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Stimulate Me February 7, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Barack Obama, Democrats, Economic Stimulus, National Politics, Republicans, US Senate.
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us_economyThe economic stimulus negotiations winding their way through the Senate this week apparently reached a compromise last night.  According to news reports, “Traitor Joe” Lieberman joined forces with Susan Collins and Arlen Spector to strip over $100 billion in spending from the bill and bulk up on the Republican favored tax cuts.  Can you tell me again who won the election?  Because from where I’m sitting, it certainly doesn’t look like it was the Democrats.  Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, said that the “bill wasn’t perfect”, but it was an effective compromise.  For whom?  Not for the unemployed, or people who lost their health insurance, or homeowners in foreclosure, or schoolchildren, or any of the 47 states that are operating at huge deficits and need infusions of federal cash.

President Obama and the Democratic party have allowed – no invited – the minority Republicans to define this debate.  All the news shows have Republican “leaders” on the tube sanctimoniously saying that the Democratic-favored package is “just a spending bill”.  Well, duh!  By it’s very definition, stimulus IS spending.  The government has to inject cash into the economy to get it moving again and you don’t do that by providing tax cuts to businesses.  For every dollar the government gives up in tax cuts to businesses, it only gets back – at the most – 37 cents.  See the chart below:

courtesy Media Matters

courtesy Media Matters

Mediamatters.org published this chart on Friday as part of their story on how the news pundits are perpetuating this myth that the spending in the bill is “welfare”.   The chart was devised by John Zandi of Moody’s – a former economic adviser to John McCain.  

All this negative coverage and Republican spin has all the “Joe the Plumbers” out there gobbling this with a spoon.  Public support for the stimulus has dropped to 58%.  Meanwhile, the unemployment rate jumped to 7.6% yesterday and more job losses line the horizon.  It seems as though we WILL get fooled again.

I say Congress just scraps everything but infrastructure and industrial spending out of the bill.  Then, instead of tax cuts, the government should give direct stimulus to the people.  Every person in America would be able to apply for a grant to pay off 50% to 100% of either their mortgage debt or their consumer debt.  You could submit your total debt as of December 31, 2008 and the government would pay it off on a sliding scale depending upon your 2008 AGI – phasing the grants out after $175,000.  People that are unemployed or in foreclosure would be paid first and get the max.  For example, if you are unemployed and don’t own a home, but you have $10,000 in credit card debt, the government would pay it all and give you a clean slate.  If you make $150,000 and have a $300,000 mortgage, the government would pay $150,000 off and help you renegotiate the remaining balance at a lower rate. 

How would this help?  For the unemployed guy, if he doesn’t have to use his money to pay off consumer debt, he can concentrate on making sure his rent and utilities are paid, feed his kids, and continue his health insurance.  For the person with the mortgage that is strangling him because home values have declined, it takes away 50% of the bad debt – making the value more in line with market.  In both cases, lenders get their money back and that will stabilize them.  It also makes borrowers more credit-worthy, so they may start lending again (with tightened requirements – no more no documentation loans).  It’s a win-win, in my book.

Anything is better than another tax cut.


Traitor Joe November 6, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Democrats, National Politics, Presidential Politics.
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Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman finds himself in a precarious position these days.  His public support of John McCain and bad-mouthing of Barack Obama has landed Senator Lieberman in some very hot water.  Certain members of the party want him stripped of all committee memberships and thrown out of the Democratic caucus.  The Republicans have said that they will accept Lieberman into their caucus, but I have to believe that he wouldn’t exactly be welcomed with open arms.  Senator Lieberman has quite a liberal voting record – with the exception of Iraq and Israel – and wouldn’t work in lockstep with them, either.  At the very least, it is becoming clear that the Senator will lose his plum appointment as Chairman of the Homeland Security committee.  What remains to be seen is if he will be allowed to resign or will be forced out.  He met with Senate majority leader Harry Reid today to begin hammering out the details.

I can appreciate Joe Lieberman’s desire to follow his conscience and support a long-time friend for President.  I can understand that he may have had reservations about Barack Obama.  Had Senator Lieberman merely expressed his support publicly and let it end there, I would be OK with that.  But, he campaigned with McCain.  He spoke at the Republican convention – in a speech where he dismissed Obama as a “gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things in the future” and lied about Obama voting to cut off funding for the troops.  He turned on the party that for many years nurtured and supported him…even nominated him for Vice-President.  Furthermore, as reported by Stan Simpson in the Hartford Courant(courant.com) today, “The irony of Lieberman’s embrace of McCain, Democratic operatives here in Connecticut tell you, is that Lieberman begged — BEGGED — Obama to come to CT last March to help Lieberman in his race against upstart Ned Lamont. Obama obliged and gave the keynote speech at the Dems’ Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner.  Lieberman later showed his gratitude by stabbing Obama in the back and essentially joining the Republicans in trying to defeat the Democrats.”

That, dear readers, is a traitor.  And treason is always punishable by death; in this case, the death of his political career.   Lieberman had to know the risks he was taking in this move and he needs to suffer the consequences.  Traitor Joe began to get an inkling of them when he met with Senator Reid earlier today.

When I was a kid, and we did something REALLY bad, my father would take us “out to the woodshed” (which was really the basement or attached garage) to administer punishment.  Generally, some sort of spanking ensued.  Today, Harry Reid took Joe Lieberman to the woodshed.  Statements from both men indicate that a good spanking was administered – but it’s not clear if it was done with an open hand or with a big-ass paddle.