Archive for the ‘Mitch McConnell’ category

Warning Signs

February 3, 2018

For most of 2017, the media, and through the media, America was focused upon a dysfunctional President. Imagine a chief executive “tweeting” Presidential thoughts and feelings as if the social medium was a proper channel for conveying thoughtful, strategic, or purposeful thinking.

All the while, right before our eyes, a Republican controlled Congress was demonstrating to Americans how not to govern and how not to have the long term interest of Americans in view. A deliberative body became fully under the influence of “populist” fever.

Critical subjects such as

  • Immigration – where are workers going to come from when American population growth is below one (.7%)
  • Infrastructure maintenance – how will the US repair or improve the roads, bridges, and ports that link Americans together and deliver goods and services which fuel the economy.
  • Military spending – when the US already spends almost as much as all other nations combined and yet finds itself in times of new security threats (such as cyber warfare and nuclear proliferation) searching for more funding.
  • Healthcare – what is Congress’ answer for finding a fair, quality driven, and affordable health care delivery policy in a world where the US spends twice as much per capita compared to other modern countries and the US still does not ensure coverage to all its residents.
  • Human rights – how can Congress speak to the Constitution’s First Amendment recognizing religious rights without also condoning discrimination.
  • Income inequality – in a capitalist system, how can the natural consequence, where the rich become richer, be harassed to meet the financial needs of States and the Federal Government.

This list contains serious problems and opportunities for which there are no slam-dunk answers. Does the Republican lead Congress believe the answer will just come, or are they content to live well themselves and pass the strategic issues onto someone else?

In 2017, Americans witnessed a government which gave little evidence of wanting to fix anything.  Instead Congress tried to deliver less healthcare than what was already a second rate system among like countries at a cost twice as much.

Americans also saw a Congress pass “tax cuts” without addressing any of the needs for infrastructure or defense spending. And, as for the other knotty problems, Congress invested no time to thoughtful study. This lack of willingness to engage tough problems, other than from a populist slogan perspective, may be the most significant of the problems facing the country.

These are huge warning signs that American elected officials are AWOL, even though many have time to appear on talk shows.   The fruits of their labor make it clear.

What are the odds that this view is mistaken, hmmm,  between zero and zilch.

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When Small Hands Hold The Reins

January 21, 2018

In 2016, Republicans won enough districts and States that US Government control rested with the Republican party. President Trump would run the Executive branch, Mitch McConnell the Senate, and Paul Ryan the House. And behind them stood big money interests along with far right zealots who passed out bags of money and sheets of carefully crafted ideological words. This combo was “taking back the country”.

The 2016 election was a free and open event for the most part. There has been grumbling, especially from Democrats, that there had been Russian intervention in support of Donald Trump. Even if that is true, Russian intervention was de minimis.

Americans must wake up and realize what a democratic process has produced.
Congressional Republicans and the indescribable President Trump hold power because too many Americans

  • did not ask questions for clarity,
  • did not consider what too much power in the hands of public servants whose souls were mortgaged to the wealthy or the extreme views would do,
  • and did not consider that collectively this Republican horde would use democracy against the majority.

In essence, voters could not distinguish between two poor choices and instead preferred the party which offered the best mimicry of the Pied Piper.

Small Hands often drive an inferiority complex which can in turn lead to Napoleonic behavior. President Small Hands, while physically bigger in height than Napoleon, acts as if he is subject to no bounds, be they historic precedents, common decency, or the best interest of future generations.

Rather than pulling in government reins to limit a greedy Congressional majority, President Trump eggs them on. Small Hands urges Congress to change long standing rules design to protect minority interests simply because the GOP holds the majority and (he thinks) should have its way.

There seems to be no thought given to what happens when Democrats regain the majority, or what either today’s actions or future Democrat’s actions might do to the country.

Weak thinkers, hubris driven, can see nothing but their goal, and continuously seek an opening, at any cost, to achieve it. Great thinkers are, on the other hand, able to ask the question, is this objective worth more than what it might destroy?

President Trump is urging Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules again. The President wants McConnell to eliminate the right to filibuster by requiring a simple majority to end debate. Should McConnell submit to the President’s wishes, Congress could in the future flip flop on any legislation by simple majority votes. Sound fair?

Think about it, Tax cuts this year, reversal next term. How could businesses plan?

In short order, our economy would be in taters and our foreign policy a valueless commodity on the global stage.

President Small Hands does not see this (or simply does not care) but Senate Leader McConnell should.

The question is will he?

What Is Reform?

November 20, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump and the GOP in general campaigned on the pledge to overhaul the Federal Tax Code and “reform it”. Hmmm.

Both the House and the Senate have unveiled their visions of tax reform and for the clear eyed, one should not be surprised with the comment, “what tax reform”? Tax cut, maybe, but reform, hardly.

What’s the problem?

  1. Republicans were never concerned with “reform”, rather it was tax cuts that drove this campaign pledge.

  2. Republicans had already mortgaged their collective souls to the super rich (like Charles and David Koch, and Robert Mercer), so cuts favorable to the super wealthy were a done deal.

  3. Small business owners who have predominantly voted Republican were next in line. These “pass through” tax payers needed a lower corporate tax rate so they would not have to pay the appropriate individual income tax rate.

  4. Big corporations were interested in more government welfare but were more concerned about not losing their current “effective” tax rate (18%).

  5. The Middle Class were asking “what’s in it for me” and both Congressional Houses presented plans which were murky to say the least. Against Trump boasts, “biggest Middle Class tax cut ever”, the Middle Class has been hard pressed to see anything in it for them.

  6. The Senate, not content with a weak tax cut offering, included a provision to repeal the “individual mandate” of Obamacare which has only served to make voters more suspicious of the tax reform bill’s real intent.

OK, what’s the real problems?

  1. Tax code reform has never been the real intent of Republicans. GOP focus has been on rewarding their supporters.

  2. Tax code reform is extremely complicated and impacts all aspects of our $13 trillion economy.

  3. The underlying threat to the US economy lies in income inequality, per capita healthcare costs, and funding for so-called entitlement programs. Republicans do not care about income inequality, are agnostic about healthcare costs, and want to sharply reduce if not eliminate entitlements (read – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security).

  4. Rather than debate tax reform in the open and attempt to reach a bi-partisan compromise, the GOP has chosen to implement rules which would allow the GOP to pass “tax reform” with the current Republican majorities. What policy changes within the compromised GOP could carry the day?

  5. The path Republicans have selected makes a joke of their past chest pounding anxious cries over the Federal Debt. The Senate and House proposals will add $1-1.5 trillion (at a minimum) to the Federal Debt and could add much more.

  6. The notion that corporations will take tax savings and use that money to invest and add jobs is totally laughable. Even more laughable is that corporations will use the extra savings to increase workers wages and benefits. This dog won’t hunt.

  7. The GOP plans come from “supply side” economic theory which in the two recent previous times the US has tried it (Ronald Reagan and George W Bush) has not performed as advertised. If the GOP really was looking to spend $1.5 trillion to stimulate the economy, a coordinated infrastructure government spending program would have far greater chances of increasing GDP, raising employment, and increasing wages.

  8. At the very base of the GOP house of lies (bad assumptions or beliefs), is that on a world basis, the US economy is doing quite well. Thinking that somehow the rest of the world could grow GDP at an average 2% and the US, magically, could grow at 4-6% is worse than drawing to an inside straight. These are different times than the post WWII period and long term growth must by the nature of things grow more modestly if it is to grow at all. The US needs to focus on how, as a nation, the country can grow productivity, make products and services others want, and share these earnings more fairly with other Americans.

Americans, especially voters must come to see that the current GOP leadership views tax reforms as tax cuts, and tax cuts mean “free lunches” and “free lunches don’t exist.

When Truthful Words Mislead

November 2, 2016

“President Obama has been a disaster. He has presided over the worst economic recovery in history. Hillary Clinton means more of the same for another 4 years.” So, elect Republicans, including Donald Trump in order to elect real change”. Hmmm.

Do these words sound familiar? They should. The first paragraph represents one of the primary campaign threads the GOP is using. But do these words represents truthful statements?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes, these words are truthful. They simply, however, are misleading and not relevant.

First, one has to recall that it was during the last Republican Administration (2000 to 2008) when large tax cuts (promised by Replicants if elected in 2016) were introduced and subsequently (1) the Federal Budget went from an annual surplus to an annual deficit, and after 7 lack luster years of uneven growth (under “W”), (2) the country’s economic growth crashed into a severe recession (approaching the depths of a depression).

Second, the recession was not limited to the US economy. Rather, the broken US bubble dragged most of the rest of the world (including China) into similar recessions. Those countries which responded with “stimulus” policies, stabilized and then experienced economic growth, and those which chose austerity, saw contraction or at best anemic growth.

Third, the average GDP growth rate for George W Bush’s 8 years was 1.8% ending in the largest economic contraction since the 1929 crash. During President Obama’s Administration, GDP growth has averaged about 1.8% with no period over 3%. Rather than feast and bust GDP growth, Obama years have been marked but steady but unspectacular growth. More importantly, one must realize that the GOP controlled Congress resisted all of President Obama’s calls for stimulus from 2010 until now. With a world report card visible to everyone, blaming the lower level of GDP growth on President Obama is grossly misleading.

Ironically, the steady but slow GDP growth might just as easily be seen as a sign of the US economy’s inherent economic strength, which without stimulus is still one of the best in the world. The push-pull Congressional-Presidential relationship is currently not suited for a comprehensive domestic growth policy.

President Obama’s presidency has experienced its share of setbacks, many self inflicted. Truthful but clearly misleading statements, however, do no one a service. Republican leaders know the difference and have intentionally created “truthful but misleading” statements for the purpose of distracting voters and convincing them to expect better results than are likely.

Truthful but misleading is not a Donald Trump phenomena. Trump prefers overtly untruthful and misleading statements since they require less time to think up. People, however, like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell both know better and occupy leadership positions where Americans have been conditioned to expect “non-misleading” statements. Both elected officials occupy key Congressional positions and Ryan is second in line to succeed the President should it be necessary.  They know better but are content not to do better.

Hmmm.

They Still Don’t Get It

June 15, 2016

The GOP leadership along with a dozen or so “at risk” Republican Senators had a very bad week, especially since the shootings in Orlando. While many GOP “big wigs” have squirmed on how to distance themselves from their support of Donald Trump, the majority of Republican leaders have not hinted that the Republican Party has a basic disconnect with the majority of Americans.

So many Republicans are on record supporting, with no exceptions, the NRA “on controls on guns” that avoiding some blame for the 49 Orlando dead takes a linguistic virtuoso. Expressing sympathy much less empathy for the dead gays who were at the Pulse bar last Saturday is even harder. And finding ways to side step Donald Trump’s patently un-American proposal to ban all Muslims from America has exposed many GOP candidates to the hint that they may not be so tough on terrorist, an apparent “no-no” in the Republican ranks.  Voters are seeing this too.

Mitch McConnell’s admonition, “stay on message” apparently wasn’t received by Trump, or at least understood for what it really means. McConnell was attempting to tell Trump, “believe what you will but say only what is written on paper”.

When Trump went off reservation this weekend attacking Hillary Clinton and President Obama for not saying the words “radical Islam”, Trump drew the spotlight away from the economy (read jobs) or any of the pet GOP policies like tax cuts (for the wealthy), religious freedom (legal discrimination against gays and women), and the Supreme Court (appointing conservative nominees).

As time is progressing, voters are beginning to understand the consequences a GOP Presidency will bring, even well beyond the fitness a Donald Trump might be as President.

With over 4 months until the November elections, there is plenty of time for a anti-GOP landslide to form. Not only will Trump be defeated but it is becoming more likely there will be huge GOP Congressional losses too.

When Small Thinkers Lead The GOP

June 6, 2016

Over the weekend, presumptive GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up another hornets nest. Trump called for Judge Gonzalo Curriel, who is presiding over the “Trump University” fraud trial, to recuse himself. Asked why, Trump said because he was Mexican and with Trump’s promises to build a wall between the US and Mexico, Trump felt the Judge was not being “fair”. Hmmm.

Defendants call for Judges to recuse themselves all the time. So what’s the big deal?

Most defendants call for recusals within the trappings of courts and legal procedures, not the spotlight of television interviews. But, the choice of venues is not the main issue.

Trump’s already well established prejudices against Mexicans (and probably Hispanics in general) and Muslims make his statements against Judge Curriel not news. Trump was just being Trump.

The real news is the spotlight which is now showing how small and “not ready for prime time” that GOP House and Senate leaders really are.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is narrowly focused upon maintaining GOP control of the Senate and will make whatever deals and concessions necessary to build large enough coalition of loyal voting Republicans. As a consequence, the GOP is willing to panders to a diverse collections of factions and themes, like the NRA (guns without restrictions), evangelicals (forcing their views on others), tax cuts (which benefit the wealthy who do not need the cuts), neoconservatives (who brought us the Iraq invasion and occupation), and privatization of Social Security and Medicare (safety net for senior citizens).

House Speaker Paul Ryan while less obvious in his deference to these groups, never the less has found it necessary to also pander albeit in a more thoughtful way. Ryan speaks of building a strong economy but proposes solutions, including repealing Obamacare, which could devastate the most vulnerable while rewarding those best off.

For McConnell and Ryan, their legislative agendas should be enough to mortally wound the GOP Presidential standard bearer. The refusal to allow the Senate to act upon President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was just another manifestation of a Party totally adrift from custom, the Constitution, or the best interests of the majority of Americans. It’s all about now.   Hmmm.

Following months of rejecting the Trump candidacy (in favor of some other candidate representing some minority faction within the GOP), McConnell and Ryan have both endorsed Trump and vow to support his election as President. In doing so, McConnell and Ryan have made clear that they are not about thoughtful governance. Instead they are about expedience and letting the future take care of itself. For the average American, this should be a lonely message.

Trump has placed both McConnell and Ryan in a difficult position.  Regardless of what they really think, both have made calculations that unless Trump does well in the general election, the GOP will do poorly in general.

Trump has found little value in pandering to each of the GOP minority factions and has delighted in antagonizing Hispanics, Muslims and women. When McConnell and Ryan announced their Trump endorsement, over arching principles, what little of them existed, went out with the bathwater.

Most analysts have observed that the success of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump signal a desire by a large and growing segment of Americans to see government do more about income inequality (more better paying jobs). The 2008 and 2012 GOP Platforms could not be more out of step with US demographics and only fantasy towards narrowing income inequality. Sweeping Platform changes are sorely needed for the 2016 Platform but it appears it will be same old, same old.

I guess that’s what you get with small thinkers.

And Now There Are 80

April 18, 2016

The Department of Defense has announced the return to two Yemeni “detainees” to Saudi Arabia from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. With their release, Guantanamo headcount drops 80. This number includes another 23 who have been cleared for release pending completion of the nitty gritty such as which country will actually receive them. Hmmm, 57 in a prison with a capacity for upwards of 700.

Anyone who worries about the foibles of big government need look no further than the fiasco of Guantanamo. Originally establish to house and process al Qaeda members and sympathizers, the Guantanamo detention facility vacuumed up a motley collection of nasty terrorists, questionable persons guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a healthy dose of totally innocent souls turned in for the promised ransom payment.

Once housed in Guantanamo, the unfortunate detainees and the US authorities began to realize there was no recognized legal procedure to process the detainees.

So if anyone is wondering how so many Americans can be Donald Trump supporters, Guantanamo is one reason. Congress, read the GOP leadership, has made keeping Guantanamo operating when any security or business analysis leads one to closing it and transferring the remaining inmates to super max prisons State side. Why?

The reason given (said with a straight face) is “to protect” Americans. Guantanamo is full of “crazy bastards” who are bent on killing us, Lindsay Graham says. You are immediately struck with the question “does he really believe that” or is this just another political smoke screen?

Bringing the Guantanamo detainees to US prisons would probably open the possibility of civil rights court actions since these prisoners have not been charged (a Constitutional guarantee for a speedy trial). And for most there is a reasonable chance they would be released.

But there is a bigger recognition that is being overlooked. There is no shortage of terrorists or persons willing to attack Americans and American interests around the world. No one should ever allege that the Guantanamo detainees are the worst of the worst. What about all those ISIS thugs who decapitated their prisoners? Are they somehow a grade less on the scale of worst of the worst.

Closing Guantanamo makes sense from a financial position, from a consistency with our laws and traditions, and demonstrating that Republicans and Democrats can make worthwhile decisions together.

The Republican intransigence is just one more proof to Trump supporters (and many others) that the GOP can’t govern.