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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who DARRELL ISSA REALLY Represents!

Sources: www.themiddleclass.org; www.ontheissues.org; www.opensecrets.org

Continuing my periodic profiles on members of Congress who do not deserve to be re-elected either because they are rigidly ideological partisan hacks and/or they are not acting in the best interests of most of the population, I now focus on California 49th District Representative Darrell Issa. He, like many others in Congress, doesn't really understand and is far out-of-touch with the struggles and needs of average Americans in this cash-strapped time of recession and high unemployment. That should come as no surprise, though: his net worth has been estimated at $251 million, which makes him the wealthiest member of Congress.

On the surface, Issa comes across as a sharp, affable, and reasonable man. His manner of speaking seems common-sensical and to the point. He doesn't go off on wild tirades like we have seen from Michele Bachmann or Glenn Beck, but in his beliefs he is every bit as far-right extremist as they are. Like nearly all Republicans, he is ranked very low by themiddleclass.org (garnering only a 24% approval rating) from that group. He has received an F grade for a good share of his tenure in Congress. Here are a few examples why.




Issa's Middle-Class Grades
2009 D
2008 D
2007 F
2006 F
2005 F
2004 F
2003 F


2009 Voting Record:
Bill / Vote / Supportive of the Middle Class?


H.AMDT. 534 TO H.R. 4173
Amendment #534 (Mortgage “Cramdown” Amendment) to Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 /
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending, Personal bankruptcy / NAY / NO
H.R. 4173
Wall Street Accountability and Consumer Protection Act /
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Corporate bankruptcy, Corporate taxes, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy, Deceptive advertising and marketing, Executive compensation, Financial literacy, Government Accountability, Housing, Mortgage lending, Payday loans, Personal bankruptcy, Refund Anticipation Loans, Shareholder rights, Student loans, Tax Fairness / NAY / NO
H.R. 3962
Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Health Care, HMOs and insurance companies, Hospitals, Medicaid, Medical research, Medicare, Prescription drugs, Public health, SCHIP, Tax Fairness, Universal health care / NAY / NO
H.R. 3269
Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation, Shareholder rights / NAY / NO
H.R. 3221
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009
TOPICS: College tuition, Community college, Debt & Bankruptcy, Education, Job training, Pell Grants, Preschool, Student loans / NAY / NO
H.R. 2847
Jobs for Main Street Act of 2009
TOPICS: Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Child care, Community college, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Health Care, High school, Housing, Job training, Layoffs, Medicaid, Middle school, Public employment, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Teachers, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
H.R. 2749
Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Consumers, Food safety / NAY / NO
H.R. 2454
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Education, Efficient technology, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Global warming, Green buildings, Green jobs, Job training, Pollution, Renewable fuels / NAY /NO
H.R. 1728
Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending / NAY /NO
H.R. 1664
Pay for Performance Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation / NAY / NO
H.R. 1586
A Bill To Impose An Additional Tax On Bonuses Received From TARP Recipients of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation, Tax Fairness / NAY / NO
H.R. 1106
Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending, Personal bankruptcy / NAY / NO
H.R. 1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Conference Report
TOPICS: Alternative minimum tax, Child care, Child tax credit, College tuition, Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Earned income tax credit, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Executive compensation, Global warming, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Head Start, Health Care, High school, Housing, Income taxes, Medicaid, Medical research, Middle school, Pell Grants, Preschool, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Renewable fuels, Sales taxes, Shareholder rights, TANF, Tax cuts, Tax Fairness, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
H.R. 1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Child tax credit, College tuition, Consumers, Earned income tax credit, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Head Start, Health Care, Heating fuel, High school, Housing, Income taxes, Job training, Medicaid, Medical research, Middle school, Pell Grants, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Renewable fuels, Student loans, TANF, Tax cuts, Tax Fairness, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY /NO
H.R. 626
Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009
TOPICS: Family leave, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
H.R. 2
Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
TOPICS: Health Care, Immigration, Medicaid, SCHIP / NAY / NO
S. 181
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
H.R. 11
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
H.R. 12
Paycheck Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Class action lawsuits, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation / NAY / NO
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Some of Issa's MOST troubling votes over the years are these:

Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)

Voted NO on $40B for green public schools. (May 2009)
Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)

Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
Voted NO on assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization. (Oct 2007)
Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad. (Mar 2008)
Voted NO on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. (Mar 2008)
Voted YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad. (Aug 2007)
Voted NO on restricting no-bid defense contracts. (Mar 2007)
Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)
Voted YES on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight. (Apr 2006)


Voted NO on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes. (Dec 2007)

Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)

Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days. (May 2007)
Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)

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How is it that Mr. Issa can continue to be re-elected, voting as he does for big business and against the best interests of the majority of his constituents, average everyday working people? Being the wealthiest person in Congress, he has sometimes paid for part of his campaign expenses out of his own pocket, as you will see below. But he has also had plenty of backing from the usual big money Republican backers whose interests often do NOT coincide with those of regular working Americans: defense contractors, telecommunications giants, pharmaceutical companies, and the like, as you will also see:

Top 5 Contributors, 2000 - 2010
Contributor /Total / From Individuals / From PACs

SAIC Inc. / $66,150 / $21,400 / $44,750
AT&T Inc / $55,500 / $0 / $55,500
Edison International / $46,000 / $0 / $46,000
National Beer Wholesalers Assn / $38,500 / $0 / $38,500
BAE Systems / $35,100 / $6,100 / $29,000

(FYI: SAIC is our 12th largest defense contractor. It was once convicted on 10 felony counts of lying about results of environmental tests it conducted. It also contributed $3,600 to CA Republican Duke Cunningham, a former Representative who was jailed for bribery. BAE Systems develop, deliver, and support defense and security systems).

Top 5 Industries, 2000 - 2010
Industry /Total From individuals / From PACsalth Products Pharmaceuticals/ Health Products /$223,114 /$24,145 /$198,969
Republican/Conservative /$184,821 /$154,474 /$30,347
Electric Utilities /$184,708 /$2,000 /$182,708
Computers/Internet /$170,199 /$31,075 /$139,124
Defense Electronics /$158,585 /$54,835 /$103,750

Source of Funds
Individual Contributions $2,945,798 (18%)
PAC Contributions $2,234,612 (13%)
Candidate self-financing $11,279,429 (68%)
Other $154,846 (1%)

PACs 2009 - 2010

Total PAC Money for 2010: $432,233
Number of Contributions: 321

Sectors, 2009-2010

Agribusiness $6,500
Communications/Electronics $97,274
Construction $41,400
Defense $39,000
Energy & Natural Resources $38,500
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $32,500
Health $45,750
Lawyers & Lobbyists $17,504
Transportation $17,500
Misc Business $40,750
Labor $48,500
Ideological/Single-Issue $6,055
Other $1,000
Based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on Sunday, August 22, 2010.
2009 - 2010 Cycle PAC Contribution Breakdown
Business $341,428 (88%)
Labor $40,000 (10%)
Ideological/Single Issue $5,652 (1%)

NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2000 - 2010 election cycles and based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on August 23, 2010.

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SUMMARY: Darrell Issa is not a friend of the average worker or middle class voter. He votes 94% of the time with his very conservative anti-labor, pro-business, obstructionist Republican voting bloc. He, as you have seen, has voted aginst helping workers whose jobs were lost to globalization and voted for the oil companies while turning his back on environmental causes. He has also followed a strict authoritarian, pro-military line with his votes on Iraq and domestic surveillance. He has strongly supported and defended mercenary companies like Blackwater. In the February, 2007 Blackwater hearings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa was almost dismissive of four women whose family members were killed by Iraqi insurgents and dragged through the streets of Fallujah and who had raised complaints against Blackwater by saying: "Although I don't think your testimony today is particularly germane to the oversight of this committee, I am deeply sorry for the losses that you've had.. One question I have is, the opening statement, who wrote it?" Later on, Issa's defense of Blackwater resumed when he claimed on October 16, 2007, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and his committee chairman Henry Waxman were trying to "go after our troops" [by raising questions about Blackwater's sordid activities]. Two weeks earlier, Issa jokingly pressed Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to acknowledge his ties to the Bush administration and the GOP, only to then claim "labeling some company as Republican" because of a family's background "is inappropriate." He never did address the reason why an investigation had been begun on Blackwater, that it had been involved in the murder of innocent Iraqi civilians and so on. He was obviously more interested in defending a defense contractor from harm by an oversight committee than he was in pursuing justice and proper oversight.

Not long ago, he spoke to some Pennsylvania Republicans, and boasted about what would happen if the GOP wins control of the House this fall, and he were to become chairman of the House Oversight Committee and get the power to subpoena. "I won't use it to have corporate America live in fear that we're going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing." That means, of course, a return to the laissez-faire Bush approach to oversight of corporations, but is also a strong hint that he will tie up lots of House time and money on needless attempts to witch hunt or even impeach the President. This strongly partisan hack has already pledged to nearly double his staff to subpoena and investigate White House documents. FOR THIS ALONE ISSA SHOULD BE PERMANENTLY RETIRED FROM CONGRESS!

Apparently an advocate of the new extreme right, in addressing a state GOP meeting in San Diego last June, Issa said, "We have to say to the tea party: You're not strident enough, you're not angry enough and the government has gone far enough," Just another conservative Republican who hates government oversight and views its main purpose as helping big business rather than everyday citizens. This, my friends, is exactly what the country does NOT need as it struggles to deal with high unemployment, a dropping standard of living, and infrastructure decay CAUSED by the excesses of big business, and another good reason Darrell Issa should NOT be re-elected!

Who DARRELL ISSA REALLY Represents: The military/industrial complex and its defense contractors, pharmaceutical giants, big oil companies and big business in general. NOT YOU, 49th District California voter. Please do yourselves and the whole country a big favor by RETIRING Darrell Issa this November! Let him revel in his vast fortune, and keep him from adversely affecting your own well-being any longer!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

THE CAMPAIGN SPEECH EVERY PROGRESSIVE MUST GIVE!

It's high time Democrats, liberals, progressives - whatever - stopped pussy-footing around letting the conservative Republicans and Tea Party extremists frame and dictate the politicial discussion. This is a CRUCIAL midterm election this year - one that will determine whether the country will choose to pursue a course of progress and enlightenment or will fall prey to the forces of darkness and regression. For that reason, those candidates on the left must come out swinging Harry Truman-style, to speak truth and common sense in this dangerous era of lying and foolish, extremist crackpot nonsense. I strongly urge all progressive candidates to present their case something like this:


Lots of people say there's not a dime's worth of difference between candidates today; that they and Washington don't care about you. I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE TYPES OF CANDIDATES. I come here today to seek your vote because I DO know what you're going through, and because I want to change that and make this country better for YOU and YOU PERSONALLY!



Conservative Republicans showed us what they were all about when they had total control of Congress and the White House and ran the country all by themselves from 2001-2007, not that long ago. By the end of 2007, their economic policies had led this country to a near-depression, and jobs were being lost to the tune of 700,000 per month. Even before that, they had supported so-called "free market" policies which had sent millions of good-paying American jobs overseas to cheap foreign labor markets. That caused hardship to many of you who either lost your job or were forced to take a different one at a much lower pay rate. The Republicans did this because it was very profitable for their wealthy CEO friends. But it wasn't good for America, and it certainly wasn't good for YOU!

TODAY, BECAUSE OF THOSE REPUBLICAN-ENGINEERED ECONOMICS, ALMOST 15 MILLION PEOPLE ARE OUT OF A JOB!

Conservative Republicans have always been against any government programs that helped average working people make more money. Since the mid-1930s, they have hated and opposed labor unions, and have tried to weaken them ever since they came into being. The Republican hero, Ronald Reagan, seriously damaged unions in the 1980s, and we are paying the price for it today. Another of their heroes, George W. Bush, the WORST President in our entire history, continued this trend by encouraging the export of union jobs and the import of cheap foreign labor here. 25 years ago, a construction worker in Los Angeles made $19 per hour. Today, thanks to conservative Republican efforts, that wage has been cut by more than half. That is NOT progress. It's BAD FOR AMERICA, and it's bad for YOU!

Conservative Republicans who controlled Congress between 1995 to 2007 either voted down or tabled progressive attempts to raise the minimum wage rate for our lowest-paid workers nine times in a row between 1997 and 2006. They didn't hesitate to give THEMSELVES pay raises, though! They felt it was more important for wealthy corporate CEOs and privileged trust-funders to become even wealthier by giving them huge tax breaks than it was for our poorest workers to make a liveable wage. Like I said, Republicans hate ANYTHING that helps working people make more money and live better lives! THAT, too, is BAD FOR AMERICA and it's bad for YOU!

THAT is the type of conservative Republican record in the years 2001-2007 they want us to return to now, where corporate profits are constantly put before working people's needs. It wasn't good for America then, and it isn't good for America now. It wasn't good for YOU then, and it isn't good for YOU NOW or going forward!

The Republicans love to say "keep government out of the workplace," and "the free market will fix everything by itself." But you and I both know that this NEVER happens. Left totally alone, with no regulation or oversight, the market only takes care of the wealthy and actually steps all over working people like yourself. Their beloved "free market" is only free for THEM and the wealthy to set wages, prices, and rent wherever they can make the most money. YOU, on the other hand, have NO freedom to influence YOUR rate of pay!

Conservative Republicans love to talk about the government spending too much and taking too much of YOUR money in taxes. They cry about deficit spending, but only when THEY aren't controlling the spending, or when that spending goes to YOU rather than one of their wealthy corporate defense contractors. When THEY had control of the spending from 2001-2007 under Bush, they didn't hesitate to dole out BILLIONS of YOUR tax dollars in non-bid contracts to their wealthy corporate friends like Halliburton and Blackwater. They didn't cry one tear about deficit spending THEN, so long as their rich buddies were getting all the money. They didn't cry either when they CREATED record deficits by giving away BILLIONS in unneeded tax breaks to BILLIONAIRES! And when the deregulation policies THEY and their corporate pals were adopted, that's when you saw $4 per gallon gasoline and mortgage bank collapses. But the Republicans didn't care---the rich were getting richer, and that's all they wanted. Look who they've just nominated to be Florida's Governor---Rick Scott, whose former company, Columbia/HCA Hospitals was fined $1.7 BILLION for illegally bilking Medicare. All these people care about is more money for themselves, and they don't really care where it comes from! They don't give even one thought to YOU, and they won't after they get elected, either!

Tea Party members and conservative Republicans also love to preach family values. But what kind of value system places NO value on good paying jobs for all, or tries to block the government from creating them, or puts NO value on having a GOOD QUALITY OF LIFE in your home? These people don't understand or care about YOUR struggles! But we progressives DO care and understand! We know what it's like to worry about making the mortgage or electricity bill payment. We know what it's like to worry about paying for college or trade school for the kids! We know what it's like to worry about being stuck with high medical bills or paying ever-rising pharmaceutical drug prices! I and other progressives just like me want to use YOUR government as a positive force to help relieve these worries for YOU! All the teabaggers and Republicans want is for the rich to get richer and the government to go away!

As I mentioned, the conservative Republicans hate having the government do anything that stands in the way of the rich or that will help regular working people. They have deliberately held up unemployment extension benefits to out of work people whose unemployment benefits have run out. They have held up tax breaks for YOU because those breaks didn't include continued Bush tax cuts for the wealthy! Conservative Republicans like Senator Jon Kyl and Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle say that giving people unemployment benefits is too generous and makes life so soft that they don't even try to get a job. Well, it's pretty clear that neither of THEM has ever been on unemployment, a so-called luxury that only pays you about HALF of your normal paycheck, and with no benefits! It might be a good thing for both of THEM to go on unemployment so THEY can learn that being there is no treat! You saw another perfect example of this hatred of helping regular people just a short time ago, in the middle of the disastrous BP Gulf oil spill. No sooner had the President called for BP to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to help fishermen, restaurant, and tourist industry workers whose incomes were slashed due to the spill, than Republicans Joe Barton of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota were loudly criticizing the President, siding with foreign-owned BP against the innocent Gulf victims. Barton called the President's action "a shakedown" and publicly apologized for it to BP. Can you believe THAT? A sitting U.S. Senator apologizing to a foreign-owned corporation about an action taken by his own President?! Bachmann said it was a sneaky attempt to "redistribute wealth." Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour even called for more deregulation, as if government regulation were the main cause of the disaster! THESE, ladies and gentlemen, are the types of people you get when you elect conservative Republicans - people who put corporate profit way in front of human need or human suffering, and even in front of basic human justice!

We DESPERATELY need to move forward, my friends! Speaking of which, today's teabaggers and conservative Republicans are even opposed to THAT. They want the country to go BACKWARD, to a time of very limited government like in the days of Herbert Hoover. A time with no unemployment compensation, no 40 hour work week, no unions, no Social Security, no Medicare or Medicaid, no Workmens' Comp. They HATE Social Security and they want to turn it over to Wall Street billionaires, who will speculate your retirement funds away into the NEXT Wall Street crash and leave you with little or nothing! And they will succeed if you let them. You saw them all vote as a bloc against the President's stimulus package in 2009. They said and still say it was a failure, even though totals of 700,000 jobs lost each month were turned around into modest job GAINS a few months after its passage! And the truth of the matter is this: they don't care about jobs. All they care about is standing still and playing politics so they can prevent this President, whom they HATE, from getting anything done for YOU! Their standing still and looking backward is why jobs haven't been created as fast as they could be or should be! The reason more jobs haven't been created is NOT because the stimulus spent too much money, but because it didn't spend ENOUGH short-term! Because of conservative Republican pressure, President Obama has made the same mistake President Roosevelt made in 1937, during the Great Depression.

In 1937, Republicans started screaming about the possibility of inflation and this made Roosevelt cut back on spending - the very spending which had created jobs and which was slowly lifting the country out of depression. But once he followed the conservative Republicans' advice and cut spending, unemployment began to rise again. In Obama's case, this hasn't happened - YET - but it could and will if Republicans and teabaggers have their way and force cuts in spending before we're out of the mess they put us in!

Ten of the top economists in the country today say we need more stimulus right now to get our economy healthy again. But the teabaggers and the conservative Republicans loudly deny this, because they don't want the government helping YOU! Here's a PERFECT example of why we need MORE stimulus, and proof that it works! GM is on the verge of going public again! They have made PROFITS the past few quarters. This was possible ONLY because of the bailout stimulus that many Republicans and teabaggers said would never work. They were wrong about that, too! Because of that bailout, Americasn jobs are staying in America, and more are being created! A healthy GM is GOOD FOR AMERICA, and it is good for YOU! We also saw Republicans vote against health insurance for all citizens. They were afraid that eliminating insurance company discrimination and pre-existing conditions would lessen the profits of those companies. 47 MILLION OF US UNINSURED - 1 IN EVERY 6.5 OF US, AND ALL THE CONSERVATIVES AND REPUBLICANS WERE WORRIED ABOUT WAS INSURANCE COMPANY PROFITS! They lied, and stalled, and obstructed, trying to do anything they could to prevent the health care bill from being passed. But thankfully, with strong and steady leadership from the President and liberals and progressives, everybody now has access to health insurance!

Ladies and gentlemen, that is why I am addressing you today. We cannot let conservative Republicans and their misguided Tea Party allies act only for big business and the rich any longer. We cannot allow them to keep stalling progress! You must NOT elect my conservative Republican or teabagger opponent! I ask for your vote today to serve YOU and bring YOU benefit you have been deprived of and definitely deserve! I ask for YOU to make a positive step for the future by voting for ACTION from a government working FOR you instead of for Wall Street or big business. I ask for your vote so that I and other progressive-minded candidates just like me can help develop HIGH-paying work-relief jobs to rebuild our tattered infrastructure, improve our decaying cities, and create demand for new products and services! You and I both know this Tea Party and conservative Republican claim that government spending for jobs is bad because it adds to our deficit is a bunch of HOOEY, and so is their story about the free market fixing everything by itself. If the free market fixes everything by itself, why are our bridges and highways crumbling? Why hasn't the free market cleaned up our decaying cities? If the free market works so well, why are so many people unemployed, not paying taxes, and therefore worsening the deficit? Why are YOU making less than you used to? Since when did tax breaks for the rich ever reduce a government deficit? Since when did paying people less, so they paid less taxes too, ever cut a deficit or grow an economy? I tell you, this Tea Party and conservative Republican talk of support for free markets and getting government off our backs is a bunch of HOOEY, and they're insulting our intelligence with it! John Boehner loves to say that the government never created a job. John Boehner is a liar. The TVA created THOUSANDS of jobs in Tennessee at a time they were badly needed. There are thousands of beautiful parks and schools and office buildings still standing today that were built by government programs CCC and WPA in the 1930s. Look around you, people: Republican lies are being disproven everywhere!

With the job programs I and all of us progressives weant to pass, more Americans will make more money, and more will be paying taxes. Demand for products to supply these work relief programs will spur on private industry as well, And taxing the very wealthy a bit more will not only not kill them, but it WILL help kill the deficit! At the very least, these job programs we need will be paid for. And, at the very best, with enough job growth and enough wealthy people actually PAYING their FAIR SHARE of taxes, we will see job growth and prosperity like we saw 15 years ago, the last time the wealthy's taxes were increased.

I am warning you, my friends: staying home and not voting, or electing a teabagger or conservative Republican instead of me will be an absolute disaster for you! Think about it: did YOUR wages or buying power go way up after the Bush tax cuts of a few years ago? Of course not. They went DOWN. Only corporate CEOs' pay levels went up, and they shot through the roof as you or your friends' jobs and wages were cut back! Were millions more high-paying jobs created as a result of those tax cuts for the wealthy, as Bush and the conservative Republicans promised us they would? Absolutely not---the only jobs created were millions of them overseas, not here, and you probably lost yours or took a pay or benefit cut. But wealthy CEOs' incomes just kept rising. Feel cheated? You were, and the exact same thing will happen again even worse if you elect a teabagger or conservative Republican now. You burned your hands pretty badly on that conservative hot stove last time---are you going to put them right back on it again? THINK ABOUT IT!

So don't listen to any more Tea Party or conservative Republican babble about how we cannot afford more stimulus programs that put people to work, or that lowering taxes for the rich will create jobs. What we can no longer afford is more Republican obstruction and inaction! We cannot afford more tax cuts for the rich! The conservative Republicans talk about higher taxes for the rich being an unjust form of punishment for them. But, once their taxes were cut under Bush, and they sent jobs away and lowered YOUR pay while increasing their own, weren't THEY needlessly and unjustly punishing YOU? Practices like that are not good for America, and they are NOT good for YOU!

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask YOU to help build a better and more prosperous America by electing a progressive like ME. Let my conservative Republican opponent stay home and count his or her money. Voting for him or her will send you right back to the dark days of financial collapse, shrinking income, and increasing unemployment. Voting for the Tea Party or conservative Republican candidate will mean more money in corporate CEOs' pockets. Voting for progressives like ME will mean voting for good-paying jobs and FAIR TAXATION, and that means more money in YOUR pocket, the way it SHOULD be!

We cannot surge forward by taking conservative Republican or Tea Party advice and standing still or moving backward. Put your car in D by voting for progress that drives forward, not in R that goes backward! With help from YOU, we'll show these Republicans and teabaggers WE WANT PROGRESS AND WE MEAN BUSINESS! And once we put people back to work, with good-paying jobs and more money in their pockets, and with cleaner cities, new highways, new, stronger bridges, and cutting-edge technologies, THEN this country will prosper more than ever before! The teabaggers and conservative Republicans all say we can't afford to spend money on programs to help working people. I say we can't afford the teabaggers and conservative Republicans! They'll say no to every pro-worker initiative, and they'll keep obstructing and stonewalling. I say, they should get out of government where they're not doing any good, and go themselves over to private industry where they belong! Let's show all of them we know a thing or two about growing a prosperous economy, and when we do, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THEM LIKE IT!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A VERY TWISTED VIEW ON TAXATION!

"Taxes are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society."
--Franklin Delano Roosevelt --

"I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes --

"When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income."
-- Plato --

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as theyrise."
--Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785 --



Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton is now running for Governor of Minnesota, in part on a pledge to raise taxes on the state's very wealthiest residents. The outgoing conservative Republican Governor, Tim Pawlenty, refused to raise taxes during his two terms in office, and as a result, the state will be faced with a severe budget shortfall next year. So taxes MUST be raised, as spending has already been cut back to the point where the state is starting to suffer. Dayton has thus proposed raising taxes on the rich, as he knows the middle and working classes are strapped and the wealthy have oceans of money since their taxes have been so tremendously reduced under George W. Bush. Dayton himself is a wealthy heir to a large local department store chain, and he understands that, in economic times like these, the wealthy should indeed pay their "fair share," a philosophy Founding Father Thomas Jefferson believed in but today's conservative Republicans and teabaggers obviously do not share. Naturally, this has caused quite a stir in conservative Republican and Tea Party circles, because there is nothing they hate worse than paying taxes, and they especially hate it when tax increases are levied on the uppermost income brackets. Below is a letter to the editor I saw recently in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It is typical of the distorted and mistaken attitudes many conservatives have toward the topic of taxation.

"Mark Dayton's 'tax the rich'' campaign slogan is so distasteful, I am embarrassed for its author.

The very thought that citizens who likely made better decisions (and who studied, practiced, worked harder, sacrificed more and took bigger risks) should be forced to pay a higher rate of taxes than those who did less to prepare for life defies logic.

I am no more inclined to go next door and steal my neighbor's lawnmower because it is better than mine than I am to ask my government to tax his earnings at a higher rate than mine. It's the same thing."


THIS LETTER IS SO DISTASTEFUL I AM EMBARRASSED FOR ITS AUTHOR!

The man who wrote this is not alone in his belief in the supposed evil of more heavily taxing the wealthy. He has many millions who believe just as he does and are reacting out of a selfish fear that someday their taxes may rise as well. Here is why he and they are all wrong.

First, it is rash, arrogant, and unjustly presumptive to assume that all who fall into lower income brackets, or who favor higher taxation for the very rich, made poorer decisions, didn't study enough, didn't work hard enough, haven't sacrificed, or didn't take as many or high enough risks than did those at the top tiers of the income scale. In life, many uncontrollable factors can enter into a person's having or not having attained a top income level. Illness and physical handicaps can and do play a role. So do home and environmental conditions during a person's formative years. Clearly, those from broken homes or raised by alcoholic parents are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to obtaining desirable and productive study or work habits, or cultural background (i.e. their "preparation for life"). Natural disasters also play a role in creating overnight poverty which can and most definitely does limit one's options.

Second, it is equally presumptive for this letter writer to accept, without question, on face value alone, that those in the highest income brackets all attained their wealth legally, ethically, or as a direct result of having worked hard, studied hard, or lived a proper life. There are many perched at the top who lied and stole their way up there, by taking every opportunity they could to shortchange their suppliers, customers, lenders, and employees, and who have repeatedly cheated on their taxes to maximize their own profit. There are numerous other "trust funders", those who inherited great wealth and do not work or need to work, and who cruise through life skimming off the top of investment "earnings." Still others were bequeathed a cushy business or business position. Yet others exported millions of good-paying American jobs overseas to make huge amounts of money off the hard labor of those being paid slave wages. These are all hardly good or ethical examples to follow, and that the letter writer should automatically exempt them from higher taxation on the basis of their having attained greater wealth regardless of the means is what defies logic. Regarding attaining wealth or desrving lower taxes because one works hard would mean that all engaged in backbreaking manual labor or put in long hours at work or take great risks should all be billionaires or tax-exempt, by this person's reasoning. But, as we all know, your average construction or warehouse worker, stockboy, or restaurant cook or server are not billionaires and do not enjoy the highest amount of relative economic comfort after taxes. Certainly not the same comforts trust funders enjoy.

Third, the letter writer's analogy of stealing his neighbor's mower because it's better than his is a seriously flawed one, as is his assertion that the government is somehow stealing from those who make fabulously high incomes by taking a higher percentage of that income than it does from those below that level. In the lawnmower example, had the neighbor held him down in earnings so that HE rather than the writer could afford the better mower, the writer would be more than justified to complain. For many in the lower income brackets have unjustly had their wages frozen or lowered, or their jobs sent elsewhere, at a time their company owners' incomes have soared. Not only that, but these workers pay nearly double the tax rate on income earned from work they actually performed than what wealthy trust funders or well-to-do investers pay on dividends they have been paid for doing little or no work at all to "earn " THAT easy money! This is grossly unfair and indefensible. As proven above, Thomas Jefferson was a firm believer in a progressive income tax, whereby those able to enjoy a greater amount of fruit from their work should justifiably pay a greater percentage on the proceeds of that work than those not so fortunate. Among rational people the world over, this is an accepted principle, as you will see evidenced by the upcoming table below.

Conservative Republicans and Tea Party activists are big crybabies when it comes to the issue of taxes. They feel so put-upon to have to pay taxes, or to have to pay more than those who make less money than they do. They conveniently forget that taxes fund education, defense, transportation, disaster relief, and provide a much-needed safety net for the elderly, sick, and handicapped. Of course, this means nothing to uncaring people like the letter writer, or his like-minded cohorts among Republicans and teabaggers. As long asTHEIR bellies are full, they don't give a damn about anybody else! They take the condescending attitude that they are somehow "above" paying taxes, or that paying taxes just for "the little people." They have the totally wrong and self-centered view that taxes are a punishment for them and that they are much higher here than in the rest of the world. The data below shows this supposition to be utter nonsense.

Top Tax Rates Around The World

KEY: Corp.= top corporate tax rate; Individ.= top individual tax rate; VAT= Value Added Tax (a sort of sales tax used in many of these countries. The figure shown here is the maximum, and essential items like food often carry a much lesser rate).

Country /Corp. /Individ. /VAT

Australia /30%/ 45% / 10%
Belgium / 34% / 50% / 21%
Canada / 18% / 29% /15%
China / 25% / 45% / --
Denmark /25% / 63% / 25%
France / 33% / 50$ / 19.6%
Germany /29.8% / 45% / 19%
Japan / 40.69% / 50% / 5%
Mexico / 28% / 29% / 18%
Netherlands / 25.5% / 52% /19%
Sweden / 26.3% / 59% / 25%
United Kingdom / 28% / 50% / 17.5%
United States /39% / 35% / 0-10.25%*


* The U,S, has no national VAT. These figures represent average state and local sales taxes.

A close examination of this information reveals that OUR top income tax rate is WELL BELOW that of all other industrialized countries shown, save for Canada and Mexico, and their rate is not that much lower than ours. And, while many of our states also have an income tax, so too do a number of the provinces in other countries. With their higher tax rates, these other countries are able to provide quality universal health care, longer vacations for workers, and they do not, for the most part, have the depravity of slums or the huge disparity of wealth and living conditions found here. Most important to note, their economies are nowhere near collapsing as a result of having higher taxes on their wealthiest citizens!Also, all of these countries except China have a Value Added tax, which is considerably higher than our own state and local sales taxes. So America's wealthy, teabaggers, and Republicans are being very self-centered when complaining about tax rates here, especially when compared with everyone else. And the citizens of these countries have NOT, by and large, been fleeing en masse to the lesser-taxed United States. For they have learned long ago that government has the responsibility to ensure the well-being of ALL its citizens, not just the wealthy or a privileged few. They do not have the conservative American attitude of grab-whatever-you-can and "I've got mine and to hell with you!"

Another cry of lament that teabaggers and conservative Republicans love to make is that our taxes are far higher today than they have ever been. This, too, is wholly untrue, as you will see from the chart below.

Highest individual income tax rates at various points in our history:

1944-45 94%
1952-63 92%
1954-63 91%
1964 77%
1965-67 70%
1982-1986 50%
1993-2000 39.6%
Currently 35%


FAR from being persecuted and punished, those in America's top tax brackets have been getting by with economic murder since 201. Rather than investing in and strengthening the country's infrastructure, they instead greedily and foolishly chose to invest in cheap, foreign labor and the development of plants outside our borders. Many also stupidly engaged in market speculation in the quest for even more easy money and huge windfalls, the direct result of which was market collapse and our current Great Recession. Others today are just sitting on their money, as millions suffer from unemployment and underemployment and our infrastructure continues to crumble. These people do not deserve special or bigger tax breaks. They should be paying MORE, not less, and their continued idleness and attempts to make even more easy money amounts to THEIR punishing of our government and society, not the other way around as they claim!

It should be noted by conservative Republicans and teabaggers that during the periods of very high top bracket taxation (higher than 40%) our economy never collapsed and in fact grew tremendously, along with employment figures. Mark Dayton is absolutely right, and that is why he will get my vote. The letter writer and those of like mind are dead wrong. Their claims on the dire consequences that will follow a VERY modest 4.6% increase on the top bracket - the jobs that will not be created and that unemployment will rise - are all refuted by past history. To make such claims gives proof of the fact that they, and especially the letter writer who prompted this post, are pitifully short-sighted, self-centered, and greedy, as well as having an incorrect and very twisted view on the entire subject of taxation.

UP NEXT: THE CAMPAIGN SPEECH EVERY PROGRESSIVE MUST GIVE!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who PAUL RYAN REALLY Represents!

This being an election year, with large numbers of Americans still unemployed or underemployed, I continue my periodic posts profiling those in public office who are working in the interest of big business or special interest groups rather than for the well-being of the vast majority of citizens. These officials are out of touch with average working Americans' needs and speak only for the wealthy and privileged. Today, my focus will be on Wisconsin's 1st District conservative Republican Representative Paul Ryan, who has shown an affinity for rigid Republican ideology instead of concern and direct action for the struggling and working people of his district as well as those around the rest of the country. All data in this post comes from a combination of three fabulous source websites: www.opensecrets.org (an arm of the Center for Responsive Politics), www.ontheissues.org, (a nonpartisan site dedicated to listing all candidates' voting records on a host of major issues) and www.themiddleclass.org (the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute for Public Policy's analyzation on legislation affecting the country's current and aspiring middle class).


Mr. Ryan, at 40, represents the young, ultra-conservative Turks of today's far right GOP. Like former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, for whom he once served as legislative director, Ryan is a dyed-in-the-wool social and economic conservative, right down to his Reaganesque haircut. As we all know, these types believe in small, very limited government with an unrestrained free market approach to economics. This, by its very nature, favors big business and the wealthy and miserably fails to meet the needs of everyone else. Examples of this propensity of Ryan's can be found below.


There is a very good reason Paul Ryan has earned a mere 16% approval rating and has garnered many an "F" grade for his voting record from themiddleclass.org. Let's examine his most recent performance, for 2009:

2009 F
2008 F
2007 F
2006 F
2005 F
2004 F
2003 D


Voting Record past year (2009)
Bill /Vote /Supportive of the Middle Class?


H.AMDT. 534 TO H.R. 4173
Amendment #534 (Mortgage “Cramdown” Amendment) to Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 / NAY /NO

H.R. 4173
Wall Street Accountability and Consumer Protection Act
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Corporate bankruptcy, Corporate taxes, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy, Deceptive advertising and marketing, Executive compensation, Financial literacy, Government Accountability, Housing, Mortgage lending, Payday loans, Personal bankruptcy, Refund Anticipation Loans, Shareholder rights, Student loans, Tax Fairness / NAY /NO

H.R. 3962
Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Health Care, HMOs and insurance companies, Hospitals, Medicaid, Medical research, Medicare, Prescription drugs, Public health, SCHIP, Tax Fairness, Universal health care /NAY /NO

H.R. 3639
Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy /NAY /NO

H.R. 3269
Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation, Shareholder rights /NAY /NO

H.R. 3221
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009
TOPICS: College tuition, Community college, Debt & Bankruptcy, Education, Job training, Pell Grants, Preschool, Student loans /NAY /NO

H.R. 2847
Jobs for Main Street Act of 2009
TOPICS: Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Child care, Community college, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Health Care, High school, Housing, Job training, Layoffs, Medicaid, Middle school, Public employment, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Teachers, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO

H.R. 2749
Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Consumers, Food safety /NAY /NO

H.R. 2454
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Education, Efficient technology, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Global warming, Green buildings, Green jobs, Job training, Pollution, Renewable fuels /NAY /NO

H.R. 1728
Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending /NAY /NO

H.R. 1664
Pay for Performance Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation /NAY /NO

H.R. 1106
Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending, Personal bankruptcy /NAY /NO

H.R. 1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Conference Report
TOPICS: Alternative minimum tax, Child care, Child tax credit, College tuition, Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Earned income tax credit, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Executive compensation, Global warming, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Head Start, Health Care, High school, Housing, Income taxes, Medicaid, Medical research, Middle school, Pell Grants, Preschool, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Renewable fuels, Sales taxes, Shareholder rights, TANF, Tax cuts, Tax Fairness, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO

H.R. 627
Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy /NAY /NO

H.R. 626
Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009
TOPICS: Family leave, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO

H.R. 2
Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
TOPICS: Health Care, Immigration, Medicaid, SCHIP /NAY /NO

S. 181
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO

H.R. 11
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO

H.R. 12
Paycheck Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Class action lawsuits, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY /NO
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Like many far right Republicans, Paul Ryan has a long history of casting anti-worker, anti-environment, and pro-big business votes. Here are some good examples:


Voted NO on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures. (Mar 2009)
Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package. (Jan 2009)
Voted NO on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief. (Jan 2009)
Voted NO on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on defining "energy emergency" on federal gas prices. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on revitalizing severely distressed public housing. (Jan 2008)
Voted NO on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. (Nov 2007)
Voted YES on restricting bankruptcy rules. (Jan 2004)

Voted NO on $40B for green public schools. (May 2009)
Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. (Mar 2006)
Rated 8% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)

Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)


Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)

Voted YES on implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade. (Jul 2005)
Voted YES on implementing US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. (Jul 2004)
Voted YES on implementing US-Singapore free trade agreement. (Jul 2003)
Voted YES on implementing free trade agreement with Chile. (Jul 2003)
Voted NO on withdrawing from the WTO. (Jun 2000)

Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad. (Mar 2008)
Voted NO on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. (Mar 2008)

Voted YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad. (Aug 2007)
Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)
Voted YES on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight. (Apr 2006)



Voted NO on restricting employer interference in union organizing. (Mar 2007)
Voted NO on increasing minimum wage to $7.25. (Jan 2007)


Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)

Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq. (Oct 2002)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
We have already demonstrated Paul Ryan's tendency to vote for big money and big business rather than for the rest of society. An examination of just who is funneling money into his campaign coffers gives us a clearer picture as to why this is so:

Leadership PAC:
Prosperity PAC

Cycle Fundraising, 2009 - 2010, Campaign Committee
Raised: $2,116,662
Spent: $827,765
Cash on Hand: $2,167,691
Debts: $0
Last Report: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 5 Contributors, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee
Contributor /Total /from Individuals /from PACs

Northwestern Mutual $17,400 /$11,400 /$6,000
Harris Assoc $13,500 /$13,500 /$0
AT&T Inc $10,500 /$500 /$10,000
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance $10,200 /$200 /$10,000
American Assn of Orthopaedic Surgeons $10,000 /$0 /$10,000

Top 5 Industries, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee

Industry /Total /from Individuals /from PACs
Retired $140,275 /$140,275 /$0
Securities & Investment $123,000 /$72,000 /$51,000
Insurance $119,070 /$24,070 /$95,000
Health Professionals $98,673 /$28,356 /$70,317
Misc Finance $45,500 /$30,000 /$15,500

Cycle Source of Funds, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee only
Individual Contributions $1,311,868 (62%)
PAC Contributions$737,558 (35%)
Candidate self-financing $0 (0%)
Other $67,236 (3%)

Plenty of big bank, Wall Street, and other corporate money here to keep Ryan filled up and running. Is it any wonder that he so often votes against the well-being of the average, everyday people who reside in his district?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
SUMMARY: Paul Ryan authored a bill called "Roadmap for America's Future." In it, he outlined specific proposals (RARE for Republicans these days!) on changes that could be made to our Social Security, Medicare, health care, and tax systems. I will give Mr. Ryan credit for actually putting forth sa plan of substance to discuss, something fellow big-shot Republicans John Boehner or Sen. Mitch McConnell have yet to do. But Mr. Ryan's plan is seriously flawed and offers, in my opinion, little that is fundamentally new or practical. Nobel prize-winning Economist Paul Krugman has described it as "a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America's fiscal future." For this plan relies on the old tired, discredited, and failed 80+ year old Republican policies of slashing taxes for the rich, letting big business have free rein when it comes to economic practices, and keeping the government's influence and oversight over business weak and very limited. Contrary to constant Republican claims, history proves that THESE POLICIES DO NOT CREATE HIGH-PAYING JOBS, DO NOT RAISE OUR STANDARD OF LIVING ACROSS THE ENTIRE INCOME SCALE, and DO NOT WORK.

Paul Ryan is the ranking Republican member on the powerful House Budget (Ways and Means) Committee. Should Republicans regain a majority in the House this fall, that means he will become that committee's chairman, and will try to enact his "roadmap," much the same economic policy which gave us the Great Depression, $4 per gallon gasoline, and our current Great Recession and economic stagnation. THAT IS A VERY GOOD REASON PAUL RYAN SHOULD NOT BE RE-ELECTED THIS FALL!

WHO PAUL RYAN REALLY REPRESENTS: NOT YOU, Wisconsin 1st District voter! His advocacy of tax cuts for the rich, privatizing Social Security, and tax credits without industry regulation for health care so you would be at the mehrcy of the health insurance industry provide nothing of any beneficial substance for you out-of-work paper mill workers or anybody else, for that matter, except for the wealthy. That is why Paul Ryan has got to go! PLEASE retire him this fall, Wisconsin 1st Distruct voters! You;ll be doing yourselves and the entire nation a very great service!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FRED THOMPSON IS LYING TO YOU!

I have recently been exposed to a national TV ad campaign urging viewers to pressure Congress to renew George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, first enacted in 2001 and 2003, which are due to expire at year's end. The ads feature conservative Republican former Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson as the spokesperson. He delivers his script in a reasoned and sober manner, but there is only one thing wrong with it. In this ad, Fred Thompson is lying to you. Deliberately, and with a flurry of bald-faced lies.

The ad is slick and well-produced. To those not knowing better, Thompson's delivery is convincing and rational. But it is a sham.

This deceptive monstrosity has been created by a shadowy far-right organization called The League of American Voters. The organization does not list its founders or donors, but it does claim to have many thousands of members. Clearly, it is very well funded to have produced and distributed an ad campaign of this magnitude.Its only listed officer is Bob Adams, who is listed as Executive Director. That this little bit of Karl Rovian-secrecy and sneakiness should be evidencing itself now as it did during the health care reform debate should not be surprising: Mr. Adams who served as a strategist for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council during the George W. Bush administration. His current organization shares the very same address and suite number as another shadowy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which, according to the Senate's investigation of the Jack Abramoff sandal, served as a "conduit" for funds going from Abramoff's clients to finance phony grass-roots lobbying campaigns. There is also alleged overlap between these two groups and Tax Day Tea Party organizers.

This suspicious "League of American Voters" has been heard from before. During the health care reform debate, they prepared and tried to circulate a number of bogus scare ads against reform. Several of the major networks refused to air their ads, deeming them to be inaccurate and misleading. FactCheck.org examined a number of those ads and found them to be "filled with misleading claims." But the networks haven't been as careful or conscientious with this current deceptive ad. I have seen it run on both ABC and CNN, and even MSNBC as well, and it has undoubtedly run on Fox "News" and others as well.

Below is the actual text of this current deceptive ad, delivered as it is by Fred Thompson, who should know better. I have inserted my refutations wherever applicable in bold, italicized type like this:


To a background of dark, somber music) "Folks, the American economy is struggling and Congress is about to make it a whole lot worse. Our nation faces a massive automatic tax increase at the end of this year when the Bush tax cuts expire. When that happens, your income taxes could increase by 10% or more." LIE! Taxes will increase ONLY for those making more than $250,00, exactly as President Obama campaigned and was elected on, and as he has been saying for the past two years! He and the Democratic leadership in Congress have stated numerous times that they wish to keep the tax cuts in place for ALL, except for the upper two income brackets which comprise a meager 5% of the population. Not only that, but CBS News reports that the wealthiest 0.7% of the population, those filing jointly earning more than $373,650, will only see an increase of 4.6% (from 35 to 39.6%), while those 1.2% of the population jointly filing with incomes from $209, 251 to $373,650 would see an increase of only 3%, from 33 to 36%. THAT IS A FAR CRY FROM THE 10% THOMPSON JUST LIED ABOUT!

"Capital gains taxes will jump over 30%. Taxes on dividends will more than double.It's not a pretty picture. Back in 2001, when these tax cuts were enacted, they helped jump-start the economy after 9/11, and if President Obama and Congress don't renew the Bush tax cuts, the effects will be devastating." Another LIE. Those Bush tax cuts did very little to jump-start the economy. The creation of millions of new, high-paying jobs was promised, but it never happened. Instead, major corporations shipped entire plants and millions of American jobs overseas to cheaper foreign labor markets in China, India, the Phillippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Mexico. The only salaries that increased here were those of CEOs and their boards of directors, which skyrocketed while yours stayed the same or dropped. In fact, the tax-cutting administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney produced the FEWEST numbers of jobs here since that of Herbert Hoover!

"Recently, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged Congress not to raise taxes, saying the economy is just too fragile." Another LIE. This is utter rubbish and all-out distortion, because that is not at all what Bernanke said. Instead, he said that extending the tax cuts would be "one way" to help the economy - but he also said the cuts should be offset, so as to not raise the deficit. HIS predecessor, Alan Greenspan, even echoed this belief by declaring the tax cuts should not be extended using unfunded, borrowed money, which is exactly what they would be if Congress followed Thompson's and the League of American Voters' urging.

"But taxes will increase automatically unless YOU act!I hope you will go to renewthetaxcuts.com and sign the League of American Voters' petition. And call your Congressman and Senators and tell them to renew the Bush tax cuts. I'm Fred Thompson for the League of American Voters."
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Fred Thompson and this League of American Liars should be ashamed for putting out such a dishonest and distorted piece of sophistry. This deliberate attempt to scare poor, working, and middle class Americans into thinking their taxes will shoot upward, just to get them to petition Congress to not raise the taxes of the nation's wealthiest 5%, is despicable and disgusting. As our nation's infrastructure crumbles and millions of ourr citizens find themselves unemployed or underemployed, here comes Fred Thompson and Bob Adams urging that the upper 5% not receive a VERY MILD TAX INCREASE and therefore not have to pay their fair share, a share THEY CAN EASILY AFFORD. These conservative Republicans and teabaggers who oppose taxing the rich should simply stop all their crying and moaning and take a look around them. Our wealthiest citizens are not at all "oppressed" by having a tax rate less than half of what others with similar incomes pay all across the globe! Extending these unfair and regressive Bush tax cuts will NOT create a single job, nor will it benefit in the least the other 95% of the population who really need help these days. Fred Thompson, we don't much care for snake oil salesmen---stop lying to us!

UP NEXT: Who PAUL RYAN REALLY Represents!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who VIRGINIA FOXX REALLY Represents!

....................THE JACK IS BACK!....................

This being an election year, with a very large number of Americans still unemployed or underemployed, I continue my periodic posts profiling those in public office who are working in the interest of big business or special interest groups rather than for the well-being of the vast majority of citizens. These officials are out of touch with average working Americans and speak only for the wealthy and privileged. Today, my focus will be on North Carolina's 5th District conservative Republican Representative Virginia Foxx, who has shown little understanding of or heart for the struggling and working people of her district as well as those around the rest of the country. All data in this post comes from a combination of three fabulous source websites: www.opensecrets.org (an arm of the Center for Responsive Politics), www.ontheissues.org, (a nonpartisan site dedicated to listing all candidates' voting records on a host of major issues) and www.themiddleclass.org (the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute for Public Policy's analyzation on legislation affecting the country's current and aspiring middle class).

In fact-finding for this particular post, I was astounded to discover that this woman holds a doctorate in Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I was further shocked to learn that she had spent time as a research assistant, and had even been a professor of English at Appalachian State University. My surprise stems from the fact that I have seen Ms. Foxx in action and have heard her speak, and her countenance bore little evidence of superior reasoning ability, intellectual prowess, or command of the spoken word. I will return to this later, but first, let's take a look at the poor voting record she has posted on behalf of the poor, working people, and the middle class over the years...

Foxx's Middle-Class Grades:

2009 F
2008 F
2007 F
2006 F
2005 F

My, oh my, and land sakes alive, Ms. Foxx---even an old-fashioned educator like yourself knows that "F" means FAIL, and that you have earned far too many of these in your brief legislative career! In fact, themiddleclass.org has given you a pathetically low 8% approval rating for your entire tenure! Here are some of your specific votes which helped you earn a number of those F rankings, Ms. Foxx:

Bill /Vote /Supportive of the Middle Class?

H.AMDT. 534 TO H.R. 4173
Amendment #534 (Mortgage “Cramdown” Amendment) to Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending, Personal bankruptcy /NAY / NO
H.R. 4173
Wall Street Accountability and Consumer Protection Act
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Corporate bankruptcy, Corporate taxes, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy, Deceptive advertising and marketing, Executive compensation, Financial literacy, Government Accountability, Housing, Mortgage lending, Payday loans, Personal bankruptcy, Refund Anticipation Loans, Shareholder rights, Student loans, Tax Fairness /NAY / NO
H.R. 3962
Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Health Care, HMOs and insurance companies, Hospitals, Medicaid, Medical research, Medicare, Prescription drugs, Public health, SCHIP, Tax Fairness, Universal health care /NAY / NO
H.R. 3639
Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy /NAY / NO
H.R. 3548
Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Economic stimulus, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 3269
Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation, Shareholder rights /NAY / NO
H.R. 3221
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009
TOPICS: College tuition, Community college, Debt & Bankruptcy, Education, Job training, Pell Grants, Preschool, Student loans /NAY / NO
H.R. 2847
Jobs for Main Street Act of 2009
TOPICS: Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Child care, Community college, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Health Care, High school, Housing, Job training, Layoffs, Medicaid, Middle school, Public employment, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Teachers, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 2749
Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Consumers, Food safety /NAY / NO
H.R. 2454
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Education, Efficient technology, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Global warming, Green buildings, Green jobs, Job training, Pollution, Renewable fuels /NAY / NO
H.R. 1728
Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending /NAY / NO
H.R. 1664
Pay for Performance Act of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation /NAY / NO
H.R. 1586
A Bill To Impose An Additional Tax On Bonuses Received From TARP Recipients of 2009
TOPICS: Corporate Accountability, Executive compensation, Tax Fairness /NAY / NO
H.R. 1106
Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Debt & Bankruptcy, Housing, Mortgage lending, Personal bankruptcy /NAY NO
H.R. 1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Conference Report
TOPICS: Alternative minimum tax, Child care, Child tax credit, College tuition, Consumers, Corporate Accountability, Earned income tax credit, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Executive compensation, Global warming, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Head Start, Health Care, High school, Housing, Income taxes, Medicaid, Medical research, Middle school, Pell Grants, Preschool, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Renewable fuels, Sales taxes, Shareholder rights, TANF, Tax cuts, Tax Fairness, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Child tax credit, College tuition, Consumers, Earned income tax credit, Economic stimulus, Education, Efficient technology, Elementary school, Energy & Environment, Energy conservation, Government Accountability, Green buildings, Green jobs, Head Start, Health Care, Heating fuel, High school, Housing, Income taxes, Job training, Medicaid, Medical research, Middle school, Pell Grants, Public housing, Public infrastructure, Renewable fuels, Student loans, TANF, Tax cuts, Tax Fairness, Unemployment, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 627
Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy /NAY / NO
H.R. 627
Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009
TOPICS: Consumers, Credit cards, Debt & Bankruptcy /NAY / NO
H.R. 626
Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009
TOPICS: Family leave, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 2
Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
TOPICS: Health Care, Immigration, Medicaid, SCHIP /NAY / NO
S. 181
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 11
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 - House Version
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO
H.R. 12
Paycheck Fairness Act of 2009
TOPICS: Civil Justice, Class action lawsuits, Employment discrimination, Workplace & Job Creation /NAY / NO

Those votes pretty well tell the tale of Virginia Foxx's anti-worker and anti-middle class leanings. But if she isn't serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population, those whose interests IS she serving, and who exactly is supporting her? As with every Republican and far too many Democrats today, Ms. Foxx's coffers are fattened up with donations from corporate PACs and other big money sources both inside and far outside of her own state and district. Let's take a look at where she gets her campaign money from.

Last Report: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 5 Contributors, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee
Contributor /Total / from Individuals/ from PACs


American Crystal Sugar /$10,000 /$0 /$10,000
Las Vegas Sands /$9,600 /$9,600 /$0
Turkish Coalition USA PAC /$8,000 /$0 /$8,000
HK Research /$7,200 /$7,200 /$0
AT&T Inc /$7,000 /$0 /$7,000

FYI: Lots of big money here. Everybody knows American Crystal Sugar and AT & T, but Las Vegas Sands describes itself as a "leading global developer of destination properties"; Turkish Coalition USA is a PAC favoring strong U.S.-Turkish relations; and HK Research is a Hickory, NC-based manufacturer of gel coats.

Top 5 Industries, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee
Industry /Total /Individuals /PACs


Retired /$91,944 /$91,944 /$0
Health Professionals /$30,950 /$22,950 /$8,000
Crop Production & Basic Processing /$13,500 /$1,500 /$12,000
Commercial Banks /$13,300 /$3,300 /$10,000
Air Transport /$11,500 /$0 /$11,500

Strong support from health professionals and commercial banks give understanding as to why she would vote against the middle class by opposing government health care (more on this later) and bank regulation, but provides no real justification for having done so.

Cycle Source of Funds, 2009-2010, Campaign Committee only
Individual Contributions $451,485 (71%)
PAC Contributions $165,340 (26%)
Candidate self-financing $0 (0%)
Other $16,570 (3%)

NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2009-2010 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on August 06, 2010 (for Fundraising totals, Source of Funds and Total Raised vs Average) and on July 11, 2010.
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Virginia Foxx has also cast a number of unsatisfactory votes on a wide range of other economic and non-economic issues, especially if one considers himself or herself a believer in equal opportunity, a clean environment,a fair and progressive tax system, and individual social freedom. Here is a sampling:

Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)
Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
Rated 19% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
Amend Constitution to define traditional marriage. (Jun 2008)

Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. (Mar 2006)
Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on protecting free-roaming horses and burros. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on regulating tobacco as a drug. (Apr 2009)
(Naturally---she has huge agribusiness tobacco conglomerates right in her back yard)!

Voted NO on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Jan 2009)
Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare. (Jul 2008)


Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health. (Mar 2008)
Voted NO on Veto override: Extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids. (Jan 2008)
Voted NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility. (Oct 2007)
Voted NO on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D. (Jan 2007)
Voted YES on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay. (Feb 2006)

Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad. (Mar 2008)

Voted NO on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. (Mar 2008)
Voted YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad. (Aug 2007)
Voted NO on restricting no-bid defense contracts. (Mar 2007)
Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)
Voted YES on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight. (Apr 2006)


Voted NO on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks. (Oct 2008)
Voted NO on restricting employer interference in union organizing. (Mar 2007)
Voted NO on iVoted NO on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes. (Dec 2007)
Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)
Rated 0% by the CTJ, indicating opposition to progressive taxation. (Dec 2006)
ncreasing minimum wage to $7.25. (Jan 2007)

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SUMMARY: As I mentioned earlier, I found it incredible that this woman had been a professor of English and had attained a Doctorate in Education. Her public speaking style is more reminiscent of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, with broken phrases and run-together, disjointed statements, than the type of cohesive reasoning and articulation one normally encounters from a person holding that type of degree. Her disturbing voting record alone should make her ineligible to retain her House seat. But Virginia Foxx also speaks in ridiculous hyperbole, which casts further doubt on her reasoning ability and suitability for holding high office. Perfect examples of this came during the health care reform debate, when she brazenly declared that seniors would be "put to death by their government." Prior to the vote, she spouted out "everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened. And I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear we all should have to our freedom comes from this room - this very room - and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of this bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in the country." Neither Palin nor Bachmann could have done a better job of spewing out such nonsensical babble!

WHA'? HUH?? We used to have a word to have a description for irrational people who would make crazy, unfounded statements like that. We called them CRACKPOTS. Today, though, we call them teabaggers and conservative Republicans. They do not belong in government shaping our public policy with fat, taxpayer-funded salaries, and there is a very real threat they may assume dominant control this fall.

Who Virginia Foxx REALLY Represents: NOT YOU, 5th District North Carolina voter! If you are poor, working poor, or middle class, (and the overwhelming number of you are), she has not been addressing your needs in the least while voting for Bush tax breaks for the rich, free trade deals, against aid for the unemployed, children, education, jobs, and the poor. Her far-right, pro-business, anti-worker agenda is working AGAINST YOU!

VIRGINIA FOXX SHOULD BE PERMANENTLY RETIRED FROM CONGRESS. PLEASE do that for your own good and for the good of the entire country, North Carolina 5th District voters!

Friday, August 6, 2010

WALLPAPER FOR MY STUDY

With my computer down, it's sure bben boring staring at the same old four walls all the time in my study. I needed new scenery before me to keep me inspired and to fire me up. So I wallpapered the wall in front of my computer. This ought to keep me rarin' to go through the November mid-terms. Below is what my wallpaper looks like...

(Actually, many of these images are available for purchase online as posters, t shirts, buttons, or bumper stickers. I found them by googling anti-Republican signs, banners, buttons, and posters, one by one. Some even came from good ol' TomCat's fabulous politicsplus site. Thanks, TomCat! :-)).















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OK, my friends: I hope to be back in commission within the next 5-7 days or so, and will once again renew my muckraking against out-of-touch corporatist politicians and exposing the fallacies and hypocrisy of the current Tea Party movement and today's ultra-conservative Republican Party!