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gop-humping_nAfter an all-night session known as a “vote-a-rama” in the U.S. Senate, the Republican-controlled chamber passed a budget bill early Friday morning that Democrats, all of whom voted against it, decried as a “disaster” for the economy and the American people. Outside critics were quick to assail the budget, which would cut federal spending by $5.1 trillions over ten years, as a preliminary blueprint for dismantling key programs of the nation’s social safety net while immediately gutting other key public services such as education, healthcare, and transportation projects.

Associated Press:

The vote was 52-46 after a marathon session lasting until after 3 a.m. The House approved a slightly different version Wednesday night on a similar party-line vote.

Next up are compromise budget talks between the two houses, after which lawmakers will begin writing legislation to translate the non-binding plan into specific proposals that are likely to spark a struggle with President Barack Obama.

The Senate blueprint envisions about $5 trillion in spending cuts, and an overhaul of the tax code as well as repeal of the health care law.

Democratic leaders, according to the New York Times, say the budget likely to emerge from a conference between House and Senate Republicans will be nothing short of a “disaster” for the country.

This GOP budget is fundamentally unfair to the middle class. Americans deserve better.” —Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)

“The only good that is coming out of this series of votes is that we are getting a good picture of who stands with ordinary Americans and who doesn’t, who is committed to making the economy work for working people and who are beholden to the interests of Wall Street and right-wing ideologues.” As Republicans posture for the 2016 elections, senators will increasingly make themselves sound as if they care about the plight of working people and are prepared to do something about it. But it is important to remember that when they had opportunities to say with their vote that they are prepared to do something concrete to create jobs, ensure women get equal pay, that college is affordable or avert damage from climate change, they turned the other way.—Isaiah Poole, Campaign For America’s Future

Because starvation wages are good enough for millions of hard working Americans.

What Is She Doing Right? Wall Street to Punish Dems over Elizabeth Warren

US-FINANCE-BANKING-PROTESTCiting sources familiar with the situation, representatives of some of the nation’s largest banks—including Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America—have actively considered putting pressure on the Democratic establishment by making a coordinated threat to withold campaign contributions unless the populist rhetoric coming from Sen. Warren and her colleague from Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown, is toned down.

You know that old canard about banksters leaping to their deaths on Black Tuesday? It’s just that, a canard, history rewrit by those who can get away with it.

They didn’t jump.

Some people should be shunned: Dozens of climate scientists and environmental groups are calling for museums of science and natural history to “cut all ties” with fossil fuel companies and philanthropists like the Koch brothers.
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A letter released on Tuesday asserts that such money is tainted by these donors’ efforts to deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.

“When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge,” the letter states. “This corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost.”

The letter does not mention specific companies, but it does name David H. Koch, who sits on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and has given tens of millions of dollars to those institutions.

Koch Industries is a privately held corporation with subsidiaries in energy and other industries. Mr. Koch and his family have funded conservative causes, including scientists and organizations that contest the role of humans in climate change.

These animals are a clear and present danger to the human species’ future.

The Washington Post reports on the very sad plight of a group of millionaires who just aren’t rich enough to garner the attention from politicians that billionaires do:

images“They are only going to people who are multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires and raising big money first,” said Neese, who founded a successful employment agency. “Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, ‘You know, we just don’t count anymore.’ ”

It’s the lament of the rich who are not quite rich enough for 2016.

Bundlers who used to carry platinum status have been downgraded, forced to temporarily watch the money race from the sidelines. They’ve been eclipsed by the uber-wealthy, who can dash off a seven-figure check to a super PAC without blinking. Who needs a bundler when you have a billionaire?

Many fundraisers, once treated like royalty because of their extensive donor networks,are left pining for their lost prestige. Can they still have impact in a world where Jeb Bush asks big donors to please not give more than $1 million to his super PAC right now? Will they ever be in the inner circle again?

“A couple presidential elections ago, somebody who had raised, say, $100,000 for a candidate was viewed as a fairly valuable asset,” said Washington lobbyist Kenneth Kies. “Today, that looks like peanuts. People like me are probably looking around saying, ‘How can I do anything that even registers on the Richter scale?’ ”

You may have made ten million dollars founding the most successful business in town since the sawmills, but to these creatures you’re no more important than I.

Only one budget proposal for fiscal year 2016 wisely deals with the real needs of Americans both in the present and the future. That’s the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s budget: The People’s Budget: A Raise for America. Unlike the slash-and-burn Republican budgets proposed in the House and Senate that would, in the words of Bill Scher, turn the federal government into a “shell of its former self,” the People’s Budget takes a New New Deal approach.

godirectlytojailIt’s not a formula for wild spending. In fact, it’s quite frugal. And it invests in projects designed to improve the well-being of all Americans instead of engaging as the Republican budgets do in giving the one percenters yet another boost.

Sign the petition and become a citizen co-sponsor of the People’s Budget.

I was right, this is what happened:

The Tokyo Electric Power Corp. says Unit 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant did, in fact, meltdown during the 2011 accident.

TEPCO released results from a three-day study in February of the Unit 1 reactor building jointly with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. The two companies collected data until March 10. The project used cosmic rays to inspect the interior of the building. By analyzing the flow of muons, which are subatomic particles generated when cosmic rays collide with the atmosphere, TEPCO was able to generate X-ray like images of the interior of the reactor. Muons can pass through concrete and iron, but they are blocked and change direction when they hit high-density substances such as plutonium and uranium, creating a “shadow.”

TEPCO said the fuel had melted because there were no shadows around the reactor’s core, and the fuel had likely melted and fallen to the bottom of the building into a containment vessel. The operator also said there was no accumulation of water in the core of the reactor pressure vessel.

TEPCO said the results confirmed previous assumptions of a meltdown. The utility plans to continue measurement until it gains enough data to conduct a statistical analysis, and said the data gained will help it work out a plan to remove the debris, most likely by robots due to the high amounts of radiation in the reactor.

In the days following the meltdown radiation counts at the top of the Santiam Pass were hundreds of times higher than ever recorded, than even the radiation counts recorded during the open-air nuclear testing days.

I’ve had two grandchildren born since.

Your Bimbo Bottle-Blond Bobble-Head Multi-Millionaire Mainstream Media: Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people.

Wish I had said that.

That means you Greg Walden, trust-funder punk who’s never done a day’s work in your life and don’t even live in Oregon… you don’t represent Oregon.

The differences between the four budget proposals recently put forth by President Barack Obama, both Republican-majority houses of the U.S. Congress, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are “stark,” according to a new analysis—while some provisions in the GOP blueprints “completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”

gop-humping_nThe National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making the federal budget process transparent, released Competing Visions on Friday.

The report compares how each budget proposal responds (or not) to the stated policy priorities of the American people, on key issues including jobs, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food assistance, and military spending, as well as proposed strategies for tax reform and deficit reduction.

“Our analysis shows that, in most spending categories, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the president would do the most to address the priorities voiced by the majority of Americans,” said Jasmine Tucker, research analyst for NPP and author of the report. “In some areas, the House and Senate budget proposals completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”

For example, on the issue of taxing the wealthy, according to the NPP analysis:

  • 68 percent of Americans think wealthy households don’t pay enough in taxes.
  • The Obama budget proposal raises top capital gains tax rate to 28 percent and closes the “trust fund loophole” that allows heirs to avoid taxation, raising $208 billion over 10 years. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and implements the Buffett Rule ensuring a minimum tax rate for the wealthy. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and ends the “carried interest” loophole that benefits hedge fund managers to raise $17.6 billion over 10 years.
  • The House budget calls for comprehensive tax reform that would lower tax rates for individuals and families. Closes some special interest tax loopholes but does not specify which ones. Eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax that sets a minimum tax for the wealthy.
  • The Senate budget contains no proposed changes to the status quo.
  • The CPC proposal raises tax rates for richest 2 percent (earning more than $250,000 per year) to Clinton-era levels, and taxes capital gains investment earnings at higher rates, yielding $1.4 trillion in additional revenue over 10 years. Places a cap on the value of itemized deductions that mostly benefit the wealthy (raising $566 billion over 10 years) and limits other tax deductions for top income earners.

Similar discrepancies exist on almost every issue.

As Tucker put it: “The differences between the four budget proposals are stark, and all signs indicate a difficult budget battle ahead as lawmakers try to resolve widely different approaches despite clear public opinion in favor of certain policies.”

While 70 percent of Americans oppose cuts to food stamps, the House and Senate budget plans would both cut the program.

imagesWhile 67 percent say improving the education system in the U.S. should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, the House and Senate allocate no new funding for education—and in fact the House proposal “freezes the maximum Pell grant award at the same level for the next 10 years, provides financial aid to fewer families, and makes substantial cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including education.”

Overall, the House Republican budget would cut $5 trillion in government spending over the next decade, mostly out of programs that low- and moderate-income Americans need and depend on—and say they support. At the same time, it adds $400 million in defense spending—not in line with public opinion polls—and promises to lower tax rates for wealthy Americans and corporations.

The Senate version follows the same basic outlines.

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) alsonoted the divergence between GOP policies and the priorities of the general public.

“[T]he rich get much richer, and the Republicans think they need more help,” he said. “The middle class and working families of this country become poorer, and the Republicans think we need to cut programs they desperately need. Frankly, those may be the priorities of some of my Republican colleagues in this room, but I do not believe that these are the priorities of the American people.”

So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox/GOP_TV Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, has two words for those climate-denying conservative states that suck up the disaster money like it’s candy while continuing to deny the impact of global warming: No More.

there-is-no-planet-B-photo-by-Freya-Schork-2013The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.

This may put several Republican governors who maintain the earth isn’t warming due to human activities, or prefer to do nothing about it, into a political bind. Their position may block their states’ access to hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funds. Over the past five years, the agency has awarded an average $1 billion a year in grants to states and territories for taking steps to mitigate the effects of disasters.

“If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn’t want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics,” said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program. “The governor would be increasing the risk to citizens in that state” because of his climate beliefs.

Beginning in March 2016: states must assess how climate change may increase threats to their communities and include those estimates in hazard mitigation plans when they apply for federal preparedness funding. This could prove interesting for Florida, where state employees are literally not allowed to say “climate change” or “global warming,” or they have to put five bucks in the swear jar, and will have to just kiss some big-time grant money goodbye, along with large tracts of Miami. Oklahoma won’t get any disaster preparedness money for Tornado Alley either:

In an elegant reply to politicians who aren’t scientists but don’t mind ignoring experts who are, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has come up with a simple solution: States whose governors decide there’s no need to plan for the consequences of a changing climate will no longer qualify for federal grants for emergency preparedness. For climate deniers like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Florida’s Rick Scott, or Texas’s Greg Abbott, it’s a pretty clear opportunity for them to put their coastlines and their populations where their mouths are. Governors who refuse to consider climate in their states’ hazard mitigation plans could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA money.

There is only one cure for stupid. Rightfully so.

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