When politicians campaign for election, one of their favorite refrains is that there is too much government regulation which is strangling business. They are generally, though, very vague about which specific regulations are the strangling kind. We now have a specific target. Requiring food service workers to wash their hands after using the toilet is choking the life out of restaurants according to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Won’t you feel better when this burdensome regulation is eliminated? If you avoid the cholera that is.
The utter irrationality of Montana’s Republicans was put on display in this morning’s Missoulian. First is an article describing how Republican legislators who have refused to sign a pledge to refuse free federal Medicaid money are being threatened by Americans for Prosperity – Montana.. As the article points out, the AFP group is financed and led by the infamous multibillionaire Koch brothers. Billionaires don’t need no stinkin’ Medicaid.
Most of Montana’s Republican Legislators don’t want to accept the free money. There is no logical reason for their stance. On the other, more rational, hand, a guest column written by a D.A. Davidson senior investment analyst lists all the tremendous benefits which will flow to the state’s economy by accepting Medicaid. Medicaid will bring $5.4 billion into Montana’s economy and create 12,000 permanent high paying, nonpolluting health care jobs. Compare that to the Keystone pipeline which will bring a couple thousand jobs lasting one to two years and fewer than 10 permanent jobs.
Next is an article about a bill passed by the Republican House to cut property taxes across the board. One of the rationalizations given for the bill was that the tax cut of $13 million dollars would be spent in the economy “where it would do the most good.” Okay, compare and contrast: $13 million in the economy – good; $5.4 BILLION in the economy – bad. And, by the way, while large landowners such as corporations will see tax savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, the average Montana homeowner will receive a tax decease of $11., enough for two, count ’em, two, Little Caesar’s pizzas! Montana workers rejoice!
Our two senators don’t believe that we Montanans don’t safe drinking water. Both Senator Daines and Senator Tester voted to defeat a bill designed to require fracking companies to disclose what chemicals they are injecting into our drinking water and to force the companies to abide by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
You see, back in 2005, the Republican Congress and the Bush administration passed a bill named the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Besides being a smorgasbord of corporate welfare giveaways to energy companies, it contained what has become to be known as “The Halliburton Loophole”. The Halliburton loophole, so named because it was their idea and because it was vigorously pushed by then Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, exempted fracking companies from complying with The Clean Drinking Water Act.
It really doesn’t take to much effort on the old google machine to find out the inevitable result of thee Halliburton loophole: see here, here, here, here, here and here. You can go online and see numerous photos and videos of people lighting their tap water on fire. I called both Senators’ Washington office and asked why the Senators didn’t believe that Montanans should have safe drinking water. Neither office could give me any explanation. Montana’s senators: working hard to bring flammable water to your tap.
Have you ever watched Fox News and thought to yourself, “Half of what they say is false?” Well, its more than half, its 60%! No wonder conservatives have such unfamiliarity with facts.
I haven’t seen any statements from Montana’s Congressional members regarding the Keystone XL pipeline since the oil pipeline break in the Yellowstone river of last week. One disturbing issue that has been illuminated since the spill is the inability of the responsible oil company to clean up the spill because of ice in the river. I guess nobody had the foresight to realize that ice tends to form on Montana’s rivers in the winter. Nor did anyone have the foresight to realize that winter can last several months of the year in Montana.
So, why are our representatives so eager to believe that the Keystone pipeline will be any better? All available evidence shows that it will, in fact, be much worse. Although Tester, Daines and Zinke all parrot the company line that the pipeline will meet world class safety standards, we need only look at the portion of the Keystone Pipeline that has already been built to see what world class really means. The Keystone I pipeline leaked 14 times in just its first year of operation. Pipelines carrying tar sands oil are incredibly prone to leaks. In Canada, where tar sand oil is already being moved through pipelines, over 250,000 gallons of tar sands oil has already spilled. Two separate spills in Alberta dumped a total of 700,000 liters of tar sands oil.
And I never hear Tester, Daines or Zinke mention the Kalamazoo oil spill of 2010. There, a tar sands oil pipeline spilled over 834,000 gallons of toxic goo into the Kalamazoo River. It took over 4 years and $1.2 billion to clean up. I guess some people learn from history, and others don’t.
I don’t know how many people sat through the entire State of the Union address or continued to watch the Republican response by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), but I doubt it was very many. For those who didn’t see Senator Ernst, she detailed her family history of being raised on an Iowa farm, working hard but struggling through the tough times having to wear bread bags on her feet because the family couldn’t afford boots. I don’t know if the story is true, but it was meant to show that poor people don’t need government handouts, they can get by on hard work alone.
Senator Ernst failed to mention in her heart jerking story that the old family farm received $460,000 in federal handouts over the years. It appears that the Senator and her family didn’t exactly pull themselves up by their bread bag bootstraps alone. I would bet that there are a loot of families who would do better on half a million dollars instead of $50 a month in food stamps.
And, even though Ms. Ernst supposedly hates government spending, when she was the county auditor, her father’s construction company was awarded a $200,000 contract in direct violation of the county’s conflict of interest policy.
So, the lesson here is: to be successful like Joni Ernst, one only has to get half a million in government handouts, then get a government job, and then dole out government contracts to your family. And this woman is supposedly anti-government. Can’t you just smell the hypocrisy?
In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama proposed raising the capital gains tax on persons making over $500,000 per year as well as rising taxes on huge Wall Street financial firms. The increased revenues would be used to help struggling and middle class families to keep a little bit more of their money. sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Take a little bit more from the spectacularly wealthy 1% to help out the struggling 99%?
Not to multi-millionaire Senator Steve Daines, it doesn’t. In today’s print version of the Missoulian he is quoted as saying: “Montanans don’t need more tax increases.” Since the proposed tax increases only effect those making over $500,000 per year, how many Montanans would see a tax increase? How many people do you personally know that rake in over $500K a year? And, its not a bump in the income tax, its a bump in the capital gains tax. The capital gains tax mostly applies to rich people because they own most of the stocks in the country.
A lot of really rich people don’t work for a living. Rather, they live off their investments. Currently, the long term capital gains tax is only 20% at its highest, while the highest income tax rate (for wages) is 39.6%. Plus, investment income isn’t subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes like your wages are. Those are taxes for the little people. Yes, the really rich pay a lower rate of taxes than you probably do.
Interestingly enough, a CNN poll found that a staggering 81% of viewers had an overall positive or very positive reaction to the President’s speech. Our elected representatives, Sen. Daines, and Rep. Zinke, however hated the proposals and stood arm in arm with their true constituency, the 1%.
Hey, do you remember how we’ve been told over and over that the Keystone Pipeline is all about American energy independence and a big jobs bill? You didn’t actually believe that did you?
Well, if you did……… “Psych!” Democrats in the Senate offered two amendments to the legislation forcing the building of the Keystone. One amendment sought to prohibit the export of oil carried in the pipeline. It was defeated 57-42. The second amendment sought to require the pipeline to use made in America steel. That one was defeated 53-46.
Your Republicans; still working hard for not you.
Over the weekend, President Obama outlined a plan to overhaul the tax code. His plan would close a number of loopholes which benefit the wealthy to finance a tax break for the middle class. Of course, this in turn would aid the growth of the economy because the middle class would have more to spend which would increase demand.
Of course, the party of the one percent, the Republicans, are opposed to taxing their masters and call the proposal “a non-starter”.
Coincidentally, just this morning, a new report was released showing that the wealthiest 1% of people in the world will soon control 50% of the entire wealth in the world. The wealth of the 80 richest people in the world has doubled inn just the last 5 years while the wealth of the 99% has remained stagnant. In fact, the wealth of these 80 people now equals the total wealth held by the bottom 50% of the world’s population!
Almost 30% of the world’s billionaires (there are 1645) are American. And yet, it is these 550 people who the Republicans contend simply can’t afford to pay more in taxes so that the middle and working class can have a little break.
So the question must be asked again; if you aren’t a billionaire or at least a multimillionaire, why would you ever vote Republican?
Hey, all you Keystone Pipeline fans out there, have you herd about the brand new oil pipeline spill? It was 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River so no need to worry. Meanwhile, Exxon still hasn’t paid for the damages caused by its pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River in 2011.
The Keystone XL Pipeline will cross both the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. But, supporters of the pipeline never seem to get around to explaining to the public that tar sand oil is exempt from paying into the trust fund to clean up pipeline spills. You see, Congress created the Oil spill Liability Trust Fund to protect the public from the cost of pipeline disasters. Pipeline companies pay 8 cents a gallon into the trust fund. But, tar sands oil is exempt from the tax. So, if the Keystone is built and has the inevitable spill into one of Montana’s great rivers, who will pick up the tab? It won’t be the Canadian pipeline company and it won’t be Senators Daines and Tester, it’ll be you, sucker.