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. 

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