Monday, August 29, 2011

A sort of book report by Kate Salley Palmer

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FED UP! OUR FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICA FROM WASHINGTON
(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.”

Wow. 

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."

Reps.
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

Commentary
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.
-SIGH-
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???
REALLY?

Monday, August 1, 2011

TV PUNDITS PASS JUDGEMENT

"Morning Joe" on the Debt Limit Bill

The panel (except Mika) was chortling about how the President got "rolled" by the Tea Party. They said that he looks weak and that he capitulated to the GOP; that Tea Party “stood firm” and "won;" they say Obama is a "bad negotiator."

I live in South Carolina. I know the Tea Party delegation here. The only thing they “stand firm” on is their disdain for Government. Not just “Big Government:“
ALL Government.

Their talking points are: (say it with me). “We don’t have a revenue problem—we have a spending problem;” and, “job-killing” taxes, or deficit, or whatever. Some of them didn’t even want the Debt Ceiling raised. They argued that we wouldn’t default: they just “felt” it, I guess.

Or maybe God told them, like He told them to vote against Boehner’s Grand Bargain.
These folks talk to Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist, and God.
But they don’t listen to God.

Michael Sreele was gloating that the Tea Party stood united & "beat" Obama.
The liberal Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman said that “Obama surrendered.”.
Tea Partiy true believers were gleefully announcing on TV that they wouldn't vote for it.
Wow--everybody hates the Deal--even those who say they "won."

But IS the President really a bad negotiator? It's hard to say, considering that he was "negotiating" with people whose minds seem to lunge around like moths looking for a light bulb to immolate themselves on.

Several weeks ago, Obama offered these same people a "Grand Bargain;" three trillion dollars in entitlement reform, plus 1 trillion dollars in tax reform. It was the best deal ever offered to conservatives by a Democratic president.
His own party was apoplectic with rage.

The Republicans walked away from it.
He sweetened the pot.
They walked away from it again.
And again.
Poll after poll revealed that the President's position--a combination of spending cuts and tax reform, or "shared sacrifice"--was the solution desired by a large majority of Americans.

But most Republicans had locked themselves in a closet with self-appointed kneecapper Grover Norquist and they couldn’t break free. They had signed away their votes for safe re-election bids. By signing a pledge never to raise taxes, They had abdicated their responsibility to think for themselves.
And that’s just the way they liked it. Thinking is hard. You may have to defend what you think--or try to explain why you think it.

When one party comes to the bargaining table in such a hobbled position, it's tough to see how it can even be called a “negotiation.”

Time and again, House Speaker John Boehner presented offers from the Democratic leaders-- including the President--to his caucus, and each time was sent back to the "negotiating" table.

One of Boehner's biggest problems apparently, was Congressman was Eric Cantor, who reportedly torpedoed some agreements before Boehner could make a move.

The President did quite effectively demonstrate that the Republicans would not accept any solution that was offered. That was clear after several days.

Finally, with financial Markets on the verge of collapse around the world; with the credit rating of the United States in peril; at the very last moment--a deal containing no immediate tax hikes was cut.

It is a deal that everyone hates. Progressives hate it. The Tea Party hates it. The American people hate it.

But I realize now, that--given the visceral animosity towards the President--had he indeed invoked the !4th Amendment as many wanted him to do, the ensuing outrage would have been too poisonous.

Some critics blame the President for ignoring the looming Debt Ceiling increase for 8 months

Duh.

Congress won’t do anything these days without a gun to their heads.
So, on "Morning Joe," people were praising the Tea Party for their "negotiating skills," saying they "won."

That’s like praising a sitting dog for sitting.