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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,343

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I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Supreme Court Might Decide Their Second Election

Supreme Court Might Decide Their Second Election
by Cenk Uygur | March 30, 2012 - 9:19am

It was a similar crew of conservative justices on the Supreme Court that decided that their long-held beliefs on states' rights were irrelevant and made George W. Bush our next president in 2000. Now, they're back!!! And they might decide yet another presidential election.

Imagine the damage it does to President Obama to strip him of his signature accomplishment right before the election. It would also allow the Republicans to say -- "See, we told you so! It was unconstitutional all along. It was a wild, socialist over-reach of big government." It creates a permanent stain on the law -- as if there was something horribly wrong with it all along. And it takes it off the books at a moment when it is still relatively unpopular. So, before any of the popular provisions are put into effect it would go in the record books as a complete disaster.

Why don't you just hand the Republicans the election? Which is, of course, exactly what the conservatives of this court would love to do. These conservative justices are given far too much deference in the media. They are largely partisan hacks.

Antonin Scalia is a complete fraud. He will bend any so-called principle to get to the political result he wants. If it's upholding anti-gay legislation or striking down federal laws he doesn't like, he is a huge advocate for states' rights. But if it's marijuana legalization or euthanasia or Bush v. Gore, then he hates states' rights. So, which one is it? Here's how you can tell -- which side is the Republican Party on?

Remember, this is a guy who goes duck hunting with Dick Cheney and attends political fundraisers with the Koch brothers. Of course, he doesn't recuse himself from any cases that involve those people. In fact, he votes on their side nearly 100% of the time.

We've been hearing for at least thirty years about the dangers of activist judges. That it is so wrong for unelected officials, like judges, to invalidate laws made by the people's representatives. Now, all of a sudden, the Republicans love that idea! They want to interpret the Commerce Clause in a way that it has not been interpreted since 1937. They want to invalidate a sitting president's signature piece of legislation for the first time in 75 years. And their hack, partisan justices on the Supreme Court can't wait to do their bidding.


Ryan’s plan: Take from the poor, give to the rich

Ryan’s plan: Take from the poor, give to the rich
Appeared in print: Thursday, March 22, 2012, page A7

Paul Ryan, outlining his latest budget proposal in the House TV studio Tuesday morning, said the policies of the Republican presidential nominees “perfectly jibe” with his plan, which slashes the safety net to pay for tax cuts mostly for wealthy Americans.

“Do you wholeheartedly believe they will accept your budget?” NBC’s Luke Russert called from the audience.

“Absolutely,” the House Budget Committee chairman replied without hesitation. “I’m confident.”

Makes perfect sense, in a way. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.

Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.”

Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.

Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

Ryan’s justification was straight out of Charles Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.


President’s Budget Shreds Hope for Low-Income Americans

President’s Budget Shreds Hope for Low-Income Americans
February 13, 2012 07:06 PM Eastern Time

WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--President Obama’s proposed cut, of nearly 50 percent, to the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) would be a devastating blow to more than 1,000 community action agencies (CAAs) that help low-income Americans find employment, housing, education and emergency services. With America’s poverty rate at 15.1 percent, its highest level since 1993, these cuts threaten the economic security of families living in or near poverty and the rebuilding of America’s middle class. “Cutting Community Service Blog Grant funding in half will shred vital State and local programs and services for the most vulnerable Americans at a time when they are needed more than ever”.

“Cutting Community Service Blog Grant funding in half will shred vital State and local programs and services for the most vulnerable Americans at a time when they are needed more than ever,” said Steve Payne, President of the National Association for State Community Service Programs Board of Directors and Director of the Department of Commerce, Community Services and Housing Division in Washington state. “We urge Congress to reinstate level funding of $677 million and preserve this essential block grant for the more than 20 million low-income Americans served by CSBG last year.”

CSBG has measurable results that reduce or eliminate poverty by helping individuals find job training, obtain employment and remove employment barriers, such as safe and reliable housing and transportation. During the last fiscal year, the CSBG network effectively allowed 5.6 million low-income participants to acquire a job or reduce barriers to employment; assisted 3.2 million low-income vulnerable individuals to maintain an independent living situation; and 3.9 million people participated in child and family development programs, among other accomplishments.

“During an era when Americans are struggling with high unemployment, underemployment, and financial burdens lingering from a deep recession, we’re appalled to see this attack on vulnerable Americans looking to contribute to the economic health of the country. In order for people to move out of poverty and into the ranks of the middle class, we need to ensure that they have access to available jobs and livable wages, and not create further barriers to their economic security,” said Payne.

As part of its ongoing effort to ensure that CSBG funds are used efficiently and with the highest impact to participants, NASCSP released an accreditation proposal for improving performance measures and accountability of CSBG-funded agencies. The Obama administration’s proposed funding cuts will effectively make these recommendations moot by dismantling programs with proven results and direct impact to people most in need.

Please Welcome My New Grandson to the World


Even Critics of Safety Net Depend on It Increasingly

Even Critics of Safety Net Depend on It Increasingly
Adam B. Ellick/The New York Times

LINDSTROM, Minn. — Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government. He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.


The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.



Almost Half Of U.S. Households Live One Crisis From The Bread Line

Alexander Eichler
Working Poor: Almost Half Of U.S. Households Live One Crisis From The Bread Line
Posted: 1/31/12 12:00 AM ET | Updated: 1/31/12 11:52 AM ET

What does it mean to be poor?

If it means living at or below the poverty line, then 15 percent of Americans -- some 46 million people -- qualify. But if it means living with a decent income and hardly any savings -- so that one piece of bad luck, one major financial blow, could land you in serious, lasting trouble -- then it's a much larger number. In fact, it's almost half the country.

"The resources that people have -- they are using up those resources," said Jennifer Brooks, director of state and local policy at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. "They're living off their savings. They're at the end of their rope."

The group issued a report today examining so-called liquid asset poverty households -- the people who aren't living below the poverty line, but don't have enough money saved to weather a significant emergency.

According to the report, 43 percent of households in America -- some 127.5 million people -- are liquid-asset poor. If one of these households experiences a sudden loss of income, caused, for example, by a layoff or a medical emergency, it will fall below the poverty line within three months. People in these households simply don't have enough cash to make it for very long in a crisis.

The findings underscore the struggles of many Americans during what has often seemed like an economic recovery in name only. While the Great Recession officially ended more than two years ago, unemployment remains high and wages have barely budged for most workers. For more people, whether they draw a paycheck or not, a life free of deprivation and financial anxiety seems perpetually out of reach.



Poverty in America likely to get worse, report finds

Poverty in America likely to get worse, report finds
Indiana University study says 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line – up 27% since start of recession
Chris McGreal
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 11 January 2012 11.12 EST

Millions of Americans will be forced into poverty in the coming years even as the US hauls itself out of the longest and deepest recession since the second world war.

A study from Indiana University, released on Wednesday, says the number of Americans living below the poverty line surged by 27% since the beginning of what it calls the "Great Recession" in 2006, driving 10 million more people into poverty.

The report warns that the numbers will continue to rise, because although the recession is technically over, its continued impact on cuts to welfare budgets and the quality of new, often poorly paid, jobs can be expected to force many more people in to poverty. It is also difficult for those already under water to get back up again.

"Poverty in America is remarkably widespread," concludes the study, At Risk: America's Poor During and After the Great Recession. "The number of people living in poverty is increasing and is expected to increase further, despite the recovery."

The white paper, drafted by the university's school of public and environmental affairs, which is among the best ranked schools of its kind in the US, says that six years ago, 36.5 million Americans fell below the poverty line. By 2010, the number of people living in poverty rose to 46.2 million and continued to grow over the past year.


DeMint's deficit-cutting plan targets poor

DeMint's deficit-cutting plan targets poor
Posted on Tuesday, 12.20.11

A plan by Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina to slash the federal budget deficit would hit the poorest Americans especially hard, directing 70 percent of its $4.2 trillion in spending cuts at safety-net programs intended to help tens of millions of low-income people.

The plan proposes $20 billion in cuts that would affect the affluent. It suggests almost $3 trillion in cuts that would affect low-income Americans, leading one liberal economist to call the plan "cruel."

But DeMint, a leading figure in the national tea party movement, says the cuts - including eliminating the earned income-tax credit and child tax credit for Americans who don't earn enough money to owe federal income taxes - are needed.

"During the Clinton years, during the Bush years, even when the economy was booming, we were still adding to the welfare rolls," DeMint said. "We have not helped the people we're supposedly helping. Poverty has gone up in America.

"We have trained several generations of Americans to be dependent on government rather than trying to get them off welfare."

DeMint's plan won't pass this Congress. Democrats, who control the Senate, easily could kill it if it came up for a vote.

However, the budget cuts proposed by DeMint - known as Sen. Tea Party - provide insight into the thinking of one of the Senate's most archconservatives and his tea party allies. DeMint helped raise money for many of the tea party-backed GOP freshmen in Congress.

DeMint released the plan last month alongside Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, though the bulk of its spending cuts would come from the Welfare Reform Act, a bill that DeMint also introduced last month.

Paul and Lee are first-year senators who are indebted to DeMint because he helped them win election by contributing a combined $603,520 to their campaigns from his Senate Conservatives Fund.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/20/2554475/demints-deficit-cutting-plan-targets.html#storylink=cpy

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Corporations Are Not People and They Shouldn't Be Allowed to Buy Our Elections

AlterNet / BySen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders: Corporations Are Not People and They Shouldn't Be Allowed to Buy Our Elections
Bottom line: Corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections.
December 9, 2011 |

The Constitution of this country has served us well, but when the Supreme Court says that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger. That is why I have introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I did not do this lightly. In fact, I had never done it before. The U.S. constitution is an extraordinary document. In my view, it should not be amended often. In light of the Supreme Court's infamous 5-to-4 decision in the Citizens United case, however, I saw no alternative.

I strongly disagree with the ruling. In my view, a corporation is not a person. A corporation does not have First Amendment rights to spend as much money as it wants, without disclosure, on a political campaign.

Corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections.

The ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy. It has further tilted the balance of the power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when the wealthiest people in this country already never had it so good. History will record that the Citizens United decision is one of the worst in the history of our country.

At a time when corporations have more than $2 trillion in cash in their bank accounts and are making record-breaking profits, the American people should be concerned when the Supreme Court says that these corporations have a constitutionally-protected right to spend shareholders' money to dominate an election as if they were real, live persons. If we do not reverse this decision, there will be no end to the impact that corporate interests can have on our campaigns and our democracy.

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