Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Eric Cantor’s Small-Business Tax Cut Faces Threat Of Presidential Veto


And a well-deserved veto it would be.

Holy Crap, Batman! Look at the numbers!

$46B added to the deficit in order to create 100K jobs. That’s $460,000/job. That’s likely 10 to 15 times the salary of the jobs created. There is no possibility that this would generate enough new revenues to pay for the cuts, even if the new jobs were taxed at 100%.

Cutting taxes for 22M “small” businesses to create 100K jobs means only 1 job would be created for every 220 businesses getting a tax cut – and that’s if the republican best-case scenario proves true.

Official portrait of Congressman .

Official portrait of Congressman . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think that Eric Cantor and I have radically different definitions of “potent economic stimulus”. This is designed to be incredibly inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful as a “jobs” program.

Could the lies be any more blatant? Promoting this as a “jobs” bill is an insult to the intelligence of every American, and a clear demonstration that republicans are fiscally irresponsible in ideology and practice. After all, they can blame President Obama for not signing it, or the Senate Democrats for not passing it, and never face responsibility for passing it. I expect them to accuse the Democrats of playing politics in stopping this moment of insanity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 19, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Budget, Economics, Ethics, GOP, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Susan G. Komen Hires Consulting Firm To Assess Damage To Reputation


Damage control? How about a little introspection and root cause analysis. I’ll help you get started:

  • You put a political activist in a position of authority.
  • You let her use SGK for political purposes, attacking women’s health.
  • You offered excuses that were not credible.
  • You only took corrective action when that didn’t work.

You broke a trust, which will take a lot of work over a long time to earn back.

So what do you do? You hire a PR firm stupid enough to distribute a questionnaire asking how best to play people. Their questions alone make SGK appear even more callous and disingenuous than ever. And more untrustworthy.

To quote Tank Girl:

“Now you’re workin’ my tits.”

Stop thinking like a business and start thinking like a humanitarian organization!

Modify your charter to prohibit political activism. Limit political advocacy to promoting women’s health issues.

If you want to assess damage, don’t just try to schmooze the big donors. Keep an eye on event participation levels. All your support begins at ground level. If you lose the feet on the ground, well, don’t think you’re irreplaceable.

My answer to your questionnaire. Now go learn to be a conservatism survivor.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Ethics, Health Care | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Harry Reid Will Ask Obama To Recess Appoint All Nominees If GOP Delays Continue



By rejecting their constituti­onal responsibi­lities to provide advice and consent on these nomination­s, by substituti­ng extreme obstructio­n for reasons unrelated to the qualificat­ions and merits of the individual nominee, by doing this for pure political brinksmans­hip, the republican­s have created a constituti­onal crisis.

They have defied the constituti­on to the point that the government therein defined can no longer function. President Obama took drastic action to minimize the damage, but this particular crisis will persist as long as conservati­ve extremists remain in the Senate in sufficient numbers to sustain a filibuster­.

The filibuster was never meant to be used as the republican­s are using it. It is supposed to be a lever, not a straightja­cket.

The oath to support and defend the Constituti­on carries the implied oath to support “This Constituti­on, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States”. Even the ones republican­s hate.

Without that support, we are not a nation of laws. Without that support, we do not have a constituti­onal government­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

What I have been wondering is why Reid and the other Democrats have been going along with the pro-forma sessions in the first place. If they refused to not recess, and the House wanted to, then there would be disagreement between the two and Article II sec. 3 could be invoked. This would let the President dictate the time of recess and reconvening.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Administration, GOP, Governance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Payroll Tax Cut Fight: ‘Wall Street Journal’ Editorial Rips Boehner, McConnell


The Wall Street Journal opinion piece passes out the business-c­entric blinders.

“No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrat­ed. The entire exercise is political, but Republican­s have thoroughly botched the politics.”

True, but not the point of the exercise. Employers will hire when they see customers with money coming their way – which is the point of the tax holiday: Putting more money in consumer pockets. Wasn’t it the republican­s who said that people know best how to spend their own money? Conservatives consistently devalue the necessity of funding the demand side of supply and demand. Instead, they are aggressively working to weaken the economic foundation of the middle class.

“Their first mistake was adopting the President’­s language that he is proposing a tax cut rather than calling it a temporary tax holiday. People will understand the difference­—and discount the benefit.”

So people will understand when it comes time to end the Bush “tax holiday” for the rich?

“Republica­ns have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-y­ear tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible­.”

Except that Obama44 has been cutting taxes. The “tax holiday” in question is only one example. Conservati­ves keep changing the definition­s. Either the House republican­s have voted for a middle-cla­ss tax increase, or we need to end one of the largest unfunded tax holidays ever.

Conservatives are nibbling at the edges of doublethink. The Obama44 cuts to payroll taxes and the Bush43 income tax cuts to income taxes are both temporary cuts. There is one notable difference between the two though. The Obama cuts are being paid for – how is a major point of contention. The Bush43 cuts went straight to the national debt.

The President and the Democrats want the rich to pay for extending the payroll tax cuts, and put some of that idle money back in circulation as an economic stimulus. The republicans want the middle class and poor to pay for it, which would negate the simulative effect and hurt the economy in the long term. Redistribution of wealth at its most ineffective.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 21, 2011 Posted by | 2012 Election, Campaign Strategy, Economics, Legislation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Republicans Stepping Up Anti-Regulation Effort


Regulation is as necessary as traffic law. While I have seen some silly traffic laws, I don’t think that any responsibl­e person would propose getting rid of all traffic law as a consequenc­e.

Every regulation is a reminder that businesses bear no responsibi­lity toward the public good. That responsibi­lity lies with the people, through their official instrument­: the government­.

A bad regulation is a regulation that fails to protect the public interest. A regulation is not properly measured by if or how much it impedes commerce, but whether or not that impediment promotes or fails to promote the general welfare.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 3, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Regulation | , , , | 1 Comment

112th Congress HR2417 – Better Use of Light Bulbs Act


This Bill has already failed, but it illustrates how the priorities of the republicans stray from the priorities of the country. It also serves as a commentary on the technical competence of knee-jerk legislation.

The Bill:

[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 2417 Introduced in House (IH)]
112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2417
To repeal certain amendments to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act 
  with respect to lighting energy efficiency, and for other purposes.
_______________________________________________________________________
                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                              July 6, 2011
Mr. Barton of Texas (for himself, Mr. Akin, Mr. McClintock, Mr. Flores, 
   Mr. Hultgren, Mr. Turner, Mr. Wolf, Mrs. Lummis, Mrs. Capito, Mr. 
Scalise, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Burgess, Mrs. Blackburn, Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. 
 Poe of Texas, and Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                                Commerce
_______________________________________________________________________
                                 A BILL
To repeal certain amendments to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act 
  with respect to lighting energy efficiency, and for other purposes.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act”.
SEC. 2. LIGHTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY.
    (a) In General.–Sections 321 and 322 of the Energy Independence 
and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140) are repealed.
    (b) Application.–The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 
6201 et seq.) shall be applied and administered as if sections 321 and 
322 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (and the 
amendments made by those sections) had not been enacted.
SEC. 3. MERCURY-CONTAINING LIGHTING.
    No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding 
energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the 
requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using 
lamps containing mercury.
SEC. 4. STATE REGULATION.
    No State or local regulation, or revision thereof, concerning the 
energy efficiency or energy use of medium screw base general service 
incandescent lamps shall be effective.
SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.
    In this Act, the terms “general service incandescent lamp”, 
“lamp”, and “medium screw base” have the meanings given those terms 
pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6201 et 
seq.), as applied and administered pursuant to section 2.
                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

A cute use of an acronym, but it does not really apply to the Bill. The Bill is about choice, not best practices.
HR91 and S395 use the same name.

Section 2:

A sweeping statement that a section of law is repealed does not actually modify the law. Rather, it complicates the law with conditional statements. This bill creates the very same burdensome bureaucratic rat’s nest legal code that everyone wants to simplify and streamline. The final modifications of 42 U.S.C. Chapter 77 (a.k.a. 42 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.) are not specified here, but left vague and open to interpretation. This bill represents the legislative laziness that creates problems and drives up legal costs.
What they should have written might have looked more like:
 (a) In General.–Sections 321 and 322 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140) are repealed.
 (b) Application.–(precise instructions on how to unwind 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)
 (c) Rulemaking.–(precise instructions on how to unwind rules required by or based on 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)
 (d) Expenditures.–(precise instructions on how to remove funding for programs enacted by 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)

Section 3:

This section is curious for a few reasons:
  1. With the development of full-spectrum LED lights, this section is rendered useless. LED lights can meet any requirement of standard that florescent lights could. The exception would be for ballast requirements that have nothing to do with bulb choice.
  2. Supposed protection from mercury in the bulbs (less than a thermometer’s worth) would be more than offset by the extra coal ash generated. Coal ash contains mercury, some of which goes into the air. Light bulbs containing mercury must be recycled, they cannot be put in the trash. The whole mercury-in-landfill argument is false.
  3. It explicitly prohibits state or local government from setting a higher standard. Setting a minimum national standard is one thing, preventing the states from improving on it is another thing entirely.

Section 4:

Another mindless anti-state/local sovereignty restriction. Interestingly, it may also be anti-innovation.
“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,” said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”
and
“Due to the 2007 federal energy bill that phases out inefficient incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012, we are finally seeing a race” to develop more efficient ones, said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Mr. BARTON of Texas:
H.R. 2417.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:
This bill is enacted pursuant to the power granted to Congress under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.
U. S. Const., Art I, Sec. 8, clause 3:
[The Congress shall have Power] “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
I might add:
U. S. Const., Art I, Sec. 8, clause 18:
[The Congress shall have Power] “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Seems to be an incomplete Authority without the power to write the laws that exercise the allotted powers.
I would also like to note that this Bill was written under the assertion that the Federal government lacks the authority to write the law it is attempting to repeal, while using the same allegedly non-existent Constitutional Authority for this Bill.
It has been estimated that this Bill would directly cost consumers $6-12B in additional energy costs in order to feed anti-government sentiments. The indirect costs of additional air pollution and energy-dependence have not been calculated, to my knowledge. This is a very high cost for no purpose other than partisan politician gain.
{UPDATE} The republicans seem to have found a way to temporarily defund enforcement.
Oooopsy. GOP attack on light-bulb efficiency irks manufacturers

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marilyn Davenport’s Racist Email Denounced By OC GOP


We have seen this before. The images were different, but the intent to denigrate was the same. The “sense of humor” was the same. And the excuses were the same. The counter-ac­cusations were the same. The pursuit of the whistle-bl­ower, the refusal to consider that they may have been wrong, the refusal to consider the possibilit­y that they should resign for the good of their cause. Pride and arrogance control them.

“I only sent it to a few people–mo­stly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”

Admitting that there are others who think like her is not going to help their efforts to build a non-racist image. Every cause attracts it’s loons, but the honorable causes do not install their loons in positions of power or responsibi­lity – and remove them when discovered­.

Defaming President Obama is hardly the only monkey business incorporat­ed by the GOP:

SD 56 GOP web video prompts call for ouster of district chair
http://min­nesotainde­pendent.co­m/64086/jo­e-salmon-s­d-56-gop-v­ideo (The “Who let the dogs out?” scandal.)

The republican party needs to show less “family values” intoleranc­e and more respect for the rights of others and the basic social necessity of respecting human dignity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Ethics, GOP | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Labor Battles Heat Up In Florida Against Gov. Rick Scott


The GOP war on the middle class has reached a critical stage, where even republican­s are beginning to see direct harm from the GOP agenda.

As more people realize that driving down working class wages is part of the GOP plan for job-creati­on, they will also realize that the GOP is attacking the financial resources of the vast majority of consumers – and attacking them from all sides. This will cripple 70% of the economy and kill millions of jobs. Republicans never have been very good at creating jobs.

As we can no longer borrow enough money to bail out conservati­ve failures, this will lead to far more than defaulting on our debts and driving the world into another depression­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

“Moreover, fiscal consolidation programs that decrease the number and compensation of government workers increase the availability and reduce the cost of skilled labor to private firms. The combination of improved expectations about taxes and lower labor costs increases the expected after-tax rate of return on new business investment in non-residential fixed assets in the short term.” (page7)

http://www.speaker.gov/UploadedFiles/JEC_Jobs_Study.pdf

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herman Cain: The American dream is under attack…we are on the attack


“The American dream is under attack, that’s the bad news,” said Cain while speaking at the forum. “The good news is we are on the attack. We have got to lead this nation from an entitlement society to an empowerment society. We must defend those principles this nation was founded on.”

Except that his party is the one that’s attacking everything America stands for and was founded on.

From religious freedom to voting rights to representational government, they have bills pending to set it all aside.

Michigan Set To Enact Sweeping ‘Financial Martial Law’ Bill

The War Against the Republic: The Battle Of Madison

Milwaukee Ald. Milele Coggs says bill would give Wisconsin the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation

Lawmaker Behind South Dakota’s ‘Justifiable Homicide’ Bill Defends Measure [UPDATE]

English-only bill could create civil rights problems, groups say

2011 Wis SJR10 – Continuity of state and local gov. operations

The republican party is aggressively terminating the Great Experiment, with strong support from people who don’t even know what the experiment is.

If the Tea Party really wanted to take back our country, they should be fighting the corporations instead of shilling for them.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Herman Cain: First Amendment ‘Doesn’t Say People Can’t Have Religion In Government’

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Candidates, First Amendment, Religion | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2011 Wis SJR10 – Continuity of state and local gov. operations


http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2011/data/SJR-10.pdf

2011 − 2012 LEGISLATURE
LRB−0710/2
SRM:cjs:md

2011 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 10

February 4, 2011 − Introduced by Senators HOPPER and JAUCH, cosponsored by
Representative BALLWEG. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.

  1. To amend section 34 of article IV of the constitution; relating to: continuity of
  2. government (second consideration).

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

EXPLANATION OF PROPOSAL

This proposed constitutional amendment, to be given second consideration by
the 2011 legislature for submittal to the voters in April 2011, was first considered by
the 2009 legislature in 2009 Assembly Joint Resolution 59, which became 2009
Enrolled Joint Resolution 14.

Article IV, section 34, of the Wisconsin Constitution provides that the
legislature, to ensure continuity of state and local government operations in periods
of emergency resulting from enemy attack, must provide for prompt and temporary
succession to the powers and duties of public offices, of whatever nature and whether
filled by election or appointment, the incumbents of which may be unavailable to
carry on the powers and duties of the offices. In addition, the legislature must adopt
any other measures that may be necessary to obtain the objectives of that section of
the constitution.

This constitutional amendment amends that provision in article IV, section 34,
to strike the phrase “enemy action in the form of an attack” and substitute “a severe
or prolonged, natural or human−caused, occurrence that threatens life, health, or the
security of the state,” thereby providing for legislative action to ensure continuity in
periods of emergency, whether resulting from enemy attack or from other causes.

PROCEDURE FOR SECOND CONSIDERATION

When a proposed constitutional amendment is before the legislature on second
consideration, any change in the text approved by the preceding legislature causes
the proposed constitutional amendment to revert to first consideration status so that
second consideration approval would have to be given by the next legislature before
the proposal may be submitted to the people for ratification [see joint rule 57 (2)].

If the legislature approves a proposed constitutional amendment on second
consideration, it must also set the date for submitting the proposed constitutional
amendment to the people for ratification and must determine the question or
questions to appear on the ballot.


  1. Whereas, the 2009 legislature in regular session considered a proposed
  2. amendment to the constitution in 2009 Assembly Joint Resolution 59, which became
  3. 2009 Enrolled Joint Resolution 14, and agreed to it by a majority of the members
  4. elected to each of the 2 houses, which proposed amendment reads as follows:

    SECTION 1. Section 34 of article IV of the constitution is amended to
    read:

    [Article IV] Section 34. The legislature, in order to ensure continuity
    of state and local governmental operations in periods of emergency
    resulting from enemy action in the form of an attack a severe or prolonged,
    natural or human−caused, occurrence that threatens life, health, or the
    security of the state, shall (1) forthwith provide for prompt and temporary
    succession to the powers and duties of public offices, of whatever nature
    and whether filled by election or appointment, the incumbents of which
    may become unavailable for carrying on the powers and duties of such
    offices, and (2) adopt such other measures as may be necessary and proper
    for attaining the objectives of this section.

  5. Now, therefore, be it resolved by the senate, the assembly concurring,
  6. That the foregoing proposed amendment to the constitution is agreed to by the 2011
  7. legislature; and, be it further
  8. Resolved, That the foregoing proposed amendment to the constitution be
  9. submitted to a vote of the people at the election to be held on the first Tuesday in April
  10. 2011; and, be it further
  11. Resolved, That the question concerning ratification of the foregoing proposed
  12. amendment to the constitution be stated on the ballot as follows:
    1. QUESTION 1: “Continuity of government operations during an
    2. emergency. Shall section 34 of article IV of the constitution, which requires the
    3. legislature to ensure continuity of state and local government operations during an
    4. emergency, be amended to change the definition of emergency from ‘enemy attack’
    5. to ‘severe or prolonged, natural or human−caused, occurrence that threatens life,
    6. health, or the security of the state’?”
    7. (END)

Summary

“periods of emergency resulting from enemy action in the form of an attack” is a pretty specific condition, one that strongly implies chaos to a degree that would physically impair the normal functioning of government. It was clearly meant for a moment when political agendas had to be set aside and emergency measures taken to address immediate problems. This section of the Wisconsin Constitution dates back to 1961, before 21st century communications like cell phones, satellite phones, and the Internet. It was a time when the possibility that key people could be unreachable for extended periods of time was a reasonable concern. A time when phones were relatively few and land wired, although there were more pay phones. A time before the resources of a staff could be squeezed into a portable device.

Today, the concern must be for the physical impairment of the key individual, and less for the breakdown of communications. In the current environment, it would be unrealistic to expect that the republicans would set aside ideology long enough to deal with an emergency.

“severe or prolonged, natural or human−caused, occurrence that threatens life, health, or the security of the state” is a very broad, ill-defined condition for authorizing the “temporary” alteration of an elected government.

“provide for prompt and temporary succession to the powers and duties of public offices, of whatever nature and whether filled by election or appointment, the incumbents of which may become unavailable for carrying on the powers and duties of such offices”

This was written to authorize extreme measures to avert the complete breakdown of government at a time when control of the territory itself would be brought under question. The threat of foreign invasion is less likely than ever. But is invasion what this amendment is about?

  • severe or prolonged
  • natural or man-made
  • threatens life, health, or the security of the state

A hurricane is severe, natural caused, threatens life. It fits the requirements. But is it grounds for replacing government officials who “may become unavailable”?

The recession is severe and prolonged, man-made, and threatens the security of the state. Does it justify replacing government officials, including elected officials, who may just be on vacation or out of state on business, or maybe just a legislator when the legislature is out of session?

The budget crisis is severe and prolonged, man-made, and threatens the security of the state. This amendment could be used to replace one or more Democrat senators and eliminate what little balance of power there is in the state government.

Unanswered questions/undefined terms:

  • How severe is “severe?
  • How long is “prolonged?
  • How many lives must be threatened to say a situation “threatens life”? What kind of threat?
  • What kind of threat to health? How widespread? Bird flu? Salmonella? Poisoned ground water?
  • What constitutes a “threat to the security of the state”? Illegal immigrants? Corporate lobbyists? The Koch Brotherhood?

This amendment goes very far beyond the scope and purpose of the original section of the state Constitution.

Unbelievably, this resolution does not offer the slightest reason or justification for such a drastic alteration of a section of their constitution that is largely obsolete and irrelevant.

This suggested amendment does not simply beg to be abused, it seems designed for the sole purpose of laying the foundation for an usurpation of power.

It paves the way for a coup d’état. I guess that is one way to “take back the government”, but it is not the democratic way – not the American way.

I rate this amendment a corruption of the Republican form of government and anti-American.

Update: I have noticed that they tried to do even worse in the last session:

2009 Wis SJR39

In the previous attempt, all they did was strike “resulting from enemy action in the form of an attack“, leaving the authorization for ANY “emergency”. There was a requirement that it be posted 3 months before the election, which was dropped this time, but no wording for the ballot was specified.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Constitution, Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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