February 3, 2012

So-called “Right-to-Work” has dangerous side-effects

Posted in health care, role of government, states' rights tagged , , , , at 3:41 pm by realitytax

So-called "Right-to-Work" has dangerous side-effects.

NFL players understand exactly what’s at stake for workers. They oppose these so-called “Right-to-Work” laws fervently. It was one of the first topics raised at the NFLPA’s Groundhog Day news conference leading up to this year’s Superbowl.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Quarterbacks Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins are among six NFL players urging Indiana lawmakers to oppose right-to-work legislation.

Cutler, from Santa Claus, Ind., and Grossman, from Bloomington, joined New Orleans’ Courtney Roby, Pittsburgh’s Trai Essex, St. Louis’ Mark Clayton and San Diego’s Kris Dielman in sending letters to Indiana House members Monday. Days earlier, the NFL Players Association came out against the measure that would ban private contracts that require workers to pay union fees for representation.

Cutler called it a “political ploy” against workers.

August 5, 2010

Survey says

Posted in media coverage, Obama administration tagged , , , at 9:09 am by realitytax

You may have seen stories telling you that over 40% of Republicans or Tea Partiers think the current President wasn’t born in this country, or heard Rush Limbaugh talking about them in dramatic terms.

One small problem, no matter if you’re listening to Limbaugh, watching cable TV, or reading in Salon: Surveys only tell you what people say – what they claim, not what they actually think. Pundits who go beyond that are guessing.

Some may want to infer the Republicans responding to such surveys “think Obama wasn’t born in America,” but it’s equally valid to infer they wish he wasn’t, or to suggest they want you to think they think he wasn’t, or any number of other possible interpretations.

But the data, the only factual material, is how those surveyed responded, nothing more. You can’t know what a person is thinking, which is why the American legal system is predicated on actions, not media coverage, commentator speculation, or inferences drawn by partisan pundits.

February 11, 2010

Are disingenuous “republicants” trying to undermine confidence in government?

Posted in economic recovery, GOP, health care, media coverage, mortgage reform, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:29 pm by realitytax

Now more than ever Americans question that Congress is ready, willing, or able to effectively govern. We trusted them with billions of dollars in handouts to Wall Street in late 2008, but still needed a separate stimulus bill to create jobs after a new administration took office, a process which has yet to make much headway as reverberations of the economic crash continue.

Some debate the value of Cash for Clunkers, too – mostly they’re elected to Congress as Republicans, and none of them work in the auto industry. But it’s fashionable to bash the opposition, after all. The media drinks it up, and it keeps their pundits off the foreclosure stories.

The “Credit Card Bill of Rights” was so hamstrung that banks used the interval to increase fees and interest rates on consumers. The American people fear Washington has gone wrong, and the media coverage of Republican leaders steadfastly refusing to compromise on anything has come to epitomize Washington’s gridlock.

Health Care Reform was one of the keys to President Obama’s litany when he was still just Senator Obama, a candidate for our nation’s highest office. It united a broad coalition of voters who believed he understood the unfairness of a system where insurance companies treated health care differently than any other form of insurance, picking and choosing the most profitable customers while denying those who most needed health care access to what is nominally a payment system. In fact, 55 Republican members of Congress who oppose a public option, calling it a “government takeover of health care” nonetheless rely on just such a system themselves. If “government run” health care payment administration is good enough for a member of the U.S. Congress, it’s probably good enough for you and me.

Meanwhile, medical bankruptcies will continue to occur despite the skyrocketing cost of premiums. Over half the personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. are triggered by medical costs, but Congress spent billions to prop up rich bankers who didn’t even suffer a cut in pay, let alone lose their jobs or benefit packages. Set aside the uninsured a moment, the average medical debt that causes insured families to become bankrupt is $18,000 – compare that to the bonuses paid on Wall Street.

Corporations jiggle their accounting to avoid paying taxes, and the richest Americans pay a smaller fraction that the less well-to-do in personal taxes. It’s no wonder the Tea Party concept holds appeal – we seem to have returned to taxation without representation, and if there’s one things Americans agree on it’s the concept of “fair play.” Well, Americans outside the Republican Caucus in the U.S. Capitol, anyway.

Since it’s politics, we know we have to follow the money. We’ve recently cut dozens of taxes; Congress has left income tax laws alone which would normally put the GOP in a mood to smile. In this case, with one party childishly digging in their heels much like children who won’t eat their vegetables, we have to ask: “What more does the minority hope to gain?”

August 28, 2009

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (MN CD6) missed the chance to lead

Posted in health care, John McCain's campaign, senior citizens tagged , , , , , , , at 2:04 am by realitytax

Minnesota’s 6th district congressional Representative, Michelle Bachmann, missed a golden opportunity this afternoon to step back from the partisan talking points and rumor-mongering before an overflow crowd at her town hall meeting in a Junior High School auditorium in Lake Elmo. Fresh from criticism that she had been much too quick to depart an event earlier in the week in St. Cloud, Bachmann responded to virtually every question or comment from the crowd with long-winded recitations of her already familiar litany: that the U.S. has the best health care system in the world despite outcomes surpassed by many other nations, and that the government would be interfering in and controlling medical decisions in some vast bureaucracy that was somehow worse than the actuarial and profit-driven bureaucrats at insurance companies who already countermand medical orders.

The tone was set early on, when despite the moderators admonitions that the only topic open to discussion was health care, Ms. Bachmann launched into such a long-winded, wandering opening statement that the crowd grew restless.  The session was obviously scripted to limit both the questions/comments and her need to respond, complete with a Texas congressman who also responded to virtually every question, yet evidently hadn’t gotten the “death panels” talking points from Bachmann’s staff. If the Congresswoman was really interested in hearing from her constituents she might have talked less, but alas like so many D.C.-based politicians she relied on posturing at length and repeatedly for the media and her base after paying lip-service to listening as the lines of questioners grew restless.

Ms. Bachmann had the chance to reach out to those looking for real information, she even repeated her recent notion that there would have to be a “safety net” for those without insurance (divining how this differs from a public option is left as an exercise for the voter, evidently,) after assuring the crowd that everybody wants the system reformed. Then, however, she resorted to amateurish theatrics (at least we didn’t see the Grassley dragon) and cheer-leading for unsupported assertions while cherry-picking points to assure her already-confirmed supporters that she wouldn’t let taxes on their children reach 80-90% to pay for reform (which she is in favor of, make no mistake about it) without addressing what she would do, or even suggest, to improve matters. All in all, while her base was delighted with the Obama-bashing, for the vast majority of those in attendance, including the dozens who couldn’t ask their questions, or thought they might hear ideas about how to address the skyrocketing costs of health care insurance, it was a waste of time.

The one accomplishment was the ratcheting up of polarization, in utter contrast to the Representative’s stated goal of attaining a bi-partisan solution.  She lacks the rhetorical polish, and the quick familiarity with the facts, that her wingman (Congressman Burgess, R-TX, a self-described “McCain surrogate”) displayed, which made her look under-prepared, if not outright insecure. From the outset it was clear that the crowd was split, and while the majority were Bachmann loyalists that didn’t mute the opposition, which roared their own approval as one questioner started out by declaring she’d turned him from a Reagan voter into a Democratic (DFL) activist.

One has to marvel at the staunch GOP line regarding government ineptitude coming from those who have controlled the White House for such a large fraction of the last quarter century, at times complete with majorities in the Congress. Still, it’s clear that Ms. Bachmann has spent little time examining her positions logically; perhaps it’s all that special interest money she gets that keeps her aiming partisan criticism at the very institution that writes her paycheck, provides for a very generous retirement, and – ironically enough – provides and pays for her health care insurance plan.