Archive for U.S. Congress – Page 3

Jobless, aidless, homeless v. the wealthy who live in homes with moats, Botox rooms

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makers takers Luckovich cartoon workers joblessVia Mike Lukovich, amuniversal

In the past couple of days, the Los Angeles Times letters to the editor about the jobless and homeless knocked it out of the park. I'm sharing a few samples, because our voices matter:

Re "222,000 in state to lose jobless aid," Dec. 25

So, Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky claim that funding extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would hurt their chances of getting hired.

By that logic, it would necessarily follow that the homeless should not be given rent subsidies for an apartment because it would hinder them from buying a house someday.

I get it now.

Jerry Lasnik

Thousand Oaks

***

"222,000 in state to lose jobless aid" — that was the headline I saw Christmas morning, and it totally ended the joy that day should have brought.

I hope Santa had 535 lumps of coal for each voting member of Congress.

David Mathews

Downey

That was just in California. Nationwide, the number of those who will no longer receive unemployment benefits skyrockets to 1.3 million. Did I mention that Congress members-- who are paid $174,000 a year-- are taking a holiday break (yes, another one) to rest from all the work they didn't do?

And we all know what unemployment can lead to, right? If you answered "homelessness," you would be correct. And as so many American families struggle to eat and stay alive, the very, very wealthy struggle to come up with ways to keep up with the over-the-top Joneses by outdoing one another with preposterously showy novelty perks.

There is no link to the following letters, because, true to form, The L.A. Times failed to post these online. I transcribed these from my morning paper and added a link that is a MUST-read:

Re "Union Station's homeless," Editorial, Dec. 25

Once again we read on this Christmas Day that the business community-- in this instance, aided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority-- finds no room for the desperately poor at Union Station.

One way to justify keeping the homeless at bay is to perpetuate blatant stereotypes, exemplified by the oft-repeated phrase "aggressive panhandling."  Both words are extremely negative and imply that people asking for charity are not only "bums" but that their actions, as the word "aggressive" conveys, border on violence.

When our favorite nonprofit organizations beg for our money, we call it intensive fundraising and assume it to be normal and expected, even when we are "aggressively" bombarded with stacks of nuisance letters and phone calls-- something no person without a home has ever done to me.

I suspect The Times was being ironic when it mentioned that only 4,000 shelter beds are available each night for Los Angeles County's more than 57,000 homeless, and then that outreach workers should encourage people at Union Station to seek out Shelters.

Douglas J. Miller

Santa Barbara

***

On Christmas Day, an article in the Business section reported on houses built with moats and other luxuries selling for as much as $50 million.

In the same paper, The Times editorialized on the homeless in Union Station. The editorial noted that there are 57,000 homeless in L.A. and only 4,000 beds to serve them.

Something is seriously wrong.

Jan Goldsmith

Sherman Oaks

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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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Eric Cantor's 2014 House schedule allows for even MORE time off

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maynard g. krebs work

Here's what I wrote in 2012: Republicans control the calendar in the House of Representatives. They're cutting back their work schedule. Again.

And this: 113th Congress: Work?!

Then earlier this year I wrote this: Sequester schmequester: House GOP votes to recess for the week. Senate, too.

Here's what I wrote a few days ago: VIDEO-- Why everybody would like to be a member of Congress: Lots and lots of time off. Lots.

Here is what the calendar for the first session of the 133th Congress looked like:

congress calendar

And now, unbelievably, it's getting worse. Eric Cantor just released the House calendar for 2014:

House calendar 2014

Roll Call:

The House is scheduled to be in session 113 days in 2014.

This schedule is:

  • laughable
  • disconcerting
  • embarrassing
  • bewildering
  • ridiculous
  • outrageous
  • contemptible
  • self-serving
  • obscene
  • aw-w-wkward!

Feel free to add to the list.

Are Republicans trying to lose more voter confidence? Then again, with less time at work, there's less time to obstruct. Meantime, they can keep using their trusty town hall mob scenes meetings to spread their lies and make their threats.

Here's why I feel the way I do:

chart bills passed by Congress thru 2012 worst GOP fail

...and dropping.

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VIDEO-- Why everybody would like to be a member of Congress: Lots and lots of time off. Lots.

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maynard g. krebs work

congress calendarLink

Back in November 2012, I posted 113th Congress: Work?! It included this segment from The Rachel Maddow Show:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Then in February 2013, I posted Sequester schmequester: House GOP votes to recess for the week. Senate, too.

Now here we are, nearly exactly a year after my "Work?!" post, and, coincidentally, there is another Rachel Maddow video to share:

Rachel Maddow:

Nice deal right? ... That kind of a schedule and a six-figure salary for doing it? That's a combination that is impossible not to love.

More vacation... that's their big plan.

And now the GOP is thinking of cancelling more days again. During this session. Again. They're only working 19 more days this year, see, because, see, they can't figure out a way to "fill their agenda." No, I'm not kidding, watch the video.

They had time for a government shutdown, but no time to work on immigration reform. Make that, "no time to work," period. They are on track to be the most unproductive Congress in history.

chart bills passed by Congress thru 2012 worst GOP fail

Since John Boehner became Speaker, the House has accomplished nothing.

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If GOP wins lawsuit, #Obamacare falls apart in 36 states

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up up and oy vey

Heavy sigh:

Los Angeles Times: The Affordable Care Act proposes to make health insurance affordable to millions of low-income Americans by offering them tax credits to help cover the cost. To receive the credit, the law twice says they must buy insurance "through an exchange established by the state."

But 36 states have decided against opening exchanges for now. Although the law permits the federal government to open exchanges instead, it does not say tax credits may be given to those who buy insurance through a federally run exchange.

Apparently no one noticed this when the long and complicated bill worked its way through the House and Senate. Last year, however, the Internal Revenue Service tried to remedy it by putting out a regulation that redefined "exchange" to include a "federally facilitated exchange." This is "consistent with the language, purpose and structure … of the act as a whole," the Treasury Department said.

oy

Of course, the president's usual opponents are all over this and have filed four lawsuits. They salivate over anything that so much as hints at the demise of Obamacare and insist that the Obama administration abide by the strict wording of the law, "even if doing so dismantles it in nearly two-thirds of the states." Of course they do.

And as long as the House is under Republicans control, no way can the Obama administration fix this by suggesting that Congress legislate, well, anything.

And just as worrisome, one U.S. District Judge, a Clinton appointee, won't dismiss the suit and said he'd issue a written ruling.

oy oy

No judge has ruled directly on whether the IRS rule is illegal and contradicted by the health care law. Other judges in other states are considering similar suits, and if any of them rule in favor of the Obama(care) haters, the ACA could be put on hold until all the legal issues are ironed out. In fact, it could eventually end up in the Supreme Court.

oy oy oy

Stay tuned.

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Fed Up: Special Comment by my 76-year-old friend

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fed up

My impassioned “72-year-old”  friend (who is now 76, but who’s counting?), who goes by the Twitter name @42bkdodgr, would like to share his feelings of frustration about the state of politics and our dysfunctional Congress. I am more than happy to oblige, especially because I feel the same way.

This rant reminds me of one I did awhile ago: We have no choice. It might be time to revive that one.

Now on to "Fed Up." But first, a personal note from 42bkdodgr:

Many of you may wonder why I chose to use the “72 year old friend” as the introduction to my Special Comments. I selected the moniker so readers could see that from my age and life experiences I give a different perspective to the issues of today.

Now for his Special Comment:

FED UP

Like most Americans, I'm FED UP with the dysfunctional government we have.

I'm FED UP that there is a segment within the Republican caucus that refuses to compromise.

I'm FED UP that Republicans have more loyalty to a pledge they signed with Grover Norquist, to never raise taxes, forgetting the oath they took when sworn into office.

I'm FED UP that Republicans in Congress would rather spend government funds on phony investigations than pass a jobs and infrastructure bill, that would create jobs for millions of people, which would move our economy forward.

I'm FED UP with all the hate and racism that exists in our country.

I'm FED UP that the leaders of the Republican Tea Party don't denounce the use of racist remarks, hateful signs and pictures, displays of the Confederate Flag at rallies they attend in Washington D.C. and in their home states.

I'm FED UP with the disrespect shown President Obama and the office he holds. This has been going on since Joe Wilson yelled "You lie!" during a speech President Obama was giving to a joint session of Congress.

I'm FED UP that, after five years, there are still Americans who don't consider President Obama an American citizen or a Christian.

I'm FED UP with a party that lost a national election in 2012, that tries to use a government shut down and threat of default on national debt to force their ideology on Americans-- which the people had rejected-- and in the process, cost the country $24 billion.

I'm FED UP that a political party felt shutting down the government was a good thing, and brags about it and is threatening to try it again in 2014.

I'm FED UP that there are members in Congress who got elected with the sole intent of destroying the government.

I'm FED UP that the Republican Party is trying to defund and kill the Affordable Care Act, knowing full well it can't be done, in the process wasting more government funds.

I'm FED UP with members of Congress willing to cut funds that help those Americans in need while continuing to provide subsidies to farmers and oil companies, plus they refuse to close tax loop holes that benefit the rich.

I'm FED UP that states have or will enact laws to suppress the voting rights of Americans, when voter fraud doesn't exist in the country.

I'm FED UP that states have passed laws that don't allow women to control their own bodies.

I'm FED UP that the Evangelical Christians wanting to impose their religious ideology on all Americans and want to bring down the wall separating church and state.

I will continue to be FED UP, until these issues are addressed, or we will remain an extremely divided country pulling in different directions.

It's sad thing to say, but we are becoming a government, that unless one party controls Congress and the presidency, the chances of any important legislation getting done is almost nil.

That why it is extremely important for Democrats to vote in 2014 if we want to retain control of the Senate and possibly gain control of the House. Americans better begin to wake up and learn; the foundation of our democracy is being threatened by the radical right and it must be addressed.

Many thanks again for another thorough, relevant piece, @42bkdodgr. You often say what many of us are thinking and feeling, and we thank you for your unique perspective.

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"Poof goes the middle class"

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middle class out of vogue

Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Poof goes the middle class," Opinion, Oct. 23

Thanks to Doyle McManus for his timely review of Tyler Cowen's book, "Average Is Over." The trends crippling the middle class that Cowen writes about have been in the making since the 1970s. It took the Great Recession to finally bring this research the recognition it deserves.

Americans today instinctively know that something is wrong, thus the high percentage who tell pollsters the country is going in the wrong direction. But I think few understand that their economic world has changed forever.

What is really needed now is a rebuilding of the middle-class labor force to educate and train (or retrain) workers for well-paying, non-exportable jobs such as nursing, plumbing and high-tech manufacturing. The German labor model may be worth exploring. In Germany, government, private business and labor unions collaborate in a nationwide apprentice training system.

Unfortunately, most U.S. politicians are stuck with the bromides of the past. Someone needs to tell Americans that the world economy has changed and they need to change with it. However, they are going to need lots of help; otherwise, "poof goes the middle class."

Carl Martz

Redlands

***

We shouldn't forget that this country's once sizable middle class emerged under uniquely favorable circumstances.

Not long after World War II, our newfound affluence — which gave rise to the middle class — overshadowed that of other developed countries, where war had wreaked industrial devastation. In addition, our wealthier citizens were taxed heavily, which funded massive government investment in public infrastructure, thereby spurring prosperity for all.

These huge advantages eventually eroded as our economic competitors regained their industrial footing. Outsourcing, automation and tax cuts decimated our middle-class jobs.

Sustaining a middle class seems a lost cause. We're left with the challenge of downsizing cherished but unrealistic expectations. As McManus suggests, that wouldn't be easy even if Washington weren't so dysfunctional.

The middle-class dream was nice while it lasted.

Betty Turner

Sherman Oaks

***

McManus paints a sobering picture of the future of the United States if current trends continue, pointing out that increasing inequality "leads to lower economic growth, more poverty, more fragile families and, as a result, less happiness."

More important, great inequality poses a threat to the ideals and foundations of our democratic system.

A year before he died, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." We have been here before.

Theodore Roosevelt warned us 113 years ago that "ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism."

We made the reforms necessary then for the country to prosper; we should do so again.

Jonathan Hubbell

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