RICH BULEY: The anti-Robin Hood

Congressman Paul Ryan (R WI) has released a new Republican Budget proposal. Unsurprisingly, the proposal includes many cuts to programs for the poor, leading some to call Ryan, the Anti-Robin Hood . The Republicans not only seek to starve the poor and disabled, but also seek to make further tax cuts for the rich and increase defense spending, also known as welfare for defense contractors.

Hidden in the depths of the proposal is the Republicans’ most radical idea – the killing of Social Security. Social Security has a $3 trillion surplus, which has been built up in anticipation of the retirement of baby boomers. Rather than hold onto $3 trillion in cash, the Social Security Administration has invested the money in U.S. government bonds, widely considered to be the safest investment in the world. These are the same bonds that anyone can buy from the U.S. government.

A bond is essentially a loan to the government. Say you purchase a $1000 bond. That money is then used by the government to pay its ongoing obligations. In return, you receive a document promising to pay the money back together with interest. In his budget, Ryan states: “The [Social Security] Trust Fund holds Treasury securities, but the ability to redeem these securities is completely dependent on the Treasury’s ability to raise money through taxes or borrowing.”

Ryan appears to be stating that in order to balance his budget, he wants the U.S. government to default upon its debt to the Social Security Trust Fund and, by extension, default upon its obligations to the elderly of the country. There are ,however, major problems with Ryan’s plan. The main one is that default is unconstitutional. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” Article I, section 8, clause 4 provides that the Congress can borrow money “on the credit of the United States.”. These 2 provisions together mean that Congress can borrow but can’t renege.

Of course, the other problem is that all of the money in the trust fund was put there by workers and employers for the sole purpose of providing some security for workers in their old age. When Republicans say they don’t want to pay back the money they borrowed for the Iraq war and the Bush tax cuts, what they really mean is they want to help the rich on the backs of the working class.

RICH BULEY: Elect politicians who believe in science

I have written often that it makes much more sense to elect politicians who believe in science, since they are the people who set national policy. It makes no sense to me to elect people who will enact policy simply based upon belief or faith, no matter how strongly that belief is held.

There has been much a lot of noise made over the last several years by politicians and others supported by the oil and gas industries that the science regarding man made climate change is inconclusive or false. Is it?

A study by geochemist James Lawrence Powell looks at the cumulative science. He reviewed all 10,855 articles and studies published in peer reviewed journals and found that all but 2 found that man made climate change was real and supported scientifically. Put another way, that means only .02% of articles disputed the reality of man made climate change.

On the policy side, rather than the science side, 56% of Republicans in the House deny the science of climate change. 65% of Senate Republicans are science deniers. Why would these seemingly educated rational people take such an extreme, unscientific position? As always, it’s about the Benjamins. The science deniers in Congress have collected over $55 million in campaign donations from fossil fuel energy companies.

Our own Republican Congressman science denier, Steve Daines has received over $326,000 from extraction industries. I guess that explains Daines.

RICH BULEY: Paul Ryan doesn’t like free lunches

Paul Ryan, the Republican Congressman from Wisconsin and failed Vice Presidential candidate is somehow considered by some folks as a “serious” voice on the right about budgetary numbers. However, whenever he writes or says something, actual serious people often respond with, “Wuh?”

For example, Ryan went before The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and said that liberals only offer people “a full stomach and an empty soul”. He went on to illustrate this with a little story of a “young boy from a very poor family” who received free lunches at school “from a government program.”

“He didn’t want a free lunch,” Ryan insisted. “He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown paper bag, just like the other kids.”

“He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

Now, Ryan and Republicans in general want to cut free school lunches. So, I guess Ryan believes that if the boy goes hungry at lunch, somehow he will feel better about himself. Ryan apparently believes that the reason the boy in the story doesn’t get a brown bag is because his parents just don’t care. It seems that Ryan just can’t wrap his head around the scenario that his parents don’t give the boy a brown bag because they have no food. That would especially be the case now since Ryan and the Republicans have successfully kept the boy’s parents from receiving food stamps or unemployment insurance.

Ryan doesn’t explain how having an empty stomach somehow leads to a full soul. I can’t seem to find that passage in the Bible. I do remember from Sunday School, though, that Jesus was rather fond of feeding the poor.

RICH BULEY: Why make Montana into Mississippi?

I am continually perplexed as to the reasons people vote for Republicans in their local elections. A number of states have state governments totally controlled by Republicans. Those “Red” States, though, have more poverty, less economic advancement, poorer health, and higher rates of teen pregnancy. For those who are more visually inclined, here are some handy demonstrative maps.

So, why are there voters in Montana that want to turn our state into the Mississippi of the Rockies? I don’t get it, it just makes no sense.

RICH BULEY: GOP has unhealthy obsession with lady parts

Way back in December I wrote a somewhat sarcastic post about how Republicans were trying to teach their Congressfolk to sound like they they’re a little bit more sensitive to women’s issues. Then, just a little bit more than a month later, I read this story.

Nothing says sensitivity to women’s issues like excluding abortions from being considered a medical procedure subject to income tax deduction. Not only that, but since they would allow deduction for abortion expense in the case of incest and rape, it will be up to the IRS to determine if there was a legitimate rape. Republicans are purposely digging up the politically dead body of good ol’ Todd “legitimate rape” Akin.

I am really curious about who sits around thinking this stuff up. When I had my vas deferens cut and tied so my life making sperm would instead die a slow and ignominious death, it was a tax deductible medical expense. How is that any different? The “Small Government” Republicans sure seem to have an unhealthy fetish with lady parts.

RICH BULEY: Corporations dodge taxes while children starve

We often hear corporations and corporate shills (Republicans) argue that the tax rate for corporations, nominally 35%, is too high. The problem with corporate tax rates are too high, it’s that a lot of very profitable corporations pay NO federal income taxes.

Then there are the companies like Apple, which dodge taxes by hiding their profits. Over the last decade, tax dodging has cost the U.S. more than $3.09 trillion. So, Congress does nothing about these huge inequalities, while Congressman like Steve Daines votes to cut food stamps for kids and the elderly because we supposedly can’t afford food. If Daines and the other rich guys who complain about the deficit were actually serious, this is where they would begin.

RICH BULEY: Today’s rant will be outsourced

For years, I have been ranting about the hypocrisy of Republicans who, when there is a Republican President, vote to increase the deficit, and then, when a Democrat is elected, rail about the deficits they caused. Today, I’ll outsource my rant to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his concise op-ed in the L.A. Times.

RICH BULEY: That’s just how the Tea Party rolls

I see good ol’ Tea Party Joe Balyeat has a guest editorial in the Missoulian ranting about federal debt. Unfortunately, Tea Party Joe’s article is full of false and misleading statements, which is how Tea Party Joe always rolls.

For example, Joe states that the federal debt is $17.3 trillion. It isn’t, it’s $16 trillion. Joe then goes on to write that the debt is, “… an enormous burden dragging down America’s economy and our children’s future.” Once again, Joe is wrong. Actually, the deficit and the debt are DECREASING, and have been for the past 4 years. In fact, the debt is under such control that: “When you look at the 10-year projections for the deficit and debt as a percentage of GDP, it’s not an issue,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

Joe makes the extraordinarily false statement that Social Security, Medicare, and government pensions are unfunded. That is simply not true. Social Security is funded every week with social security taxes that are withheld from paychecks. As a CPA, he should know this. Same with Medicare and pensions. If Tea Party Joe was honest, he could just look at the actual Social Security Trustee’s report.

Tea Party Joe makes the statement that, historically, prior to 2009, 17 percent of government spending was deficit spending. I have no ides what he is talking about there, as deficit spending has changed drastically over the years, depending upon who was in control of the government. For example, in 1979, before Ronald Reagan became President. deficit spending was 8% of spending. By 2006, Reaganomics had created 22% deficit spending. During the last 4 years of the Clinton Administration, 1996-2002, there was no deficit spending as the government was running a surplus. In fact, things were going so well when Clinton left office, that The Congressional Budget Office projected a $5.6 trillion SURPLUS from 2001-2011!

Then, of course, along came George, as in W. Bush. It was then that his Vice President Dick Cheney famously said, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Not only did the administration decide to go whole hog, but the Republicans controlled both houses of congress. By 2004, deficit spending was back up to 18%. Now, there is no doubt that 2009 was a bad year for the deficit. But, why was that? How about the total collapse of the economy? Remember that Joe? Remember bailing out the banks? Remember the millions losing their jobs and having to go on unemployment? Do you remember negative growth so there was a loss of tax revenue? Do you remember that the crash happened in 2008 when George W. was President?

Sure you remember all that Joe. You just consciously chose to hide it.

RICH BULEY: Republicans worse than 6 year olds

Since the Republicans’ shut down of the government has never made any logical sense, one of the Congressmen leading the country over the cliff has finally said what this is all about. Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) said, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t even know what that is.”

So, this is all about a minority of the Republican Congress feeling disrespected? Seriously? Their feelings are hurt because they voted 41 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, and the Senate and the President wouldn’t go along with their plan to keep 40 million people from having affordable health insurance?

I had earlier written that these guys were like 6 year olds. I gave them far too much credit. At least 6 year olds don’t fully realize the adverse consequences of their actions. This guy and others like him, such as Steve Daines, know, or should know, that their actions have real world adverse consequences, like the kids who may not get treatment for their cancer. 9 million poor women and children will go hungry because the WIC program will shut down. Hundreds of thousands of young kids will be denied education opportunities because Head Start programs will close.

And Stutzman and Daines are the ones who want “to get something” out of this even if they don’t know what that something is? They’re the ones feeling disrespected? Do they have such a total lack of awareness that they can’t understand that they are the ones bringing the disrespect upon themselves? Stutzman, Daines, and their gang aren’t just stupid, they are despicable.

RICH BULEY: Government throws a fit

Here we go again. The people elected to run the government have decided to throw a fit, hold their breath until they turn blue, and shut down the government. The tea party Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Montana’s own Steve Daines, have decided to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of government because they don’t like a law that has been the law for the past 4 years.

The Republicans in the House, including our own Steve Daines, have decided that they hate the American system of government. They have voted over 40 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act and have been unable to do so. Rather than abide by the system of government that has been in place since 1789, Daines and the rest of his ilk have decided to take their ball and go home. They won’t play if they can’t win.

The House of Representatives are being run by a group of 6 year olds. But, not just any 6 year olds, it’s a group of 6 year old bullies. They want their way, and if they can’t get it by legitimate means, they’ll do whatever it takes and they don’t care who gets hurt.

Now, all the Montanans who rely upon Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks  for their livelihood can kiss their business goodbye. People who fly can rest easy knowing that safety inspectors are now off the job. Anyone who eats will be happy to know food inspectors are now laid off. Anyone who breathes air or drinks water will be gambling a little bit more since the EPA inspectors are off the job. If you get an outbreak of e coli or hepatitis, don’t call the Center for Disease Control, because there won’t be anyone around to answer the phone.

As the great political writer, Charles Pierce says, “The Reign of Morons is Here.”