Archive for federal government

Tea Party, Jindal, Cantor Get Slapdown From Duck Dynasty And Voters


Duck Dynasty

Who'd have ever thought you'd find the Tea Party, Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.), U.S. House Majority Leader Cantor and the guys from Duck Dynasty dueling in a Louisiana election? It happened yesterday.

The winner is, Duck Dynasty. Well, to be more specific, their backed candidate, Republican businessman Vance McAllister. He's a political newcomer who boasts of never having visited Washington, D.C., yet won a special election in Louisiana on Saturday to fill the congressional seat formerly held by fellow Republican Rodney Alexander.

The man McAllister beat was a fellow Republican, Neil Riser, the Tea Party candidate.

Yahoo News:

McAllister, running as an outsider, lined up an endorsement from "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, the patriarch in the popular reality show, and cast member Willie Robertson appeared in a commercial for the candidate. The program is shot in the northeast part of Louisiana that McAllister will represent.

Unlike McAllister, Riser had the backing of a number of prominent Republicans including U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

What could have been the deciding issue might have been this:

Riser agreed with the governor's stance to reject the Medicaid expansion.

As a state senator, Riser authored a Louisiana constitutional amendment requiring any state gun restrictions to pass the "strict scrutiny" test. The funeral home owner was the contest's early favorite with backing from the conservative Tea Party of Louisiana and the national group FreedomWorks, which is aligned with the Tea Party movement.

So it looks like "Digger" Riser wasn't as popular as an unknown moderate like McAllister. Even with FreedomWorks and the Tea Party's money, the Republicans in Louisiana aren't falling for the right-wing, extremist crap. Louisiana spoke, and they said they want health care subsidies and they believe in sane gun control.

You go,Louisiana. You just sent shock waves through the Republican party. Are you feeling them yet, Reince Priebus?


Internet Sales Tax Bill Moving Ahead


Sales tax

Hold onto your wallets. Watch those credit card receipts. Step away from your computer. The Republicans in the House are making a move on Internet sales tax legislation today despite potential opposition from the GOP base. Once again the GOP is fighting the GOP. The issue that divides the party once again is the Marketplace Fairness Act.


A federal bill that would allow states to compel online and catalog retailers to collect sales tax on all sales, regardless of where shoppers are located, has not been blocked after all.

Soon after reporting this, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said his committee will not pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. Nearly one month ago the U.S. Senate passed the bill by a 69-27 margin.

Now comes word via THE HILL:

Goodlatte could have chosen to bury the bill, but his decision to craft the principles (his recent proposal) shows he is serious about moving some version of the legislation forward.

Currently, if you buy something through the internet you pay no sales tax.

That's not exactly correct, but it's the theory. You see you DO pay sales tax if the item is shipped to you from somewhere within your own state. Many states have distribution and shipping facilities in their particular states so they are obligated to collect sales tax. And they're supposed to ship to you from your state if it's available. But don't believe it. I've bought things, been charged a sales tax and then saw on the tracking slip that the item was actually shipped from another state.

Here's the way the law currently works, according to The Hill

Under current law, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers that have a physical presence in their state. People who order items online from another state are supposed to declare the purchases on their tax forms, but few do.

Yet here's the strange rub. If I go to Sears in my nearby Nevada, and buy something and have it shipped to my residence in California, I pay no sales tax, even though there's a Sears in the Golden State. There is a shipping fee though, but depending on the item, it might be cheaper than the tax.

pickpocket in congress

So now the federal government is trying to get involved. And we know what a mess that can be when the federal government tries to get involved in enforcing state law or any tax laws for that matter.

Here's the gist of it from the Heartland Organization:

Proponents of the Marketplace Fairness Act argue it is needed to restore a balance between online and traditional “bricks-and-mortar” retailers. However, the act requires online retailers to collect sales tax from each consumer, based on where the consumer is located. Traditional retailers collect tax based on where their stores are located, not on where their shoppers come from.

I'm all for saving brick and mortar stores. I personally like going out and shopping. And I buy more things when I'm out and see things I had no intention of buying before I left my house. That's good for the economy.

But I also like the convenience of internet shopping. So I think there will always be a need for both to coexist. So what this comes down to is taxes -- whether the states get their fair share.

This could soon become a hot-button issue.

Matthew Glans, senior policy analyst at The Heartland Institute, believes states should not be able to tax residents of other states because they have no political voice in the taxing state.

“The nexus standard that disallows state governments from forcing a tax on a company without the company having a physical presence in the state is an important taxpayer protection that has been repeatedly upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “This standard protects us from an abuse that Americans have fought against since our nation’s inception: taxation without representation.”

So keep your eyes open. While Republicans in the House are up to their tricks with self-destructive issues like Syria, the IRS, Immigration Reform, the Budget, and debt limits, they may try to squeeze in this bit of taxation. They're floating it. Let your congressperson know you're keeping your eye on it, no matter which way you feel.

Just remember I told you so when this gets attached to some highways or farm subsidy bill.


Government: Shut Up Or Shut Down


No budget no pay

The odds of a government shutdown this autumn are ever increasing. That's the scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill these days, with the White House and congressional leaders both digging in. And of course, little consideration is being given to the people this lack of approved budget will have on regular people.

Our concern and well-being are far down the list of considerations by Congress because they really don't care. Their pay is guaranteed. Or so  it seems. But the fine state of Illinois, led by Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka may have found a way around this -- at least temporarily.

Causing huge delays in passing a Pension Protection Act, Illinois congresspeople found that their paychecks were suspended. All it took was a simple stoke of the pen by the Governor who defunded the accounts that pay these legislators. With that, the comptroller ceased issuing checks.

An existing bill to the Constitution says changes in lawmaker salary cannot take effect during the term in which they were elected. But in the case of Illinois and with a similarly stated law, Quinn cited a prior court ruling and said he isn't changing their salary, he's just withholding the money to pay it. A technicality, but a legal one.

Article II

President Obama has executive powers, especially in what he can label a temporary state of emergency -- a lack of a functioning approved budget allowing the country to maintain law and order. A case of national security. We all know about that. He can suspend any constitutional rights (broadly interpreted as legal under Article II of the Constitution outlining executive powers). Just because Obama hasn't used these powers this way before, doesn't mean he doesn't have them.

Consider this excerpt re: Article II of the U.S. Constitution from Wikipedia:

A presidential proclamation "states a condition, declares a law and requires obedience, recognizes an event or triggers the implementation of a law (by recognizing that the circumstances in law have been realized)". Presidents “define” situations or conditions on situations that become legal or economic truth. These orders carry the same force of law as executive orders—the difference between the two is that executive orders are aimed at those inside government while proclamations are aimed at those outside government. The administrative weight of these proclamations is upheld because they are often specifically authorized by congressional statute, making them “delegated unilateral powers”. Presidential proclamations are often dismissed as a practical presidential tool for policy making because of the perception of proclamations as largely ceremonial or symbolic in nature. However, the legal weight of presidential proclamations suggests their importance to presidential governance.

(The words or phrases underlined above are mine -- just for emphasis.)

Maybe it's time to call the congressional bluff. Let Boehner and the GOP stand in the way of a reasonable budget and shut the government down. Then see their paycheck's funding withheld as a non-essential funding expenditure during the crisis. Congress will still eventually get paid because that's mandated by law, but WHEN can be determined by an executive order. Requiring a SCOTUS ruling to overturn it will require SCOTUS to be in session -- and if they're not funded, they won't be around to do that.

How fast will these obstructionists endeavor to do the right thing when they won't have a valid paycheck to come home to, just like so many of us? My bet is pretty fast.

Can this be done legally? We won't know until it's been tried. Boehner and the GOP seem to want to play a game of bluff. Maybe two can play at this. Care to  show your cajones, Mr. President?


Chart: Ruh-roh! Red state socialism alert!



There it is, in black and white, red and blue. Takers and makers, moochers and givers, socialists and ...

Wait. Just. A minute.

Oh my GOD! Look at that chart! What's become of this country of ours?!  The Red State Socialists are winning! The Takers are Taking! Taking OVER, that is! Hide the kids! Everybody panic!


Or, just get a grip and realize that the government is there to represent us (aka elections), protect us, keep us safe, help us, and even provide opportunity. It's about time those on takers the right accept reality, take a hard look at facts, breathe deeply, and reset.


Quickie: Don't tell the GOP, but Chris Christie defended the Big Bad Federal Government



Today's Quickie:

Chris Christie reminds us why the Big Bad Federal Government isn't so big and bad after all. In fact, it can save lives. Wait. Isn't protecting U.S. citizens exactly what it's supposed to do? Why yes. Yes it is.


“The gas situation should be figured out in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said. “It’s not just a supply issue, it is a power issue and we were not frankly, in the private sector, prepared for this widespread loss of power.

That was today's Quickie. Was it good for you?


"Paul Ryan Shrugged"


Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Reader Eric K. Johnson sent a proposal to BuzzFlash at Truthout for the Paul Ryan sequel to Ayn Rand's famous book, "Atlas Shrugged."  The book encapsulates Rand's theory of "objectivist" indifference to the "parasites" of the earth, those who get in the way of the "rational selfishness" of the masters of the universe.  This is a philosophy avidly embraced by Ryan over the years.

BuzzFlash at Truthout took the liberty of reducing the short book outline to a few Paul Ryan tenets. (Although we took the liberty of putting his philosophy from pen to paper, Ryan had no role in it.):

Grandma couldn't afford medical care to treat her colon cancer and passed away – and Paul Ryan Shrugged

Poor children had nothing to eat for lunch at school. Blaming the teachers, Paul Ryan shrugged. [...]

Women were forced to carry babies to term, even if raped – Paul Ryan shrugged.

Gays were beat up by gangs of skinheads – Paul Ryan shrugged.

Taxes on what was left of the middle class were doubled to provide increased tax breaks for the top ten percent who owned the majority of American assets – Paul Ryan shrugged. [...]

America's roads and infrastructure fell apart leaving all but the rich living in a dystopian society that was a step back toward the stone age – Paul Ryan shrugged. [...]

Paul Ryan accepted Social Security survivor payments to cover his college costs and then became dependent on tax payer dollars for a salary of more that $170,000 a year, a lavish pension covered primarily by hard working Americans, and top of the line healthcare. His extended family's company got fat on government contracts – Paul Ryan shrugged. [...]

And then Paul Ryan brown-nosed his way into becoming a vice presidential candidate with an empty suit who was all smiles because he was too dimwitted to be concerned about anything but amassing a pirate's bounty – and the two of them didn't shrug: they looked forward to creating an international members only club of avaricious greed. ......

Please read the rest here.

More on Paul Ryan's "love affair" with Ayn Rand and his recent change-of-heart  squirmitude here.


VIDEO: "If Coupon Paul's Medicare plan so darned good for folks under 55, why is it not good enough for everyone now!"


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I caught this on MSNBC this morning, but our one of our favorite readers, HarborGuy, managed to jot it down and email it to us. Above are the two clips.

A couple of wonderful points about Coupon Paul's Medicare plan:

1. IF it's so darned good for folks under 55, why is it not good enough for everyone now! (E.J. Dionne)

2. That it is costing family members money now, to help out seniors on Medicare as it stands. As we move into the future and if Little Eddie's plan were to be put in place, not only would it cost seniors that up to 6 grand but it would probably fall
to family to supplement that, putting their OWN retirement/savings plans at risk! (Lizz Winstead)

I hope that Campaign Obama starts asking those questions.

Here's the entire segment. And it was great to see Ari Melber take the reins. He's one of MSNBC's best:

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