Archive for spending

GOP Won't Vote To Protect Our Borders But They Do Vote To Protect Wall Street

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Wall Street

While the GOP is playing games of distraction with the lives of innocent children at our border, with phony IRS scandals perpetrated by Darrell Issa, and bogus Benghazi fantasies trashing human lives, the Republicans quietly used that to very quietly pass a bill which will impact all of us. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then the GOP has done its job of 'follow the shiny object' while they attack us and our financial and consumer protections.

While the GOP won't vote for money to protect our borders, it quietly found time to vote on a bill to protect Wall Street.

Raw Story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to slash funding for Wall Street oversight and revamp new agencies dedicated to cracking down on fraud against consumers and policing risks after the financial crisis.

The $21.3 billion funding bill, which covers appropriations for the 2015 fiscal year beginning Oct 1 for financial services and other areas of government, passed the House in a 228 to 195 vote along largely partisan lines.

Ask yourself this: why are Republicans protecting Wall Street over the US citizenry? They claim border security is a major concern. What about our financial security and our customer fraud protections?

It [the bill] would temporarily bar a group of regulators responsible for policing market risks from designating large non-bank companies as “systemically important” – so big that their failure would destabilize markets.

In lay terms, it would make them "Too big to fail, too big to jail." Is that really the GOP looking out for us? Can any Republican say, "Lehman Brothers?"

The legislation would also cut mail delivery on Saturdays. Along with that is another seemingly unrelated issue to the Wall Street funding bill. This piece of legislation would prevent the District of Columbia from using federal funds to pay for abortions [including incest and rape victims] and implement rules that decriminalize marijuana use. What's the connection to Wall Street oversight with these tag-ons? Is this a funding bill or some criminal bill? Maybe the only thing criminal about it is that it passed the GOP house.

So as not to make this sound too one-sided. The House Republicans in this spending bill did take a much needed stab at cutting the deficit with a partial spending off-set.

It includes a ban on using taxpayer funds to pay for oil paintings of government officials, including the president and members of Congress.

If that makes it through the Democratic senate (fat chance there), we'll finally have a cost saver we can all live with.

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Three Men And A Rabbi On Another Government Shutdown

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rabbi

The old story goes, two men are arguing their case to a third man over the disputed sale of a mule. The argument becomes heated until the third man spots the Rabbi walking by and asks him to arbitrate. As a buddy to both, the third man didn't want to risk his friendship over this battle. The Rabbi agreed.

The first man tells his side of the story and the Rabbi nods to him and says, "You're right."

The second man rushes to tell his side of the story. After hearing it the Rabbi says, "You're right."

The third man looks to the Rabbi questioningly, "Bill's right and Dave's right? They can't both be right?"

The Rabbi pauses and say's to the third man, "You're right too."

And for years, the argument continued.

That story is similar to the problem with Congress and their budgetary committees. They're never going to see eye to eye and neither party is going to give an inch. They both know the other has valid points, but they'll never agree despite both being right. We, the public, are left as the third man.

According to the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Since the end of World War II, more than a dozen high-profile bipartisan panels have been convened to tackle the nation's thorniest fiscal problems. Seldom have their recommendations spurred congressional action.

Their ambitious, high-octane reports and recommendations are mostly gathering dust on government shelves.

This doesn't bode well for the current 29-member bipartisan budget panel which faces a Dec. 13 deadline. What's at stake is another government shutdown. The current short-term spending bill is keeping the government running, but only through Jan. 15. The current debt ceiling runs only through Feb. 7. That last $26 billion debacle should have taught us something. But it's very unlikely if history is any indication.

One of the few special panels generally hailed as a success is the 1981-83 Social Security commission chaired by Republican economist Alan Greenspan, who later served for 19 years as Federal Reserve chairman under four different presidents. His panel is credited widely with rescuing the old-age benefit program from insolvency.

The panel quickly deadlocked, with Democrats opposing benefit cuts and Republicans opposing higher Social Security taxes. It came up with its big fix only after the direct, heavy intervention by Reagan and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, D-Mass.

The two main participants in that agreement are both dead. And sadly, nothing we can do will bring them back. So we must move on, not die with them.

In 2011, the Simpson-Bowles Act was a result of a wide-ranging proposal that would have generated new revenues and made some social program cuts. But it's sitting, collecting dust after meeting with indifference from both parties.

It failed, Simpson later suggested, because Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike "all worship the god of re-election."

So what will it take to move Congress off the dime and start them on a path to true fiscal leadership?

The answer is actually quite simple. It's a threat.

The threat is for a Congressional clean sweep. Yup, dump the chumps who are gumming up the works. But to get out the bad, remove all of those who are victims of favors they owe or beneficiaries of favors promised by them.

Call it tossing the baby out with the bathwater, but I prefer dump the chump. We'll lose the good with the bad, but if they're really good, they can run for reelection after sitting out a term. Then we'll know who's really dedicated and who's just collecting a check.

Sit one out for the team. Make us miss you and your legislative magic and we'll return you to office.

Until then, fresh blood. No obligations to the gerrymandered farts who don't care about anyone but themselves. They line their pockets with graft and then proclaim they're going to cut unnecessary spending. They will take a cleaver to the fat and sinew in the budget. Sadly they can't distinguish a medallion of fat from a filet mignon.

Fat and gristle to them is defined as spending that doesn't effect them directly. They'll not move an inch to close corporate loopholes but will cut food stamps for the poor. They'll not increase minimum wage or pass a jobs bill which could take hard working people off the food stamp rolls but will enrich farmers and big oil with subsidies -- two places they enrich themselves either directly or indirectly. They favor bridges to nowhere, not roads to deliver kids safely to schools.

It's only a thought, a dream, I know. But movements begin with dreams. And if we're going to face another shutdown, maybe this dump the chump is a dream these elected officials should be hearing before they dig in, entrench themselves and align with the likes of Cruz, Rubio, Paul and the other Tea Party stalwarts. All promoting hard-line stands which will lead to another shutdown.

Let your voices be heard before the shutdown. We can't afford another $26 billion in waste while we're starving millions who live and perish in sickness and in hunger.

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Have Republicans Gone 'Big Government?'

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Who Are You

Let's play "Who Are You?"

Who's currently pushing for immediate funding in big government? The programs in question-- Military, Veterans, national parks, Head Start, Women and Children in Poverty (WHIP), National Institute for Health (NIH), SNAP, Air Travel Safety, food safety?

That's such and easy-peasy question. The answer is the Democrats.

Well, we'll give you part credit for that answer. The real answer is currently, it's the Republicans. Now that the government shutdown, which they caused is having frightful repercussions, the results of their reckless and perilous game is causing huge backlash.

NBC claims to be "SHOCKED" by the horrible numbers in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. And that hasn't been lost on the GOP and even the Tea Party (yes, they really are two parties but that's a different discussion). What should be shocking NBC more is the list of what this desperate, out of touch, old white man's party are now backing. It's as if Professor Backwards was delivering the new Republican platform.

Professor Backwards

Everything the GOP has fought against, they're now for -- and when do they want it? Now!

Ted Cruz turning over in his grave with this bevy of spending bills hasn't been lost on MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Last night's segment of HARDBALL featured this clip:

The Republicans, in the light of public outcry are both being shown to be selfish elitists and big government. They shut down the government. You'd have to be living in a hole underground not to know that. And there's still some who live down there, but most have come to the surface. After years of being lied to and sold a bill of goods, cut down the government, they don't do anything for you as a mantra, the truth is being realized. While they were in their subterranean bunkers, the Democrats and Independents were above ground working for everyone's benefit.

The Republicans and Tea Partiers, not so much, as the clip above shows.

When this shut-down and debt ceiling fiascoes subside and our short memories return, the battles will rage once again. But hopefully there will be some who remember how they were effected by this shutdown. Whether it was parks, military funerals, food for the poor, business, medical clinics or whatever, the sting might last long enough and snap public opinion around a bit, so we can reinstate and improve both the efficiency of the government as well as respect and acknowledge what part it really plays in our lives.

The only one's who won't forget are sadly those who return to a live in a vacuum life, a bubble, or the Tea Party. They'll resurface another day, armed with wackadoo thinking and plotting to bring down our government. Hopefully intelligence and this current experience will defeat them and their representatives.

Doesn't this shutdown make you wish there was an election right now where you could shout out with your vote how displeased you are with the current crop of Republican elected officials?

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50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, I Mean Country

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Back in 1975 the great Paul Simon recorded the iconic, Grammy-winning album, "Still Crazy After All These Years." It included Simon's first and only solo #1 hit, "50 Way To Leave Your Lover." The history behind the single is quite interesting: it was written after Simon's divorce from first wife Peggy Harper. The song is a mistress's humorous advice to a husband on ways to end a relationship.

Mistress. Ending a relationship. Hmm. What if the mistress is Senator Rafael 'Ted' Cruz? Ending his relationship with the GOP and leaving it for a new lover, the Tea Party?

She said it's really not my habit
To intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning
Won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

So while I slip out the back, Jack, make a  new plan, Stan, no need to be coy, Roy, just listen to Ted -- Below are some of the 50 ways that America's being impacted which The Huffington Post found in a survey of local newspapers. You can find the entire list here:

Border patrol training has been suspended in New Mexico. (LINK)

Businesses, 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)

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)

A town in Montana dependent on seasonal tourism has become a "ghost town." (LINK)

Arizona stopped payments to 5,200 families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (LINK)

A legal challenge to Texas' voter ID law has been delayed at the request of the Department of Justice. (LINK)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission court cases have been delayed in Maine. (LINK)

King crab fishing boats have to stay docked without government approval of permits and quotas, costing Alaska fisherman potentially "hundreds of thousands of dollars." (LINK)

Native American communities are seeing nutrition programs, foster care payments, financial assistance for the poor and anti-elder-abuse programs cut. (LINK)

Lockheed Martin announced it was furloughing 3,000 workers in Colorado. (LINK)

The absence of a farm bill has hit cotton farming in Georgia. (LINK)

Federal investigators can't inspect a fatal Metro accident in Washington, D.C. (LINK)

United Technologies Corp. says it may furlough more than 5,000 workers in Nevada. (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)

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)

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GOP reinvention? Republican WI Gov. Scott Walker to push school vouchers

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walker world

It was only yesterday that I posted this:

Dear GOP: Do you think America is deaf, blind, and/or stupid? On second thought, don’t answer that. Their claims of reinventing themselves are a joke. They can use all the carefully parsed words they want, but they are fooling nobody.

Of course, that was about a personhood bill that would ban abortions in North Dakota. Today it's about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's war on public education and unions.

Previously I posted that Gov. Scott Walker’s budget funds school vouchers and charter schools “leaving public schools on life support” followed by Oops! Three Wisconsin voucher schools got state money after losing accreditation. He claims he wants more “choice,” but does Wisconsin spend more per student on vouchers than public schools?

Walker is doing everything he can to make it harder on children, including special needs children, to access public education:

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to increase funding for voucher and public charter schools as well as his plan to create a new stream of funding to allow special-needs children to attend private schools drew immediate criticism Sunday from the state’s largest teacher union, public school advocates and a major disability rights group. [...]

(Walker’s) real focus is privatizing public education with another infusion of resources to the unaccountable taxpayer-funded private school voucher program while leaving our neighborhood public schools on life support,” [Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teacher union] added.

Now the Madison Capital Times is reporting more about his plan to force expansion of vouchers to nine school districts:

And influential former GOP leaders are suiting up to lobby for Walker’s plan to make more public school districts offer a voucher option, in which parents can get state funds to help send their children to private schools.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said that "tying report cards to voucher expansion, as Walker proposes, would undermine bipartisan school reform efforts underway."

How's that reachy-outy thing workin’ for ya, GOP?

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VIDEO, CHART: No, government spending really isn’t going up

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jared bernstein

Relevant segment at about 9:50.

In a previous post which included a video of Paul Krugman reacting to sequester madness: “This is not the time to be cutting at all,” there was also this graph from the Federal Reserve showing that government spending has fallen:

chart graph government spending down under obama

Then Jared Bernstein, appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher (see video), confirmed that government spending is not going up.

And on his website, Bernstein gives us further proof, this time from the Congressional Budget Office (which gives us nonpartisan analysis of the federal budget and the economy for the U.S. Congress):

On the Bill Maher show the other night, I pointed out that contrary to the talking point that government spending is spiraling out of control, it in fact went up only 0.6%, 2009-2012. [...]

Well, here are the numbers, straight out of CBO... [Outlays are] actually falling as a share of GDP (the figure includes CBOs forecast for 2013).

chart graph cbo government spending is not going up jared bernstein

Case closed.

Blame Obama.

Bernstein explains more at the link.

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Oops! Three Wisconsin voucher schools got state money after losing accreditation

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school vouchers

Previously I posted about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wanting more “choice,” but does Wisconsin spend more per student on vouchers than public schools?

Today JSOnline is reporting that a few Wisconsin schools got state money even though they'd lost their accreditation.

Three private schools in Milwaukee continued to receive taxpayer money through the voucher program after losing their accreditation, under a loophole in state law that requires such schools to obtain that official approval but not maintain it. [...]

But on Wednesday, the head of the agency that rescinded its approval of Brenda Noach and Washington DuBois said that both of those schools have now been reinstated.

Still, the questions raised by the DPI accreditation reports illuminate an oversight hiccup for the voucher programs in Milwaukee and Racine.

Of course, Scott Walker is proposing the expansion of  the voucher school program to other cities. What could possibly go wrong?

Accreditation is important for voucher schools because they are not required to follow the same regulations as public schools. [...]

Separate from the accreditation issues, the DPI [Department of Public Instruction] is withholding a portion of each of the three schools' voucher payment because of a failure to meet financial or other reporting requirements.

Privatization: It's the Republican dream.

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