, in their sovereign capacity, had ratified and thus given validity to both the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. …A state convention…could nullify a Federal law.

That law would remain null and void within the state until three-fourths of all the states had ratified a constitutional amendment specifically giving Congress the power in question.

If they should ever do so, the nullifying state would still have a recourse--secession.

Just as a state could "accede" to the Union by ratifying the Constitution, it could "secede" by repealing its ordinance of ratification.

South Carolina put nullification to the test in 1832, when a state convention declared all protective tariffs, particularly those of 1828 and 1832, to be null and void within the state.

Calhoun having resigned the vice presidency, the nullifiers sent him to the Senate to present their case. Debating him was Daniel Webster, now a senator from Massachusetts, who had switched from a state rights position to a nationalist one while Calhoun was doing the reverse.

"The truth is," Webster contended, "and no ingenuity of argument, no subtlety of distinction, can evade it, that, as to certain purposes, the people of the United States are one people."

…Slavery, according to Calhoun, occupied a special place in the Constitution, and certainly it occupied a special place in his theory of state rights. It was, he insisted, the only kind of property that the Constitution specifically recognized (though, in fact, the document did not mention slaves or slavery by name; it referred only to "free Persons" and "all other Persons" and to a "Person held to Service or Labour").

Therefore, nullification could be used to defend or strengthen slavery but not to attack or weaken it. Calhoun strenuously objected when, after 1842, several free states tried their own brand of nullification by adopting "personal liberty" laws that forbade state authorities to assist in the enforcement of the Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.

…Then, when the Compromise of 1850 proposed to admit California as a free state and thus to upset the balance of free and slave states, he thought the time had come for the slave states to resort to their ultimate redress, secession.”

So…Rick Perry is right when he says that by 1850, half the states were free states. 

But he seems to forget that the argument for secession was based on one of state’ rights.  It was not the states’ rights crowd who fought Slavery.

If only all those slaves had just “voted with their feet…”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Florida Governor's Drug Testing Plan Costs more than it Saves

Florida  Governor Rick Scott, declaring that his sate refused pay for the drug addictions of welfare recipients, began in June to test such recipients for drugs--at the expense of those who were tested.
He said that the state would reimburse people for  any negative test results. 
The general population tests 8.5% positive for drugs. 
Florida's welfare recipients tested 2% positive. 
The money being reimbursed to the 98% of those who had negative test results greatly exceeds the amount of money "saved" by witholding state money from the 2% of Florida's welfare recipients who tested positive.
The Governor embarked on this activity apparently because he made a false assumption based on prejudice about the poor.
Despite this, other states are considering requiring drug tests for those who apply for state aid--including, in some cases, unemployment benefits.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not the President's Fault?

This Article, reproduced in part here, is by Tom Raum of the Associated Press.  It reminded me of another time, another recession--and a President who worked and fought and compromised with Congress--and who raised taxes.  
I was an editorial cartoonist then, and the President's name was Ronald Reagan.

As you can see from these cartoons (if I can get them posted), is that I was reading newspapers and columnists and getting a very mixed message from it all.  I think cartoons can tell only one truth at a time, but the wordsmiths can always say, "on the other hand,..."

So one truth I ignored because I had to put a face on the situation is that it wasn't all the President's fault.

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Friday, Aug. 19, 2011

FACT CHECK: Recession is culprit in high US debt

- Associated Press
The number at the heart of the battle cry of the Republicans and their tea party allies - that federal spending has risen to an alarming 25 percent of the economy - is skewed by recession dynamics.
In recessions, federal spending always goes up and tax revenues go down. And the economy contracts in recessions, shrinking the gross domestic product, which is the total output of goods and services and the broadest measure of the economy's health.


Republicans are calling for sweeping spending cuts and want to hold the line on taxes, even as the U.S. struggles through one of its slowest recoveries since the Great Depression. The jobless rate has been stuck for months at more than 9 percent. With the economy slowing again, the odds of a new recession seem to be increasing.

While spending's share of the GDP might be at a post-World War II high,
tax revenues have fallen to 14.4 percent of the index, the lowest since 1950.
This disparity between what comes in and what goes out plays into the Republican argument about runaway spending.

But it also reflects the mathematical reality that during recessions, tax revenues go down sharply because people and companies make less money and so pay less in taxes. Federal spending goes up, even before stimulus programs, with an increasing demand for government help from food stamps and unemployment compensation and other safety-net programs.

The last time since World War II that federal spending exceeded 23 percent of GDP was in 1982 and 1983, when it rose to 23.1 percent and 23.5 percent, respectively, during what was then called the worst recession since the Great Depression. A Republican, Ronald Reagan, was president, and he was hardly anyone's idea of a tax-and-spend liberal.
Much of the present large gap between tax revenues and federal spending comes not from political decisions but from what happens to a nation's finances during any deep recession, economists suggest.

But you wouldn't know it from some of the recent campaign rhetoric. The Republican candidates all want to shrink government's role by slashing spending and taxes, and repealing or suspending regulations.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney asserted that, because of the rise of the ratio of government spending to GDP on President Barack Obama's watch, "We're inches away from no longer having a free economy."
Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: "We're now at almost 25 percent (of GDP) ... the problem is spending, not taxes."

Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota insisted they would never vote to raise the U.S. debt limit and they decried the rise in federal spending. The recent bipartisan debt deal, which includes a big spending-cut component, won the support of many tea party-aligned lawmakers, however.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would commit a "treasonous" act if he "prints more money" before next November's elections. "We would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," Perry told an Iowa audience. Economists generally credit Bernanke with helping save the nation's financial system by stimulating it with a flood of new money.

Economist Bruce Bartlett, who worked in the administrations of both Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, said some of the statements by Republicans make him cringe. "And what sometimes makes me cringe more is the silence from their competitors."

Bartlett includes the solid opposition to any tax increases from the entire GOP field, citing the recent debate when not a single Republican participant would agree to accept even a mix of $1 in new taxes for every $10 in spending cuts.

"It's the cowardice of people who know they're wrong when they say these things that disturbs me more than the fact that some people say crazy things," Bartlett said. He said the Republicans were clearly playing to the party's conservative base for the primary elections "but when you repeat these things, they tend to get solidified."

The intense focus by Republicans and some conservative Democrats on cutting spending to reduce the national debt, now at nearly $14.5 trillion, helped put deficit reduction high on the priority list for both parties.

But polls continue to show that people are more concerned about the lack of jobs than they are the deficit. Nearly 15 million are jobless in the U.S.

Even though the pace of recovery is painfully slow, any improvements in the jobs situation will help spur stronger economic growth, leading to more tax revenues and lower federal spending.
"If the economy starts to get better, then everything gets better," said Democratic strategist Mark Mellman.

But it will be a slog.
Good job, Tom Raum.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Congressman Jeff Duncan's Legislative Update

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Aug 15, 2011
By Congressman Jeff Duncan

By Kate Palmer

I wanted to give you an update on a serious situation in Washington that has been in the news for the past several weeks.
As you may know, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), one of the three major credit agencies, downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA to AA+ with a negative economic outlook.
Yes, Congressman, I knew that.
The main reason for the downgrade was that Washington failed to make large enough spending cuts when they raised the debt ceiling.
Not really: according to S & P, we were downgraded because too many legislators actually said--OUT LOUD--that they opposed raising the Debt Ceiling.
In addition, too many were unwilling to compromise on a sensible, balanced approach to Debt Reduction that included raising revenue by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires
One of the reasons I voted AGAINST the debt ceiling compromise was because I knew that paltry cuts and another commission wouldn’t be enough to save our credit rating and solve our debt crisis.
The main reason you voted against ANY compromise is that you signed a pledge written by Washington Insider Grover Norquist promising never to raise taxes.  This puts you in Norquist's pocket, and robs your constituents of what should be an independent, thoughtful voice in the US House of Representatives.
I wasn’t sent to Washington to make deals for the sake of making deals, you sent me to Washington to fix a broken political system and help get our country back on track.
No, Congressman, the people who voted for you sent you to Washington to represent and protect their interests--including Government Programs they depend on.  They did NOT send you there to let others do your thinking for you or to make sure that Norquist doesn't oppose you in the next primary.
You deserve to know the truth, and the truth is that there was (sic) plenty of solutions offered up that would have forced government to live within its means and protect the United States credit rating.
The first was the Republican budget that passed the House back in April. The budget passed the House with large support and would have immediately gone to work cutting spending and strengthening programs like Medicare for our seniors by ensuring the services remained financially stable.
Called "The Paul Ryan Budget," this GOP monstrosity would have ended Medicare as we know it for any one under 55 who hopes to live long enough to participate in one of the most popular government-run programs ever offered to our citizens.
The Republican controlled House passed a budget shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, yet it’s been over 850 days since the Democrat controlled Senate passed a budget. A country operating without a budget is like trying to drive a truck while blindfolded, nothing good can come from the experience.
Well…this is actually the truth.  Budget bills have to originate in the House, and the Senate wisely rejected both the Ryan Budget and the patronizing "Cut, Cap, and Balance plan.
(See below)
An even stronger plan passed the House with bipartisan support
a few weeks ago that would have permanently reformed the way Washington spent money, a plan called “Cut, Cap, & Balance.
Come on--5 Democrats voted for it.  That is NOT "bipartisan!"
This plan included immediate spending cuts, future caps on spending relative to GDP, and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
Seriously misleading:
Even Republicans didn't pass a Balanced Budget Amendment when they controlled the Congress in the 1990's. 
It would, like the Norquist Pledge, make it easy for lawmakers to avoid tough everyday decisions, but would cripple any Federal Response to an unexpected event, such as a natural disaster or an attack.
Unfortunately, the Democrat controlled Senate tabled the bill without even allowing it to be debated.  The House Budget and Cut, Cap, & Balance were the only two plans submitted that cut over $4 trillion in spending over the next ten years, a requirement set by S&P to keep the United States credit rating intact.

Not true.  There were several "Grand Bargains" hammered out by congressional leaders, offered by the President, and presented by Speaker Boehner to the House.  Some of them offered as much as $4T in cuts.  BUT--All of South Carolina's Tea Party Republicans, after seeking advice from The Lord in prayer and from Sen. Jim DeMint, chose to listen to DeMint and became nationally famous for rejecting the best deal ever offered by a Democratic President.
 So where do we go from here?
I'm afraid to ask...
The two bills I referenced are still sitting over in the Senate where they could be voted on immediately. I strongly believe that Cut, Cap, & Balance is exactly the type of revolutionary spending reform that prevents our children and grandchildren from inheriting mountains of debt.  I will continue to push Congress to adopt that plan.
Tax cuts do not create jobs. Not the kinds of middle-to-working-class jobs that allow people to earn enough to raise families, educate their children, and save for the future.
Eliminating loopholes for profit-heavy Corporations and the Mega-wealthy would provide enough revenue to begin putting people back to work and would begin to create more new taxpayers.
Another opportunity to cut spending will come up in the month of September when Congress faces a deadline to set spending levels for the next fiscal year.  This should be a good opportunity for conservatives to revive the Balanced Budget Amendment debate and push for short term spending cuts.
Finally, as I’ve said before, we’re not $14 trillion in debt because we tax Americans too little; we’re in debt because as a country we spend too much money.
Talking point Alert! 
You do know that just because it FEELS true to YOU doesn't make it true, right?
We're in debt because:
President George W. Bush took the surplus funds he inherited from President Clinton, and gave them away as tax cuts to rich people; then, when 9/11 happened, there was no surplus to tap; 
GWB then started two wars on borrowed money (no one ever seriously questioned it); created a huge new Department--"Homeland Security;" and rewarded his Drug Company friends with a huge drug plan that cost the Government (or, if you will, the taxpayers)--many bucks.
To make matters worse, in 2007 and 2008, the banking Industry started to crumble under its own leveraged buyout instrument computer algorithms that few understood—and started a terrifying slide that required a huge taxpayer bailout.
Since he was elected, President Obama has saved Chrysler, which paid its bailout money back; has implemented a Stimulus Plan which put people to work temporarily, but was too small; and has successfully passed the “ObamaCares” Health Reform program, which is only a start--and is already helping lift the burden of overpriced Health Care from the shoulders of people you don’t care about.
If President Obama wants more taxes to pay down the debt, we should create more taxpayers not raise taxes on American families.
Downright DIRTY Lie! (See “tax cuts do not create jobs, above), and please refer to the many statements by the President himself about exactly how he wants to raise revenue.  Stop telling working-class people from South Carolina that the President wants to “raise their taxes.”  It is a lie, and you should be ashamed of yourself for it.
I believe the United States can create more taxpayers by putting a stop to President Obama’s anti-small business, pro-union, and hyper-regulatory agenda that has made it harder for businesses to grow and create jobs.
Are you from Mars?  Seriously--even the President's BASE thinks he's too Conservative!
The 87 new freshmen Congressmen have changed the topic in Washington. Instead of how much to spend, we’re now voting on how much to cut.
And YOU think that's a GOOD thing--when children need to be educated, old folks need food, safety and care--when workers need to make a living wage, and the great Middle Class is disappearing?

Where is your Compassion?
The new freshmen have managed to change the conversation in Washington, but we still have a lot of work to do to really solve our problems. I appreciate all the encouragement I received during the debt ceiling debate.
Did you even read my posts on your Facebook page, or the emails I sent--did you hear the phone messages I left?  That was NOT support!
It meant a lot to hear so many people from back home encouraging me to stand firm and fight to get government spending under control.
Oh, Lord, help me...
I’m sorry I couldn’t convince more lawmakers to stand with the South Carolina delegation and fight for the types of spending reforms that our country needs and Americans deserve. I’m looking forward to spending the next few weeks in the district, listening to your concerns so I can better carry your voice to Washington.

You're going to LISTEN???