Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kansas Senator Moran (R) Against Closing Loopholes for Jets/Yachts; VAWA Passed by House!

Why are Corporate Jet Owners allowed to write off as a business expense for seven years, when airlines are only allowed five years?

Makes no sense but many of the Bush Cut Tax loopholes make little sense as we are finding out.  We got sold a bill of goods when the Bush Tax Cuts were passed in 2001.  They have been costing this Country dearly with our economy especially after we were attacked on 9/11.  Still don't understand the need for most of the loopholes and would love to know who inserted them into the Bush Tax Cut bill.

Once again, Republicans want to keep the loopholes for the wealthy who don't need the tax breaks if they can afford a corporate jet and/or a yacht while we take away Meals on Wheels, School Lunch programs, and childhood vaccinations.  We understand perfectly Senator as you put your big donors from Kansas ahead of the American people.  
Republican senator defends tax breaks for corporate jet owners (via Raw Story
 By: Eric W. Dolan
Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas on Thursday defended the so-called “corporate jet loophole,” which provides special tax deductions for the owners of private jets. 
President Barack Obama has called for the corporate jet tax break and similar deductions, such as those for yacht owners, to be eliminated as part of his budget plan to shrink the federal deficit. Ending the special deduction for private jets would save about $3 billion over the next decade. 
“The President’s fixation on corporate jets stands in direct contrast with his supposed desire to help the aviation industry and create jobs,” Moran said on the Senate floor. 
The Republican senator said ending the corporate jet tax loophole would hurt job growth in Kansas, a state where many private aircraft are constructed. Moran described Obama’s plan as “dangerous” and “hypocritical.” He claimed the tax break was intended to help manufacturers, not the rich.

Private corporate jets can be written off as a business expense for seven years, while commercial jets can only be written off for five years.

“It’s long time past to address the real problems with meaningful spending reductions and every moment spent talking about corporate jet loopholes is a wasted moment,” Moran said. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chuck Hagel is Sworn in as Secretary of Defense

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Addresses the Military and Civilians of the Department of Defense this Morning:
The speech given by Secretary of Defense Hagel left no doubt about the direction of the Pentagon under his watch (see transcript below).  Terrific speech by the new Secretary of Defense who is going to put the men and women of our military first along with their families.
Hagel Takes Office as 24th Defense Secretary
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service 
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2013 – Just before his private swearing-in ceremony as the 24th secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, arrived at the Pentagon this morning and were greeted by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, military assistant to the secretary of defense.
Hagel said hello to waiting members of the Pentagon press corps as he hurried up the steps of the Pentagon’s river entrance. From there, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little and other defense officials accompanied him into the building. 
Family members and his immediate office staff attended the ceremony, during which Hagel was sworn in by Director of Administration and Management Michael L. Rhodes. 
Hagel then hosted the daily senior staff update meeting attended by DOD civilian and military leaders. 
In a statement released after Hagel’s Senate confirmation yesterday, Little said the new secretary received congratulatory phone calls from his predecessor, Leon E. Panetta, congressional leaders, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.
In his conversation with Secretary Shinseki, Little added, Hagel “indicated his desire to meet as soon as possible to continue and deepen the strong partnership between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs on common priorities for serving our troops, veterans and military families." 
After the staff meeting, Hagel will speak to service members and civilian Defense Department employees in the Pentagon Auditorium. The address will be covered live on the Pentagon Channel. It’s scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. EST. 
This afternoon, Hagel will meet with the service secretaries and attend meetings at the White House. 
Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that he’d traveled across the world with Hagel and has seen him in action in the U.S. Senate. 
“Wherever he is, his talent and dedication to our country are clear. He feels a deep commitment to our men and women in uniform, and as the head of the Pentagon, I know their interests will always be close to his heart,” Biden said. 
“Most importantly,” he added, “I know the president will be able to rely on Chuck’s sound, unvarnished judgment on any issue where our troops are involved. For that and many more reasons, I’m looking forward to working with Secretary Hagel.”
Transcript of Secretary of Defense Hagel Speech this Morning from
Pentagon All-Hands Meeting
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, The Pentagon, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Sergeant Wirth, thank you. 
I am honored to be introduced by anyone today but I'm particularly honored to be introduced by Sergeant First Class Wirth.  He’s a typical Nebraskan:  good looking, smart, great patriot, many other virtues.  My warmest regards to Shannon and your mother in Vermillion, South Dakota.  She deserves all of the credit for producing a family like yours:  patriots, people who give to their country selflessly.  Everyone in this audience and people around the world are doing that, have done that, and will continue to do that… 
Gordon, Nebraska, is where Sergeant First Class Wirth is from.  It's a little town up in the northwestern part of the state.  My family and I lived in that county, Sheridan County, for five years.  My brother, Tom, and I, who were in Vietnam together, served side-by-side, actually, for 10 months of our 12-month tours, we had our tonsils out together back in the '50s, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  And I don't know if it was a two-for-one deal, but it was the only hospital in three counties, Gordon, Nebraska.  So I wouldn't say I have fond memories of Gordon, but nonetheless, thank you. 
And thank you all for what you are doing and have done, will continue to do for our country.  And I also want to address, of course, the people all over the world who continue to help make our country safe, keep it strong, and make America the great nation and the tremendous force for good that America is. 
I want to also acknowledge much of our leadership in this institution who are here today. Specifically, we have the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, who was here, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  We've got the Chief of Staff of the Army.  He makes me shake a little, being an old Army Sergeant. 
But the Sergeant Major of the Army scares the hell out of me, but I think he does the General, too, actually.  And all of you who are so important to our country, thank you. 
A couple of hours ago, I took the oath of office to become the 24th Secretary of Defense.  It's a great honor.  It's a privilege.  Yes, for me, my family, but to be part of your team, who you are is the honor.  That's the great privilege.  You're not joining my team;  I'm joining your team. 
And I want you to know how proud I am of the opportunity the President of the United States has given me and the Congress of the United States has given me.  And I will tell you what I told the President, as I told the Congress, that I will do everything in my power to be the kind of leader that you expect and you deserve, also, the kind of leader the country expects and deserves. 
We are living in a very defining time in the world.  You all know that.  It's a difficult time.  It's a time of tremendous challenge.  But there are opportunities.  And I think it's important that we all stay focused, obviously, on our jobs, on our responsibilities, which are immense, but not lose sight of the possibilities for a better world. 
If there's one thing America has stood for more than any one thing, is that we are a force for good.  We make mistakes.  We've made mistakes.  We'll continue to make mistakes.  But we are a force for good.  And we should never, ever forget that, and we should always keep that out in front as much as any one thing that drives us every day. As difficult as our jobs are with the budget and sequestration -- I don't need to dwell on all the good news there -- that's a reality.  We need to figure this out.  You are doing that.  You have been doing that.  We need to deal with this reality. 
We've got ahead of us a lot of challenges.  They are going to define much of who we are, not this institution only, but our country, what kind of a world our children are going to inherit.  I mean, that's the big challenge that we have.  That's the bigger picture of the objective for all of us.  Yes, it's difficult. 
But it's also pretty special.  I mean, when you think about generations and how many generations have had an opportunity to be part of something great, as difficult as this is, with everything, challenges coming at us, different kinds of challenges, cyber issues, you know all of them.  But we can really do something pretty special for our country. 
I've said to the Congress, the President, as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything I can to ensure the safety, the well-being, and the future of you and your families.
And I want to mention for a moment families.  I think the families are always in a difficult spot, maybe the most difficult spot, because they are left behind.  They're dealing with a lot of uncontrollable s   And we are doing our job, and that consumes us, and that's good.  But the families have a tough time. 
And it's also important for you to know that I'm committed to -- and I've told the president this, the Congress -- to assuring that every person in the Department of Defense, associated with the Department of Defense, civilian or military, is absolutely treated fairly, honestly, equal benefits, everything that each of you do should be dealt with on a fair and equal basis, no discrimination anywhere in any way. 
I've always believed that America's role in the world is one that -- and we've had variations of this throughout history -- has been one that should engage the world.  We can't dictate to the world, but we must engage in the world.  We must lead with our allies. 
Allies are -- as everyone in this room knows -- particularly important.  No nation -- as great as America is -- can do any of this alone.  And we need to continue to build on the strong relationships that we have built.  I think what my friends and my predecessors, Bob Gates, Leon Panetta, have done, build on that foundation, not just within our institutions here about teamwork, which I have noted, but teamwork with allies. 
We renew old alliances.  We reach out and find new alliances based on the common interests of people.  There will be differences.  And we have great power, and how we apply our power is particularly important.  That engagement in the world should be done wisely.  And the resources that we employ on behalf of our country and our allies should always be applied wisely. 
The world looks to America for leadership.  You know, it's interesting, when you look at the turbulent times that we are going through in this country, the one institution that still maintains astounding credibility and confidence and trust in this country is this institution, the military and all those associated with it.  Gallup runs polls every year, and they take the 15 largest institutions in America.  The military's way up here. 
Well, there's a reason for that.  The reason is, essentially, what you have done.  You earn confidence.  You earn trust.  It isn't given away, nor should it ever be given away.  You've done that through your sacrifices.  And we don't want to squander that. 
And we can use that to rebuild all the necessary institutions we have to deal with here in our country and the world.  The world can look to this institution as an institution they can have confidence in and trust.  I will do everything within my power to continue to build on to what Secretaries Panetta and Gates have begun to build and what you all are beginning to build.
As I said earlier in another meeting, leadership is a team business.  It isn't about the leaders.  It's about the team.  It is about the team.  Everybody plays a role in that. 
This morning, after I was sworn in, I went over and spent a little time at the 9/11 Memorial in the park, the chapel, and reflected a bit on what happened on that day in 2001.  I was on Capitol Hill at the time.  Everyone in this room remembers where you were at 9:37 in the morning on September 11th, 2001.  And I surely remember exactly where I was. 
But in Churchill's words long ago, that was a “jarring gong,” the event, that set in motion dynamics that we are living with today.  You go back almost 22 years ago -- as Chairman Dempsey noted this morning in a meeting, 22 years ago tomorrow, in 1991, February 28th, the end of Desert Storm.  If you take those two events and start charting this, not unlike history, you start to see a picture emerge of different kinds of threats, new threats, and there will be more new threats. 
And it gives you some dimension when you back up a little bit and understand this, not that any of us, I don't think, are smart enough to know it all or figure it all out, but it gives us some dimension of what's going on in the world.  The world is at such an uncertain time.  Our budget problems here, meaning -- if nothing else, what we're dealing with, what you're dealing with, what we're all dealing with is, yes, dollars coming down, but it's the uncertainty of the planning, it's the uncertainty of the commitments, the uncertainty of what's ahead.
People are always the most important resource of any institution.  You all know that.  You always take care of your people, always take care of your people first.  And you all have done a tremendous job of that, partly one of the reasons why this institution is so highly valued, trusted by the American people, because you take care of your people. 
And, again, I say to you, I will do everything within my power as Secretary of Defense to be worthy of you and to be worthy of this country and to do everything I can to make sure our people are taken care of, their families, our veterans. 
One of the proudest times in my 12 years in the United States Senate is when friend, former Vietnam veteran Jim Webb, who's spent a little time in this building over the years, he and I co-authored the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.  I was very proud of that, having nothing to do with me.  I was proud of that because we were able to get two World War II veterans, John Warner and Frank Lautenberg, Democrat, Republican, Jim Webb, Chuck Hagel, two Vietnam veterans, Democrat, Republican, we got together, and we got the votes, and we passed the bill.
Now, that's the way things should work for our country, because the objective was not to give Jim Webb or Chuck Hagel or anybody any credit or a party, but the objective was to do something for the country, to do something for the people who sacrifice and who serve and who deserve this kind of attention and this kind of recognition. 
And I say that because much of my life has been about doing everything I could in some way to help veterans and their families, whether it was chairing the Agent Orange payment program, whatever it was, and I'm proud of that.  I'm more proud of that than any businesses or anything else I've been involved in.  And I'm proud of my background.  I'm proud of my career, like you all are.  But nothing makes me prouder, has ever made me prouder than my association with the military and the veterans. 
Well, again, to you, each of you in this room, those of you who are watching this around the world, I say to you:  Thank you.  Again, I say thank you to you for your service, your sacrifices, and I will do everything I can to be worthy of Sergeant First Class Wirth and his family and everybody in this building. 
I look forward to working with you.  You'll always know that you have a Secretary of Defense that will deal straight with you, I'll be honest, I'll be direct, I'll expect the same from you.  I'll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do.  I'll never ask anybody to do more than I would do.  That's the story of your lives.  I wouldn't be worthy if that was not the case. 
Again, thank you for this tremendous opportunity.  I am very proud to be on your team.
Now I've got to go to work. 
Thank you. 
The tone has been set at the Department of Defense with the new Secretary of Defense Hagel who has the support of former Secretary of Defense Panetta and Gates, Generals, Secretary of States and the men and women of our military along with veterans.

Even today, Senator Lindsey Graham had to make a snarky remark:
Republicans had opposed their onetime colleague, casting him as unqualified for the job, hostile toward Israel and soft on Iran. The objections remained strong well after the vote. 
"I continue to have serious questions about whether Chuck Hagel is up to the job of being our secretary of defense," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a statement. "I hope, for the sake of our own national security, he exceeds expectations."
Senators Graham, Inhofe, and Cruz lost a lot of credibility with the Hagel nomination substituting innuendos for facts and even outright lies out of Cruz.  What bothers me the most about Graham is that he is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve so he is talking about his boss.  Time for him to retire with the attitude he has against the new Defense Secretary who is now his Commander in Chief.   During the hearing Graham acted very demeaning/condescending towards Hagel who was an infantryman in Vietnam. Is Graham saying with his venom a former enlisted should never be Secretary of Defense?

There are so many people I know who believed that Chuck Hagel is the right man to be Secretary of Defense.  Their take was the Senators opposing him are still mad that Obama was reelected and has the right to choose his own cabinet.  That anger/hate at Obama for beating Romney may be the real story of today's obstructionist Republicans in the House and Senate who are putting Party and wealthy donors/corporations over what is good for the American people.  A lot of today's Republicans in Congress have so much hate toward the President they don't care if they tank our economy but naively think the American people will support them.  We won't!

Key question is what did Romney promise Inhofe and Graham for them to act like spoiled brats who didn't get their way?  Winner of this fight was Chuck Hagel and the men and women of the Department of Defense - Losers are the Republican Senators, Big Defense, and Israeli Americans who lobby the Senate on behalf of Israel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration Starts 1 March; House will be Out of Town

The Governors understand how much the Sequestration is going to hurt their states, but looks like the GOP House could care less as they will be out of town on 1 March

Yesterday's speech by President Obama to the National Governor's Association covered many of the harmful effects Sequestration will have on the middle class and poor in all the States:

Partial Transcript:
Unfortunately, in just four days, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do.  
This morning, you received a report outlining exactly how these cuts will harm middle-class families in your states.  Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to deal with finding child care for their children.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.  Tomorrow, for example, I’ll be in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where workers will sit idle when they should be repairing ships, and a carrier sits idle when it should be deploying to the Persian Gulf.  

Now, these impacts will not all be felt on day one.  But rest assured the uncertainty is already having an effect.  Companies are preparing layoff notices.  Families are preparing to cut back on expenses.  And the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become.

So while you are in town, I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk.  Because here’s the thing -- these cuts do not have to happen.  Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise. To do so, Democrats like me need to acknowledge that we’re going to have to make modest reforms in Medicare if we want the program there for future generations and if we hope to maintain our ability to invest in critical things like education, research and infrastructure.

I’ve made that commitment.  It’s reflected in proposals I made last year and the year before that, and will be reflected in my budget, and I stand by those commitments to make the reforms for smart spending cuts.  

But we also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago.  Under our concept of tax reform, nobody’s rates would go up, but we’d be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected.  

I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word.  They figure they’ll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism.  But, as governors, some of you with legislators controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done.  And so is prioritizing, making smart choices.  (End Excerpt)
House GOP with their obstructionism on the economy and jobs since taking back the House in 2010 has made me realize that I no longer know these people who put Party and big donors/corporations over the American people.  The very idea that the GOP is holding the American people hostage once again this time on Sequestration after holding us hostage on the fiscal cliffs, has many former GOP supporters seething at the GOP lack of caring for the 98% of us who are not wealthy.

A lot of former conservatives, including this one, are questioning the move to the hard right of the Republican Party that we are seeing with their attacks on so many including veterans, military, seniors, police, fire, teachers, women, et al as they pander to the wealthy.  Sequestration is my final straw with the Republican Party - will not vote or support any Republican for office after this.  I refuse to work for candidates who I think have let America down with the refusal to compromise in order to protect the wealthy. Always thought when you were elected to office you worked for all your constituents not just ideologues and special interest groups.

Speaker Boehner has become crude in his remarks since taking over as Speaker in January 2011.  No better example then when it comes to Sequestration - wonder if it because he knows he made that 98% remark when telling his caucus they won against the President.  Here is an example from this morning:

A salty Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday told members of the Senate to “get off their ass” and pass a bill to replace the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that will kick in on March 1. 
“We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,” Boehner told reporters in a press conference, repeating a message he had just delivered in a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference.
The House in 2012 approved measures twice to replace the cuts known as sequestration, but because a new Congress began in January, those bills are now inoperative. Still, Boehner has been adamant that the Senate move first in 2013 if Democrats want to stave off the cuts to military and domestic programs. 
“It’s time for the Senate to act,” Boehner said. “It’s not about the House. We’ve acted.”
The House is not scheduled to be in session Friday, when the cuts will begin to take effect, but the Speaker said the lower chamber would be prepared to respond to Senate action.
So now the House is going to be out of town on March 1st the day the Sequestration cuts start to take effect.  Forgot they only work a 3-day week and just came back from a 10-day vacation yet Boehner attacks the Senate for not working?  This is the laziest House I can remember along with the worst Speaker who answers to the hard right instead of the American people.

Senate has two competing bills on Sequestration which probably won't pass the 60-vote threshold   Wonder how Majority Leader likes his compromise with Senator McConnell on filibuster rules when Reid sold out Democrats and American people to continue to allow 41 Republicans to keep the Senate from doing their job.  Looks like the GOP in Congress still haven't gotten over Romney losing in 2012.

Majority of Americans want a mixture of responsible cuts along with tax loopholes closed for the wealthy/corporations like their jets, investment income, offshore accounts, etc.  Keeping their income off shore while taking off some deductions from their income tax drives most Americans up a wall.  Why do Republicans keep protecting their wealthy donors/corporations by refusing to close tax loopholes? How much are they being paid off the record?  Only thing that makes any sense.  Here is an example:

On September 20, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code.” Witnesses from academia, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. multinational corporations, international tax and accounting firms and the nonprofit Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) answered questions from the Senators about how tax and accounting rules allow U.S. multinationals to shift profits offshore using dubious transactions and complicated corporate structures. 
The committee looked at two case studies investigated by the committee staff. In the Microsoft case, the committee investigation found that 55 percent of the company’s profits were “booked” (claimed for accounting purposes) in three offshore tax haven subsidiaries whose employees account for only two percent of its global workforce. Microsoft did that by selling intellectual property rights in products developed in the U.S. (and subsidized by the research tax credit) to offshore tax haven subsidiaries, then creating transactions to shift related profits there. 
Hewlett-Packard used a loophole in the regulations to use offshore cash to pay for its U.S. operations without paying any U.S. tax on the repatriated income.  Rather than having offshore subsidiaries pay taxable dividends to the U.S. parent company, HP had two subsidiaries alternately loan funds to the parent in back-to-back-to-back-to-back 45-day loans. In the first three quarters of 2010, there was never a day that HP did not have an outstanding loan of $6 to $9 billion from one of its foreign subsidiaries.
Can I safely assume that HP took these short loan interest off their Federal Income Tax or am I over reaching?  They are borrowing their own money from their offshore subsidiaries with few workers and all of us are supposed to think that is good for the rest of us because they are using a loophole?  Who came up with these loopholes and is this why Big Business poured so much into the Romney campaign so he would protect their loopholes?

The next time a Republican tells you that it is President Obama's fault as he didn't submit a plan, please direct them to the White House website to see the President's Plan.  Here are a few excerpts:
Only Congress can avoid this self-inflicted wound to our economy and middle class families, and the only thing standing in the way of a solution today is Congressional Republicans’ refusal to even consider closing tax loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans and well-connected corporations. The President and Congressional Democrats have put forward solutions to avoid these cuts and allow time for both sides to work on a long-term, balanced solution to our deficit challenges. (my bold)Let’s take a moment to look what we’ve done so far: 

  • The President has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion, bringing domestic discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Eisenhower era [see below]. As a result of these savings, together with a strengthening economy, the deficit is coming down at the fastest pace of anytime in American history other than the demobilization from World War II.

  • And he's laid out a specific plan to do more. His proposal resolves the sequester and reduces our deficit by over $4 trillion dollars in a balanced way- by cutting spending, finding savings in entitlement programs and asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share. As a result the deficit would be cut below its historic average and the debt would fall as a share of the economy over the next decade.  Just two months ago Speaker Boehner said there was $800 billion in deficit reduction that could be achieved by only closing loopholes and reducing tax expenditures.  So we know we can get this done. Let’s be clear: the President’s proposal to Speaker Boehner is still on the table. Here it is again.

Read more at The White House Website including the specific plan that is still on the table even though Speaker Boehner is out there saying the President has no plan.  It would be nice if Boehner would speak the truth instead of trying to score political points for Republicans.  He knows better but he is so beholding to major donors/corporations/Tea Party that he has forgotten the people of his district he represents which is heavily manufacturing, small towns, and farming - Middle Class America.  Grew up in that district in the heart of Ohio farm country with people who are going to be hurt by the very person they elected to office thinking he represented their interests.  It is going to be a hard lesson but maybe wake up some people.

Stay tuned for more updates but currently there are no negotiations as Republicans in the House go about their obstructionism against anything this President puts forward for the American people. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wealthy GOP Donor Pete Peterson Behind 'Fix the Debt' Campaign to Keep Loopholes/Low Taxes for Wealthy

When I saw a Tweet from John Nichols on 'Fix the Debt' that came from his visit with Up With Chris Hayes on MSNBC this weekend, decided to check out the video.  The link led to a lot more information first from the Crooks and Liars website, then to Source Watch, The Nation, and PR Watch which is a new group started by The Center for Media and Democracy.  Found this paragraph from PR Watch very telling:
While the Fix the Debt CEOs call for cuts to Social Security, many of the publicly-traded Fix the Debt firms underfund their employee pension plans -- making their workers even more dependent on the popular social insurance plan that American workers pay into with each paycheck.
With sequestration, we are dealing with wealthy scum who are more interested in making even more money on the backs of the 98% of us who do the work.  Convinced this bunch of greedy millionaires/billionaires will do anything they can to protect their tax loopholes with their campaign not to raise revenue but do the cuts which will hurt the economy and allow these vultures to buy up companies for cheap.  Never paid attention to 'Fix the Debt' group filled with conflicts of interest but now it has my full attention.
John Nichols: 'Fix the Debt' Run by Billionaires Who Really Want Lower Taxes
John Nichols, Crooks and Liars Video
From this Saturday's Up With Chris Hayes, panel member and Hayes' fellow contributor at The Nation brought up a topic at the end of the show that we unfortunately don't hear too often on MSNBC, which is the fact that the "Fix the Debt" campaign is not really interested in "fixing" anything. They're funded by a bunch of billionaires that are pushing for austerity measures and who are really just interested in lowering their taxes. 
Sadly I don't expect we'll be seeing any disclaimers from the network every time they have one of these lobbyists from Pete Peterson's group on any time soon though, especially considering they've got one of them on their payroll. The more we complain, the more the so-called "liberal" network puts Ed Rendell on the air without disclosing his conflict of interests on the matter and he's just the tip of the iceberg when you look at the entire list of their leadership. 
As Nichols informed the viewers here, there is a new web site that's been launched by The Center for Media and Democracy called PRWatch which has a lot more information on "Fix the Debt." You can check out the site here: PRWatch
And here is more from one of their recent posts: Pete Peterson’s “Fix the Debt” Astroturf Supergroup Detailed in New Online Resource at
Madison, WI -- One of the most hypocritical corporate PR campaigns in decades is advancing inside the beltway, attempting to convince the White House, Congress, and the American people that another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner that will destroy our economy unless urgent action is taken. Soon this astroturf supergroup may be coming to a state near you.
“We would not be here if it wasn’t for the Peterson Foundation and Pete Peterson. They laid the groundwork and we stand here on their shoulders.” – Fix the Debt Co-Founder Erskine Bowles
Today the Center for Media and Democracy launches a new wiki resources on the funding, leaders, partner groups and lobbyists of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, see it here at over David Koch and George Soros! The effort is being bankrolled by one of the wealthiest men in the nation. Peter G. Peterson made a fortune at the Blackstone Group on Wall Street. He conveniently cashed out with $2 billion shortly before the 2008 financial meltdown and now has pledged to spend $1 billion of that payout to convince Americans -- who overwhelmingly want to keep and strengthen Social Security and Medicare -- that these programs threaten our very existence as a nation. 
His task is a tough one. [...] 
Key to the strategy is ginning up a crisis. In lockstep, the CEOs, politicians, and partner organizations stormed the media last fall warning of the looming disaster of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Breaching the fiscal cliff “will lead to chaos,” warned Erskine Bowles; “derail the fragile recovery,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein; generate a "shock to the financial markets and a painful return to the recession,” said the CEO of Morgan Stanley. 
But this chorus of calamity was pure hype. One Fix the Debt steering committee member, former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen, let slip that the strategy was to create an “artificial crisis” that would force Congress to act. 
Their goal is to achieve a Simpson-Bowles style “grand bargain” on an austerity agenda for the United States by the nation’s 237th birthday on July 4, 2013. [...]
Many Fix the Debt firms pay a very low or even a negative average tax rate, contributing to the nation's deficit. Fix the Debt is secretly pushing for a major tax break that would exempt profits earned overseas by U.S. firms from taxation and encourage the offshoring of U.S. jobs. While the Fix the Debt CEOs call for cuts to Social Security, many of the publicly-traded Fix the Debt firms underfund their employee pension plans -- making their workers even more dependent on the popular social insurance plan that American workers pay into with each paycheck.
After watching the John Nichols video and reading his comments on Crooks and Liars decided to do some more research on the 'Fix the Debt' campaign being run by Pete Peterson.  First stop was Source Watch:
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." The chart and table below are part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of this astroturf supergroup and related front groups. Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt, the article on Fix the Debt's Leadership, and the Pete Peterson page for more.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine
Who is part of the 'Fix the Debt' campaign being run by Billionaire Pete Peterson who are not disclosing their conflicts of interest including Former PA Governor Rendell who appears on MSNBC:

The Nation has done a series of articles about 'Fix the Debt' campaign.  However, disgusted you are with the GOP, prepare to be even more disgusted as another big Republican billionaire donor, Pete Peterson, can be added to the Koch Brothers, The Lynde and Harry Bradley FoundationScaife Foundations (4), and who knows who else is lobbying Congress to cut social programs and save the loopholes these millionaires/billionaires take full advantage.

After reading the articles on The Nation, I thought this excerpts describes the 'Fix the Debt' campaign as well as anything I read today:
The least controversial lines in President Obama’s State of the Union address should have been his assertions that “deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan” and that “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.” Common sense, right? Wrong—if you’re getting your economic analysis from the GOP, more than a few Democrats and much of the media. Even Obama, in the same speech, paid homage to the safety-net-shredding strategies of the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission. As Paul Krugman reminds us, “Inside the Beltway Simpson and Bowles have become sacred figures. But the people doing that elevation are the same people who told us that Paul Ryan was the answer to our fiscal prayers.
Who does that elevating? Meet the Campaign to Fix the Debt, the billionaire-funded project that uses Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as figureheads for a fearmongering campaign to convince Americans that the deficits the United States has run throughout its history have suddenly metastasized into “a cancer that will destroy this country from within.” It is the latest incarnation of Wall Street mogul Pete Peterson’s long campaign to get Congress and the White House to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while providing tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
Peterson has poured an estimated half-billion dollars into schemes so unpopular, so economically unsound and so obviously self-serving that even conservative politicians run from them, as the implosion of the Simpson-Bowles commission illustrates. So Peterson has repurposed his project into what Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Global Economy Project director Sarah Anderson calls “a Trojan horse” for “filthy rich tax-dodging hypocrites.” With a stable of CEOs, Peterson timed the launch of this new $60 million campaign to exploit the wrangling over the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and the sequester. Fix the Debt has signed up prominent Democrats and Republicans as spokespeople (many of whom have undisclosed financial ties to firms that lobby on deficit-related issues) and launched “astroturf” campaigns to create the fantasy that young people and seniors are concerned enough about debts and deficits to support Peterson’s austerity agenda. 
Quite a few of those CEOs head firms that pay a negative tax rate, like Honeywell, GE, Boeing and Verizon. And as the Public Accountability Initiative notes, many lobby to preserve costly tax breaks for the wealthy (including the “carried interest” tax loophole that made Peterson a rich man) and to prevent a tax on Wall Street speculation. Fix the Debt–tied firms are even pushing for a “territorial tax system” that will increase the debt by $1 trillion over ten years and encourage the offshoring of American jobs. Why would supposed debt slayers favor this boondoggle? Because, IPS calculates, at least sixty-three Fix the Debt firms would divvy up a $134 billion windfall. 
Please visit The Nation to see more information on "Fix the Debt"
We dodged a bullet with Mitt Romney when he was defeated by Obama as Romney is friends with most of these people.  If Romney had won, 98% of us would be getting squeezed by these wealthy Republican donors. No wonder so many big name wealthy Republicans couldn't believe Romney lost as they had big plans for the Country when they took the White House, Senate, and House which they were being told there was a good chance it could happen by Karl Rove and others who blew it when a lot of Republicans voted for Obama.

Now those same Republicans are mad at us for not telling pollsters we were voting for Obama as Republicans.  Was featured on the website Republicans for Obama and yet I had someone here in OK tell me I had no right to say I was voting for Romney but voted for Obama.  They couldn't believe it when I said I never supported Romney including 2008 and decided to support Obama after finding out Gary Johnson was an Ayn Rand supporter in the early summer.  I told him to look at my donations to Obama which totaled enough to be displayed at the FEC.  Some people think I have lost my mind, but I have never felt more sure of anything in politics in my life then my support for President Obama who is standing between us and disaster caused by the wealthy GOP donors and their puppets in Congress.

In order to move the Country forward, the obstructionists Republicans have got to be defeated in 2014 because their primary aim seems to be to tank the Country and anything Obama wants they are against.  Despicable elected officials who have forgotten their oaths are not to wealthy donors but to the United States of America.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Republicans No Longer Mainstream as They Embrace Hard Right CPAC

A Republican Party who considers CPAC part of their establishment is no longer Mainstream as it has gone hard to the right. 

After hearing yesterday that Mitt Romney was going to be one of this year's main speakers, thought it is time to spotlight the invitees to this year's Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) which is hosted by the American Conservative Union to be held in DC March 14-16.  CPAC has lived up to my low expectations by not inviting Governor Christie (R-NJ) which is good for Christie who is not only running for reelection as Governor but if he wants to run for President in 2016.

Politicus has the take on the Christie snub as well as other information on CPAC that makes those of us who have said we won't support this group of hard right Republicans in 2014 smile:

CPAC is suggesting that they snubbed Chris Christie this year. He is not “invited” to the cray-cray. That’s what he gets for helping his constituents by dealing with the President. 
Another way of looking at this is that only Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is smart enough to avoid addressing CPAC this year. He’s already proven that he’s able to strategize for the long term and knows the value of being seen working with the President and Democrats. 
The rest of the clowns are piling into the shrinking GOP tent, including electoral losers Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Of course, neither of them have a thing to lose; they’ve already lost.
For some reason, NBC suggests that this means CPAC is mainstream. While I get how they got there (CPAC used to be far right of the party, anti-establishment), I think what it really means is that the entire Republican Party has gone fringe. They just don’t know it yet.
From Politicus
This political cartoon says it all - the era of the big tent Republican Party is dead as they have gone more hard right and now cater to the while male southern voter.

Republican Party has gone so far hard right that those considered the hard right fringe movement four years ago are now the establishment of the Republican Party while those of us center right are considered progressives and liberals.  No wonder only 22% of people identify with Republicans today.  When CPAC becomes part of the Establishment, you know how far right the GOP has become.

Since Mitt Romney, the loser of the 2012 Presidential election, is now a speaker several questions come to mind.  Could Romney be getting ready to run in 2016 a third time?  Is Romney going to try to out hard right other speakers in his speech as he plays to the hard right conservative attendees at CPAC?

Here is the list of Speakers for this year's CPAC which is a who's who list of hard right Republicans:

Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Senator
Jeb Bush, Former FL Governor
Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader
Al Cardenas, ACU Chairman
Francesca Chambers, Editor, Red Alert Politics
Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator
Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia Attorney General
Artur Davis, Former U.S. Representative
Carly Fiorina, Jeff Frazee, President, Young Americans for Liberty
Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker
Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life
Ron Johnson, U.S. Senator
David Keene, President, NRA (Former Chair of ACU)
Katie Kieffer Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP, NRA
Mike Lee, U.S. Senator
Dana Loesch, Host, The Dana Loesch Show
Alexander McCobin, President, Students for Liberty
Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate Republican Leader
Sarah Palin, Former Governor of Alasa
Rand Paul, U.S. Senator
Katie Pavlich, News Editor, Town Hall
Mitt Romney, Former Republican Presidential Candidate
Wayne Allyn Root, 2008 Libertarian Nominee for Vice President
Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator
Paul Ryan, U.S. Representative
Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
Pat Toomey, U.S. Senator
Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor
Allen West, Former U.S. Representative
The only person I can see on this list who has not gone hard right is Jeb Bush.  Is he thinking of running in 2016 for President or trying to put a more moderate face on this group?  No other explanation for his attendance.

This is mostly the hard right of the Republican Party who lack empathy for those worse off as they prefer to obstruct in Congress to protect wealthy tax loopholes, want no gun control, no regulations, are social conservatives who are part of a War on Women, and are in the hip pockets of wealthy donors for starters.

As CPAC and the Republican Party has moved even harder right they are losing support rapidly among Republicans with Common Sense:

Let’s recap: Republicans, including the headliners at CPAC, are all polling poorly and have lost national elections precisely because of their positions. CPAC is the driver of those losing positions (wrong on immigration, wrong on gay rights, wrong on women’s rights, wrong on taxing the rich, etc). 
CPAC is also a happy home for white supremacists and the NRA while banning gay Republicans like GOProud. If you were planning to run for President in 2016 and thought you might like to actually win, would you want to be seen pallin’ around with plummeting poll contagion? Would you want your picture taken with Mitt 47% Cayman Romney or Sarah Death Panels Palin? 

Still have not recovered from the John Birchers being welcomed back in the Republican Party - that blows my mind along with having Republican candidates who want the militia to be the military arm of the Tea Party.  They obviously don't understand the Constitution which talks about a well-regulated milita which is equal to the National Guard in the states today.  Their reading comprehension to miss "well regulated" says it all as everything they do has to fit a narrative whether true or not.

A good example is the 'Friends of Hamas' that Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others tried to tie to Chuck Hagel, nominee for Secretary of Defense as having given a speech there.  There is no such group but that didn't stop the hard right from going after Hagel and making themselves look like fools.  Did the hard right in the Senate say they made a mistake?  No way they doubled down sending a letter to President Obama wanting a different nominee.  Remind me again who won the last election.  Here are the names of the  15 who signed the letter who are all hard right:

Signing the letter were John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican; Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina; Roger Wicker of Mississippi; David Vitter of Louisiana; Ted Cruz of Texas; Mike Lee of Utah; Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania; Marco Rubio of Florida; Dan Coats of Indiana; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; James E. Risch of Idaho; John Barrasso of Wyoming; and Tom Coburn and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. 
It is not the prerogative of the Republican Senators to choose any nominee for President Obama.  Using phony information during the confirmation definitely put Hagel off his game as you could tell he was taken back by the venom and lies from Republicans.  Their attacks on Hagel about Israel  made you think they were interviewing the Secretary of Defense for Israel.  Obviously some of these Senators are bought and paid for by big defense and Israel hard right lobbying groups who support Republicans.

The Hagel nomination is an example of just how far hard right the Republican Party has gone today to the point many of us think there is no return to common sense.  IMHO, the GOP will continue to lose elections until it is a minor blip on the screen as more and more Americans are fed up with the hard right obstructionism of today's Republicans in Congress.  The following from Politicus points out what so many of us have had to admit who are/were Republican -- establishment Republicans are no longer mainstream but hard right:

CPAC is snubbing the Republican with the highest approval ratings (Chris Christie), while cozying up to already-losts and never-will-bes. So while CPAC may be establishment Republican now, it’s not mainstream. And that’s because the Republican Party is no longer mainstream. 
The Tea Party has driven the Republican Party off of the cliff of reality and national electability. Republican “stars” Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan will all be hawking their wares at CPAC (anyone want to buy a water bottle?). 
Anyone seen their polling numbers lately? They have to go to CPAC. A section of the conservative fringe is all they have. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Republicans the Loser on Sequestration

The very idea that Republicans are refusing to even hear of raising revenue by closing tax loopholes on the wealthy says all you need to know about this Republican Party - bought and paid for by wealthy donors!

Update, 2:35 pm, 2/21/2013:

Republicans whine the President never reaches out which is not true but in this instance when he reaches out to McConnell and Boehner, they bite off his hand with remarks.  Those two among others on the GOP side are classless human beings with zero integrity.  Sorry I cannot say what I would really like to say.  Here is the story from the Hill:

President Obama on Thursday phoned Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the impasse surrounding $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to hit the government on March 1. 
Obama made phone calls to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) eight days before the cuts are implemented and one day after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned they would lead to the furloughing of 600,000 civilian defense workers.  
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to give details of the call, while Republicans picked at Obama for not calling Democrats, a criticism that suggested they saw the calls as a political stunt. 
"He placed calls earlier today to Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner, had good conversations, but I have no further readout of those calls for you," Carney told reporters at his daily press briefing. 
The calls appear aimed at demonstrating Obama is engaged in trying to avert the sequester — which the president has described as a "meat cleaver" approach to budget cutting — and to answer GOP criticisms he hasn't reached out to them on major policy disputes. 
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested Obama should instead focus his efforts on Senate Democrats, noting that while the House had passed a pair of sequester replacement bills, the upper chamber had not.  
"If he wants to avert the sequester, shouldn’t the President be focused on the House of Congress that HASN’T acted, and where his own political party holds the majority?," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in an email.  
The House Speaker has insisted repeatedly that the House will not act again to turn off the automatic cuts until a plan passes through the Senate. But the odds of a deal in the Senate seem slim, with McConnell saying that he is "not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation."  

Read More at The Hill
There is no better reason to vote out Republicans in the House then their abdication of anything to do with sequestration to the Senate.  Bunch of worthless Republican Congressman who are getting paid $174,000 a year and leadership even more to be obstructionists and not do their job.  How anyone can support this group of Republicans except wealthy donors is beyond me!
Speaker Boehner getting mad at Obama while on his vacation was a joke.  If he cared about the American people instead of big donors. the House would be in DC working on a solution not on vacation.  It is a vacation which they want the voters to think is a recess.  How many of you have seen or heard of your member of Congress having Town Halls during their vacation?  We do know McCain held a Town Hall on Immigration that got out of hand. Then McCain got mad at a reporter so everything is back to normal. Most of the ones that did hold a Town Hall it was for one day.  That's a vacation in my book.

Senator Rubio (R-FL) went to Jordan and Israel on his boondoggle. Rubio wrote on his website that he was coming to the Middle East on an official trip in his role as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. With sequestration looming, Rubio spends our tax dollars to go to Jordan and Israel in a very transparent move to run in 2016.  Maybe the #1 cut should be travel of members of Congress overseas unless it is absolutely necessary and is approved by a bi-partisan group in order to spend taxpayer money on a boondoggle.

Then there is the little matter of Boehner blaming Obama for sequestration when slides were uncovered with Boehner telling his GOP Caucus that they got 98% of what they wanted out of Obama.  Yet they say Obama doesn't bargain in good faith. Always keep in mind that many Republicans/conservatives accuse others of what they are doing.  Seems to be a trait among the hard right that now runs the Republican Party so members of Congress are marching to their drums.

John Avlon of The Daily Beast Uncovered the July 2011 Power Point:
The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All
Republicans have taken to calling the deep cuts that could reverse our hard-won economic recovery ‘Obama’s Sequester.’ But a July 2011 PowerPoint obtained by John Avlon shows the opposite may be true. 
With deep sequestration cuts just days away, Congress is on vacation. But they’ve still got plenty of time to play the blame game. 
The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament. 
There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating.
But here’s the thing. I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.” 
It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.” 
It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.
The presentation lays out the deal in clear terms, describing the spending backstop as “automatic across-the-board cuts (‘sequestration’). Same mechanism used in 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement.”
 Read More at The Daily Beast 
Boehner deserves a liar, liar pants on fire designation for his comments this week.  When he put Rep Cathy McMorris Rogers out to speak using his talking point papers, all she did was grin.  This is serious business and the woman he showcases only knows how to grin as she talks.

Guess which woman is Rogers?
One thing that makes me glad after Boehner speaks, is to realize we are not as dumb as he thinks we are with his condescending remarks and his unfounded attacks on the President.  We recognize him as someone who has trouble with the truth.  If Boehner and GOP in Congress would quit attacking the President and take up his offer of working together, they might accomplish something.  Chances of that happening are slim to none since in 2011 when they come up with this dumb idea of sequestration that Democrats in the House all voted against, Boehner said he got 98% of what the GOP wanted out of Obama.  How is that deal working out for the GOP now as they are on the hook with taking a one-week vacation and their obstructionists agenda to stall the economy.

Will we be seeing immediate results from the sequestration or will they be phased in over time?  Retirees of the federal government and social security along with medicare recipients will keep receiving their checks and benefits.  Our military will not lose any pay as they shift money to make sure they get their pay and benefits.

In the federal government, the furloughs will be one day a week until September 30th in order to keep the Government working so I imagine a certain amount of people will be off each day.  Looks like Government workers even though losing money will fair better then their counter parts outside the Government who will be on furlough until further notice if this lasts past 1 April.  Private sector will be required to notify their employees of an upcoming furlough in advance so from most accounts 1 April is when the sequestration goes into full affect.

The Reuters article posted on Huffington Post gives one of the best synopsis I have seen on Sequestration:
Senior administration officials said Republicans would be blamed for cuts that did come into force. 
If allowed to run their course, the austerity measures could cost 750,000 jobs and keep weak economic growth stunted for the rest of 2013, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warns.
These spending cuts, decided in 2011 amid a fever in Congress for deficit reduction, were meant to be so painful that they would goad Republicans and Democrats into reaching an alternative agreement on where to cut back. The cuts "will visit hardship on a whole lot of people," President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday. 
And they are only the first installment in a decade's worth of required cuts totaling $1.2 trillion.
While some furlough notices will be issued to government workers, there will be few outward signs on March 1 that the cuts have been launched.
Under the law, retirees are shielded and so their Social Security checks will arrive on schedule at the beginning of March and every month thereafter. Similarly, the elderly and the disabled will not see their federally backed Medicare healthcare curtailed at all over the seven months.
Every U.S. soldier will get paid and the Defense Department will be allowed to shift funds to ensure that combat operations and "critical military readiness capabilities" are not degraded, according to the Obama administration. 
And so on March 1 and in the days immediately after, while no dramatic shakeup is anticipated, there will be some early tremors.
* Government agencies are likely to issue 30-day warnings of impending furloughs of government workers. They could be told that starting on April 1 they will have to stay home for a maximum of 22 days between March 1 and Sept. 30.
* New government contracts could slow in anticipation of no deal being reached to replace the sequestration. This would hit defense contractors and road and bridge builders alike.
* Members of Congress, who are not exempt from the spending cuts, will be advised to begin preparing their staffs for either salary cuts or layoffs if they have to shave funds from their approximately $4 billion in annual appropriations.
* Medical research labs at universities that rely heavily on federal funds will begin deciding which projects to abandon or curtail, if they haven't already.
* Every federal agency will have to finalize their plans on how to execute the across-the-board spending cuts. 
At this stage, most planned furloughs are being held to 22 days per federal employee. Anything longer is considered a formal layoff and requires more complex legal hurdles, some involving seniority, to be met. 
In some cases, furlough notices won't go out until terms are negotiated with employee unions after March 1. Not all union-government contracts cover such actions, said Carl Goldman, executive director of AFSCME Council 26, which represents 8,500 federal workers from building engineers to librarians. 
"The biggest thing we can do is to negotiate over the scheduling of furloughs, how much choice employees will have in selecting days furloughed," Goldman said.
Over the seven-month period, a 22-day furlough would roughly equal about one day per week, reducing workers' income by about one-fifth.

LAID-BACK CONGRESS (aka Do Nothing Congress)
Congress, showing little sense of urgency, is now on a week-long "Presidents Day" recess. 
When members of the Senate and House of Representatives return next week, they will begin feeling each other out for a remedy by March 27, when another budget deadline hits: the need to replenish federal funds for all government agencies. 
That is a separate fight in Congress but it might become mixed in with the sequestration battle as fiscal issues come to a head. 
Last week, Senate Democrats unveiled their plan to replace the sequestration with a combination of agriculture subsidy cuts and higher taxes on the richest Americans.
Senate Republicans, warning that they will reject any new tax increases, have not yet settled on a plan. But several are circulating, including replacing the sequestration with different spending cuts, giving federal agencies more flexibility in how they would carry out the existing $85 billion in cuts, or reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. 
Before going forward with any plan, Republicans might have to quell an uprising within their party that has some conservatives hoping that the meat-ax approach stays, thus ensuring some serious deficit reduction this year.
Read More at Huffington Post

The American people who are honest with themselves now know the Republicans in Congress are to blame.  Boehner and GOP members of Congress are putting wealthy tax loopholes which they refuse to close for their big donors over the American people and national security.  Boehner even admitted that national security would be harmed with sequestration but why let that stand in the way? Boehner went on to call Obama "gutless" on sequestration.  Now that takes nerve, but it shows how low this Republican Party and its members of Congress have sunk.  When you think Republicans cannot get any lower in gutter, they manage to do just that.

The American people are taking note including a lot of Republicans who don't want to see this group back in Congress after December 2014.  We want a Congress that actually works for We The People not just the wealthy donors.  The Republicans were not kidding when they met the night of the President's first inauguration to plot out how to obstruct President Obama as they are still doing the same obstruction.  When the news of that meeting surfaced last April, that was the beginning of the end for me supporting Republicans in 2012 and joined Republicans for Obama.  Now I will never support Republicans again as long as they remain hard right and the Party of "NO!"  IMHO it is too late for a common sense, rational Republican Party.

Please contact your Republican Representative and/or members of the Senate to tell them to quit obstructing and work with the President on Sequestration.  Information you need for calling:
Senate Contact InformationHouse Contact Information
United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 will also connect you to your Representative or Senator
If you are represented by Democrats, use the same contact information above to call and ask them to stand firm against Republicans wanting to protect wealthy donor loopholes and put the cuts on the backs of the middle class and poor.  Also thank them for doing a good job and tell them you will be supporting them in 2014.  Remember that House Members are up for election every two years and Senators every six years.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hubris: Selling the Iraq War MSNBC Documentary Proves SecDef Nominee Chuck Hagel was Right on Iraq

"Powell walked into my office, and without so much as a fare thee well, he walked over to the window and said I wonder what will happen when we put 500,000 troops into the Iraq and come the country from one end to the other and find nothing. And he turned around and walked back into his office. "  -- Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell

As I was doing the background research for this article I ran across the Senator Hagel questioning of Condi Rice to be Secretary of State after General Powell resigned which shows one of the reasons some Republicans got in a snit at Hagel:

After the questioning of Rice to be Secretary of State, Senator Hagel comments about voting for her confirmation:
But even after all of his disagreements with Dr. Rice, Senator Hagel told Gwen Ifill of PBS, ” I will support the nomination of Dr. Rice. She’s eminently qualified, well prepared. And I think she’ll be an excellent secretary of state.” Yes, this was after Dr. Rice lied to the American people about the weapons of mass destruction, which makes the Republican obstruction of Hagel even more ridiculous. 
In that same PBS interview, then Senator Russ Feingold said of Hagel, “I’m sitting here with a Republican, who had the integrity at hearings from the very beginning to ask the right questions… And you know what, we never got a good answer then. Senator Hagel tried; Senator Lugar tried; it was a bipartisan effort.” 
Hagel represents the truth about the unconscionable Republican foreign policy disaster of the Iraq war; the lie that must not be discussed — the lie the mainstream media whitewashed and ignored, while busily chasing after Benghazi conspiracy theories as if that will rehabilitate them for their failures. 
Hagel is the integrity and morality missing in the values bankrupt modern day Republican Party. 
His existence is a constant rebuke of their own failures. And that is why they hate him.
We do not have a Secretary of Defense right now because the Republican Party refuses to face their own failures and instead chooses to punish all reminders.
Transcript of video is available at Politicus
In the small minds of McCain, Graham, and Inhofe, Hagel had the audacity along with Lugar to question the Bush Administration on taking us into Iraq.  Hagel did not run for reelection in Nebraska in 2008 and Senator Lugar who also questioned what the Administration had done to get us into Iraq lost his reelection bid in Indiana in 2012 to a Tea Party hard right, loony, social conservative Mourdock who lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly who now represents Indiana in the Senate.  That should tell you all you need to know about Mourdock who was the twin to Akins from MO.

Turns out Hagel and Lugar were right which has earned them the disdain of Republicans and why we see so many lies against Hagel that can be easily refuted.  This one sentence from the article sums up the Republican Party:
Hagel is the integrity and morality missing in the values bankrupt modern day Republican Party. 
When you have so many Republicans willing to speak out against the war in Iraq as you see in the video from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, it makes you stop and think.  After reflecting on the outstanding documentary by Maddow, thoughts I had at the time of the Iraq War come back.  My husband who was part of the government/defense industry complex at the time wasn't sure we made the right decision as we were already fighting in Afghanistan and had brought Saddam to his knees due to the no-fly zone and embargo.  Can remember him saying as an Marine forward air controller which went back years, it was a mistake.  Turns he was right.  So many people we knew at the time didn't understand why at that point in time we were going into Iraq and ignoring Aghanistan for the most part.

Why didn't the Bush Administration pursue Bin Laden to kill him as the head of the snake known as the Taliban?  Instead they chose to go into Iraq?  Why?  Cheney went from being against taking out Saddam after the 1st Gulf War, to going to work for Halliburton, to becoming VP and a hawk along with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to take out Saddam.  Connect the dots.

The key point to all of this is why do you forge documents, get info from the CIA which Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz changed to fit their narrative to go into Iraq and take out Saddam immediately not wait him out?  What was going through the heads?  Is this the neocon way that our soon to be new Secretary of Defense Hagel warns about their desire for perpetual war?
Hagel represents the truth about the unconscionable Republican foreign policy disaster of the Iraq war; the lie that must not be discussed — the lie the mainstream media whitewashed and ignored, while busily chasing after Benghazi conspiracy theories as if that will rehabilitate them for their failures.
After this documentary, would bet more information will be forthcoming over time on why we went into Iraq while we were fighting the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban.  IMHO further information will only serve to back up even more what Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, and others have been saying about the scam that was the Iraq Invasion.