This is too good… :)

Department of self-defeating arguments

By Steve Benen

Congressional Republicans are still quite outraged by President Obama’s recess appointments last week, and plan to take up a resolution criticizing the move — just as soon as they return from recess.

Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) and 71 other House Republicans introduced a nonbinding resolution today voicing concern over President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of four administration nominees last week.

“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” Black said. “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.” (emphasis added)

Jonathan Bernstein called this the “best self-refuting argument ever,” adding, “(W)e’re to believe that it’s outrageous for the president to call what’s happening now a recess, and the House intends to take it up as soon as they get back into town after recessing for the holiday.”

Exactly. The president decided lawmakers had left town for a congressional recess. Lawmakers effectively endorsed the line when they said the White House couldn’t submit a request for a debt-ceiling increase while they were on a congressional recess.

<…>

I’d encourage Republicans to think this one through a little more, but I’m not sure they’d understand the problem even if they pondered the contradiction.

- more -

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2012_01/department_of_selfdefeating_ar034684.php

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The Man, the Myth, the Legend….

Everyone who is anyone in the conservative ranks these days loves to reference Ronald Reagan as the man who brought fiscal restraint and responsibility to government. He was the creator of Supply Side Economics and lower tax rates.   He is often (by these same people) given credit as the man who pulled America out  from one of the largest recessions since the great depression.

On the flip side, everyone who is anyone in the liberal ranks these days loves to reference Ronald Reagan as the man who gave tax cuts to the rich, increased income inequality, and was the benefactor of a business cycle that was on the way out of a recession.

These two themes mentioned have saturated the airwaves and newspapers on a daily basis for so long that younger people, older people, and even our politicians no longer feel the need to look into the facts.

After all, if you read it in a newspaper and hear it on the news it must be true right?

So the question remains, what did Ronald Reagan actually do to earn such critical acclaim from both sides of the aisle?

Let’s take a look.  The first table represents the tax cuts during his administration.  The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 was clearly the largest tax cut of them all.  In fact, that act alone was the single largest tax cut in history.

Tax Cuts
Billions of Dollars
Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981
-264.4
Interest and Dividends Tax Compliance Act of 1983
-1.8
Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986
-0.2
Tax Reform Act of 1986
-8.9
Total cumulative tax cuts
-275.3

Further detail into these tax cuts would show that tax rates dropped from 70% to 28%, tax incentives were added for businesses, and regulations were reduced.  These details, coincidentally,  are the same talking points that we have grown to “know” over the last 30 years.

However, there is also a side of the story that is less heard of…tax increases.  With increasing deficits, in large part due to the tax cuts, Reagan’s hand was forced to increase taxes as well in order to alleviate some of the deficit burden.  In 1982, just one year after giving the biggest tax cut in history, he signed into law one of the largest tax increases in history with the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.   This act took back lucrative tax breaks, and raised taxes on cigarettes among other items.

Tax Increases
Billions of Dollars
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
+57.3
Highway Revenue Act of 1982
+4.9
Social Security Amendments of 1983
+24.6
Railroad Retirement Revenue Act of 1983
+1.2
Deficit Reduction Act of 1984
+25.4
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
+2.9
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
+2.4
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986
+0.6
Continuing Resolution for 1987
+2.8
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987
+8.6
Continuing Resolution for 1988
+2.0
Total cumulative tax increases
+132.7

During his 8 years in office,  he did provide a net decrease in tax revenues, this is probably why there are some who like to consider him the Godfather of Tax Cuts and even more in congress who are standing strong to their ‘Reaganesque’ style principles by vowing not to increase taxes under any circumstances.  What they don’t realize is that they are not even abiding by the same set of principles as the man that they are trying to idolize.

You see Reagan knew how to compromise.  Reagan knew that negotiating with the other party is necessary.  Contrary to popular belief, Reagan knew that an increase in taxes is sometimes necessary even if it totally contradicted his brand new economic theory.

These facts are all too often lost in translation, but I believe that this is the story that should be told to our politicians, this is the story that people should remember about Reagan…

 

Don’t believe me though, do your own research.

 

Some info from:

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/reagan-tax-increases/

http://money.cnn.com/2010/09/08/news/economy/reagan_years_taxes/index.htm

9KWZESWZRXE7

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Let’s pretend:

- You make a $174,000 salary

- You have a 5-bedroom house

- Your house is on 5 acres of land

- You own a 2nd house

- Median household income in your state is only $52,103

- You are trying to convince a crowd filled with average income earners that the only way you would take a pay cut would be if they did too.

Okay, time to stop pretending; there is no way anyone would do that so I guess it was a stupid scenario I put together…

 

 

 

On an unrelated note:

Has anyone ever heard of Rep. Sean Duffy (WI).

At a town hall meeting last March he was caught on camera trying to defend his salary, stating that he would take a pay cut if all public employees would take a pay cut.  I’m not sure if he was looking for sympathy, but while defending his large salary he tried telling everyone that he was also in a lot of debt.

I don’t think too many people feel sorry for him…

 

 

Original Article:

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/gopers-demand-sean-duffy-salary-tape-be-pulled-from-the-internet.php?ref=fpblg

 

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Occupy Wall Street meets Tea Party

There have been a lot of articles about how the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement are polar opposites, not to mention thousands of blogs from a bunch of no name Armchair Politicians probably typing out what comes to mind while watching a DVR’d episode of Dexter… but I digress.

- On one hand you have a movement that began with a $12 Million  backing from the wealthy Koch family in order to support their conservative agendas, while the other movement started with a simple request from a blog post and facebook.

- One movement had an entire news network promoting their agenda on a daily basis, while the other movement took almost a month for the protests to gain traction with the main stream media.

This list is endless, but you can read about the differences between the two on your own time.  I am wondering if either of these movements have anything in common?  You wouldn’t think so if you listened to the major network news channels; too many journalists and analysts spend their time trying to label the movements by the type of people that are at the events.   Rednecks, unemployed, lazy, blah blah blah, we’ve heard it all before;  quit going down that road.

I saw a Venn diagram the other day on democraticunderground.com that compared the two at about a  30,000 ft level and I believe there is a lot of truth to this.  However, I don’t know how to draw a Venn diagram so let me try and explain what I saw:

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) – Main themes as follows:

  1. Corporations are too big
  2. Corporations don’t care about average people
  3. Average working people are suffering while corporations and the heads of corporations make all the profits
  4. Corporations exploit or lay off workers and take away their rights

Tea Party – Main themes as follows:

  1. Government is too big
  2. Government doesn’t care about average people
  3. Average working people are suffering while the government taxes too much and spends too much
  4. Government takes away people’s freedoms

So far, they do seem like polar opposites, but this is where it gets interesting:

Commonalities -This should piss off both groups and everyone who is in between

  1. Corporations donate huge sums of money to the election campaigns of government officials.
  2. Government officials of both parties depend on the corporate donations to get elected and re-elected.
  3. Lobbyists from corporations write legislation which elected officials readily adopt.
  4. Both government and corporations are responsible for this mess
  5. This mess has been aided and abetted by the courts (where you guessed it, justices are appointed by the government)

In my book, Armchair Politics, I talked a little bit about the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that repealed parts of the McCain–Feingold Act of 2002.   The landmark 5-4 ruling prohibits the censorship of corporations, basically saying that corporations are to be treated as people under the First Amendment, the freedom of speech.

Although this sounds logical on paper, the repercussions are going to have a direct impact on the way election campaigns are run.  Corporations are now free to run political ads supporting their corporate sponsored puppets, while providing attack ads against those opponents that may put a hindrance on their agendas.

The majority of America doesn’t even agree with the Supreme Court ruling.   In a Washington Post-ABC News poll in early February 2010 it was found that roughly 80% of Americans were opposed to ruling.

Are the movements that were supposedly going in different directions ending up at the same conclusion?

 

Get the money out of politics…

 

 

 

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“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.  This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”  John Adams

This quote was from a letter written by John Adams to Jonathan Jackson back in 1780.   231 years later I am sure that John Adams is now turning in his grave.

Today, our elected officials have once again failed us.  They have both decided to play politics as usual and to put their party’s interests in front of America’s interest.  Should we really be surprised though?

Earlier this summer a super committee of 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats were tasked with a tough assignment of cutting the deficit by 1.2 Trillion dollars over the course of the next 10 years.   That’s 120 Billion dollars a year, mere chump change in the grand scheme of things when you think about it.   They had close to the better part of 4 months to bounce ideas off each other and to come to a mutual understanding.  Increase in taxes, decreases in spending, a combination of both and the problem would be solved.  If a deal was not struck by today, a series of automatic cuts targeting defense spending and entitlement programs (Social Security/Medicare) would be enacted to get the job, that they could not do, done.

While the super-committee was busy with all their inaction there was quite a bit of activity elsewhere;  stock markets took a dump, rumors began swirling about another credit downgrade, and members of congress are playing the blame game.  Not to mention that some are already trying to repeal the automatic cuts that congress agreed on this summer.

Uffda, apparently congress does not want their approval rating to reach double digits this year (currently at 9%).

 

What a nightmare…

 

 

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