By Way of the Bouncing Ball

By Way of the Bouncing Ball

Unceremonious Reprove:
I have got to say, in all my twenty-five plus years of following American politics, I have never witnessed such blatant power grabbing over the health of the USA in what Republican politicians are currently displaying. It is in total disregard for the well-being of the middleclass and is truly setting up a caste state of “the haves and have nots” (George W. Bush’s phrase) this country has ever experienced and historically does not stand for. To make it appear Obama as unsuccessful, they are willing to sacrifice not only this country’s economy but its heritage as well in catering to the bias of lower income voters towards the president while fulfilling their vendettas in achieving goals for the extremely well-off and corporations at the expense of everyone else. What is amazing is that they are succeeding, to a degree. When are the American people going to really wake up?  Is the flavor of Americana truly souring?

Under my opinion’s domain, wisdom has only two antitheses described in a two worded phrase of contrasting meaning...saying nothing. One is in speaking a lot, but saying nothing, while the other is withholding a wealth of information by saying nothing in keeping your thoughts to yourself. In a democracy, if you have pertinent knowledge utilize it in making your voice heard. If you don’t, then the blowhards full of empty rhetoric will command the podium in promoting their one-sided agendas. There, at the moment, is absolutely no reasonable reason in not getting involved in politics. I know of many who feel they don’t like politics and want to stay clear of it, but as I’ve always stated, if there are only two people in a room and they can speak, you have politics. It is with and in us all.

Growing Disparity:
For me, during these times of national trials and tribulations, itd just seem proper that all Americans, especially including the leaders, would be putting their two cents into the ring to enjoin working out the woes of this country. But Republicans are so dead set in making Obama appear as a failure they’re willing to let the American masses continue along in their suffrage just to appease their wealthy base.

This is very dangerous ground for America to stand on as a country of principle. Americans as a whole do appear ignorant or impartial to the inequality this country’s economy is trending in ever-increasing velocity towards. Just completed this year, Michael Norton, an economist from Harvard and Dan Ariely, an economist from the more conservative university, Duke conducted an economic survey. Their findings on the fine details of the wealth and income distributions in the United States emphasized just how concentrated the wealth scale is tilted towards the few.

For 2007, the top 1% of Americans controlled 35% of America’s net worth while the bottom 80% of Americans had a net worth of 15%. The Norton & Ariely survey in financial wealth distribution was even more disparaging. It showed that while the top wealthiest 1% of Americans owned 43% of American income, 80% of the bottom American wage earners owned only 7% of America’s financial wealth. Wealth held by the bottom 40% of America’s populace, is a mere 0.3%. Now that is staggering.

In this study, it turns out that wealth taken in by the wealthiest 1% of the population is not through a working salary, but rather more through investments and marketable assets such as dividends, interest, rental estate, stocks, bonds and overseas investments.

The very well-off in America do just fine. Since they don’t hold down a job, they don’t contribute to payroll income tax, while various tax loopholes were designated, compliments of Republicans, to counter paying taxes on other income sources.        

For 2010, executive CEO pay has dropped in comparison from 2000 levels of 525 times to 343 times more than the typical American worker. This is not due to corporations feeling outrage over the salary discrepancies, but is due to TARP regulations in monitoring the steep climbs in executive pay, especially for the CEOs that head companies benefiting from the bailout.

Still though, 343 times more dwarfs the American workers’ pay and according to the Gini coefficient that measures the inequality in distribution factors, since July of 2009 median wealth has plunged 36% overall. But, with an advance in the coefficient from 0.834 to 0.865, there was a steep rise in wealth inequality. For 2010, according to the economist, Edward Wolff there has been a drop in marketable assets or wealth for the median household of a whopping 36.1%, whereas for the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, it is a lot lower drop at 11.1% since 2007.     

Today, the averaged American workers’ pay raise from a stipend income is a mere 0.25%, whereas for the CEO, as if they already aren’t paid enough, received on average an annual 23% pay raise from an already inflated balloon salary.

Though statistical analysis shows the wealthiest as being hit by America’s downturn as well, you don’t need to feel too sorry for ‘em, for where Republicans slack politically in protecting the rich, bankers have taken up that slack.

There was a law passed in 1986 by congress and signed by President Reagan stipulating that one could not benefit from a trust fund unless he first paid the inheritance tax, making it virtually impossible for any generation of the wealthy to avoid the tax. Financial bankers though, convinced legislatures in many states to eliminate rulings against perpetuity. This setup a convenient cover-up loophole meaning that trust funds launched in those states could now be employed as existing in virtual perpetuity allowing the trust funds themselves to own new businesses and real estate, without any expense coming from the rich descendent holder of the trust fund. In fact, this allows the rich beneficiary to avoid paying debt, or be sued if once found responsible for accidents or injuries.

Amazing isn’t it? Now guess who are still not only fighting for the extension of these types of egregious rulings and loopholes, but actually want to enact more into law in further protecting the rich folk and the corporate? That’s right, the Republicans and to do it at the expense and demise of federal programs devised more for the average American.

For the vast majority of Americans, their home by far is their major investment and is about the only shelter item left for them to deduct from in payable income taxes. According to the Federal Reserve Board’s 2010 ‘Survey of Consumer Finances,’ there has been a huge loss in housing wealth for most average American households creating even a bigger gap between the wealthiest and the rest in America. From 2007 to 2010, the number of American households with no marketable assets rose from an already high percent of 18.6% to 24.1%.

Now, I inquire vehemently, where are Republicans on this issue? Remember, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Seems like we would be concentrating more on where America is really suffering as opposed to intensifying its strongest points.

Come None/Maybe One:
Ya know, in the beginning of my being introduced to Representative Eric Cantor (R-Va.), I did not care for him strictly due to his permanently etched  smirk. I know that’s wrong to judge someone by a physical attribute, but does anyone like an engraved smirky face? Now though, I have reason to dislike him from his words and Cantor’s candor.

In the debt ceiling debates, Cantor and the GOP as a whole prefer to stay partisan during this country’s trying economic times, for in their morbid point of view, the worst possible political outcome would be to offer Obama a negotiated bipartisan agreement. They feel, even though it would be a good thing for the country it would also make Obama shine like a diamond in a goat’s ass-pirin bottle and that is the last thing on their agenda they would want to ever occur.

I don’t know how the debt hijacked the main American dilemma and that is job creation, but it somehow did; perhaps due to pansy Democrats unable to stand up against a loud and impolite Republican foe thwarting, then diverting from the main issue. Anyway, it is a fact and the current mainstay of American politics. Nonetheless however, it too is being waylaid by Republicans through the debt ceiling debates.

The debt ceiling debacle has been going on now for almost a good half year. For that duration, Republicans have held the raising of the debt ceiling as hostage until all their demands in cuts to social and entitlement programs are met without giving any concessions on their part in asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in tax revenues and closing some corporate loopholes. 

You can call it caving in or you can call it diplomacy, but Democrats have conceded up to $4 trillion dollars in spending cuts including entitlements, if Republicans are willing to raise revenues via the cancellation of the wealthy Bush tax cuts. Democrats have sacrificed and Obama will have nothing but jelly to pay to his base for putting entitlements on the table. But the Republicans won’t budge in closing the doors on the tax cuts, corporate loopholes and big business subsidies and still insist in more cuts before they agree to raise the debt ceiling. This spoiled brat action on behalf of the Republican Party is pretty much the definition of blackmail.

Republicans behind Cantor are saying that they “will not raise the debt ceiling in accepting tax increases in exchange for deep entitlement cuts and will only raise the national debt limit in exchange for a spending cut package that is revenue neutral.” This is what Cantor is demanding before any thoughts of lifting the debt ceiling occurs on the Republican’s watch.

Last week Cantor even said that the idea that Republicans are not giving any concessions to the debate while expecting Democrats to do so is simply not true. Oh, it’s not? I speculate here that he couldn’t come up with any Republican concessions, because he later simply stated the key Republican concession is “the fact that we [Republicans] are voting…the fact that we are even voting for a debt ceiling increase.” That’s all he could come up with…that Republicans would agree to vote on a debt ceiling while Democrats have to give up trillions on average American program benefits.

What’s so irrevocably wrong with this? Well, first off they always whine about tax increases. Getting rid of the Bush tax cuts aren’t tax increases, but are merely putting them back to their original 2000 levels. Secondly, they yell out tax increases as if they were an across the board increase. They are not; they are only for the extremely wealthy.

Now please allow me to refresh your memory on Cantor. He was the one in crybaby fashion to walk out on the talks on June 23 with Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) right behind his tail, because no matter how much Democrats added deep cuts into much needed program benefits for the less fortunate, they refused to give an inch on cutting corporate loopholes and closing the gates on the rich tax breaks.

Last week Cantor stated in a press interview, “What this bill says is it reiterates again the deadline and that the senate should act before the deadline and that’s what the American people are expecting. The bill then says if the senate does not act, then the H.R. 1 (the bill just passed by the House this past spring) will be the law of the land.” Now ain’t that just sweet mustard gravy. Doesn’t Cantor know with all his inglorious wisdom that even a symbolic law must first be passed by both Houses of Congress then signed by the president before it can ever become law of the land? The belligerent fool…

Just after the Joplin, Missouri tornado disaster, Cantor also is the very one who insisted on ‘Face the Nation,’ May 29, 2011 that if the federal government is going to pay relief to the Joplin tornado victims, first it must be paid for by cuts to other programs. He then went on to conduct a little lecture dog and pony show by saying:

“When a family is struck with tragedy…like the family of Joplin...let’s say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with, to buy a new car and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that’s what they would do, because families don’t have unlimited money. And, really, neither does the federal government.”

A bit extreme don’t ya think? It appears American communities don’t count, but don’t dare touch those tax cuts set up for the wealthy.

Again last week, besides rudely interrupting President Obama on the federal debt ceiling discussions provoking Senator Harry Reid on the senate floor to call Cantor childish, Cantor also stated in a press interview, “I don’t think the White House understands how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they are going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.” Oh really…

During the Bush years, Cantor voted four times to raise the debt ceiling and said nothing of the federal increases in spending. “For Mr. Cantor to say it was a major concession by the Republicans to sit down at the table to discuss getting an agreement is an extraordinary comment to be made in a democracy,” so said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Representative John Larson (D-CT) stated, “It’s both arrogant and insulting that their (Republican) compromise is that they’ll raise the debt ceiling for the debt that they created.”

I used these two quotes, for both these two men so eloquently described the demeanor of current Republican mentality. All economists will, if truthful, point out that overall, in going back fifty years it has been Republican administrations that have significantly raised the debt. Why do most of us think that it is Democrats? Because Democrats spend on programs that promote the welfare of average Americans that affect our daily lives. They are visible and felt. Republicans historically fight to rescind these programs, which is also visible and felt and makes it appear they are making government smaller. But what is not so visible to the public is that Republicans spend too and at times in excess on corporate welfare. Yes they do cut social programs, but not to save, no, it’s to add to their expenditures in defense, special pet programs and federal industry subsidies.

For instance, everyone still promotes Reagan as a budget cutter with his visible deep cuts in federal programs for lower and middle income Americans, but the inherited debt of $910 billion he received from Carter he quietly turned into a $2.6 trillion debt for his predecessor, George H. W. Bush to contend with. Accounting for inflation, that’s a 186% increase in debt over eight years. Not so great after all and I won’t even get into W. Bush’s passing of the arrears baton over to Obama from a quarter trillion dollar surplus to a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit.

Cantor and his Republicans are going to have to realize that there can be no deal on lowering the deficit solely by way of social spending cuts. Even David Frum, a former Bush speech writer whom I first iterated on in the ‘Intrepid Ignorance’ article sums it up best when he blasted the GOP in a recent op-ed calling their methods “dangerous tactics.” He acknowledges the current Republican proceedings as “taboo” when he states, “Unconditional surrender was the Republican demand in the healthcare debate. That demand led to an unmitigated defeat. Unconditional surrender has become the Republican demand in the debt debate. Then as now, Republicans refused any concessions of their own, instead demanding that the president yield totally to their way of thinking. Then as now, Republicans rejected all concessions by the president as pathetically inadequate.” Amen, Mr. Frum.

Lingered Languish:
Grover Norquist fronts the ‘Americans for Tax Reform’ group. Although it is in their name, his and the group’s main mission in life is not tax reform, but more so for no federal increase in revenue sources whatsoever, no matter if it is from taxation, closing loopholes or ending corporate subsidies even after they have run their course.

What’s outlandish, is that the Republican congressmen are scared stiff of him. Norquist manipulated all but six Republican senators out of forty-seven and all but six out of 236 House Republicans to sign onto Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. He is always monitoring the congressmen’s conduct and if he catches one voting to raise taxes or not to extend the Bush tax cuts, he will publish their names. His issuance of secretly veiled threats to promote their competitor candidates in the next election cycles if they don’t follow his rules, as well, brings the wrath of fear ever so greatly upon their burdened souls. This is downright rubbish.

Norquist literally is nothing more than a lobbyist with special interests in cutting federal revenue. For a lobbyist to have that much control over our lawmakers is ludicrous. How can America conduct fair and balanced law enactments when they are chained to a special interest group?

At least there was a bit of a crack in his stranglehold on Republicans when, led by Tom Coburn (R-OK), he and thirty-three other Republican senators voted against ethanol industry subsidies a couple of weeks ago. Norquist threatened, but Coburn remained firm coming back in stating, “You’ve got thirty-four Republicans that say they’re willing to end this, regardless of what Grover says.”

Norquist’s heavy handedness and fingerprints have been all over the debt ceiling debates making the Republicans appear as stubbornly simple-minded in their endeavors to cut federal spending on citizen programs without sacrificing one penny towards the lifting of tax cuts and subsidies for the wealthy and corporations. Cantor’s rants of avoiding any net reduction of tax breaks are an echo of Norquist’s demands. Republicans are his puppets and he is their puppeteer. Bullying should have no place in school yard grounds much less in both houses of congress.

Bush’s tax cuts were not set up to be permanent but as temporary. But apparently Republicans feel even temporary taxation breaks cannot be lifted. The wealthy tax cuts have lost purpose during these times of economic drama and even if conditions have changed for the worse economically as a whole, Republicans stress it cannot be rectified by lifting the rich tax breaks unless ending the tax breaks are offset somewhere else in federal revenue spending or incorporation of a new fixed tax lowering law. The final kicker to all this squabbling is that it is a mere 3% increase in negating the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s all Obama’s asking for.

Pretty much, today’s current Republican principle equates into the United States’ economic catastrophe…pretty much…

Never to Be:
Not a chance! I have said it before and will state it again. No matter how much Republicans roar, they will not allow the debt ceiling increase to pass by, simply because Wall Street underneath the cuffs tells them that is a no-no. But it doesn’t discourage their theatrics in threatening to do so and throughout the playacting; it is from no fault of their own.

Many Republicans have repeatedly stated we don’t want the country to default either, even though they still will vote no to raising the ceiling if demands aren’t met. But yet, many of the freshmen Tea Party politicians like Joe Walsh, Joshua Lott, David Schweikert, Renee Ellmers, Steve Southerland and along with the slew of others contend they will vote no to raising the debt ceiling period no matter what.

Now, in fear of the Tea Party and Grover Norquist, Senator Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader is preparing to raise the white flag in saying king’s X while crossing his fingers. McConnell is assembling an authorization act for President Obama to submit a request for congress to raise the debt ceiling then have it put to a vote. If it is voted down, in the authorization, there is a resolution that Obama could then veto both house’s no vote and sign the raising of the debt limit into law on his own.

Why would McConnell do this, as if he was giving an edge to Obama, the very one who McConnell had put all his primary efforts into making the president fail?

It is not because he wants Obama to succeed it’s purely a political move on McConnell’s part because he realizes full well that Republicans are in a dangerous spot concerning the debt ceiling. Obama stated earlier in the debates that “nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon,” then promptly announces he is willing to look at huge spending cuts, but both parties are going to have to sacrifice.

While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), is stuffed in a box to not compromise, McConnell has been in the political ring more than long enough to know that if Democrats are willing to sacrifice greatly and Republicans were still unwilling to close loopholes and halt temporary tax cuts for the rich, in the perception of the American public’s eyes, it would be political suicide. But if they voted on increasing the debt limit and cut out a few tax breaks, Republicans would have heck to pay to the Grover Norquists of conservatism and the Tea Party.

In this authorization, I’m sure McConnell feels Republicans have a win-win. They can tell the ones they report to that they did not vote on increasing the debt ceiling, but the country does not default and spin off into disarray due to his party’s obstinacy, because Obama solely raised the ceiling.

Pretty crafty, huh? Yes it is, considering he can really be politically primitive in some statements. Remember Casey Anthony’s trial of acquittal in her murdering of her two-year-old daughter? In making a flat out dumb comparison on ‘Fox News Sunday’s’ July 17, 2011 edition, McConnell said this is the very reason and the proof we cannot try terrorists in our courts and should only be conducted in military tribunals at the infamous Guantanamo detention camp. The dork-head; doesn’t he know that Anthony’s case was in a state civilian court and terrorists are to be tried in federal courts with federal prosecutors coming from the Justice Department’s National Security Division. In 2010, federal prosecutors had a 93% successful conviction rate and over a 94% conviction rate in 2009. Compare that to just three convictions in the military tribunals and two of the three are now out walking the streets.

Once again, not a chance! Out of the myriad array of Republican presidential candidate hopefuls, in my opinion only one is worth mentioning, but he hasn’t a ghost of fortuitous luck in making it past the primaries. The Republican base just cannot get pass what is in his history and that is in working for the pleasure of President Obama as ambassador to China. Some abhor him for the present as well, since he feels the debt ceiling shouldn’t be toyed with. We’re talking about Jon Huntsman. Also, like Mitt Romney, he is a Mormon; not a glaring attribute in the eyes of the Republican’s moral majority base. Never mind that he makes sense, he’s one of the few intellectual and honest Republican candidates and does portray confidence. His refusal to not lambast his former boss also doesn’t sit well with conservatives.

He won’t weigh in on an argument with empty rhetoric and if he is not up to date on a subject, he will not attempt to portray he knows of it and put his foot in his mouth. He is very careful before weighing in on an opinion. Huntsman is the one Democrats would have to fear most in the general election, but then again, he’ll never get past the Republican primary because he’s not mean and callous enough and willing to spread misinformation in catering to the righteous right. It appears the long cast of other Republicans are willing though.

Commentary into Its End:
Ya know, Republicans feel quite comfortable in stressing to Democrats everything will be just fine as long as you do as we say and sacrifice the American people’s federal benefits, while we do nothing toward your requests and cling to the well-off’s well-being.

The only Republican concession that Cantor can come up with and even claims it as major, is if the Democrats bow down to all the Republican social spending cut demands, then and only then will Republicans consider casting a yea vote in forestalling a major U.S. economic calamity. A new term should be prescribed to the phrase, ‘scorched earth’ and that is the coalescing of right-wing movements.

To actually think of, much less do in allowing the U.S. to default on all its loans and liabilities by not voting on a debt ceiling increase, is not punishing Obama and the Democrats, it’s punishing dearly the country. If the U.S. defaults this time, national and international financial institutions and investors would then know that it could default again, then again and again.

Aw, who knows, maybe the bipartisan so-called senates 'Gain of Six' can finally wake up in getting their act together and come up with a for real budget plan while having the debt ceiling raised.

Republicans, who claim to so dearly hold the Constitution in close proximity to their bosom, should read it. The 14th Amendment in plain fashion states that it is unconstitutional to allow the United States of America, or any individual state for that manner to default on its payments and obligations. So who really follows the Constitution? It certainly doesn’t appear to be Republicans at the moment.

Republicans are all bellyaching at the moment about Obama’s bully pulpit and his reach on executive privileges, for the Constitution was framed as a law of checks and balances with three distinct branches of government composed of the executive, legislative and judicial departments.

Let me tell ya something, besides Lincoln & FDR during a heightened period of peril for the country during the Civil War and WWII, Bush is responsible for the greatest extension in executive power.

To be truthful, as Theodore Roosevelt once put it in being among the Progressive Society, the Constitution should be used as a guideline. Even more so now than during his time, in a complex society to follow it strictly by the letter is difficult.

One thing we should always abide by though, is the Constitution’s core principle. No, it’s not in following a god, for nowhere in its 4½ thousand or so words does it mention a god. The core principle is that this nation was founded on the belief that all people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ya know, if ya wiped the slate clean and cleared off all the smearing and smudging going on in the political arena, one could then see what truly divides Democrats from Republicans. One side tends to share while the other tends to horde. Could ya guess which one is which?

In Denoting,
B.J. Anderson

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