Monday, December 19, 2011

Texas Progressive Blogger Roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance is all about the wassailing as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff has a look at candidate filings in Harris County as of what was once the deadline date.

BossKitty at TruthHugger - sees the grim side of a corporate ruled America, is that Climate Change Controversy May Be A Conspiracy and we are the targets.

BlueBloggin - Special interests are really not very special when they represent mindless, dangerous attitudes of corporate extremists, who don’t want to be accountable for their actions. Let Me Sell you A Lie – EPA Consequences of The REINS Act – H.R. 10 shows that corporations really do own America's lawmakers.

Bay Area Houston says Rick Perry is one rotten bastard.

Death sentences and the use of the death penalty are hitting record lows. Mostly because of the corruption and injustice in our criminal justice system. It's led WCNews at Eye On Williamson to wonder, Is the death penalty dying?

Third-party presidential candidates may make some noise and perhaps even some news in 2012, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gives us the headsup on the latest episode of Rick Perry, fraud and hypocrite. Check out: Double Dipping Rick the Hypocrite.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Greg Abbott called the US Supreme court to poop on Texas' politicians and voters. That's a republican for you.

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote a post considering the life of the real St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a foe of the death penalty who was said to have brought back to life children who had been cut up and were going to be pickled.

McBlogger takes on PolitiFact's pathetic attempt to beat up Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

Refinish69 from Doing My Part For The Left wonders Do They Know It's Christmas in Washington or anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Bush-era tax cuts that sank the supercommittee | Business |

The Bush-era tax cuts that sank the supercommittee | Business |

In a recent report the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded government spending under president Barack Obama was not the prime reason for today's massive deficit. "The fact remains, the economic downturn, president Bush's tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years," the center concluded.

Nor have the tax cuts benefited most Americans. According to itscalculations the cuts put an average of $860 in tax benefits the pockets of people earning between $40,000 and $50,000, a 2.2% increase. For those earning over a $1m the benefit was $128,832, a 6.2% increase.

The center concluded that the Bush-era tax cuts did not spur economic growth and had made a significant contribution to the deficit. Scrapping the tax cuts for the wealthy alone would be enough to make up for the shortfall in social security; scrapping them entirely would halt the rise in the national debt over the next decade.

Even some prominent Republicans have come out against the controversial taxes. If anything, New York mayor Mike Bloomberg has been more radical than the Democrats. "All income groups have to be part of the solution," the mayor said in a speech in Washington last month. "Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012, not just for high-income workers as the president has proposed, but for all tax brackets."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cost of Tax Cuts |

Cost of Tax Cuts |

Cost equals money lost to the U.S. Treasury due to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Over $1 TRILLION DOLLARS. How many jobs did it buy? None, there is evidence it cost jobs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Advantage of free consultation with lawyer

You can find out that the lawyer is not for you.

For example: on not receiving proper benefits: He did not know the 1000 hours annually rule for ERISA retirement accounts.

He did not know the Texas Administrative Code 30 hours a week rule for medical benefits coverage.

He did not know that the Texas Workforce Commission does not handle claims against political institutions like school and college districts.

He seemed to be a little shaky in math. Multiplying the number of hours worked by the lost benefits and reduced pay puts the claim well above small claims court.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not So Secret Republican Master Plan

I have turned over this blog post to small businessman Kristan Overstreet. Here is his thoughts on the Republican plan for the Masters.

The Republican Master Plan

And here I'm going to descend into a bit of conspiracy theory, but I'm not identifying any Sekrit Masters or Grand Protocols or anything like that. I posted this as a reply to someone's post, and it was long enough and fits my current political thinking enough that I thought I'd better post it here too.

* The Republicans want to privatize and/or abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, and unemployment assistance- to force the poor to "take responsibility for themselves," i. e. accept horrible jobs with terrible work conditions and low pay. The poor would be left wholly dependent on wealthy employers.

* At the same time, the Republicans want to abolish the minimum wage and repeal child labor and overtime laws- making those horrible jobs more dangerous, lower paying, and longer hours.

* The Republicans have largely succeeded in shutting off the civil court system of justice to workers complaining of being harassed, abused, or exploited- and, through their version of "tort reform," they are on the way to ensuring that punishment for even the most obviously illegal and abusive violations of law is minimal.

* The Republicans seek to repeal all government workplace regulation, food safety regulation, and environmental regulation- so the rich can pollute, poison, and exploit the working classes to their heart's content.

* The Republicans seek to cap taxation at such a low point as to either require all regulatory and law enforcement agencies to be abolished, or to destroy the government entirely under its own debts- thus leaving the poor at the mercy of those with enough money and power to take care of their own security.

* The Republicans seek to repeal the 17th Amendment and make Senators appointed by state legislatures again- returning America to a period when one house of Congress was selected by a tiny elite of political bosses.

* The Republicans seek further, more extreme sanctions against all those who cannot demonstrate their citizenship on demand - thus creating a permanent underclass too frightened to stand up for their human rights, and thus infinitely exploitable.

* The Republicans seek nonsensical and extreme laws punishing sexuality, credos, religions, speech and press, and other social issues- creating a system in which it becomes a practical impossibility to NOT break a law, and thus be vulnerable to extortion by those who control law enforcement.

* And, through it all, the Republicans insist on vastly oversized, overpowerful military establishments for the indefinite future, regardless of any actual international threats or the best means of responding to same.

Taken all together, the Republican end goal is a feudal state ruled by a tiny wealthy elite, in which the vast majority have no voice, no power, and no defense. Destroying the economy is only one step towards that goal- and from a Republican point of view, a very useful and desirable step, as the resources of the poor will dry up long before the super-wealthy's hoard..

And the sad thing is, not only are most Democrats doing little or nothing to stop this, some- including our president- are helping ADVANCE parts of this agenda in the name of "compromise" and "good government."


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ObamaCare and Texans after one year

None of this matters for those who don't care about others.

In the Medicare program, there is a gap when someone uses up the initial amount the program will pay for prescription drugs and before they hit the catastrophic coverage. That area of out-of-pocket expenses is often called the “donut hole.” More than 221,121 Texas residents who hit the donut hole received $250 tax-free rebates and will receive a 50 percent brand-name prescription drug discount. The White House estimates the hole will be closed completely by 2020.

There are 2.8 million Texans on Medicare. They are all eligible now for free preventive services and yearly wellness visits from a doctor.

Most insurance companies must cover children with pre-existing conditions now. This means an estimated 1.6 million children who might have been denied before will be covered.

Speaking of kids, if the economy — or the future unknown — has left your offspring unemployed, parents may keep their children on their plans until age 26. That’s about 149,000 Texas young adults.

Small businesses who now face insuring their employees can get tax credits. There is $40 billion in tax credits set aside for up to 4 million small businesses for providing insurance for employees and making premiums affordable. That could mean almost 300,000 in Texas.

About 12 million Texas residents have private insurance. The law keeps insurance companies from dropping or capping insurance plans unexpectedly and from imposing lifetime limits that pose problems for people with chronic diseases, such as cancer or HIV.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Krauthammer stamps his little feet over Social Security again

Time for another editorial by Charles Krauthammer over Social Security. He is wrong again and his stamping his feet and speaking in a louder voice doesn't make him right. Charles is a fine example of the So-Called-Liberal Washington Post's senile and privileged opinion writers.

1. There is no difference in government bonds held by the Social Security Administration and other government bonds. They are all numbers on computers and interest is calculated and paid. In one sense it is one branch of government having a debt and another branch having an obligation but governments work that way. If Social Security redeemed those bonds and bought other government bonds Charles would still object and those purchases would do nothing but generate a lot of transaction costs.

2. Those bonds also represent an obligation to the American people who have paid for those bonds with the Social Security tax and a default would have a big meaning. Such a big meaning I imagine that workers would riot and sweep away Charles's little world if the government ever did what Charles wants and sweeps away the bonds.

3. The statement that the debt is not used in calculations of government debt is simply wrong. It is easy to find presentations of where that debt is used in calculations of government debt and it seems more common than not.

4. Means testing is not any kind of "cure" for reducing Social Security obligations as even a little thought would show. Rich people are not a significant percentage of the population collecting Social Security. Other means for extending the current Social Security payment system past the 30 so years already covered, and is even covered well past that time at higher payments than today, will undoubtedly come to pass but it has nothing to do with the national deficit. It may have a little something to do with the scare-mongering of people like Charles Krauthammer.

5. The real usefulness of idiots like Krauthammer is preparing the people for another grab by the rich from the poor. The rich don't want to pay the taxes they have deferred and Wall Street wants its hands on the people's money that goes into Social Security.

6. As an aside, when is Charles going to quit using that 40-year-old picture that is published in his syndicated columns? Is it a reverse Dorian Gray, it doesn't age while his real face shows all the ravages of corruption and serving the interests of the rich and privileged? The one on the Washington Post page is midway between the Houston Chronicle's and what shows when he emerges from his crypt to appear under TV lights even after pancake make-up and black hair dye.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today's economy

Who's screwed? Anyone's whose not a CEO of a company on the S & P 500. While many have lost their jobs and many more have seen their hours cut at work and their paychecks not going as far as they used to go, transnational corporations are poised to see the biggest profit gains in 18 years. Some of the nation's biggest corporations are expected to see a 9% profit gain this year - the biggest since 1993. And unlike in 1993 - when high profits spurred a hiring spree - don't expect the same things to happen today. That's because - thanks to insane free trade policies - these huge transnational corporations have gotten into a very lucrative business - shipping US jobs overseas. In fact - that's about all our nation exports these days - jobs.

-Thom Hartmann

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Einstein on American Democracy

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

I Stand with the Unions

I don't want to say a lot about Wisconsin; though it occupies a lot of my attention. I don't want to say a lot because I really believe this thing could get ugly. While it may seem that Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature hold the upper hand; the fact is, they are left with NO OPTIONS in this; they took it too far to reverse course; it's way too late for them to back down, and the threat to fire anyone who strikes was the trump card. After playing that card, there are no options left for Governor Walker. If the protesters do NOT back down now, in the face of that threat, Governor Walker has one choice: violence, or the threat of violence; he has to intimidate the protesters; and the only way to do that now is to draw blood. Real blood.

But here's what little I will say about Wisconsin:

The Wisconsin decision to strip public workers of their right to bargain collectively followed a long campaign by right-wingers to create a stereotype of public workers as lazy, overpaid, bureaucratic paper-pushers who contribute nothing, and whose very jobs don't matter. They were attacked only after they were first weakened; a group of people they thought no one else will put themselves on the line to defend.

Except, people are paying attention and standing with Wisconsin's teachers, and not just public service employees. A lot of people are offended by the rightwing portrayal of government employees as public welfare recipients.

I am VERY proud of Wisconsin's firefighters for standing with the teachers; Governor Walker made it clear that they would be exempted from any attacks on the teachers. The firefighters chose on principle to stand with the teachers; or maybe they just realized how this kind of thing works, and knew their turn was coming.

All of us need to stand with Wisconsin's public workers. On principle. We don't have to march, or carry signs. We don't have to go to Madison. We can do it simply by sharing our support with those who know us well, and respect us. Our stated opinions are needed.

- Charles A.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bad Voter ID Bill

The Republicans are at it again. Pretending to cure a problem that doesn't exist they are removing citizens from voting rolls sure that the great majority of those removed vote Democratic.

The Republican State Attorney General has spent millions trying to find instances of voter fraud that this bill will fix and found none. In fact, the only problems he caught were friends helping elderly and disabled to vote and forgetting to sign the mail in ballots on the proper lines. (That still counted as a success because the elderly and handicapped and the type of people assisting people to vote are also largely Democratic voters.)

The main problems with this bill include:

1) The legislation does not provide any alternatives to photo identification examples of identification that will no longer be acceptable to voter include student id cards, Medicaid/Medicare cards, expired driver’s licenses, expired passports, expired military id cards, birth certificates, official government letters, and employer id cards even if issued by a governmental entity.

2) Texas has a long history of voter discrimination and this law if enacted will be used primarily against minorities.

3) Voters, especially the working poor, will not return to the county elections department to provide the required identification within 6 days and cure his or her provisional ballot.

4) The bill contains no provisions to accommodate or address eligible voters whose last name on their driver’s license does not match their voter registration, such as recently married women.

5) The bill contains no provisions or guidelines to address a driver’s license that does not match the address of the voter registration certificate. This provision impacts students.

6) Offering a free personal identification certificate from DPS will not address the problem. Voters that lack the identification necessary to satisfy SB 14 will likely lack the means to obtain a personal identification card.

7) To implement this legislation, the state must put in substantial money for training and extensive public education. Money that would be better spent to address budget shortfalls in education, higher education, nursing homes, and healthcare costs.

8) The budget should be the first and only priority emergency item for the 82nd Legislature.

9) Implementing redistricting plans and extremely strict photo id laws right before a Presidential election is a recipe for disaster in voter confusion.

The people most impacted by this bill include students, the recently married, the recently moved, those with very low income, the elderly, legal immigrants, the handicapped, and the mainly urban dwellers who don't drive a car. These groups all lean Democratic so the Republicans count this bill as a success, getting any edge possible for elections.

See the bill here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance - In 1798

How ignorant are most conservatives and how much do they lack a knowledge of history?

Rick Unger points out that they are over 200 years too late to stop insurance mandates for private citizens and socialized medicine. Forbes, by far not a liberal web site, has this.

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance - In 1798

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed - “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.

And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.

Realizing that a healthy maritime workforce was essential to the ability of our private merchant ships to engage in foreign trade, Congress and the President resolved to do something about it.

Enter “An Act for The Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen”.

I encourage you to read the law as, in those days, legislation was short, to the point and fairly easy to understand.

First, it created the Marine Hospital Service, a series of hospitals built and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. This government provided healthcare service was to be paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors (a little more than 1% of a sailor’s wages), the same to be withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.

The law was not only the first time the United States created a socialized medical program (The Marine Hospital Service) but was also the first to mandate that privately employed citizens be legally required to make payments to pay for health care services. Upon passage of the law, ships were no longer permitted to sail in and out of our ports if the health care tax had not been collected by the ship owners and paid over to the government – thus the creation of the first payroll tax in our nation’s history.

When a sick or injured sailor needed medical assistance, the government would confirm that his payments had been collected and turned over by his employer and would then give the sailor a voucher entitling him to admission to the hospital where he would be treated for whatever ailed him.

While a few of the healthcare facilities accepting the government voucher were privately operated, the majority of the treatment was given out at the federal maritime hospitals that were built and operated by the government in the nation’s largest ports.

It not only covered sailors working in international waters but the U.S. lakes and rivers.
Clearly, the nation’s founders serving in the 5th Congress, and there were many of them, believed that mandated health insurance coverage was permitted within the limits established by our Constitution.

The moral to the story is that the political right-wing has to stop pretending they have the blessings of the Founding Fathers as their excuse to oppose whatever this president has to offer.

History makes it abundantly clear that they do not.