Friday, August 26, 2011

GOP: Read Their Lips No New Taxes - Except For The Middle Class

Daddy Bush was crucified by the GOP faithful when he reneged on his infamous pledge: Read My Lips, No New Taxes.

The GOP has successfully branded the Democrats as the Tax and Spend Party.

The GOP/Tea Party threatened to drive our economy off the cliff if there were any new revenues in the Debt Ceiling compromise.

The GOP/Tea Party fought tooth and nail for the extension of the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest of the wealthiest.

Virtually all GOP lawmakers have signed the no-tax-hike pledge authored by Grover Norquist.

So it would be safe to say the GOP/Tea Party hates taxes.
So it would be safe to say the GOP/Tea Party have never seen a tax they like.

Wrong. As Flava Flav used to say, Don't Believe the Hype:

GOP may OK tax increase that Obama hopes to block

WASHINGTON (AP) — News flash: Congressional Republicans want to raise your taxes.

Impossible, right? GOP lawmakers are so virulently anti-tax, surely they will fight to prevent a payroll tax increase on virtually every wage-earner starting Jan. 1, right?

Apparently not.

Many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different "temporary" tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase.

The tax break extension they oppose is sought by President Barack Obama. Unlike proposed changes in the income tax, this policy helps the 46 percent of all Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a "payroll tax" on practically every dime they earn.

There are other differences as well, and Republicans say their stand is consistent with their goal of long-term tax policies that will spur employment and lend greater certainty to the economy.

"It's always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn," says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, "but not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again." The Texas lawmaker is on the House GOP leadership team.

The debate is likely to boil up in coming weeks as a special bipartisan committee seeks big deficit reductions and weighs which tax cuts are sacrosanct.
read more

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake: Animal Early Alarm

I, similar to every DC resident, was truly rocked and terrified by yesterday's 5.8 earthquake.

To my Cali friends, it may be only a tremor for you, but for us East coast folks - unfamiliar with the shifting of Earth's plates - this was a big event.

After I got me Earth legs back, with the help of a couple evening libations, I surfed the net for earthquake stories.

My attention was grabbed by a Washington Post story regarding the National Zoo's animals early earthquake warning:

The first warnings of the earthquake may have occurred at the National Zoo, where officials said some animals seemed to feel it coming before people did. The red ruffed lemurs began “alarm calling” a full 15 minutes before the quake hit, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said. In the Great Ape House, Iris, an orangutan, let out a guttural holler 10 seconds before keepers felt the quake. The flamingos huddled together in the water seconds before people felt the rumbling. The rheas got excited. And the hooded mergansers — a kind of duck — dashed for the safety of the water. read more

When I read that, I instantly recalled the Asian 2004 pre-tsunami animal behavior:

Before giant waves slammed into Sri Lanka and India coastlines ten days ago, wild and domestic animals seemed to know what was about to happen and fled to safety.

According to eyewitness accounts, the following events happened:

• Elephants screamed and ran for higher ground.

• Dogs refused to go outdoors.

• Flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas.

• Zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could not be enticed to come back out.

As the animal experts explain:

Wildlife experts believe animals' more acute hearing and other senses might enable them to hear or feel the Earth's vibration, tipping them off to approaching disaster long before humans realize what's going on. read more

As for me, case close - I do not need an expert - if I see masses of animals heading for the hills, I will follow and ask questions later...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Report: Fed lent Wall St. $1.2T more

The Federal Reserve lent Wall Street firms a staggering $1.2 trillion dollars in a previously unrevealed bank bailout that dwarfs the size of TARP, reports Bloomberg News.

The $1.2 trillion -which Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lent to banks and other firms to prevent the economy from collapsing - is roughly equivalent to the amount that U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million underwater mortgages, Bloomberg said.

One aspect of the bailout sure to exasperate critics of the Federal Reserve is that almost half of the Fed’s top 30 borrowers were European firms.

The Royal Bank of Scotland took $84.5 billion, the most of any foreign borrower, Swiss bank UBS got $77.2 billion, Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding received $28.7 billion in loans. Belgium’s biggest bank, Dexia, and France’s Societe Generale also took in loans.

The Federal Reserve claims that it has not lost money on these emergency loans, and that in fact it has netted $13 billion in interest from these programs from August 2007 through December 2009. read more

We all know the Company line: They were to big to fail.
And understanding the timeline, these loans were on Baby Bushes watch (did you hear that Tea Baggers).

Yet in still, what does it take for the folks in the loop to recognize that the middle-class is to big to fail?

Our shared fate and sustained recovery is rooted in consumer confidence and not just the elite getting larger and larger pieces of the pie.

Now to the Tea Party crowd yammering away at Obama perceived failures.

1. This is further proof that the system was broken under the GOP stewardship of our economy.

2. Not only did the GOP congress not help bailout the average American, they demonstratively obstructed any stimulus for the middle-class. The craziest thing, these folks even sabotaged there own ideas if President Obama agrees with them.

3. See how the Fed recognized that TARP was too small to effectively resolve banking issues, hence they expanding the Bank bailout? Well, the Obama stimulus for middle America was undersized and needs expanding as well. The patient will not recover until more jobs are created - the uber rich with all the tax breaks and bailout dough ain't going to do it.

4. Speaking about taxes, how - especially after this revelation - can you continue to support tax break extensions and the loop hole exemptions to the uber rich?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Africa is leaving Europe behind

Living in the day-to-day mud fight that substitutes for American politics, are we (purposely) missing the true phenomenon of our times - the re-emergence of Africa?

I acknowledge that it may be too early to see if this is a true paradigm shift with legs, but let's look to the global big picture - in other words, let's see the forest for the trees...

And, oh BTW, the above picture is a vibrant Lagos, Nigeria.

Check out this story, Why Africa is leaving Europe behind.

Africans are relishing something of a reversal in roles. The former colonial powers in Europe are wrestling with debt crises, austerity budgets, rising unemployment and social turmoil. By contrast much of sub-Saharan Africa can point to robust growth, better balanced books and rising capital inflows. There is an opportunity in this novel scenario: for Africa to assert itself on the global stage, and for European countries to take advantage of their historic footprint in Africa by stimulating commercial expansion to their south. But it is far from clear either side will grasp it.

The problems faced by western governments are all too familiar to African countries. They too found their public services hollowed out in the 1980s and 1990s under the strict conditions of World Bank and International Monetary Fund bail-outs. In the worst instances, state authority was fatally weakened as discontent boiled over on the streets.

Today, by contrast they can point to improved economic figures, a reviving middle class and arguably, in places, more effective social control. Even Lagos – much rougher, larger, poorer and unequal than London – has never witnessed looting on the scale that took place in the former capital of empire last week, although inhabitants of the Nigerian mega-city have certainly competed when it comes to arson.

Africa has been enjoying this reversal of roles. As rioting spread from London to other cities, South Africa’s foreign ministry took the unusual step of issuing a travel advisory warning its citizens against visiting the UK. There was also retaliation for past jibes about their country’s capacity to organise the 2010 football World Cup, by questioning whether London can be trusted to host a safe Olympics. read more