Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Gerrymandering the Jobs Bill

op ed by run75441

Think Progress offers a look at relevant parts of the ‘jobs bill’. In the US, the winds of Washington Politics don’t blow, they suck.

Gerrymandering the Jobs Bill:

The piece of the jobs bill Republicans will pass would end a requirement that the government withhold three percent of the cost of projects contracted out to private companies, to assure tax compliance. It’s a rule that Congress adopted during the Bush administration to cut down on tax cheating by government contractors.”

The proposals would incorporate a permanent repeal of the withholding which today saves $10 billion in lost taxes. To counter the revenue loss the Republicans have a solution (as paid for by Medicaid/SS recipients):

“all legislation other than permanent tax cuts for wealthy people must be paid for — typically with cuts to federal programs. So Republicans have selected a provision from Obama’s deficit reduction recommendations that would limit Medicaid eligibility for people who also receive Social Security benefits.

A concept called Modified Adjusted Gross Income is used to determine Medicaid eligibility. Currently, it only incorporates the taxable portion of Social Security income in that calculation. Under t a new proposal, it would factor in all Social Security benefits. That means some seniors who currently qualify for Medicaid would no longer be eligible. Doing this would save about $14.6 billion over 10 years — more than the cost of repealing the 3 percent withholding compliance measure.” GOP Lays Trap for Obama on Jobs Bill”

Finance the tax cheats and sacrifice Medicaid and SS recipients.

Watching Your Back???

In Order to open negotiations with the Repubs, the Dems on the Super Committee

“are offering to cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits as part of a roughly $3 trillion grand bargain, which would well exceed the $1.2 trillion minimum goal the committee is tasked with meeting.

The Democratic plan proposes cutting the deficit by $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion and calls for between $200 billion and $300 billion in new stimulus spending to boost an ailing U.S. economy. It would be paid for with lower interest payments from reducing deficits.

It also seeks around $400 billion in Medicare savings, with half coming in benefit cuts and the other half in cuts to healthcare providers. Details of that proposal were scant but tackling the popular Medicare program is always politically risky for politicians in Washington, especially Democrats.

The Democratic proposal also identifies $100 billion in cuts to the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor, according to a lobbyist in contact with the committee.”

Dems Seek $3trillion in Savings

Fortunately, The Repubs would not accept a tax increase on the income rich even with throwing Grandmother under the bus to finance it . . .

The Party of “No”rquist

It appears that many of the signers of the pledge representing “No”rquist beliefs and the Repub party over the constituency which elected them have feet made of sand as the currents of public anger are over whelming the views proffered.

ATR currently has signatures from 238 House representatives, 41 Senators, 13 governors, and all of the GOP presidential candidates except former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.”

Anti-Tax Crusader Grover Norquist’s Grip is Slipping

Who elected these turkeys??? Hmmm, that’s right, we did and the views they are espousing? Even that ever lovable former Senator from that wilderness state west of the Hudson Wyoming is calling for a resistance to outside influence (ATR) which has no impact on getting elected again. And Senator Coburn challenged Norquist on Ethanol subsidies? Such bravado . . .

“Have we really reached a point where one person’s demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress to the point that even a discussion of tax reform is viewed as breaking a no-tax pledge?” Senator Wolf asked.

And the man with the perpetual sun tan Boehner asked of Norquist’s relevance.

“some random guy,

Grover told me that he saw himself as the Lenin of the conservative revolution and that Ralph Reed was his Trotsky and Jack Abramoff was his Stalin.”

As Oliver Wight used to say “Cement heads!” Someone has sounded the “abandon ship” alert as the Repub-titanic has struck the iceberg of public dissent. Maybe Occupy America has struck a nerve? It doesn’t take a weatherman . . . We will make the same mistake again and re-elect these turkeys.

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A little OWS, a little 99%, a little history

So today I read at the Yahoo Finance (it’s my home page because I can look at the stock numbers on the left and read the headline on the right for a guaranteed laugh) that  John Mauldin thinks the OWS would be better off if they occupiedCongress:
Mauldin believes America still has time to figure out a path out of what he says is the big problem worldwide: “We’ve over committed public monies and we don’t have them.” While some what sympathetic to the protestors’ frustrations, Mauldin says their anger is misdirected.
“My message to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ guys: if they really want to If  they really want to go after the source of the problem, they should go occupy Congress,”
Instead of focusing on Wall Street,Washington and the protests should be focusing on reducing regulation and making it easier for new businesses to start, Mauldin says. To that end, he offers a new slogan I somehow doubt will showup at any Occupy Wall Street protest anytime soon: “Up with Entrepreneurs”
As I understand it, OWS is about economic equality. President Roosevelt referred to it as the economic royalty. I just don’t see how one can stop, look and listen to OWS and think “go tell congress to further deregulation”. John Boy can’t be this much of an idiot, can he?
My sweetheart gets home from the dentist. $4000 dollars worth of bridge work is down the drain because a tooth of the bridge went bad. 

For those who don’t know, we are the “Entrepreneurs” John Boy is referring to, thus we are paying for our health insurance, no dental. But, she was offered a payment plan. Has a nice dental name at 14.5% interest! This bit of private market solution to paying for health care is brought to you by GE Financial. Yes, the GE of Jeffrey Immelt, Obama’s job creating adviser. Hey Obama? Did you read my state of the union?  Obviously not or Jeffrey baby would not be your man.
Did you hear that JP Morgan was all blowed up? Yes, I’m not lying. People got pissed at Wall Street and blew up JP:
“During this period anarchists and socialists held protests on Wall Street out of a similar sense of frustration and rage at the banking system. The movement culminated in what was known as the greatest act of terrorism on American soil: the 1920 bombing outside J.P. Morgan and Company
Thirty eight people were killed when the horse and wagon bomb went off at noon on Sept 16, 1920. The perpetrators, thought to be anarchists, were never caught, but their exploits and the aftermath were captured by photographers.”
Check out the pictures here. 
Why do we not hear about this history considering the present times? I know, stupid question. To ask it is to give purpose to OWS. Though one sector of this nation seems to remember a portions of this history or we would not be hearing the pejoratives being slung a the 99%’ers. You know Anarchists, socialists, communists out to destroy the American Way (A catchy phrase brought to you by the National Association of Manufacturers via General Food’s CEO, the US Chamber of Commerce and AT & T’s monopoly is good all via Madison Ave, Time Magazine 9/28/1936) .
Which brings me to my original question since the shit hit the fan: HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS? HOW MANY FREAKIN’ TIMES DO WE HAVE TO LEARN THE LESSON?
Obviously from the above 3 subtopics, quite a few more times as we seem to have not learned the definition of Rat Race yet: A rat race is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit…
I think I know what is wrong with US today. When I typed in Deja Vu at youtube,  amazingly this tune did not even come up in the suggestion list. 

No, I had to actually know that CSNY wrote what I consider the true musical capture of the concept of deja vu…the song that is most appropriate for the application of the concept today. I say this because they intentionally wrote the song so that it does not repeat any one section (heard years ago in an interview).

Get it?
(I haven’t forgotten the tax tables. It’s a coming.)

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The Real State of the Union. Mr. President, I suggest for you: Flowers.

By: Daniel Becker

Well, it’s that time of year again. The State of the Union. And the state of my business. So far, from what I’m reading regarding the expected content of the address by President Obama, I think I’ll just practice my playing as I usually do on Tuesday nights. Really? What’s the use in listening? We have a person  who heads a company that is noted for pushing the off shoring concept of growing America via their prior celeb CEO, Jack Welch as Obama’s pick to head up the committee that is going to figure out how to boost job creation? And we wonder why this country can’t regain the glory days of accomplishment and prosperity. Actually, I don’t wonder. I know.

Though, I see Welch has had a change of heart? At least as it relates what a business should prioritize.

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy…your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

Oh sure, after he got his.

Let’s get to it.


2010 started off looking hopeful for Fontana’s Flowers. We were up 1.5% for the first quarter, then April came. Off 17% even with Easter. By the end of June we were back up again 1.5%. So, I figured we had at least hit the bottom. WRONG! July came, off 21%. August came, off 20%. Every month since June as been off. It produced the following picture.

I guess we are hitting the bottom finally. It’s only been 5 years.

Now, before I start hearing about how flowers are a luxury, what does it say about a nation’s economy such as ours when a simple luxury that has the power to :

When women were given flowers, they always responded with a ‘real’ duchenne smile, and reported more positive moods three days later.

When men or women were given a flower, they responded with a duchenne smile and engaged in more prosocial activities (compared to control conditions of being given a pen or nothing).

Flowers given to elderly people resulted in more positive mood and improved episodic memory!

The researchers also reported other “unusual emotional displays that they were unprepared to measure,” (4, p122), including:

Hugs and kisses.
Invitations to participants’ homes for refreshments.
‘Thank you’ cards and letters – some with photographic evidence of the continuing beauty of the bouquet.

As they sum up – “In many years of studying emotions, we have never received hugs and kisses, thank you notes or photographs, not even for candy, doghnuts, hats, gift certificates, or direct monetary payment; flowers are different.”

…is not affordable to the masses? It says we are an elitist nation in the ugliest meaning of the word elite. I think considering the nation’s psyche, these pictures sum up the proper scientific based response to such ugliness.

Again, what does it say about our nation’s priorities when the masses can no longer afford such a simple luxury which has so many benefits that frankly, we need to experience desperately.

Back to business. There was a reason in part for our second half results. It was the stimulus programs of “shovel ready” projects. Seems many were not really shovel ready. Instead of having proper engineering and surveying performed, they went for quick and simple. This left me with 3 months of traffic issue powerful enough that even the big box stores were hampered. However, my “small business” is left with the following:

What you are viewing is a new, never existed prior, 6 ft wide concrete side walk that is 2.5” above my pavement and within 9 ft of my foundation. This might not be a problem if it were not for the fact that this new sidewalk leaves my foundation only 1/2” above the side walk. Can you say “gutter”. I am told, and I’ve tried, that I have to live with this. I also have to live with the curbing being 5” high, which means instead of having an easy in/out parking lot that was cut short when they originally widened the road, I have one that acts like a one way street. And, to add insult to injury, they stuck a “Tow Zone, Snow Route” sign exactly right where one backs up as they attempt to leave the left end of the parking lot.

Have I given enough to this “recovery” yet?

Back to the Real state of the Union. Here is the all telling picture.


As you can see, account sales are still trending down. Cash sales are leveling off, but the all telling credit card sales is rising. Are people using plastic as they become more digital with their money handling or are they spending on credit? Is it real money, or are they trying to buy a little happiness today for a headache tomorrow?
Personally, and I’m speaking to you President Obama, I still need customers, with money so that I can partake in your job growing desires. Mr. President, considering all the problems you want to solve, and what the science suggests, I would think you would want my business to have all the customers it could handle. To steal a phrase: A vase of flowers on every table. It speaks prosperity, it speaks peace, it speaks harmony, it speaks re-election. When people are able to buy flowers again, Mr. President, you will know that you and congress have set this nation on a real foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or, you can talk all flowery about job creation to me while I look at your new head of the “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness” CEO who heads the company that lead outsourcing and the shift from making money via manufacturing to making money from money.

For you President Obama. 


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Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead: the AEA

You could either be there live, or check out some of the papers here while enjoying a musical interlude with the most talented musician to come out of the California “soft rock” movement of the 1970s:

Or the most talented member of the Velvet Underground:

Or this giggle:

Or just treat this as a prelude to the Open Thread Dan will probably post in the next hour or so anyway.

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America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military

Robert Reich lays out some figures for the military jobs programs both in manpower and hardware:

America’s biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military.

Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I’m not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)

If we didn’t have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

This isn’t an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don’t need but we keep anyway because there’s no honest alternative. We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed.

The Pentagon’s budget — and its giant undercover jobs program — keeps expanding. The President has asked Congress to hike total defense spending next year 2.2 percent, to $708 billion. That’s 6.1 percent higher than peak defense spending during the Bush administration.

This sum doesn’t even include Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons management, and intelligence. Add these, and next year’s national security budget totals about $950 billion.

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