Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Giveaway to the Wealthy in a Must Pass Bill

This bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown. So Republicans have loaded it up with all of their wet dreams.

There will supposedly be a temporary tax cut of 10% for the middle class, much less than taxes are cut for the wealthiest. The 40% corporate tax reduction, which is permanent, will not go into higher wages or more jobs but instead will be distributed as dividends and stock buy-backs; there will not be an increase in demand for additional goods and services which is what drives job creation and wage increases.

The wealthiest 10% own 90% of stocks; so it is the 10% that are already wealthy who will receive 90% of the benefits of cutting corporate taxes. And since the poor usually do not own stocks they will receive no benefits from a slashed corporate tax rate (unless you believe that trickle-down will magically actually start working). The remainder of the 90% will share in only 10% of benefits. Plus, most business tax deductions remain in place and there will be new deductions available; that is not true for the middle class. Add to that the cut in estate taxes benefiting only the wealthy.

Despite this bill raising the National Debt by $1-2 trillion, radical conservatives still insist that they are fiscal conservatives and will need to slash social spending (including on Social Security which does not affect the federal budget at all).

The 10 year rule for bills passed by reconciliation (simple majority) only means that deficits in the 11th year on will not be worsened. But federal budget deficits are yearly figures only. There is no corresponding rule for increases in the National Debt.

What else does this bill do? It declares officially that life begins at conception, allows oil drilling in Alaska, and cuts Medicare and Medicaid. Don't forget that social programs will in the future still be targeted and cut because of "their cost." This bill also eliminates the health insurance mandate and leaves 13 million more people without health insurance while making it much more expensive for others. Also being underfunded and mismanaged are the EPA, OSHA, FDA, SEC, Education, Labor, and the CFPB, and who knows how many other agencies?

A very progressive tax bill, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

District of Columbia v. Heller, Quotes From the Majority Opinion

Until 2008 the Supreme Court did not undertake a case deciding what the wording of the Second Amendment meant. In District of Columbia V. Heller, The Supreme Court did address this, with Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion for the 5-4 majority (joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.). The complete text of the majority opinion can be found at  District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). Here are relevant quotes I took directly from that opinion.

[P.53] We conclude that nothing in our precedents forecloses our adoption of the original understanding of the Second Amendment. It should be unsurprising that such a significant matter has been for so long judicially unresolved.

[P.54] Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose...For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.

...nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of

[P. 55] arms. 26
[Footnote] 26 We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

[P. 56] As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate, the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute. Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from

[P. 57] the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family...would fail constitutional muster.

[P. 58] We must also address the District’s requirement (as applied to respondent’s handgun) that firearms in the home be rendered and kept inoperable at all times. This makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. The District argues that we should interpret this element of the statute to contain an exception for self-defense.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Tale of Mental Illness: IQ45's Puerto Rico Response

Hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, Irma on September 6th, and Maria on September 20th. The destruction was not just a disaster, it was catastrophic, and most of the electric infrastructure was destroyed. One month later, Puerto Rico has 300 outside workers supplementing their 900 local workers trying to restore electricity. Compare that to Texas which had 5,300 outside workers who restored electricity within two weeks of the state being hit by a hurricane. Florida had 18,00 outside workers to restore electricity. And both of those states had much of the nearby infrastructure still standing.

We have IQ45 telling Puerto Rico survivors to "Have a good time," and throwing paper towels at them for the cameras. Instead of talking about how he will help victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria, he complained about Puerto Rico's infrastructure and debt and lamented the cost of rebuilding. At one point Turnip tweeted, "Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!" Our president insulted the mayor of the capital city of San Juan because she pleaded for help and he perceived it as a personal attack on himself. On a low initial body count, he said, "It's incredible, the results that we've had with respect to loss of life. People can't believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking." IQ45 thinks he is doing a wonderful job in the aftermath of Puerto Rico's hurricanes, a disaster response that will be studied for years and will be used as a model for how to handle disasters. He gives his response a 10 out of 10 rating, ignoring that 80% of the island is still without power, and some residents are drinking water from contaminated Superfund sites.

IQ45 is a legend in his own mind. In reality, he is a self-centered, irresponsible, heartless, ignorant, and delusional bastard, blaming and denigrating others while soliciting praise for himself.

New York Times article, Puerto Ricans Ask: When Will the Lights Come Back On?
The Atlantic article, What's Happening With the Relief Effort in Puerto Rico?