Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘safety net’ Category

In Treatment of Joplin, Eric Cantor Reveals GOP’s Sick Attitude

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 25, 2011

How sick inside do you have to be to be capable of stiffing disaster victims in your own country just so the rich guys who pay your campaign bills never have to pay meaningful amounts in taxes?

You have to be Eric-Cantor-level sick, that’s how sick. Per, via David Dayen of FDL:

As the Washington Times reports, Cantor said any aid would need to be offset by other spending cuts, “If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.” The term “pay-fors” means either spending cuts or tax increases, and the Republicans have firmly stated that they would not pass any tax increases this year. The Washington Times also points out that six years ago, then-House Majority Leader Tom Delay approved Hurricane Katrina aid without offsetting spending cuts. At the time Delay said it was acceptable to just add the Katrina aid on to the deficit.

That’s right, folks: Eric Cantor makes Tom DeLay look good in comparison. Think about how bad you have to be for that to be possible.

The people of Joplin, Missouri are finding out at first hand.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, safety net | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Alan Simpson Gives The Game Away: We’re All “Lesser People”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2010

Just as Michael Steele touched off a huge furore when he admitted that the Southern Strategy, far from being something only Richard Nixon used, has been part of the Republican bag of tricks for four decades, Alan Simpson has sent his fellow Catfood Conspirators scrambling for cover as they fall over themselves trying to disavow his blunt statements concerning the Catfood — erm, Deficit Commission’s true goals:

By the way, the stuff Simpson’s spewing, particularly about the worker-to-retiree ratio, has already been debunked to a fare-thee-well. Here’s one debunking:

Myth: Social Security is a victim of the aging baby boom, reflected in the ratio of workers to retirees, which used to be 16 to 1, is now 3 to 1, and in 2030, will be 2 to 1.

Reality: Today’s projected deficit has nothing to do with the size of the baby boom or worker to retiree ratios. The 16 to 1 ratio is a meaningless factoid, plucked from 1950, a year when Social Security was expanded to cover millions of new workers. The ratio never influenced policy in the slightest. It is the kind of ratio experienced by all pension plans, public and private at the start when few workers have yet qualified for benefits; the 2 to 1 ratio is meaningful and does translate into higher costs, but those costs were addressed decades ago. Congress has enacted ten significant Social Security bills since 1950. Every enactment has taken into account the baby boom, and each has left the program in long-run actuarial balance. The most recent enactment was in 1983, when the program was in balance through 2057 – the year the youngest boomers, those born in 1964, will turn 93. How social security went from a projected surplus through 2057, when most of the baby boom will be dead, to today’s projected deficit involves a number of factors, mainly related to changes in assumptions about wage growth, productivity and disability rates. The change from surplus to deficit is totally unrelated to the number of baby boomers, as one would surmise. After all, no new baby boomers have been born since 1983.

Remember, Simpson comes by his upper-class arrogance honestly: He’s the spoiled-brat son of a former governor and senator, not the hard-bitten self-made man he’s implied to be. And his own son, Colin, is the Republican Speaker of the Wyoming House.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, deficit, propaganda, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, safety net, Silly Republicans, Silver Spoon Squad, Social Security | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Pity Washington DC

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 20, 2010

All of its major newspapers are in the hands of neocons or paleocons, and none of them have your interests at heart.

Case in point: Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, the Nixon Cabinet member who has been trying to destroy Social Security for the past two decades in the name of “fixing the deficit”, apparently now shares control of the WaPo’s newsroom with Fred Hiatt and can dump anti-SocSec and anti-Medicare pieces from his Fiscal Times propaganda rag into the Post whenever he wants:

It told readers that: “On the fiscal commission, Stern [Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union, one of members highlighted in the piece] is already looking for ways to break through the ideological camps on deficit-reduction.” In fact, individuals who are not motivated by ideology would note that the country’s projected long-term deficit problem is driven almost entirely by the broken U.S. health care system.

If per person health care costs were the same in the United States as in any other wealthy country, then the projections would show huge budget surpluses rather than deficits. It also should be possible for the people in the United States to take advantage of lower cost health care systems elsewhere even if the power of special interests like the insurance and pharmaceutical industry prevent reform here. This basic fact should feature prominently in any discussion of the long-term deficit that is not motivated by ideology. It is never mentioned in this piece.

But of course this is all part of the Southern Strategy: The corporate-religious bigot alliance to con white working-class Americans into voting for corporate tax cuts and against their own economic interests as a way to hurt people with darker skins than theirs. Once again, I bring Reagan advisor Lee Atwater back from the grave, all the way from 1981, to explain:

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Ni–er, ni–er, ni–er.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘ni–er’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Ni–er, ni–er.”’

This is why his fellow Republicans were and are so angry at Michael Steele, who while he tries to be a good Republican has this unfortunate habit of remembering that he is a black man, and thus is incapable of hewing to the GOP lie that the Southern Strategy was never used after Nixon’s time. It is, in fact, not only still in use today, it is the basis of all Republican and conservative actions worth dignifying with the name.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, deficit, distractions, Pete Peterson, phony scandals, privatization, safety net, Silver Spoon Squad, Social Security, Southern Strategy | 3 Comments »

In Which I Wish, Desperately, That I Was Wrong

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 21, 2010

As I write this, Congressional Democrats are about to give, at great political cost to themselves, the insurance, pharmaceutical and other health-care industries in America a big fat gift that will further enrich them at our expense, that will eventually eliminate all coverage for abortion in all insurance plans nationwide, and that will force the 45-million-odd Americans who aren’t on the health-insurance company rolls because they can’t afford health insurance to cough up thousands of dollars they don’t have to buy insurance that will be even worse and more expensive than it is today, or face the wrath of the IRS. And all of this without a robust public option to provide the competition needed to keep the insurance companies from gouging us.

Why are they doing this? Apparently because they’ve been told, over and over again, that President Obama is doomed if they don’t. The irony is that, in being forced to vote for this massive turkey, they have not only sealed their doom come November, but their loss will bring about the very 1994-style electoral doom for Obama that they’re told they must prevent at all costs. Republicans are licking their chops and are already hurling a flurry of anti-mandate amendments at the bill, amendments they know will fail, just so they can use their opposition to insurance mandates to score points with voters in the coming campaign ads we’ll be carpet-bombed with for the next six months.

Aside from a stimulus bill that was half the size it needed to be, and now a bill that gives trillions to the health and insurance industries and sticks us with the bill even as it aims another blow at Roe v. Wade, Obama and the Democrats haven’t got very much done over the past year even when they had 60 seats in the Senate and 257 in the House. What happens after they get their clocks cleaned this November? They won’t be able to “fix” the bill even if they wanted to — and so long as they value the deals of May 11, 2009 more than the wishes of their constituents, they won’t want to anyway. (Not that the currently-fashionable crop of corporate-owned Democrats have done much revisiting of bad bills they’d promised to “fix”. See also: NAFTA and DADT.)

I wish, desperately, that I was wrong. I fear that I am not.

(Crossposted at DailyKos.)

Posted in 2010, abortion, Democrats, health care, President Obama, Republicans, safety net | 22 Comments »

And Now, A Word From Eli

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 13, 2010

This whole post on Bathtub America is good, but I especially liked this part because it sums things up so well:

Starving the government because you don’t like everything it does is like starving your body because you’re pissed off about a hangnail, and then using your inevitable decline as proof that your body sucks and doesn’t deserve to be fed. And then insisting that you’re better off using the money you saved on food to pay for some nice efficient life-support machines to take care of you instead.

Thanks, Eli!

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, 2010, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, safety net, when government is a good thing | 4 Comments »

Just Keep Diggin’ That Hole, Mitt

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 17, 2009

Just when you thought you were safe from Willard, he’s tanned, rested, and spewing gibberish in his battle with Tim Pawlenty for the 2012 votes of the Cleon Skousen-Glenn Beck fan base as he attacks President Obama’s eminently sensible decision to scrap the useless and costly Reagan-Bush Star Wars missile shield concept once and for all.

Y’know, it might not be good for the Mittster to draw attention to himself right now, not when the news of the utter health care reform failure of RomneyCare (aka the MaxTax Co-Ops Beta) in his former home state is starting to make it onto the national media’s radar screens.

Posted in 'starving the beast', 2012, eedjits, GOP bullying, gravy train, health care, Iran, Mitt Romney, Professional Christians, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, Russia, safety net | 2 Comments »

Pawlenty Sure Loves Him Some Regressive Taxation!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 4, 2009


Minnesota’s Republican governor, Smilin’ Tim Pawlenty, has presidential ambitions. He also has a long history of cutting taxes on the rich and then, while pretending to be anti-tax in order to please Republican presidential tastemakers, using “fees” to hit middle-class and lower-class Minnesotans where it hurts.

Minnesota 2020 has the scoop on how Pawlenty’s regressive taxation works:

From fiscal year (FY) 2003 to FY 2008, real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) per capita state fees increased by 20.8 percent. In other words, growth in state fees has exceeded both inflation and population growth by nearly 21 percent.

Based on projections for FY 2009, real per capita state fees have increased by 19.1% from FY 2003 to FY 2009. Because state tax revenue is more than seven times greater than state fee revenue, a 19.1 percent increase in fees is no where near enough to make up for a 13.0 percent decline in taxes, so total state own-source revenue (i.e., all state revenue generated by the state excluding federal aid) is down 9 percent.

Most importantly, the increase in state fees has financial implications for the typical Minnesotan.

* Getting married? Congratulations. That marriage license will cost you $110-$40 (57 percent) more than six years ago.

* Lose that birth certificate? In 2003 it would have cost you $20 to get it replaced. Today it will cost you double.

* Going pheasant hunting? Good luck. Your pheasant stamp will cost $7.50-50 percent more than six years ago.

Each of these fees has one thing in common: the increase is much higher than inflation. While some fee increases may be necessary to pay for increased costs, it is clear that fee increases are also being used to back fill a hole in the state budget.

Fees are Regressive

Minnesota’s revenue system has become regressive, meaning lower-income households pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do higher income households. Regressivity in Minnesota’s tax system increased from 2002 to 2004 and is projected to increase again by 2009.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, fees are “considered regressive because they take a larger percentage of income from low-income groups than from high-income groups.” There can be no doubt that Minnesota’s increased dependence on fees has shifted more costs to those with the least ability to pay.

But Smilin’ Tim doesn’t care about all that — especially not now, when he plans to run for national office. Why? Because of what Paul Krugman explained about the Republican Party a few days ago:

Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision…

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

There’s a reason Republicans generally don’t do well in cities, especially big ones — these entities know that they need government to survive. (Well, so do suburbs, but they often try to pretend they don’t by mooching off the core cities they surround.) If you’re a white person and you live in a city, you’ve probably made your peace with nonwhites and don’t begrudge them their share of the fiscal pie. Conversely, this is also why Republicans do their best in the South and in white-flight exurbs such as those that make up most of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, 2012, Minnesota, racism, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, safety net, Southern Strategy, taxes, Tim Pawlenty, wrong way to go about it, You're On Your Own-ership Society | Comments Off on Pawlenty Sure Loves Him Some Regressive Taxation!

More Media And Religion Silliness

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 1, 2008

Barack Obama made a major announcement about the role of faith-based groups in the Federal government’s social-welfare efforts. The AP muffed it, making it sound as if Obama was going to follow Bush’s policy in this regard — and that set off a fresh feeding frenzy among those already inclined to see Obama as Bush with a suntan.

Meanwhile, all but unnoticed, Steve Benen posted an article at Salon that the feeding-frenzy folk have yet to see, being that it only has ten letter responses, which is one-tenth of what the frenzy folk have dropped over at Greenwald’s Salon shop. The article of Benen’s sets forth the following facts:

1) Prior to Bush, religious organizations and local, state and Federal governments had worked together for a very long time without much incident, largely because of the heavy-duty strictures and safeguards that existed.

2) Bush ripped out or ignored those safeguards.

3) Obama intends to restore them.

4) The AP botched the reporting to make it sound as if he wasn’t.

I also want to mention another fact: Since we’re not likely going to soon get a tax structure of the sort that obtained during Eisenhower’s presidency, then the only way that Obama can start to restore major portions of the frayed social-programs safety net (a net frayed because of Republican tax cuts for the rich and Grover-Norquist-prescribed deficits that he advocated “curing” by destroying the safety net) is with the aid of religious charities.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, BushCo malfeasance, safety net, WTF? | 1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: