So many people espouse this idea that a) our government is far too big and that b) we spend too much and so c) need to cut spending needs to read all of the following by Senator Bernie Sanders, (Ind., VT):
As a member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, I am more than aware that a $17 trillion dollar national debt and a $700 billion deficit are serious problems that must be addressed.
But I am also aware that real unemployment is close to 14 percent, that tens of millions of Americans are working for horrendously low wages, that more Americans are now living in poverty than ever before and that wealth and income inequality in the United States is now greater than in any other major country -- with the gap between the very rich and everyone else growing wider and wider.
Further, when we talk about the national budget, it is vitally important that we remember how we got into this fiscal crisis in the first place and who was responsible for it. Let us never forget that when Bill Clinton left office in January of 2001, the U.S. had a budget surplus of $236 billion with projected budget surpluses as far as the eye could see. During that time, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, enough to erase the entire national debt by the end of 2011.
US Defense spending vs. the rest of the budget
What happened? How did we, in a few short years, go from a large budget surplus into horrendous debt? The answer is not that complicated. Under President Bush we went to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and didn't pay for them. We just put them on the credit card. The cost of those wars is estimated to be between $4 trillion to $6 trillion. Further, Bush and Congress passed an expensive prescription drug program that was unpaid for. They also reduced revenue by giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations. On top of all that, the Wall Street collapse and ensuing recession significantly reduced tax receipts and increased spending for unemployment compensation and food stamps, further exacerbating the deficit situation.
Interestingly, the so-called congressional "deficit hawks" -- Congressman Paul Ryan, Senator Jeff Sessions and other conservative Republicans -- all voted for those measures that increased the deficit. These are the same folks who now want to dismantle virtually every social program designed to protect working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. In other words, it's okay to spend trillions on a war we should never have waged and large defense budgets, and provide huge tax breaks for billionaires and multi-national corporations. It's just not okay when, in very difficult economic times, we try to protect the most vulnerable people in our country.
US Defense spending vs. the rest of the world:
Where do we go from here? How do we now draft a federal budget which creates jobs, makes our country more productive, protects working families and lowers the deficit?
For a start, we have to understand that, from both a moral and economic perspective, we cannot impose more austerity on the people of our country who are already suffering. The time is now for the wealthy and multi-national corporations who are doing phenomenally well to help us rebuild America and lower our deficit.
At a time when the richest 1 percent own 38 percent of the financial wealth of America, while the bottom 60 percent own a mere 2.3 percent -- we cannot balance the budget on the backs of people who have virtually nothing. When 95 percent of all new income during 2009 through 2012 went to the top 1 percent, while tens of millions of working Americans saw a decline in their income, we cannot cut programs that these workers depend upon.
Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of one out of four corporations in America not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. At a time when multi-national corporations and the wealthy are avoiding more than $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing money in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, we need to make them pay taxes just like middle-class Americans. The truth of the matter is that according to the most recent information available profitable corporations are only paying 13 percent of their income in federal taxes which is near a 40-year low.
While in January 2013, we successfully ended Bush's tax breaks for the richest 1 percent, the truth is that they continue to exist for the top 2 percent, those households earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year. That must end.
At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can afford to make judicious cuts in our military without compromising our military capabilities.
Frankly, it is time that Congress started listening to the ordinary people. Recently, the Republican Party learned a hard lesson when the American people stated loudly and clearly that it was wrong to shut down the government and not pay our bills because some extreme right-wing members of Congress do not like the Affordable Care Act. Well, there's another lesson that my Republican colleagues are going to have to absorb. Poll after poll make it very clear that the American people overwhelmingly do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, according to a recent National Journal poll, 81 percent of the American people do not want to cut Medicare at all; 76 percent of the American people do not want to cut Social Security at all; and 60 percent of the American people do not want to cut Medicaid at all. Meanwhile, other polls have made it very clear that at a time of growing income and wealth inequality, Americans believe that the wealthiest among us and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.
It is time to develop a federal budget which is moral and which makes good economic sense. It is time to develop a budget which invests in our future by creating jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure improvement and expanding educational opportunities. It is time for those who have so much to help us with deficit reduction. It is time that we listen to what the American people want, and not just respond to the billionaire class and major campaign contributors.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, if we're going to cut anything, anything from our national budget, it should be our defense spending and budget, first. Not only does it make eminent sense, it can easily, easily be argued it would actually make us stronger both internally and externally, not weaker.
Let's face it, the fact is, there are only two real problems Americans have with the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."
Sure, there's the whole idea that we aren't quite sure what it is or how much it's going to cost or who's going to pay for it or, ultimately, how it will work because, really, that would require reading and/or paying attention, after all, right? And who's "got time for that"?
But ignoring that, there's really only two problems Americans have with this bill.
The first one is the big one.
It REQUIRES Americans to do something.
It demands that we all get health insurance.
And that goes against everything Americans in the 21st Century have come to be for.
WE HATE TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO.
And we especially hate to be told what to do, for something to be required of us by Uncle Sam. We hate to be told we have to do something BY GUBMINT. It just goes against our current, very spoiled grain right now. We're far too spoiled to have anyone TELL US WHAT WE HAVE TO DO. (Even if it's for the greater well-being of the society, too, as it turns out).
That's the first problem.
The second problem is a tougher one, though albeit more short-term.
We really, really don't want no dang Kenyan/Socialist/Communist/Pinko/Gubmint lover tellin' us what to do.
Oh, and it was Dubya's administration that made it illegal--ILLEGAL, mind you--for our own government to be able to negotiate lower costs for our--for you and me out here in America--prescription drugs from the pharmaceuticals.
And people think the current President is out to do bad things to the public NOW, by making the most expensive health care system in the world more affordable for us?
Senator Roy Blunt's Facebook page today said the following:
Most Americans oppose the Senate Democrats' proposal to raise the debt limit without implementing real spending reforms. I agree. The federal debt stands at almost $17 trillion today. Washington needs to get serious about reining in out-of-control spending.
Well, yeah, except a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this week showed completely, totally and utterly the opposite of the Senator's contention:
And let's keep in mind, the Wall Street Journal is solidly pro-business and Right Wing leaning owned, as it is, by Rupert Murdoch so it shouldn't be claimed this is some wacko, Left Wing media nonsense.
The evidence is overwhelming.
Americans blame the Republicans for the federal government shutdown and rightly so, and Americans want our government up and working, running again and we also patently don't want our nation to go in default on our debt we already owe.
Another thing. Lest Republicans should try to contend that they haven't supported these debt ceiling increases in the past:
Finally, where, exactly, is the debt right now anyway?
The debt is actually dropping?
Under this president?
Maybe we shouldn't have this shutdown and a possible default on our debt after all.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Friday that he is calling off a planned execution using the drug Propofol in the wake of threats from the European Union that the 27 country bloc will scrap exports of the drug altogether if it is used for lethal injection, the AP reports.
Nixon is a fervent death penalty supporter who saw 59 men executed during his tenure as attorney general in the state. Missouri been had slated to become the first state to use the drug in an execution October 23, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The governor's announcement comes a day after German drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi confirmed that it halted all shipments of the drug Propofol to a U.S.-based distributor after 20 vials were sent to Missouri for execution of prisoners on death row, Reuters reports. Shipments of the drug to Louisiana-based distributor Morris & Dickson were suspended from November 2012 to March 2013, the company stated.
The EU has banned the death penalty, as well as the export of drugs for use in lethal injections. The company purportedly halted shipments over concerns that the EU would place an all-out ban on exports of Propofol if it is used in executions.
A majority of Propofol is produced in Europe, and the manufacturer says the drug is administered approximately 50 million times a year for surgical procedures in the United States.
Nearly two dozen Missouri death row inmates had filed a lawsuit over concerns that injection with an experimental drug would cause horrific pain and suffering.
Once again, our country, the good old US of A is on the wrong side of an issue and the rest of the world has to correct us.
To hear Republicans, you'd think any Federal Government shutdown they induce is either not effecting people or a good thing.
Herewith, then, are 50 different ways their conceived, planned and executed shutdown is hurting Americans and America, with thanks and acknowledgement to The Huffington Post:
Border patrol training has been suspended in New Mexico. (LINK)
Businesses, including a hot dog store in Columbus, Ohio, can't get their government-backed Small Business Administration loans. (LINK)
Congress' failure to consider a farm bill because of the shutdown is hurting dairy farmers. (LINK and LINK)
Sugar daddy websites, focusing on relationships that feature older men who spend lavishly on women, are witnessing a spike in interest, which some website operators attribute to young women losing government benefits. (LINK)
Real estate agents in Texas are seeing less business. (LINK)
Veterans, including 100 Missouri State University students, will not receive federal tuition assistance. (LINK)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilities -- in states that include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin -- are closed to the public. (LINK)
Timber contracts for national parkland have been suspended and sales are slowing. (LINK and LINK)
A town in Montana dependent on seasonal tourism has become a "ghost town." (LINK)
A dinosaurs fossil exhibit museum delivery to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has been delayed. (LINK)
Private tour companies near Yellowstone National Park have seen a dramatic drop in customers. (LINK)
An annual roundup of wild ponies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia has been canceled. (LINK)
Private hotels on government property are struggling with the shutdown and the absence of customers. (LINK and LINK)
The director of a project to study stink bugs was furloughed, just as the pests are beginning to find winter hiding places inside homes. (LINK)
Arizona stopped payments to 5,200 families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (LINK)
Private businesses at Grand Canyon are suffering. (LINK and LINK)
A legal challenge to Texas' voter ID law has been delayed at the request of the Department of Justice. (LINK)
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are growing frightened. "The blind spots are getting bigger every day as this goes on," said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds in Atlanta. (LINK)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission court cases have been delayed in Maine. (LINK)
The citrus forecast, which influences price negotiations between Florida growers and juice processors, was cancelled. (LINK)
Farm and livestock producers are lacking basic information to make business decisions. (LINK)
Two New Hampshire families were stuck in Arizona parking lot after planning 20-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. (LINK)
Lockheed Martin announced it was furloughing 3,000 workers in Colorado. (LINK)
The Maverick Mountain Bike Championship canceled two of its three races in Colorado. (LINK)
The absence of a farm bill has hit cotton farming in Georgia. (LINK)
Nursery plants in Virginia may die waiting to be given to defense installations. (LINK)
Federal investigators can't inspect a fatal Metro accident in Washington, D.C. (LINK)
The Department of Justice is seeking a delay in a National Security Agency case. (LINK)
Washington, D.C.'s, food trucks have lost a tremendous amount of business. (LINK)
United Technologies Corp. says it may furlough more than 5,000 workers in Nevada. (LINK)
Sea turtle monitoring in Florida has been hampered. (LINK)
Children in Tennessee couldn't ride the bus to school. "Since the Great Smoky Mountains are closed, along with a number of roads overseen by rangers, a some parents had to find another way to get their children to class. During the government shutdown, Bus #49 could not make its route." (LINK)
Habitat for Humanity has been dealt a funding cut. (LINK)
A free health care clinic in Alabama can't take on new patients. "Our hands are tied because we can’t help those patients unless we get that," said Cullman’s Good Samaritan Clinic Executive Director Kelly Lindsey. "We also work with pharmaceutical companies to get people free medicine, but they won’t do that unless we have that paperwork. It’s impacting us quite a bit now." (LINK)
A boy was denied blood test until Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) stepped in to help. (LINK)
Unemployment claims skyrocketed 500 percent in Utah. (LINK)
Build America Bond rebates were not being paid. (LINK)
A death penalty appeal in North Dakota was delayed. (LINK)
...you should probably be paying attention to this sessions' decisions, at least on this one, if nothing else:
In one of the most closely watched cases of the term,McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court will consider the constitutionality of overall limits on how much an individual donor may give directly to federal candidates, party committees and PACs in a two-year election cycle.
McCutcheon is the first major campaign finance case to reach the court since its controversial 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down a ban on independent spending in campaigns by corporations and labor unions. In a 1976 case,Buckley v. Valeo, the court upheld limits on direct political contributions to prevent corruption. That precedent is being tested again in the McCutcheon case; the justices should reaffirm it.
And if that's not enough, look how it seems to be trending from this largely Conservative, pro-business, pro-Republican, pro-big money court:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the bedrock of traditional Republicanism, now says that it will get involved in Republican primaries by providing financial support to incumbent Republicans who vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. In other words, if some Republicans act responsibly and then have to face tea party challengers accusing them of being RINOs, the Chamber will have the back of those reasonable Republicans. It's a civil war within the GOP, folks.
That's how far off the deep end the tea party and right-wing House Republicans have gone. They've lost the Chamber of Commerce.
So good news, indeed. Someone in this group needed to get them to come around to sanity. The shutdown is irresponsible and expensive and utterly unnecessary but flirting with a default on our national debts, which would be catastrophic for the nation and world, is beyond insane.
More proof of good turns for the people right now:
Fortunately, finally, Rand Paul has weighed in on the far bigger problem of a national default on our debt with something that's out and out intelligent, which is far too rare for him: "I think it's irresponsible of the president and his men to even talk about default. There's no reason for us to default."
The trouble is, the source of any default on the debt isn't "the president and his men." Far from it.
Stay tuned, folks. Surely the "right things" will take place here and sanity will rule.
House Republicans who didn’t support tying government funding to ObamaCare now find themselves too committed to the strategy to back down, according to twin reports by David Drucker and Byron York of the Washington Examiner. Both writers said GOP leadership would likely seek to conflate budget negotiations with the raising of the debt ceiling in an effort to extract concessions to justify their efforts, even as they admitted they don’t know what those concessions are.
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) told Drucker Tuesday night. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
“This is not just about Obamacare anymore,” said Michael Grimm (R-NY).
What's crazy is that a) this is so true and that b) we can even here, let alone quote these people saying these things.
"What's happening in Washington these days may seem far removed from my boyhood memories, but Washington is really just another childhood playground. Its current bullies are rightwing Republicans, now threatening that if they don't get their way they'll close down the government and cause the nation to default on its debts.
"The American people don't want a government shutdown, and they don't want Obamacare," House Republican leaders said in a statement over the weekend. "We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it's up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government showdown."
Really? The American people don't want Obamacare as much as I didn't want my softball and bat. Okay, maybe not quite as much. But the only settled way we know what the American people want is through the democratic process. And the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the law of the land. A majority of the House and Senate voted for it, the president signed it into law, its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and a majority of Americans reelected the President after an election battle in which the Affordable Care Act was a central issue.
Moreover, we don't repeal laws in this country by holding hostage the entire government of the United States.
The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party -- extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don't go along.
And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies -- a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket. They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, "Americans for Prosperity'); Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the "Club for Growth"); and Crow Holdings' Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling "FreedomWorks.")
Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It's to take over America. The showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling is a prelude to 2016, when they plan to run Texas Senator Ted Cruz for President. (Cruz, if you haven't noticed, is busily establishing his creds as the biggest flamer in Washington -- orchestrating not only the current extortion but also the purge of reasonable Republicans from the GOP.) Obama and the Democrats must not give in. They shouldn't even negotiate with extortionists. As I learned the hard way, giving in to bullies just encourages them to escalate their demands. The president gave in at the end of 2011 when Republican bullies threatened to go over the fiscal cliff and take the rest of the nation with them. At that time they demanded spending cuts. Now they want to repeal a law they detest.
If we give in again, what's next?
A coup d'état?"
--Robert Reich, American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator