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Monday, January 7, 2013

It was quite an eventful week end

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There's so much to write about such as the GOP drawing line- in- the sand and challenging the president to lead but only on their terms. They seem to think that revenues are off the table now and its time for austerity measures. Mitch McConnell said that Congress does not have time to tackle gun control because we have to reduce spending. We have a couple of republican senators suggesting that we have to consider shutting down at least half the government if necessary. How short sighted is that? A shut down of government just to say we are not going to pay the bills that we incurred and it will downgrade our credit rating, increase our interest rate and destabilize the world economy. I rarely agree with Newt Gingrich, but yesterday he was right when he said that the GOP needed to increase the debt ceiling without any fanfare because they have two more bites at the apple coming up in their continuing resolution and the sequester cuts. Sure the republicans want the president to lead because that way they don't have to make any hard decisions. They can set back and use  the president's words against him in the 2014 midterm elections.

The deficit and the debt are serious problems, and I will use the illustration from yesterday's Meet the Press as proof. We have this family making $24,000 but owes $38.00 leaving them with a $14,000 deficit which they put on their already overextended $164,000 balance. The recent fiscal cliff paid $385 toward that bill. If it's a family budget, we are talking about, and then I don't think we would make serious cuts to our basic grocery bill, start canceling our children's doctor visits or quit paying for grandma's meds. In the absence of government support, `many of our nation's poor children could not afford basic health care and nutrition, let alone education to acquire the skills necessary to improve their condition. Right now, it would make more sense to get rid of farm subsidies because this is just a big payout to millionaire farmers, for the most part. In 2011 and 2012 farmers income went from $133 to $135 billion. We could also stop subsidizing the drug companies with noncompetitive contracts. We should allow our hospitals, clinics, and taxpayers to purchase cheaper foreign drugs or least allow our government to buy in bulk and pass the savings on the taxpayers. There's more than one way to approach the deficit and the debt. I don't think you can reduce the deficit and create jobs at same time, and that's what's missing from the conversation. The current republicans remind me of our old anonymous posters who abused their privilege in our local forum. They were allowed a comeback but only if they used their real names. The banned posters did that, but then they went on a rampage insisting that everyone use their real names.

I still get a good chuckle when I hear Senator Lindsey Graham say that the president's nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, is out of the main steam. Hello Mr. Graham, is anyone home? It's clear and simple; republicans have been angry at Chuck Hagel since January 2007, when the republican senator denounced the war in Iraq. It was about that time that I started admiring to Chuck Hagel. It doesn't help his cause that he endorsed John Kerry and probably voted for President Obama twice. I think the president is lining up his ducks for a smooth transition out of Afghanistan. Today, it was announced that John Brennan is the president's choice to head the CIA. Lindsey Graham said that the president was poking a finger in the eyes of republicans with his nomination of Chuck Hagel but the president is very comfortable with those three picks to carry out his agenda of a peaceful resolution first, the withdraw in Afghanistan and scaling back the bloated defense budget. Chuck Hagel has two purple hearts and still suffers from wounds he acquired in Vietnam. The generals' and the neo conservatives will not be able to look Hagel in the eye and convince him that we need to stay in Afghanistan  for 20 more years.

The other issue is an attitude of winning at all cost. It pained me to watch the Washington Redskin quarterback being allowed to play a very violent game at less than 50% of his capability because of his injured ankle. Robert Griffin III sustained an ankle injury several weeks ago and was withheld one game for that injury, yet in the big game, the coach Mike Shanahan chose to listen to a rookie who said he was hurting but not injured. The Redskins have one of the best team doctors who did not clear him to play. The coach has been around for several years, and he knows a 22-year-old always thinks he's ready to go. I hope RGIII completely recovers (even thou I don't like the Redskins) because it would be terrible to end a promising career when responsible people should know better.


Mike said...

I see all the right wingers carrying the water for the rich at the VA....It's much more than making the wealthy paying their fair share because they are the group who have been benefiting from this recession.

Not all the rich are job creators and they stash away about 20% of their profits. They are no longer wealth creators the 1% are wealth takers and economies can't grow when all the wealth is concentrated at the top...I cover a lot of that this week.

Mike said...

NO Jared Tomanek,high taxes do not lead to unemployment...replay the tape of the Dem Convention where Bill Clinton laid out the math..There were 21 million jobs created while he was in office as opposed to less than 2 million under George W. Bush and he passed TWO tax cuts...Clinton & Reagan raised taxes..Taxes are as low as they have ever been but the 2008 financial crisis (Wall Street & predator lenders) led to unemployment not taxes...That's myth that right wingers have been trying convince everyone of but as the election proved,most of American taxpayers aren't buying the supply -side trickle down theory anymore.

Edith Ann said...

I am a huge fan of the PBS series Downton Abbey, and unless one has ben under a rock lately, we all know last night was the premier of Season 3. It was every bit as good as anticipated and the best lines are often written for Maggie Smith who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

The year is 1920 and we're in England where the Lord of the manor is short staffed because of a war. Staff can't be replaced because the family finances have taken a turn for the worse. The household employs a dozen or so staff becasue these folks can't even put on a bathrobe without help!

The Countess is plotting with her granddaughter to lure the other grandmother, an American, to bankroll the English family because she could do so. The Dowager Countess says, "It is our duty as the wealthy to provide jobs for the people of our village. They depend on us."

No real point here, but an interesting comment, I think--and so reflective of that time.

Mike said...

Two points:
1. I live under that rock you mentioned..:-)
2. " "It is our duty as the wealthy to provide jobs for the people of our village. They depend on us." is the theme the wealth used to model but now it's just about creating more wealth for themselves...It fits the blog I will write about tomorrow.

Edith Ann said...

Intestingly, there is one of my readers, who also reads you, who laid out a three part history of Victoria, as to the growth of Victoria fonancially. Perhaps he still reads and will comment on your next blog. I have to agree with how he divides it into three phases (citing responsibility), and how it is so far from where we started, and not necessarily in a good way.

born2Bme said...

When you mentioned farm subsidies, what did you mean? Did you mean some sort of means testing, or across the board?
"Across the board" would put a lot of local farmers out of business. We cannot afford to lose our small farmers.

Mike said...

There's no question a group of wealth Victorians made our city what it is today. I can remember Mr. Toms name being mentioned every time something good happened in our city such as St. Joe,Riverside Stadium, and even restoration of La Bahía Presidio and the family also provided jobs in the gas,oil and cattle business.

Today our markets are are shaped by laws,regulations,taxes, and institutions and they have a distributive consequence.

Today's politics works towards the advantage of those at the top and the disadvantage of the rest..Look at the disparity of CEO pay to worker pay. Oil companies are not paying FMV for their leases,have unneeded tax incentives and if you don't believe me then tell me why unemployment is so high yet corporate profits are at record highs and the stock markets continues to hover around 13,000.

Mike said...

Born I was referring to an article from a conservative economist/journalist, Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post. The title of the article is “If we can’t kill farm subsidies, what can we kill?

This is a sample of what he writes.

“Hardly anyone asks basic questions. Would we create these programs today? Why subsidize farming if it would do fine without subsidies? Indeed, meat and vegetable production is largely unsubsidized; subsidies apply mainly to grains.

Politics fosters inertia. People feel entitled. Farmers like their payments. Subsidies raise agricultural land values and, for absentee landlords, the rents that can be charged. Farm groups protect these benefits with lobbyists and campaign contributions. Congressional farm committees’ power rests on their control of subsidies.”

born2Bme said...

Apparenly these people don't know squat about what kind of money it takes to be a grain farmer. Heck, just their equipment alone can run into the 100's of Thousands of dollars, and most grain is a dry crop, so one drought, or unusually wet season, can wipe a farmer out without some kind of crop insurance.

Mike said...

Where are these people crying tears for the rich getting the 75% tax from? One is taking the Bill O'Reilly view that if he gets taxed anymore he'll just have to quit...Yeah right as Mark Cuban and Wareen Buffett are fond of saying the rich will make their deals irregardless of taxes. The incentive is PROFIT and sometimes it is less because it could be from competition,cost of goods or taxes or maybe a combination of all...You don't have to believe what the rich want you to believe.

Edith Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

born,isn't that why the bulk of the farms now belong to millionaires.

I believe the govt. knows a lot about crop damage because the article didn't mention doing away with crop insurance.

I'm not being argumentative because I'm one of those who don't know squat about farming.

I believe like Sandy relief we are just skirting around the issue. The private sector knows how expensive disaster relief is so that's why they got out and left it to the government. I believe the government insurance had $3 billion paid in insurance premiums but will pay out more $30 billion for Sandy.

What we need to do is get serious on climate change measures or we will be patch working this issue.

Edith Ann said...

I loved traveling around the area with my job and coming across vehicles that were clearly being driven by farmers--they were pulling equipment or a cattle trailer or something. Inevitably there would be either some kind of ugly anti-Obama sticker or a McCain-Palin (and even Bush-Cheney) sticker. If I was lucky enough to end up beside them at a traffic light, sometimes I would ask them if they receive a farm subsidy.

Born! How ineresting that you would come to the defense of a farmer! Do you suppose if they had any idea how expensive it is to farm, they might choose not to? Maybe we should do a better job of educating them as to the reality of just how much they should depend upon the government! If they can't afford to farm on their own, perhaps they should find another line of work.

Do we only subsidize them for two crops and then cut them off, hoping they have learned their lesson? Just another form of welfare if you ask me.

born2Bme said...

EA, I hope this is just your attempt to show me how "foolish" I was yesterday, but farming is different. Farmers cannot control the weather and most of the smaller farmers are a family business that has been in business for a few generations. They are just trying to hang on and it is increasingly getting harder and harder for them. I know of at least one farmer in our area that just packed it in a few years ago, because the banks could no longer extend his loan and that was with the help they got from the government.
We cannot afford to let the big farmers push all the small farmers out of business. That private land is important in keeping our water rights intact. If big business gets a hold of all of the farm land around here, it won't be long before they start squeezing out surrounding property owners.

And, another question. Why is SNAP included in the farm bill? I never knew that until I did some research earlier today. LOL Damn, I need to start paying better attention.

Edith Ann said...

"Damn, I need to start paying better attention."

I think that is what we have been trying to tell you.

Yes, the food stamp part of government assistance has been under the United States Department of Agriculture for years.

Farmers take the risk because they know they will win, no matter what--the subsidy will cover the losses if the crop insurance doesn't. Your point of not being able to control the weather brings me back to suggesting we educate farmers better. If they knew they'd be SOL on a bad year, would they still farm?

Mike said...

Actually there are 15 titles in the Farm Bill they are: commodity programs; conservation; trade; nutrition; credit; United States rural development; research; forestry; energy; horticulture; livestock; crop insurance and disaster assistance; commodity futures; trade and tax provisions; and miscellaneous. New titles can be added to the Farm Bill during the re-authorization process; the Energy title, for instance, was created in 2002."

FDR created it but he loaded so much into it it became unconstitutional.

SNAP is 67% of the Farm bill and it's there because of the nutritional value.

born2Bme said...

EA, you'd have to understand farmers to know why they do it, and I'm NOT saying that you don't understand. It's all they know, it's what they grew up doing and it a family legacy. That's really hard for some people to give up.
The farmer I'm talking about quit farming and apparently landed on his feet (he's now manager at a favorite smokehouse along HWY 59/69?), but it was his experience with livestock and farming that helped him, I'm sure. Not everyone is that lucky, or that adaptable at that age.

Edith Ann said...

I understand the farmer mentality--I come from a huge farming family myself. My great-grandfather and grandfather on my mother's side farmed the Dacosta/Placedo and the Wood Hi areas. I have family that is still farming, and receiving farm subsidies. I have realtives that ranch and I have family involved with commercial hay operations.

I get farmers.

You don't get poor children.

Mike said...

Sometimes I wish I had a Facebook account just to correct the ignorance at the VA…”No taxation without representation” means exactly what it says. It was a slogan used by the colonists because they weren’t equally represented, yet had to pay taxes. It doesn’t mean we can’t have an equitable progressive tax system based on a sliding scale of how much a person makes… some people are destined to make us going backward to the days of the poll tax and only the wishes of the wealthy mattered. They make a case for plutocracy and don’t know it…

I guess tomorrow’s blog will either be a lengthy one or I’ll break it up and make it a week long project..:-)