The Republican Party has released its menu to destroy the American Middle Class, further proof of their disdain for those that are not in the 1%, entrepreneurs, Corporate Chieftains or the investor class. Their misguided belief that Americans have no value unless they are part of the aforementioned groups is despicable and insulting to those hard-working Americans that have chosen a different path for themselves.
19 Firefighters, members of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots, were killed this month while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. These Firefighters were men of honor that put their lives on the line for other Americans.
Among the dead was Eric Marsh, the unit’s 43-year-old superintendent.
Also killed, according to the city of Prescott: Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Robert Caldwell, 23; Travis Carter, 31; Dustin Deford, 24; Christopher MacKenzie, 30; Grant McKee, 21; Sean Misner, 26; Scott Norris, 28; Wade Parker, 22; John Percin, 24; Anthony Rose, 23; Jesse Steed, 36; Joe Thurston, 32; Travis Turbyfill, 27; William Warneke, 25; Clayton Whitted, 28; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; and Garret Zuppiger, 27.
These men were not Wall Street tycoons, they were not Corporate moguls, Millionaires or Billionaires. But they were Heroes. These men were worth every penny of their salaries, pensions and more.
I am sick and tired of hearing Republicans putting everyone else down for not wanting to open their own business, for not wanting to dedicate their lives to making money. Some of us want to be nurses, firemen, police and teachers. For some Americans a job is just a job and they get their fulfillment from participating in their church activities, being a Scout Master, coaching their son’s baseball team. There was a time in America when “We the People” could choose a simple life without the Republican Party calling us deadbeats, moochers and lazy leaches. There was a time when the Senate and House were men of honor, Statesmen and they protected the interests of the American Middle Class. They knew a strong Middle Class was good for America.
There was a time when the House of Representatives didn’t hold the Nation hostage to extract every concession they could from the Middle Class. Penalizing them and decrying them for simply being part of the working class. The Republicans want more and more concessions from the Middle Class as Corporate America has dramatically increased its cash piles over the past few years, stashing more and more dollars every year since 2007. In 2012, U.S. non-financial companies filled their coffers with an additional $130 billion, taking their total cash to a record $1.45 trillion as the economy has stagnated and the labor market has moved sideways. At the same time U.S. firms hoard 58% of their cash, or $840 billion, overseas according to Forbes Magazine.
Trickle down supply-side economics is a failure. Avarice and hoarding prevents the Voodoo economic theory from working. It is the Governments job to watch out for it Citizens, I dare say they are not doing their job. It is not the job of the Republicans to fill the pockets of shareholders, but to insure that “We the People” are treated fairly and that justice is applied to our economy so that everyone in the United States can benefit from the fruits of their labor. Wages in the United States have not kept up with the increasing productivity of the American Worker. From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive research group. And since 2000, productivity has risen 23 percent while real hourly pay has essentially stagnated. Americans are working their butts off and the Republicans do everything within their power to keep as much of those profits for the 1%.
The Romney Ryan Campaign used “We Built That” as their slogan. You were able to build that because American productivity increased 80%. Donald Trump is not out there welding steel beams in his newest skyscraper, it is American Labor that is building that! American Labor build the bridges, harbors, roads, skyscrapers, ships, dams, airports, hospitals, schools and universities that made this Country great and don’t ever let some rich fat cat make you feel guilty about touting your accomplishments and contributions to America.
It is time for the American Middle Class to unite and demand their share of the profits, we have increased our productivity and now it is time for Corporate America to stop hoarding money and to pay a “LIVING WAGE”.
As the debt ceiling raises its ugly head again, listen closely to what the GOP is asking for; if you are a Middle Class Republican listen closely and ask yourself, how do these “ransom” demands help “ME” and “My Family”.
- “For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three and a half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the Holy Grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. “If the president wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Scalise.”
- “For a medium-sized increase in the debt limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food-stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.”
- ”For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.”
Privatizing Medicare? How does privatizing Medicare help any Senior or Family making less than $100,000 per year (80% of American households)? Medicare is one of the American Middle Class’ most beloved benefits. When the Republicans talk about cutting Medicare, remember that they want spend the money saved from Medicare on border security. The cost of the 20,000 additional agents alone was put at $30 billion over a decade. The cost of building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border could be five to 25 times greater than congressional leaders forecast last year, or as much as $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. So cutting Medicare to reduce the deficit is a GOP red herring and they are lying to you Middle Class.
Tinkering with Social Security? Chained CPI? “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security Trust Fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or growing the deficit.”—Ronald Reagan https://yahoothom.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/privatizing-social-security-not-worth-the-gamble/
The Republicans continue to talk about jobs, but have done nothing in 30 years to create good-paying American jobs, falling back on the free market ideas that have only served to outsource good-paying American jobs to low-wage third world Countries to line the pockets of the Investor Class, more HOARDING! The on-going Middle Class recession; good paying Union jobs replaced by low paying jobs at Walmart and McDonalds have created a class of hard working poor Americans that have to rely on food assistance to make ends meet. Where is the compassion in the GOP as they cut food assistance to working class Americans while giving “Corporate Agriculture” the most generous farm subsidies in history?
The American Middle Class does not have the luxury to be partisan lemmings. Wake up Middle Class America! These are not sports teams, the Republican Party is trying to destroy the American Middle Class standard of living to create a pool of low-wage workers, while gorging themselves like gluttonous Jabba the Hutt on our productivity and to extract every cent they can from our pockets.
Is the GOP “Intellectually Exhausted”?
- Outsourcing of high Paying Jobs
- Stagnant wages
- A “Living Wage”
- Rising College Tuitions/access to higher education for the Middle Class
- Job security
- Income inequality
- Rising suburban poverty rates
- Hunger in America
- Crumbling American Cities
- Aging, dangerous and crumbing infrastructure
- Middle Class mobility and opportunities
- 30,000 Americans dying from gun violence
- Voting rights
- Social justice
- Race relations
- Income disparity between Men and Women
- Women’s right to control her own body
- Women’s health
- The failed War on Drugs
- Broken immigration system
- Climate Change
- The Environment
- Mass imprisonment of American Citizens
- Online Privacy
- NSA spying of American Citizens
Do the Republicans have “NEW” and “FRESH” ideas to address these pressing American issues?
The Grand Old Party has a new and hopeful message for “ALL” Americans…Rep. Steve King an outlier? Continue reading
Part of the American Middle Class? Why are you a Republican?
“The 2012 Republican Platform is a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America.”—The 2012 Republican Platform
A political party is not a sports team. The GOP are not the Cincinnati Bengals. In 43 years of existence, the Bengals have enjoyed just 12 winning seasons, including two in the past 20 years. They’ve never won the Super Bowl, falling twice to the 49ers in the ’80s. The Bengals clawed their way to a playoff appearance last season but it’ll take a lot more than that to turn this franchise around for good. Although I am sure Cincinnati fans will stick with their team regardless of the stats, loyalty to a sports team is as American as apple pie. The Bengal losses don’t have much of an impact on the daily lives, health and well-being of its fans.
A political party on the other hand is not a team. It is an organization with a mission to forward a political agenda that does affect the “everyday” lives of the American People, “We the People”. The Platform of the Party is that agenda. Those that control the party, mold that agenda and when their candidates get into office, it is that very agenda that they are charged to implement. So when a Moderate Republican Commentator says this, “That’s the GOP platform, I don’t believe in that”, my answer to that is, you are pretty spineless and have no credibility, that answer is asinine. Why would “anyone” belong to an organization whose tenets you don’t believe in; that’s like saying I belong to the Klux Klux Klan because my parents did and I like the white sheets, but I don’t believe in what they stand for. Say what?! That is lemming craziness. If you notice Republican pundits like to use the term “Democrat” instead of “Democratic” as if Americans choose the Republican Party because it is multisyllabic and sounds better…LOL That would be stupid and shallow America!
Americans, particularly those in the American Middle Class treat their parties as though they were a sports team. The legacy handed down to them by their parents or grandparents. Loyal to the end, the blue collar and white collar Middle Class Americans follow their “team” to their own demise. I was the first in my family to become a Republican. When I was in my early impressionable 20’s I heard Ronald Reagan speak of prosperity and the “shining city on the hill”. I bought into “supply-side” economics, the theory sounded reasonably beneficial for the time.
30 years later I am no longer a Republican, I am older and wiser. I actually have read the platform and have discovered that it does not meet the social or economic interests of my situation or that of my family. I am a Middle Class American, I make less than $100,000 annually. 80% of American households make less than $100,000, so I am in the majority and in good company. I re-registered Independent in July of 2012 because I felt personally that the Republican Party no longer had “ANYTHING” to offer those making less than $100K. 30 years of supply-side economics has only benefitted those in upper income brackets, it has created gross income inequality and has actually reduced opportunities for upward mobility.
Since my parents were Democrats I have no legacy to follow or parental figure to disappoint. There is no “team” loyalty or disloyalty that I have to worry about. My “team” is the American Middle Class. I have been hard on the Republicans in my blog, because they no longer speak for the Middle Class or the interests of most Americans. They seem disengaged and out-of-touch with the daily lives of a majority of working-class Americans. I have been hard on the Democrats when they put forth ideas that will hurt the average American, I have spoken out loudly and vociferously about Chained CPI and NSA spying, that some leaders in the Democratic Party have decided acceptable collateral damage. They are not acceptable to the American Middle Class. But I digress.
My plan is to go over the Republican Platform point by point until the 2014 elections. I will make a commitment that I will consistently blog from a Middle Class perspective and for the benefit of those making from zero to $100,000. I will fight for those institutions that help the average American Family. The Corporate Media does a fine job of protecting the interest of the Upper Middle Class-$101,000-$550,000 and Washington DC does an excellent job fighting for Corporations and the 1%. So my promise is to speak for “US” the Middle Class, the Working Class and those that have no voice. I am a Catholic after all and social justice is in my blood. LOL
Job Creation was priority number one in the Republican Platform. So let’s start there. I have copied and pasted the wording directly from the Platform. I have broken it down and followed with an article that I believe speaks the interest of those making less than $100,000 a year. Regardless of their political bent. You will find articles from Republicans, so long as they are speaking for the interest of the Middle Class. Both political parties should be working for the majority of Americans, not just the 1%, Corporate America or the Investor Class…the needs of all Americans should be considered.
“Job Creation: Getting Americans Back to Work. The best jobs program is economic growth. [1.] We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs. We want much more than that. [2.] We want a roaring job market to match a roaring economy. Instead, what this Administration has given us is 42 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent, the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. [3.] Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all. In all the sections that follow, as well as elsewhere in this platform, we explain what must be done to achieve that goal. [4.] The tax system must be simplified. Government spending and regulation must be reined in. [5.] American companies must be more competitive in the world market, and we must be aggressive in promoting U.S. products abroad and securing open markets for them. A federal-State-private partnership must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems, among others.  Federal training programs have to be overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century. Potential employers need certainty and predictability for their hiring decisions, and the team of a Republican President and Congress will create the confidence that will get Americans back to work.”—The Republican Platform on Job Creation
Let us dissect the “Job Creation” goals of the Republican Platform and how this would benefit the 80% of Americans making less than $100,000 per household.
1. We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs. In fact the GOP is all about subsidies, subsidies to big oil, agri-business, big pharma and Wall Street.
GOP to Taxpayers: We’re Against Subsidies, Except If They’re For Rich Farmers, by Veronique de Rugy : A few weeks ago, I suggested that splitting the farm bill into two pieces would have the benefits of breaking the alliance between the pro-farm and food-stamp spending lobbies … and … would finally put farm subsidies on the path to elimination where they belong. Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, Republicans are as eager as ever to continue to support a “ag-only bill” that includes indefensible subsidies to farmers, such as sugar-producer programs, and creates new income-entitlement programs, such as the shallow-loss program:
Every Democrat and 12 brave Republicans voted no for a bill that spends more than the ag-only provisions in the Senate farm bill, saves less than half what Republicans agreed to in their House Budget, and falls short of the cuts called for in the President’s budget request.
To add insult to injury, this move just feeds into the portrait Democrats like to paint of Republican lawmakers: They will support any policies that favor the rich – even if they mean more government spending – and like to oppose policies that would benefit lower-income Americans. In this case, there is some truth to that. Republicans are showing that, while some of them weren’t willing to vote for the farm bill as long as it included food stamps, they will support the outrageous redistribution of income to higher-income Americans when it benefits wealthy farmers. …
When I was a kid, my mom used to get really mad when my uncle, a fairly well-off farmer and a Republican who took his share from these programs, would complain about welfare. He takes welfare too! She’d tell me on the car ride home … and he doesn’t even need it!
2. We want a roaring job market to match a roaring economy.
In 863 Days House GOP Has Offered 0 Jobs Plans While Voting to Repeal Obamacare 34 Times
By: Jason Easley May. 16th, 2013
In the 863 days since taking control of the House Republicans have passed 0 jobs plans, but voted to repeal Obamacare 34 times. (The final count as of 7-22-2013 is 39 times)
This was an utterly pointless vote. Before the vote, Speaker John Boehner’s office was desperately trying to justify House Republicans using 15% of the time they have been in session to repeal Obamacare. Boehner is claiming that this was only the third House vote to repeal Obamacare. The other votes were to defund Obamacare. Defunding would have the same impact as repeal, so Boehner was playing a silly word game.
In the 863 days since Republicans have taken control of the House they have offered nothing in terms of a jobs agenda. What House Republicans labeled a “No Cost Jobs Plan” isn’t really a jobs plan at all. It is actually a series of proposals to eliminate regulations and lower taxes. (If this concept created jobs, George W. Bush would have presided over a boom economy instead of an economic collapse.)
House Republicans keep fooling themselves into believing that if they just keep passing bills to repeal Obamacare, someday it will happen.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if House Republicans would have taken the time they wasted and used it to deal with the issues that the American people really care about?
Republicans want to blame Obama for the dysfunction in Washington, when votes like this one make it clear where the real problem is. Americans want access to healthcare, so Republicans try to repeal the legislation that would help more than 30 million of our citizens. House Republicans hear the people wanting action on jobs, immigration, and background checks. They respond by giving them another useless vote on repealing Obamacare.
House Republicans have moved beyond do nothing and into do less than nothing territory. They have gotten to the point where they are voting again on things that they already voted on. Even worse, they are voting on legislation that has already been rejected dozens of times by the Senate.
The House hasn’t turned voters against Obamacare. They’ve turned voters against Republicans.
3. Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all.
“Free-Market” Outcomes Are Not Fair—and Not Free
“Since 1980, the U.S. government has reduced its intervention in the U.S. economy, which has become much more of a free market. Conservatives applaud this development because they think that free-market outcomes reward talent and hard work; progressives object to the income inequality of free-market outcomes and want to use government tax and transfer policy to reduce inequality.”
Most people, whether conservative or progressive, would probably agree with this statement. This framing of the issue, however, plays into a right-wing story in which conservatives are the defenders of (free) market outcomes, including the success of the rich who have made it “on their own”; meanwhile, the “dependent poor” look to the government for handouts. This has been a basic element of the right-wing playbook for a long time. Then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney was drawing on this narrative when he complained about the 47% of the U.S. population “who are dependent upon government … who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.”
This view has two main themes: 1) Because the U.S. free-market economy rewards talent and hard work, the middle class should emulate the wealthy for their success, not vilify them; and 2) those who have been failures in the market want the government to take care of them by redistributing income from those who have been successful. We can see these themes play out on all sorts of political issues. They form, for example, the basis for the attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act (or “Obamacare”). Middle-class Americans, in the conservative view, are being taxed—forced to pay—to provide health insurance for those “unsuccessful” elements of the population who have not earned it themselves.
The conservative argument assumes that the outcomes we observe are the result of a free-market economy. However, the right-wing objective has not been to create a free market; it has been to rig government policy and the market so as to redistribute income towards large corporations and the wealthy.
For example, conservatives themselves want to use government policy to effect a different distribution of income from what we have now—a distribution that is more favorable to corporations and the very rich. A central policy objective for conservatives, ever since the Reagan Administration, has been to cut taxes on the wealthy. And by cutting government revenue, they have been able to make the argument that government programs for the poor and the middle class need to be cut in order to balance the budget.
Also, conservatives have eliminated restrictions on corporations and protections for workers, consumers, and the environment. They have attacked barriers to international capital mobility, deregulated industries, and reduced government regulations to ensure a safe workplace and a healthy environment.
Because conservative policies have often taken the form of reducing government programs and regulations, the ideology of a free market has been useful in rationalizing them. Other conservative interventions, however, have been less able to fit into the free-market mold, and therefore are especially revealing of conservatives’ genuine aims. When the financial crisis of 2008 threatened the survival of the large banks, they were quick to ask for the government to intervene with a large bailout. The “right-to-work” law recently passed in Indiana, designed to deprive unions of financial resources, is an explicit rejection of a market outcome—the private agreement between management and union to require all workers to pay their “fair share” of the costs of union representation. “Free-trade” agreements, ostensibly designed to eliminate restrictions on the movement of goods and capital, have nonetheless continued to restrict the free movement of people. Even the repeal of financial regulations in the 1980s and 1990s, ostensibly a free-market endeavor, created the anti-competitive giant financial firms that demanded to be bailed out in 2008.
The realization that the economy is rigged to benefit the rich and large corporations takes away the force of the right-wing argument that progressives want to use government to “vilify” the “successful” and reward the “slothful and incompetent.” When the game has been rigged, it is wrong to say that the market simply rewards talent and hard work, and the outcomes that result can hardly be called fair. When the market outcomes that we observe are unfair, we need to both change the rules for how the economy works and use the government to restore fairness.
© 2012 Dollars and Sense
Marty Wolfson is a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.
4. The tax system must be simplified. Government spending and regulation must be reined in.
Bruce Bartlett | July 2, 2013 | The New York Times
Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”
In the 1970s, there was a management fad called “zero-based budgeting” that Jimmy Carter used as governor of Georgia and tried to put in place as president. The theory was that every government program needed to justify itself annually, rather than being automatically renewed.
The idea never caught on because the payoff turned out to be small and it required a great deal of paperwork and data collection that complicated the budget process, according to a recent review by the Government Finance Officers Association.
Now, the chairman and ranking member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, have proposed zero-based tax reform. Their idea is to wipe out every tax expenditure – deductions, exclusions and credits that reduce tax liability – and start from scratch, requiring tax-expenditure supporters to justify each one as if it were being proposed for the first time. Presumably, tax rates would be reduced, but the proposal does not say how much.
Critically, the senators say they will maintain the existing progressivity of the tax code. This puts a severe constraint on their efforts, because tax expenditures are not evenly distributed across income classes, nor is the burden of taxation. What appears fair at first glance may be grossly unfair when thinking the issue through.
The senators provide the table below to show the impact on average federal income tax rates in 2017 of restoring $2 trillion of individual income tax expenditures and $200 billion of corporate tax expenditures over 10 years.
The point seems to be that every income class will be hit approximately the same if Congress retains tax expenditures rather than eliminating them. But that is not at all what it shows, because the baseline on which the tax changes would be applied is not indicated. Also, the brackets are oddly chosen because five of the seven brackets apply to a tiny number of households with incomes far above those of most Americans. To have a clearer idea of what might happen, the following table from the Tax Policy Center shows the distribution of federal taxes in 2017 under current law.
It’s hard to compare the two tables because we don’t know what impact tax expenditures have on each income bracket. But clearly, those at the bottom are not going to benefit much, if at all, from rate reductions because they pay little if any federal income taxes. As Republicans keep reminding us, 47 percent of tax filers pay no federal income taxes. It’s disingenuous to imply that a family making $20,000 and one making more than $450,000 will be affected equally by the retention of tax expenditures, as the first table shows.
Kitty Richards of the Center for American Progress points to another way of looking at the zero-based proposal. She notes that the budget proposal put forward by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles in 2010 would also have wiped the slate clean of all tax expenditures and reduced tax rates to three statutory brackets of 9 percent, 15 percent and 24 percent.
In 2010, the Tax Policy Center estimated the distributional effect of this proposal for 2015, retaining only the child credit, earned income tax credit and employer contributions for health and retirement plans. The following table compares that proposal to the center’s current estimate of federal tax rates in 2015 for each 20 percent of households and the ultra-wealthy.
As one can see, those with lower and middle incomes would see a tax increase, while the wealthy would get a tax cut. That is because those with high incomes control such a large percentage of total income that they benefit disproportionately from any cut in tax rates. It is hard to see how any reduction in tax rates financed by base-broadening won’t have a similar effect given the current distribution of taxes.
Of course, another problem with the Baucus-Hatch approach is that certain tax expenditures are so popular it is inconceivable that they would ever be abolished. As I have previously noted, just the top 10 largest tax expenditures on the individual side account for more than 70 percent of the estimated $1.1 trillion in total tax expenditures. These include such “sacred cows” as the exclusion for health insurance, the deduction for interest on owner-occupied homes, the deduction for charitable contributions and others that Congress will never abolish.
Even special tax breaks that members of both parties denounce and that are clearly perverse have proven impossible to repeal.
The idea that we can wipe the slate clean and start from scratch is ridiculous pie-in-the-sky thinking and an abrogation of responsibility by the Senate’s two principal leaders on tax issues. They ought to be willing to exercise some judgment and put forward a specific proposal of tax expenditures they think are worthy of abolition in order to clean up the tax code and lower rates. That’s what Ronald Reagan did in 1985, which led to enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
Until a specific proposal on the table can be discussed, analyzed and amended, tax reform isn’t going anywhere. Senators Baucus and Hatch are not helping; they are just wasting time.
5. American companies must be more competitive in the world market, and we must be aggressive in promoting U.S. products abroad and securing open markets for them. . A federal-State-private partnership must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems, among others.
U.S. Infrastructure Down In World Rankings Since 2008
By Lucia Graves Posted: 05/24/2013 2:04 pm EDT | Updated: 05/24/2013 4:41 pm EDT
The United States’ global rank in infrastructure has dropped off considerably from where it was four years ago, both in absolute and relative terms, according to a recent report.
U.S. infrastructure ranked 14th in the world this year, a full seven slots lower than it was in 2008, according to the Global Competitiveness Report for 2012-2013, which was released earlier this month by the World Economic Forum. The country’s overall score had dropped from 6.10 in 2008 to 5.81 this year, where 1 is extremely underdeveloped and 7 is a top score.
The news comes as word spreads about the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge in Washington State, which fell into the Skagit River on Thursday night, sending at least two cars into the river and at least three people to the hospital. Another 700 bridges in the state have even worse sufficiency scores than the bridge that collapsed, according to the AP. Investigators speculate a truck with an over-sized load caused the structure to buckle.
The news is likely to revive debate around the country’s aging infrastructure and the need to invest in upgrading outdated roads and bridges.
A chart created by Joe Wiesenthal shows public construction spending as a percentage of GDP is lower than it’s been in over 20 years, after a big uptick before the recession.
One of the reasons for the drop off is that states and local governments have historically provided most of the spending for roads, highways and bridges, and given the economic downturn in 2008, they’ve been forced to pull back on infrastructure spending to balance their budgets. Congress hasn’t made up the difference, despite the 2009 stimulus, which filled a small portion of the gap. The most recent highway bill failed to substantively increase spending on transportation despite a clear need for upgrades.
The U.S. bridges earned a score of C+ in the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 report card, and just this week the society’s Seattle section gave the state’s bridges a C-minus “due to a lack of planned funding and inadequate maintenance,” as Seattle Weekly noted.
Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer suggests now would be a wise time to invest in repairs, as borrowing rates for Congress are remarkably low and fixing crumbling infrastructure only gets more expensive with time.
6. Federal training programs have to be overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century.
GOP blocks veterans jobs bill with budget vote
By Ramsey Cox – 09/19/12 12:35 PM ET
Senate Republicans stopped the Veterans Jobs bill Wednesday by forcing a budget point of order vote.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) requested a motion to waive the budget point of order, which was raised by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Democrats needed 60 votes, but got only 58.
“This violates the Budget Control Act, there is no dispute about it,” Sessions said in a floor speech Wednesday. “The bill will not even go through the House and it violates the Constitution because it says revenue bills must be started in the House … [and] this is a revenue bill.”
The Veterans Jobs Corp Act would have created new job-training programs to help veterans find work in targeted fields such as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police work and firefighting, among others.
Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) were the only Republicans who voted for the waiver, in a 58-40 vote.
“It’s clear that common-sense bipartisan legislation is being thwarted in this chamber over politics,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who sponsored the bill.
The $1 billion bill was to have paid for itself with new revenue over 10 years. Republican senators say the bill allows for more spending at the Veterans Administration than what was agreed to in the Budget Control Act, which is why they raised a point of order.
“This point of order puts a price on what we are willing to provide our veterans and it says ‘not a penny more,’ ” Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said before the vote. “It’s a point of order that will not only kill our ability to pass this bill, but that could also affect nearly every effort we make to improve the lives of veterans going forward.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said these types of pay-go bills are part of the problem of the growing national debt.
“The question in my mind is, will we at some point in the future recognize the hole we’re in,” Coburn said on the floor Wednesday. “When we find ourselves in $16 trillion of debt and we pay for a five-year bill over 10 years, we make the problem worse.”
S. 3457 has been returned to the calendar, leaving H.J.Res. 117, the six-month spending resolution passed by the House last week, as the only business left in the Senate before election recess. That vote on the motion to proceed to the resolution is expected shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
If the waiver had gotten enough votes, the Senate would have proceeded to a vote on the motion to end debate on an amendment by Murray. Her substitute included provisions by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
“At every turn, we have sought compromise. But instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance,” Murray said. “Instead of saying yes to the nearly one million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking out any way to say no.”
The flaw in Republican thinking is that we all want to be in the 1%. We don’t. Some of us have loftier goals. I spent 25 years in the Not-For-Profit healthcare sector. Working for a blood bank, community health center and transplant medicine. Some of us want to be teachers, firemen, police, all noble professions. Some join the Clergy, other become nurses and ancillary hospital staff, again humanitarian centered. The Republican Party seems to care “ONLY” about the “entrepreneur” or “business mogul” they have no use for the active duty military, Veteran or those that have chosen public service. Post Workers and Union members are chided as losers and takers as if the subsidies given to Corporate America are somehow not taking? The Republican Party has lost touch with the average American and no longer fight for us. They are “NOT” a sports team “We the People” owe them nothing no loyalty at all. If they stop working for us, we need to stop voting for them!!!!
“UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL…”
“AND LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”
“TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION…”
Republicans continue to tout the Judeo/Christian foundation of the Constitution and the culture of the United States of America. “Poor” and “poverty” appear 446 times in 384 separate verses in the Holy Bible, not even mentioned once in the Republican Platform. “Social Justice” appears 1,576 times in the Old and New Testament in 1,379 separate verses. Obviously “social justice and caring for the poor” are a very important part of Judeo/Christian values. When was the last time you heard a leader of the Republican Party speak up and defend the rights of the poor? When was the last time you heard a Republican leader defend social justice, voting rights, Women’s rights, LGBT Rights, Immigration, healthcare, war on hunger anything that resembles “social justice”?
As Christians “WE” are asked to be Christ-like, we are asked to use Jesus Christ as an example of how to live. Christianity is more than just being a straight hetero-sexual, way more than that. As a matter of fact you would be hard pressed to find the Verse and Scripture where Jesus Christ says, all you need to do is be a hetero-sexual to be a Christian. The Republican Party has re-defined “Christianity” to mean something that does not resemble “Christianity”. To be a good Christian according to Republicans all you need to do is be anti-gay and anti-abortion and say I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and be straight. That would be a no!!!! Here are some Bible Scriptures to enlighten the masses of wanna-be Christians that should give you pause as you demonize the poor, sick, immigrant and disenfranchised:
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Proverbs 31:9 “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”
Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Proverbs 22:16 “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
Proverbs 14:31 “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”
Proverbs 29:7 “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.”
James 5:1-5 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”
Isaiah 10:1-2 “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!”
James 2:1-7 “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
Jeremiah 22:16 “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.”
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
As Republicans in the House of Representative debate cuts to Food Stamps, defunding Obamacare’s and declining Medicaid expansion showing indifference to the poor; each and everyone one of them that “CLAIMS” to be a Christian should review these passages. The Holy Bible is clear, caring for the poor is a priority to the Lord. Using racist justification for cutting food assistance to the poor (SNAP Program) is not Christian!
But more importantly, atheists, agnostics, progressives, liberals, Democrats, Independents and all Americans alike should hold the Republicans who claim to be the Party of Christian values accountable and do it vociferously, demand it righteously! Scripture is on your side!
Shady is as Shady does…the false equivalency of blaming the POTUS
The Tea Party came to power to fight wasteful spending, the Republicans have said that our deficit is to high, the Republicans in the House and the Senate voted no on infrastructure spending but they found the money to build a $49 billion dollar border fence?
Really GOP? Rebuild our aging infrastructure, our crumbling cities and repair disaster ravaged neighborhoods, before you build the 700 mile GOP folly aka the BIG GOP WHITE ELEPHANT!
They are all around us, the heroes and heroines of the “GOOD FIGHT”. They have been there from the beginning, they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that gave “We the People” our voice. They championed the values of Liberty, Freedom and Equality. They have come from all walks of life and from “BOTH” Political Parties. Champions of Democracy, guardians of the poor, the disenfranchised and the minority. They march in every movement, loyal, selfless, protecting and noble risk-takers they defend the rights of others as the other’s cause becomes their own. They are not only tolerant, but embrace the cultures of the world. Secure, righteous and always on the right side of history…history rewards them with success and legacy. Who are they? They are the progressive liberal White Males and Females of history and these United States.
They defended the defenseless Colonist against taxation without representation; championed the pursuit of Happiness, Liberty and Freedom that we all cherish today. Our Founding Father’s set the tone for the next 237 years. These White Males defined the “GOOD FIGHT” risking life and position for the sake of a new Nation and a new way of life. They wrote the mission statement that defines America.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”
Amazing words from amazing men. The “Good Fight” is continuous, never ending, ad infinitum, many have sacrificed to move this Country forward. From the American Revolution to the striking down of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) progressive White Males and Females have been the key to moving us closer to a more perfect Union. I am a Latino, I understand the arithmetic. Without these selfless White champions of “MY” freedoms, I would simply be invisible.
White men and Women in the abolitionist movement tirelessly campaigned for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. By the early 1830s, Theodore D. Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and Elizur Wright, Jr., had taken up the cause of “immediate emancipation.” Fighting the times, there was no question in their mind, the morality of their cause. White Quaker women and female slaves, together took a strong moral stand against slavery. Some of these White women educated Blacks, both free and enslaved, and some of them joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and founded their own biracial organization, the Philadelphia Women’s Anti-Slavery Society. Hand in hand Black and White working together for an end to a grave injustice forward to a more perfect Union.
The Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott, was instrumental in organizing what would be the first gathering to fight for Women’s rights in the United States at Seneca Falls. Lucretia Mott and about 100 people attended the convention; two-thirds were women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” Among the 13 resolutions set forth in Stanton’s “Declaration” was the goal of achieving the “sacred right of franchise.” With a progressive eye toward equality Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 100 Americans with “liberal” intention did begin the arduous journey toward Women’s Suffrage and the fight for civil rights.
Will D. Campbell, a towering figure of the U.S. civil rights movement who was the only white person present at the meeting that led to the creation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A minister, Campbell was a larger than life figure who broke with his own Baptist Church to champion civil rights beginning in the 1950s. His colorful speeches and writings angered many white Southerners. But his commitment to the “Good Fight” was unassailable and undeterred. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Said of Campbell “He was a gift to America who never received the recognition he truly deserved. He will be deeply missed.” Campbell was a key player in most of the important events of the civil rights movement:
- He was one of the four White Americans who escorted the black students who integrated the Little Rock, Ark., public schools in 1957.
- He was the only White minister among about 60 pastors invited to attend the meeting in Atlanta that same year where King laid the foundations for the SCLC.
- He joined the Freedom Riders who worked to integrate buses in Alabama in 1961.
- He walked with Martin Luther King on the “March on Birmingham” in 1963.
- He was also with King for the “March on Selma”, Ala., in 1965.
Michael Schwerner was one of the White CORE field workers killed in Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to the civil-rights work he coordinated, which included promoting registration to vote among Mississippi African Americans. Andy Goodman was only 20 when he died on Rock Cut Road on June 21, 1964, near the end of his first full day in Mississippi. Both of these men were killed alongside a Black associate, James Cheney, working on the Mississippi Summer Project. Taking on the cause and paying the ultimate sacrifice to help bring voting/civil rights to the Black Citizens of Mississippi.
William Lewis Moore, a White postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance.
Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.
Rev. James Reeb, a White Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.
Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a White housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a White Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.
We must never forget the sacrifices made by these brave and heroic White progressives in the name of the “Good Fight” all men are created equal.
Many new activists consider the Stonewall uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement and it sparked the formation of many gay’s rights groups. The gay rights movement is complex, emotional and on-going as are the fights for equality among Women and African Americans.
The Stonewall is a bar in Manhattan’s West Village that has become a true landmark in gay history. Forty years ago, the New York gay community rose up there in a riot that sparked the modern gay rights movement. In the 1960’s gay bars were regularly raided by the police. But on June 27, 1969, the patrons of The Stonewall Inn had had enough. A crowd 2000 strong chanted “Gay Power” and a new civil rights struggle was born.
The gay rights movement has faced challenges on many fronts, but none as tragic, demoralizing or devastating to the movement as the AIDS crisis.
As an intern in New York City during the early 1980s, Alan Greenberg, MD, MPH walked into the exploding HIV epidemic. Since then, he has devoted his career to HIV/AIDS prevention, research, and treatment. As a recognized leader in this field, Greenberg’s early studies and research have had an enormous impact in preventing HIV transmission and reducing the morbidity and mortality rates of HIV-infected adults.
C. Everett Koop, the Ronald Reagan-appointed surgeon general who would go on to become a hero to AIDS activists. Koop, who was both a pediatric surgeon and evangelical Christian, part of his legacy the one that I trust will last the longest is his efforts to draw attention to the then-emerging AIDS epidemic. Koop said he realized later that the Reagan administration had been slow to address the disease because the election had brought to power people who were antithetical to gay people, then thought to be its only victims. As the epidemic worsened, reaching drug addicts infected with contaminated needles and hemophiliacs who had received a contaminated blood-clotting factor, Reagan, in 1986, asked Dr. Koop to prepare a special report. Dr. Koop proceeded cautiously, knowing the report would be unpopular with many in the administration, with conservatives in Congress and with church groups opposed to homosexuality. He wrote 17 drafts. In that 1986 report Koop didn’t mince words, promoting the use of condoms for safe sex and calling for sex education to begin in school as early as third grade. Koops statement, “Americans, especially young people, must not die because they were deprived of explicit information about how HIV was transmitted.” This statement especially noteworthy, because at the time the Reagan Administration would rarely even utter the word AIDS. C. Everett Koop, was a portrait in courage fighting the “Good Fight” the progressive fight from the right.
One of the country’s most visible and admired physicians and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., has led the fight against AIDS and, in the process, won the trust and respect of his one-time opponents. Dr. Fauci accepted criticism, and he accepted that someone must absorb the anger and terror that AIDS had spawned. “I was on a C-SPAN program a couple of months ago with Tony, and I attacked him for the entire hour,” said Larry Kramer one of the earliest ACT UP AIDS activists. “He called me up afterwards and said he thought the program went very well. I said, ‘How can you say that? I did nothing but yell at you.’ He said, ‘You don’t realize that you can say things I can’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you.’” Fauci’s calm and less than hysterical thoughtful steering of HIV policy, was instrumental in moving gay rights and health privacy forward.
The LGBT Movements newest and most recent Straight White progressive Heroes, pushing for marriage equality, have been California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.
California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom knew back in 2004 that marrying same-sex couples as Mayor of San Francisco, would lead to litigation, but he said, “Discrimination and inequality is as much about people as it is the law…” After the Court decision on Prop. 8, Newsom said he “took a moment to savor this final step in the long march towards justice. It is truly an emotionally staggering day.” This Straight White male, feeling pride and joy for a cause in which he has no horse in the race. That is the progressive heart.
Ted Olson a Republican and David Boies a Democrat, one time Courtroom adversaries in Bush v. Gore, teamed up to forward civil rights. Again with no horse in the race, these two men from opposite political spectrums took a progressive stand for marriage equality.
How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the “traditional” definition of marriage and press for an “activist” interpretation of the Constitution to create another “new” constitutional right? Ted Olson explains it this way, “My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics, and on my rejection of what I see as superficially appealing but ultimately false perceptions about our Constitution and its protection of equality and fundamental rights. Olson goes on to say, “Americans who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal dignity before the law cannot sit by while this wrong continues. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American one, and it is time that we, as Americans, embraced it.” Ted Olson, proves my point, even a conservative can be progressive.
David Boies said, “”Our collective journey tells of a crucial and historical civil rights movement that brings us closer to the ideals on which our country was founded,” Surprisingly, Boies has not been a lifelong liberal. In the 1960’s he was the President of the Young Republicans, but says he realized he “was on the wrong side” of the battle for civil rights. Later becoming a Democrat, he honed his skills on civil-rights litigation and defending civil-rights. Boies says on marriage equality “I think this is the most important civil-rights issue in the country now,”.
As the House of Representative embarks on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIR), one can only hope that Conservative Republicans with progressive ideas and honorable ethics will fairly and justly follow the examples of those White Americans that have sacrificed everything to move this Great Nations ideals forward, to expand rights, not exclude humanity from enjoying the fruits of Liberty. In the Senate Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), John McCain (R-Arizona), Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Michael Bennett (D-Colorado) have personally made the decision to put their reputations on the line for the greater good of this Country, following in the footstep of “GREAT” men that have made their mark in history. Some may say that these men are not being selfless, but self-serving. I say their decision has risk, their calculation not sure, but their efforts will not be forgotten and do not go unappreciated.
No one will build monuments, to bigotry, greed, intolerance. Great men are honored for the “GOOD” they do, the great societies they create and nurture. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, JFK Eternal Flame, Mount Rushmore and the Jefferson Memorial honor men of honor and integrity.
History has not been kind to Benedict Arnold, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, Ayne Rand, Tom Metzger or Timothy McVeigh. I dare say that no Statues or Monument will be erected on the Washington Mall for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Laura Ingraham, Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Steve King, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, John Cornyn or Jim DeMint. What “Good” have they done? What great deed can be attributed to them?
There is a great good to advance, men of honor are all around us. I want to dedicate this piece to my best friend of 30 years Scott Waldon, a progressive White Male, tolerant, secure, engaged and supportive. He is a good man. I heard that the GOP feels that “the bottom has not been reached on White resentment, and that will be their new strategy for the elections of 2014 and 2016. How cynical it that? How disrespectful to White America is it to assume the worst of them? I want to thank EVERY progressive White Male and Female in America, Democrat, Independent and Republican alike, for bravely standing up for what it right; for turning away from actions and thought that would divide us; for taking on the causes of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native American, LGBT Americans and Women’s Rights; for fighting the good fight; for standing up and not being silent to the destructive voices of intolerance, greed and exclusion; and for moving this Country “FORWARD” in to the 21st Century and leaving no one behind. You are the spirit of America…I am a Latino American, and I thank you.