Archive for sequestration

Starve The Old, Feed War Fever

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nuclear explosion 2

War costs money. And spending tax revenue on Defense is what the Republican party is all about. Certainly education, jobs, healthcare, immigration, women's right to chose, our infrastructure, science, technology, global warming, clean air, renewable energy can all go to hell in the GOP-run world. It's DEFENSE SPENDING that's the only thing that matters. They'll sacrifice all other things to keep war going and to stop peace at any cost -- even if it means killing seniors if that's what's necessary. Nothing has priority over the DOD. Go Pentagon!

If you don't believe me, The Huffpo reports this:

A pair of House Republicans have a new bill that would spare the military from sequestration by cutting the Social Security benefits of many Americans who already experience painful federal budget cuts.

Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) are introducing the Provide for the Common Defense Act on Tuesday. The legislation would cancel out the next two years of sequestration cuts for the Pentagon by putting a heavier burden on senior citizens and federal workers.

Through Secretary of State Kerry, the Obama administration has so far successfully avoided further confrontations in Syria over chemical weapons use -- the real WMD's that Bush only lied about. Those weapons, through negotiated peaceful means are being destroyed as of this writing. This, of course was done over the hawkish objections of the Republican party stalwarts and pro-war at any cost mouthpieces, McCain and Graham.

The cost of American human lives on that peaceful, negotiation front? Zero.

Now it comes to Iran -- our biggest threat in the middle east. For nearly 30 years, we weren't even directly talking. Now we are. On this Iran front, where the same GOP warmongers have been pushing for armed conflict, we've reached a tentative accord to curtail and perhaps even reverse the nuclear threat this country presents. A conflagration there would certainly lead to potential world war and resulting annihilation. One would think that a potential peaceful solution would meet with cheers and hosannas, but we're dealing in Congress with the GOP war merchants, and peace means they can't justify increases in military spending. Damn, they might have to legislate within their own designed sequestration restraints.

We're not finished with Syrian and Iranian threats by a long shot. But we've barely given peace a chance and the Republican military industrial complex is trying to starve our seniors, just in case. They want to cut their benefits substantially reducing their already meager existances. If there ever was, as Michele Bachmann claimed, death panels, it's got to this GOP goon squad. This time it's being chaired by Reps. Jim Bridenstine and Doug Lamborn. It's not called the Affordable Care Act. It's known as the Common Defense Act (CDA). The only thing common about it is the continuing war on the middle class and poor it propagates.

In the GOP/Tea Party world we need more nukes, less Grandmas and Grandpas.

BTW, rumor has it there's a secret bill being circulated as a fall back if this CDA doesn't pass. It's going to require the oldest Social Security recipients to work to qualify for senior benefits. Over 75 and you'll be forced to register to be outfitted with explosives and dropped as bombs in the Middle East if this bill doesn't pass.

Remember Slim Pickets in Dr. Strangelove? Just picture John McCain playing that iconic role of Major King Kong.

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Open your eyes, voters-- U.S. Attorney: “We’re OK now but at some point that will cease to be true.”

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open your eyes smaller

Crackerjack move, Republicans, keep it up. Continue to reveal what true geniuses you are. See, by slashing federal jobs, by cutting resources needed to litigate important matters that affect all of us, you're allowing bad guys to skate. America first! Go GOP!

Then again, since when have Republicans worried about the commission of financial crimes (or war crimes, for that matter)? In fact, this situation, in and of itself, is a crime.

Via Bloomberg:

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said a federal hiring freeze is threatening his office’s ability to carry out its job of prosecuting financial and other crimes.

People are going to get away,” Bharara said today at a Practising Law Institute event in New York. “We’re OK now but at some point that will cease to be true.”

Other governmental departments and offices have faced financial constraints as a result of federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Bharara said he’s not able to replace prosecutors who leave through normal attrition.

When do voters open their eyes widely enough to notice that the GOP is and has been terrible for this country? Between...

  • limiting the ability to prosecute crimes,
  • limiting women's (and everyone else's) ability to get health care,
  • limiting Americans' ability to vote,
  • limiting the little guys' ability to fight corporations,
  • limiting immigrants' ability to make it here and contribute to the nation and its economy,
  • limiting the LGBT community's ability to acquire the same rights and protections as the straight community,
  • limiting children's ability to get a decent public education,
  • limiting families' ability to eat,
  • limiting workers' ability to join unions and collectively bargain for workplace rights,
  • limiting all our ability to generally attain equal rights and equal pay,
  • limiting the president's ability to simply get his cabinet and judicial nominees through...

...between all of that, self-serving, shortsighted Republicans have shown that they are intent on destroying everyone and everything except the things that benefit them directly.

Open. Your. Eyes. America! Vote Democratic in 2014.

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Despite Pres. Obama Beating Back Barbarians at the Gate, #Sequestration Is Still Harming Many Americans

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cancel the sequester

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

Yes indeed, with "The Tea Party and the Economy: It's Like Putting an Arsonist in Charge of the Fire Department."  Paul Krugman also opined on the ruinous impact of the rabid Right Wing in a column, "The Damage Done":

Elections have consequences, and one consequence of Republican victories in the 2010 midterms has been a still-weak economy when we could and should have been well on the way to full recovery.

But why have Republican demands so consistently had a depressing effect on the economy?

Part of the answer is that the party remains determined to wage top-down class warfare in an economy where such warfare is particularly destructive.

Think of Obama's sudden emergence of spine as having kept the dam of the American economy from bursting, wreaking havoc throughout the nation -- with a devastating global impact had the nation defaulted.  Yet, due to the Tea Party (financed largely by the likes of the Koch Brothers) and Republican Ayn Randians such as Paul Ryan and the opportunistic Ted Cruz (along with the less fanatic, but, nonetheless, austerity-driven Mitch McConnell) the dam is still leaking like a sieve.  It hasn't burst, but the jury is still out on whether or not the dam will break open from all the holes blasted open by the alliance of libertarian oligarchs with neo-Confederate populists.

Let's look at just one example: sequestration.  The Republicans in Congress insisted on potential sequestration (automatic cuts in the domestic and military budgets) as a condition of raising the debt in 2011. [...]

This summer, the AFL-CIO blog listed "25 Ways the Sequester Causes Real Harm to Real People." These include: "kids kicked out of Head Start"; "increased homelessness"; "elderly adults not being able to eat"; "loss of unemployment benefits"; and much more damage to a large swath of US citizens, not to mention the economy. [...]

Given that the Republicans in Congress continue to oppose new sources of revenue (higher taxes on the rich and the closing of corporate and financial institution loopholes, along with perhaps some financial transaction taxes), the likelihood of the austerity juggernaut continuing is high.

Basically, the federal budget and debt have been negotiated since Reagan largely on Republican terms...

Please read the entire post here.

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Tell Mitch McConnell, Three Strikes And You're Out

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three strikes

Two days ago, Mitch McConnell was invited into a closed door, very private meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office. The topic was the stalemate over the continuing resolution, or more specifically, a CLEAN C.R. The meeting was among POTUS and the majority and minority leaders of both houses. Small, exclusive group.

Afterwards the Speaker (John Boehner) and the House Minority Leader (Nancy Pelosi) went to the mic and the press with their thoughts on the meeting. The Senate majority leader (Harry Reid) also addressed the fourth estate. Of the four invited guests, only one was "asked" not to speak. It's not that he wasn't part the the meeting. It's that his party, specifically Boehner "induced" him to keep his yap shut because he's a questionable ally right now. He's Mitch McConnell. STRIKE ONE

Well, things didn't get much better for him the following day. He was asked to answer some questions up on Capitol Hill and he wasn't prepared. So he got an assist from Rand Paul. With McConnell hot wired, meaning his mic was on and recording, he was taped as he was being schooled in the Republican Party talking points from the junior senator. (See Laffy's Post here for video). And it seems neither knew what they were talking about -- so they both came across and wandering nomads in the desert of Republican fools -- laughing stocks on all media. STRIKE TWO

Now comes another day, another goof. McConnell asks the Supreme Court and receives their permission to address them on the topic of eliminating all limits on campaign contributions. The case SCOTUS is going to hear is on Oct. 8th, the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case, It challenges the aggregate limit on contributions by an individual donor.

In simple terms, this new case which McConnell is fronting, will ask the court to allow anyone or any group (see Citizens United case) to contribute unlimited monies to any candidate. Basically it's allowing the purchase of an office to the highest bidder.

Two groups promoting campaign finance reform, the Public Campaign Action Fund and USAction, have purchased air time in Kentucky,  Their ads aim to challenge McConnell to explain his opposition to campaign finance restrictions.

The Senate Minority Leader is going to have two Kentucky candidates licking their chops going after the senator over this ad. McConnell faces a GOP primary challenge from Matt Bevin. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is the leading Democratic candidate in the general election. You know you're in trouble when the same ad benefits your opponents from both your own and your adversarial parties. STRIKE THREE

If any of you folks out there have some empty boxes you want to get rid of, please send them to the senator's office. Looks like he's got a move coming up and with the government shutdown, packing supplies might be gone by the time the election rolls around, and he has to ready his office for this replacement.

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John Boehner wants to prolong sequestration. Oh, and his job performance numbers are in the toidy. Coincidence?

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A Public Policy Polling poll of Ohioans has GOP House Speaker John Boehner's job performance numbers at a whopping 20 percent; 59% disapprove of the job he's doing. (John Kasich's not doing too well, either. Follow the link.)

owie

Since October 2012, The Boehner's approvals have fallen 13 points, down from 33%.

Gee, could it have anything to do with the fact that he "is, in fact, bad at his job”? How bad? Well, as we speak, TPM has a post on Boehner's call for more-- wait for it-- sequestration:

...House Speaker John Boehner reiterated that his chamber would move quickly when Congress reconvenes to pass a continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown but prolong sequestration.

The short-term resolution would keep the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration in place.

Good grief, can he get any more tone deaf?

Take this L.A. Times headline, for example:

Defense officials tell Congress that scheduled sequester budget cuts threaten to gut the military.

Or this Times story:

The Obama administration announced Monday that about 5,600 low-income California children would be shut out of federally funded Head Start preschool programs because of Washington budget gridlock.

How's that outreach workin' for ya, GOP?

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What I will not write about today

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frustrated33 grrr

Sometimes I get so frustrated and/or disheartened and/or annoyed by some of the news stories of the day that I can’t bring myself to write about them. Here are a few recent reports that made my blood pressure hit the roof. I am avoiding delving into them at length out of concern for my physical and mental health.

See what I mean? So who’s up for a couple of Margs or a trough of wine?

drunk honest people

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Funny How This Works

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Sequestration

Sequestration. A dirty word if you ask most people. Thousands, if not millions of workers have been furloughed, if not downright fired during the arbitrary pissing contest between Republicans and Democrats. For nothing more than spite -- a fact members of both parties will most likely agree -- government is running below full capacity. Departments are short on funding, little to no infrastructure improvements are being made, lines to receive services are growing and the attention has been lessening, security has slackened off and who pays the price? You and me.

irs

But, like with many bad things, there results a discovery of some good things. In this case, possibly government waste. So here it comes, the good word, at least to me and thousands of IRS employees through an article on The Hill.

The IRS has canceled a furlough day scheduled for Aug. 30, after finding enough budget savings to stay open.

The scheduled Aug. 30 furlough day, leading into the Labor Day weekend, was the last of five originally scheduled due to the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration.

Werfel (Danny Werfel, the interim head of the IRS) canceled the scheduled July 22 furlough day as well, after also saying that the agency had cut enough costs to stay open. The IRS’s first three furlough days — on May 24, June 14 and July 5 — went ahead as scheduled.

The good news is some  people will be going back to work. And in addition, there may be some overspending that's been done in the past that is now caught and will be fixed for the future. Maybe some streamlining has been discovered. Efficiency is always welcomed.

Not necessarily being a fan of the IRS but feeling for it's employees or anyone, for that matter whose lives have been hurt by CC -- Congressional Craziness -- I got to thinking. The agency discovered enough cost cuts to stay open for two additional days. Gee, that sounds good. But doesn't that indicate that maybe they were sloppy in how they ran their organization to begin with. I mean the cost to keep the department open isn't just a few dollars, it's not money they found walking to their car in the parking lot. Each day the department is open and running costs roughly $10 Million/day using 2005 statistics, and I'm sure it's larger than that now.

Actually part of that cost that caused the close-down wasn't just the sequestration. It was the cost of another wild goose chase -- the politically motivated witch hunt spearheaded by everybody's favorite clown, Congressman Darrell Issa.

Wild Goose Chase

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced last week that he was sending a subpoena to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for IRS documentation, after saying that the agency response time was slow and that many of the documents it sent over were unusable.

Hmm. Did it ever occur to the chairman that his voting to cut funding to the treasury department might be the reason for the delay. That's like firing your waiter at a restaurant and then complaining when your food doesn't arrive.

The dizzying task of trying to find funding to keep the IRS running isn't just the cost of the Issa personal vendetta. There's also another consideration.  And this one seems to be even equal in mind-bogglingness.

Werfel had also said earlier that the IRS would be able to cancel the final two furlough days if the agency was able to cancel staff bonuses.

What kind of bonuses are they handing out? It cost the government $10+million/day to run the IRS. I could almost understand if they found their savings by eliminating coffee and donuts for the day. But bonuses? Why are there any bonuses at all. Don't they make a good enough salary? We're talking $10 million/day here, folks. I'd say skip my pay, just give me my bonus.

Well, if that eye-opener wasn't enough, consider this. Federal guidelines relating to holiday pay say that to qualify to be paid for a national holiday, the employee must work the business day before and the business day after the holiday. If the IRS had shut down on August 30th, as a sequestration day, that would have meant that they would not have been required to pay the employees for the Labor Day holiday because the holiday fell during their "vacation". That, BTW, would have saved the government another $10 million.

So isn't it amazing that they saved money to get all of the IRS employees an extra day's pay? Between Darrell Issa with a stick up his backside over a concocted scandal that exists only in his demented partisan mind and the manipulations of bonus-getters from the IRS who "found" enough cuts to guarantee them a holiday pay, the IRS is surviving Sequestration.

Maybe if we could vote to stop this congressional craziness we might have a more efficient government and a smaller one at that. If it weren't for the sequestration, how'd we have known about the abuses/costs of say, the IRS bonuses.

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