Friday :: Nov 18, 2005

Another Bu$hCo Lie?


by pessimist

Ho Hum! The lies of Bu$hCo are coming so rapidly these days one needs a schedule to know which one is next in line for delivery. But unlike those concerning Iraq and the war that are getting the media coverage, this specific lie that I'm about to present is a greater issue by far.

Times are hard for the majority of us, no matter what Bu$hCo tries to tell us, and as winter sets in, it will only get worse.
Utility bills are already rising, and come January major declines in all the numbers will be clearly evident, no longer hidden behind Bu$hCo economic happy talk.

This next article, while a tad frivolous, illustrates that the majority are already aware of today's declining conditions:


Japan radish in intensive care after murder attempt

A giant white radish that won the hearts of a Japanese town by valiantly growing through the urban asphalt was in intensive care at a town hall in western Japan on Thursday after being slashed by an unknown assailant. A town official said on Thursday the top of the severed radish had been placed in water to try to keep it alive and possibly get it to flower.

The "daikon" radish, shaped like a giant carrot, first made the news months ago when it was noticed poking up through asphalt along a roadside in the town of Aioi, population 33,289. Asked why the radish -- more often found on Japanese dinner tables as a garnish, pickle or in "oden" stew -- had so many fans, town spokesman Jiro Matsuo said:

"People discouraged by tough times were cheered by its tenacity and strong will to live."

Maybe we in the US should find some daikon radishes, or maybe something more likely to grow in America, to turn to for inspiration, for our turn in the stew is nigh.

One thing our Wrong-Wing Wregulars attempt to present is the claim that job growth is paralleling the alleged economic boom. According to this story, that fabrication just isn't working - like too many Americans who seek viable employment:


New Report: Nation's Job Growth Trails U.S. Economic Boom

Only 25.2 percent of American workers has a job that pays at least $16 an hour and includes employer-paid health insurance and a pension plan, according to a report released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The report, How Good is the Economy at Creating Good Jobs? [PDF], shows how the growth of the U.S. economy -- a 60 percent increase in real gross domestic product per person between 1979 and 2004 -- did not translate into a growth of good jobs, defined in the report as jobs that met all three of the above criteria.

The report also found that 26.6 percent of the workforce is in a "bad" job that pays poorly and offers no health insurance or pension.
Forty percent of workers ages 18-34 hold "bad" jobs.

Get another job then? Those days are long gone.

Evidence has shown that while most Americans have seen little economic improvement over the past decades, a select few at the top are seeing huge jumps in their income, widening the gap between the rich and the very poor.
"Using figures from the Congressional Budget Office, the Economic Policy Institute reports that between 1979 and 2002, the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of the 1 percent of households with the highest incomes more than doubled, rising from $298,900 to $631,700. That represents a 111 percent increase over 23 years," according to an editorial in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard.

Yet another conservative canard is that tax cuts create jobs. According to this article, the truth is altogether different:


Research Dispels Bush Claims That Tax Cuts Create Jobs

President George W. Bush seems determined to push ahead with plans to introduce further cuts in taxes for the rich, continuing to assert that it would create more jobs for the poor.
But the findings of a new study suggest that Bush's claim on job creation is based more on political rhetoric than actual facts related to the nation's economic realities. In June 2003, the Bush administration had claimed that the president's tax cut policy would create more than five million jobs by the end of 2004, but the study shows that only 2.6 million jobs were created--1.6 million less than what would have been expected without any special economic stimulus.
"It's a great sound bite that unfortunately does not hold true in the real world economy," say authors of the report, entitled, Nothing to Be Thankful For: Tax Cuts and the Deteriorating U.S. Job Market. [PDF]
The study shows that African American unemployment remains about twice as high as that of White workers.

Moreover, it indicates no sign of growth in quality jobs (defined as paying at least 16 dollars per hour and including health benefits and a pension plan) for workers from any racial background, including Whites.

This means you, Red Staters.

Meanwhile, critics of the administration's policies are wary that millions of Americans would not be able to participate in the national feast of Thanksgiving next week. "This is because the multiple breadwinners each family needs these days don't have jobs," said Anisha Desai, co-author of the study. "Of those that do, many are not making enough money to pay for turkey and trimmings for everybody in the family."

Last year, one million people fell below the poverty line, a disproportionate number of them children, while the number of billionaires rose to 374, the study says, adding that the number of people living in poverty rose from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 12.7 percent in 2004.

This despite the fact that U.S. workers are spending more than 1800 hours per year at work while their counterparts in other technologically advanced nations work for 1600 hours a year -- a difference of five full work weeks.

Allow me to point out that the United States offers medical coverage to a lower percentage of workers than most of the world does. Rather than try to claim that it's too expensive to offer such coverage, maybe employers ought to discover why the US pays more for worse care than the rest of the world. As the Washington Post pointed out in a recent healthcare cost article, "the United States stood out for having the highest error rates, most disorganized care and highest costs".

It couldn't be that the healthcare needs of the American people are only good for providing a fortune for some Fortunate One to be sent to the Senate, could it? After all - now that the truth is coming out about Republican economic falsehoods, every kid enriched by the application of such lies to the American nation for profit is needed to man the legal barricades and keep the rabble out of the castle:


Senate approves $60 billion tax cut bill

The bill extends a number of tax breaks for business, education and savings that otherwise would expire at the end of the year. While the Senate bill omitted the measure to extend the 15 percent tax rate on dividends and capital gains, which had been backed by the administration, some Republicans have vowed to restore the measure later in the process. Unless Congress acts, the tax rate on capital gains would go to 20 percent and investors would pay regular income tax rates on dividends.
The lower rate on investment income was the centerpiece of Bush's 2003 tax cut and is set to expire at the end of 2008.
The tax legislation is part of a broader effort by congressional Republicans to continue Bush's tax cuts while trimming federal domestic spending to reduce deficits. Democrats accused Republicans of putting too much of the deficit-cutting burden on the poor while giving generous tax breaks to the wealthy.
"Essentially, they've targeted the most vulnerable in our communities -- children, the aged, the blind and disabled -- for spending cuts that pave the way for tax cuts for the rich," said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Even with so much evidence coming out that catering to the wealthy is bad for the nation, the GOP continues to hold to that tired, old line:

Republicans argue that the tax cuts will help generate economic growth.

We have had almost five full years of this BS and I'm still waiting to see real improvement.

But I digress.

Even though the House Democrats led a successful blockage of the tax bill there, all the GOP zombies needed to do was to wait for the Democrats to go home for the night:


House Republicans Eke Out Budget Cut

House Republicans sweated out a victory on a major budget cut bill in the wee hours Friday, salvaging a major pillar of their agenda despite divisions within the party and nervousness among moderates that the vote could cost them in next year's elections.

An interesting sign that without DeLay, some Republicans actually have consciences - and listen to them:

Fourteen Republicans voted "no," including several who had harshly condemned the bill in the days leading up to the vote. Republicans who voted "no" included Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, Tim Johnson of Illinois and Nancy Johnson, Christopher Shays and Rob Simmons of Connecticut. The bill, passed 217-215 after a 25-minute-long roll call, makes modest but politically painful cuts across an array of programs for the poor, students and farmers.

They got you again, Red Staters! Still glad you Let George Do It? Still think that hypocrite is a religious man?

One Texan doesn't:

"Name just one religion in the world that preaches the value of asking the most of those who have the least and asking nothing of those who have the most," said Chet Edwards, D-Texas. "Sadly, that is what this budget does."

But fear not, Topper$! The Best Gevernment Multinational Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Buy is on the job!


$60B tax-cut bill faces Bush veto threat

A $60 billion bill the Senate passed to continue expiring tax cuts and shelter 14 million families from higher taxes faces a White House veto threat because it also includes a hefty tax increase for oil companies.

"This provision would result in a retroactive tax increase by changing a long-accepted accounting practice," the White House said in a statement warning that senior advisers would recommend that President Bush veto the legislation if it's not removed.

That wasn't the only thing that made Bu$hCo unhappy:

A last minute change to the Senate tax bill would require corporate executives to count as income the value of personal use of corporate aircraft.

Now how can Pioneers emulate the heroic antics of Ther Leedur on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln if they have to report it on their tax statements????

Things aren't going to be getting any easier now that some in the GOP remember what morality means:


Rift appears in GOP over cutting taxes and spending

GOP conservatives are demanding greater cuts in social programs while refusing to scale back their plans for a fifth round of tax cuts. That has divided the party and invigorated Democratic activists, who are attacking wavering Republicans in their home states and districts.

While tax-cut packages in both the House and Senate skew toward investors and other middle- and upper-income taxpayers, the spending cuts fall partly on programs aimed at lower-income Americans, such as student loans, food stamps and Medicaid. During the past four years, Republicans, with limited Democratic support, have been able to enact large tax cuts without making offsetting reductions in spending.

Republicans are in a bind. "This is where they have to make it all add up, and it doesn't," said Robert Bixby of the non-partisan Concord Coalition, which supports deficit reduction.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 300,000 lower-income people, many of whom work, would lose food stamps under the House bill. As a result, 40,000 children would be cut from the free school lunch program.
Further, there are signs that Republicans are rethinking their focus on tax cuts. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., has called for tax increases to fund heating assistance for low-income Americans. Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich has said more tax cuts are not needed, given the federal budget deficit.

"You're denying resources to programs that serve the middle class and neediest of the needy on the eve of a projected vote to provide tax benefits and breaks to the most advantaged in our society," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. He was one of the moderate Republicans who pressured leaders to modify the spending cuts. GOP leaders can't afford to lose many of their own, since the issue has energized Democratic opposition.

Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which helps elect and re-elect GOP House members, says the spending cuts will be hard to use against Republicans. "When was the last time that (a budget bill) was ever featured in a TV ad?" Forti said. "I don't believe that there are any political implications to this vote."

Democrats disagree. "Even if they prevail in the passage of some form of this legislation, it's not going to sit well with the American people," said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.

Stuart Butler, vice president of domestic and economic policy studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the House spending plan is "lousy politics, and it doesn't have to be done that way." But Butler said there is a basic clash between those who want to keep taxes low and those who want to maintain social spending.

That clash is having visible repercussions. King George's aproval ratings continue to slide, and even hard core conservatives are raising red flags in warning:


Grand Old Spenders
By George F. Will
Thursday, November 17, 2005

The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking reelection were defeated. .... The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.

Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government waxes, with per-household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II.

Federal spending -- including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 -- has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Bill Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

Will goes on to commit a serious Republican sin - naming the names of those receiving increasing congressional pork:

In 1991, the 546 pork projects in the 13 appropriation bills cost $3.1 billion.

In 2005, the 13,997 pork projects cost $27.3 billion, for things such as improving the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio (Packard, an automobile brand, died in 1958).

Washington subsidizes the cost of water to encourage farmers to produce surpluses that trigger a gusher of government spending to support prices. It is almost comforting that $2 billion is spent each year paying farmers not to produce. Farm subsidies, most of which go to agribusinesses and affluent farmers, are just part of the $60 billion in corporate welfare that dwarfs the $29 billion budget of the Department of Homeland Security.

Anyone hearing the infamous Red State Rage being levelled at Will? I didn't think so.

But maybe they should! After all, he's presenting questions about whether Republicans are any better than Democrats:

Gerard Alexander of the University of Virginia wonders whether conservatives' cohesion is perishing because it was a product of the period when conservatives were insurgents against dominant liberals. About limited-government conservatism, he says:
"Perhaps conservatives were naive to expect any party, ever, to resist rent-seeking temptations when in power. Just as there always was something fatally unserious about socialism -- its flawed understanding of human nature -- is it possible that there has also been something profoundly unserious about the limited-government agenda? Should we now be prepared for the national electoral wing of the conservative movement -- the House and Senate caucuses and executive branch officials -- to identify with legislation like the pork-laden energy and transportation bills, in the same way that liberals came to ground their identities in programs like Social Security?"

Will has an interesting observation about this comment - one which will radically change the political landscape should it occur:

Perhaps. But if so, limited-government conservatives will dissociate from a Republican Party more congenial to overreaching social conservatives. Then those Republican congressional caucuses will be smaller, and Republican control of the executive branch will be rarer.

I can see similar things happening to the Democratic Party at some point, for the pragmatists of both parties will have to find some way to get control of the nation's out of control economy and declining employment prospects. We are a nation going down, and finally some of these pragmatists are seeing reality instead of party-generated pipe dreams. Just as there is no free lunch with jobs and health care for all, neither is there a free lunch to avoid paying taxes.

The biggest entitlements in the Bu$hCo budget are the military and tax breaks to corporations - both of which dwarf the budget items Bu$hCo seeks to cut. Can we really justify almost half of the world's total military expenditures lying in our budget? Is there any need for us to spend so lavishly, except to advance the goals of multinational corporations to impose economic colonialism on the world through the usage of economic hit men and US military might? Shouldn't the needs of The People of the United States take precedence over the profiteering of corporations on the public tab?

This taxpayer - and I pay more in taxes than many people earn in this nation - says yes. Cut the pork from the military, and let all those corporate free-market braggarts prove they can stand on their own two economic feet, and I will believe that you in government are serious about balancing our budget and taking care of your Constitutional responsibilities.

Until then, this is just another episode in the decline of America through your - and our, the voters - irresponsible behavior. And the increasingly hard times will only lead to our heads being lopped off. Unlike this 'heroic' daikon I led off with, there won't be any 'intensive care' to attempt to keep us alive.


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