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Iowa’s GOP Governor Vetoes Tax Break For The Poor Because It Didn’t Lower Corporate Taxes

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has a curious justification for vetoing a tax break last week for 240,000 Iowa families making $45,000 or less a year: the plan didn’t also include a tax break for corporations. Members of both partiesin the Iowa House and Senate agreed to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which reduces the amount of income taxes lower-income families owe:

The change would have saved Iowa families an estimated $28.5 million in taxes   over two years.

Branstad vetoed that part of the bill writing that it is his desire to approach tax policy in a more comprehensive and holistic manner. […]

Branstad additionally campaigned last year to slash Iowa’s corporate income tax rate by 50 percent, which he said would attract businesses while costing the state about $200 million a year in lost revenue. That proposal also failed.

Ironically, given Branstad’s fondness for expensive corporate tax breaks, he said he was concerned about the cost of the measure, estimated at $28.5 million a year. Branstad explained that he would only support “an overall tax reduction package that both fits within our sound budgeting principles while reducing those taxes that are impeding our state’s ability to compete for new business and jobs.”

Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for the governor, reiterated that Branstad would have supported the tax break if it had been part of a “larger effort” that included lower taxes for corporations. But since this tax break was only for poor families, Branstad suddenly abandoned his “strong support for tax relief.”

Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, points out that the EITC “is the most effective antipoverty program for working families.” Bolkcom said of Branstad’s veto, “He has again shown that he will only consider tax cuts that benefit Iowa’s wealthiest citizens and corporations.” The tax break for working families would have translated into more money for people to spend in Iowa’s economy, but Branstad apparently prefers “huge, unaffordable tax breaks for Wal-Mart and other wealthy out-of-state corporations.”

Branstad has the authority to veto individual items in spending measures. He also effectively shut down dozens of unemployment offices by vetoing language that would have prohibited the Iowa Workforce Development from closing 37 unemployment field offices across the state.

By: Marie Diamond, Think Progress, August 3, 2011

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Corporations, Elections, GOP, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Labor, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Taxes, Unemployment, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Wheeling And Dealing May Come Back To Bite Them

Wednesday was the anniversary of the day in 1944 when Democrats nominated Franklin Roosevelt for a fourth term. If he could see the wheeling and dealing in D.C. during the current budget deficit debate, FDR wouldn’t be surprised. Republicans are still trying to kill Social Security, and the GOP is still cozy  with bankers, billionaires, and big business.

Tea Party House Republicans, under the leadership of Eric Cantor, are doing  everything they can to protect their BFFs on Wall Street from paying their fair  share of taxes. If majority Leader (and presumptive peaker) Cantor and the rest of the Tea Party  types were really concerned about the budget deficit, they would support  President Obama’s effort to save money by ending billions of dollars in  wasteful subsidies to big oil and for corporate jets. Tax breaks for corporate  jets with full bars don’t stimulate the economy, but they do stimulate corporate  jet setters.

Republicans did  score one victory this week which may come back and bite them on the butt.  President Obama passed over consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren for the job of director of the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after  Senate Republicans said they would filibuster her appointment. Warren’s  crime was her fight to protect consumers from the big financial firms  that rip off working families. Today is the first  anniversary of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which Congress passed to curb predatory behavior by Wall Street.

Warren will return to her home in Massachusetts,  and she may run against Republican U.S. Senator and Cosmo centerfold, Scott Brown. If the GOP has any hope of taking control of the Senate next year, Brown  must win.  But polls show that Brown is vulnerable, and Brown has the chops  to show blue collar Democrats that Wall Street is the enemy of the working  families who have lost their jobs and then their homes in the wake of the great  recession, a downturn caused by big business and the bad boy bankers and  billionaires that Warren has fought to regulate.

And one last date for all you  American history buffs, Tuesday was the anniversary of the day in 1848 when a  pioneering women’s rights convention met in Seneca Falls New York.  The convention paved the way for way for women like Elizabeth Warren and  Michele Bachmann to run for office. By the way, Representative Bachman, the convention  was in Seneca Falls, N.Y., not Seneca Falls, N.H., if anyone asks.

 

By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Banks, Big Business, Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Consumer Credit, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consumers, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Financial Institutions, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Senate, Social Security, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Wealthy, Wisconsin Republicans, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Conspicuous Pattern: The GOP Is Really Not Interested In Governing

At his press conference the other day, President Obama noted the recommendations of the bipartisan deficit-reduction commission (which, by the way, failed to reach an agreement). He mentioned in passing that his White House set up the structure for the commission: “As you will recall, this was originally bipartisan legislation that some of the Republican supporters of decided to vote against when I said I supported it — that seems to be a pattern that I’m still puzzled by.”

It is, to be sure, quite a pattern. For two-and-a-half years, Obama has run into congressional Republicans who not only refuse to take “yes” for an answer, but routinely oppose their own ideas when the president is willing to accept them.

This seems especially relevant in the context of the current debt-reduction talks. At a certain level, it’s almost comical — here we have a Democratic president agreeing with a conservative Republican House Speaker on a massive deal that would lower the debt by over $4 trillion over the next decade. It would tilt heavily in the GOP’s direction, and address the problem Republicans pretend to care about most. Obama is even willing to consider significant entitlement “reforms,” which should be music to the ears of the right.

And yet, in the latest example that “puzzles” the president, Republicans aren’t interested.

Now, part of this is obviously the result of Republicans adopting a faith-based approach to revenue, which happens to be wildly disconnected to reality. But that’s not the only angle that matters. Matt Yglesias had a good item the other day that raised a point that’s often lost in the shuffle.

[H]ere we get to the problem that’s recurred throughout Obama’s time in office. If members of Congress think like partisans who want to capture the White House, then the smart strategy for them is to refuse to do whatever it is the president wants. The content of the president’s desire is irrelevant. But the more ambitious his desire is, the more important it is to turn him down.

After all, if the President wants a big bipartisan deal on the deficit, then a big bipartisan deal on the deficit is “a win for President Obama,” which means a loss for the anti-Obama side. When Obama didn’t want to embrace Bowles-Simpson, then failure to embrace Bowles-Simpson was a valid critique of him. But had Obama embraced Bowles-Simpson, then it would have been necessary for his opponents to reject it.

For weeks, many have marveled at the priorities of the Republican policy wish-list — given a choice between the larger debt-reduction plan in American history and preserving some tax breaks for the wealthy, GOP officials at nearly every level strongly prefer the latter. Indeed, for nearly all Republicans, it’s such a no-brainer, this question is almost silly.

But there’s a separate challenge — Republicans have a choice between advancing policies they ostensibly agree with and Obama scoring a legislative victory. And as it turns out, that’s a no-brainer, too, since GOP lawmakers don’t really care about governing so much as they care about denying the president political victories. It might make them appear ridiculous — why would anyone reject their own ideas? — but looking foolish isn’t a major concern for congressional Republicans.

Obviously, this makes compromise literally impossible, and all but guarantees the least productive legislative session in many years. But it also suggests the president needs to adapt to an awkward set of circumstances: given Republican beliefs, Obama must realize his support for a legislative idea necessarily means it’s less likely to happen.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, Washington Monthly, July 17, 2011

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicare, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Debt Impasse, GOP Full Of Contradictions

Sen. Mitch McConnell has a clever plan to resolve the federal debt impasse. Congressional Republicans would invite President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling on his own, and then they would excoriate him for doing so.

Hmm. Just a bit contradictory?

Meanwhile, the impasse arose because congressional Republicans thunder against government red ink, yet refuse to raise revenue by ending tax breaks that help Warren Buffett pay a lower tax rate than his receptionist (which he agrees is preposterous). Another contradiction? Of course.

McConnell’s plan – a pragmatic way to avert a catastrophic default – may be torpedoed by more extremist House Republicans, such as Michele Bachmann. They seem to fear that ending tax loopholes for billionaire fund managers would damage a fragile economy. Yet they seem to think that this invalid of an economy would be unperturbed by the risk of a default on our debts.

A contra- . . . yes, you got it!

What about this one? Republicans have historically been more focused on national security threats than Democrats. Yet what would do more damage to America’s national security than a default that might halt paychecks for American military families?

This game of “spot the contradiction” is just too easy with extremist Republicans; it’s like spotting snowflakes in a blizzard. Congressional Republicans have taken a sensible and important concern – alarm about long-term debt levels, a genuine problem – and turned it into a brittle and urgent ideology.

Politicians in both parties have historically been irresponsible with money, but President Bill Clinton changed that. He imposed a stunning fiscal discipline and set the United States on a course of budget surpluses, job growth and diminishing federal debt – until the Republicans took over in 2001.

In the Bush years, Republicans proved themselves reckless both on the spending side (unfunded wars and a prescription drug benefit) and on the revenue side (the Bush tax cuts). Their view then was, as former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill quoted Vice President Dick Cheney as saying, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

It may seem odd that Republicans were so blithe about debt in the Bush years, yet now insist on addressing the problem in the middle of a downturn – even though basic economics dictates that a downturn is the one time when red ink is advisable. Well, just another of those contradictions.

Then there’s the rise of health care costs, a huge burden on our economy. It’s pretty clear what doesn’t work: the existing, dysfunctional system. A forthcoming book on health care by Paul Starr, “Remedy and Reaction,” notes that in 1970 the United States spent a smaller fraction of income on health care than Denmark and the same share as Canada.

Today, in dollar terms, we spend 21/2 times the average per capita of other rich countries.

When congressional Republicans do talk about health care, they have one useful suggestion – tort reform – and it was foolish for Democrats (in bed with trial lawyers) to stiff them on it. But research suggests that curbing malpractice suits, while helpful, would reduce health costs only modestly.

Beyond that, the serious Republican idea is to dismantle Medicare in its present form. That would indeed reduce government spending but would increase private spending by even more, according to the CBO.

The Obama health care plan could have done better on cost control, but it does promote evidence-based medicine, so that less money is squandered on expensive procedures that don’t work. And the Independent Payment Advisory Board will recommend steps to curb excess spending in Medicare.

Yet congressional Republicans are trying to kill the Obama health plan. Yes, of course: another contradiction.

A final puzzle concerns not just the Republican Party but us as a nation. For all their flaws, congressional Republicans have been stunningly successful in framing the national debate. Instead of discussing a jobs program to deal with the worst downturn in 70 years, we’re debating spending cuts – and most voters say in polls that they’re against raising the debt ceiling. I fear that instead of banishing contradictions, we as a nation may be embracing them.

By: Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times, Published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 14, 2011

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Health Care Costs, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Medicare, Middle Class, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Loopholes, Taxes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitch McConnell’s Insincere Invitation

One can only dream of a Republican Party led by grown-ups. Instead, we have this.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) challenged President Obama on Thursday to meet with Senate Republicans to hear firsthand about the political reality of passing tax increases through Congress.

A day after Obama challenged Republicans to give up special tax breaks for corporate jets and major oil companies, McConnell issued a challenge of his own on the Senate floor.

“I’d like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans. Any time this afternoon if he’s available, to come on up to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans … why what he’s proposing will not pass.”

McConnell says once Obama learns from GOP lawmakers that ending special tax breaks for oil companies and wealthy families has no chance of passing the Senate, “we can start talking about — maybe, finally — start talking about what’s actually possible.”

Let me summarize the message McConnell announced this morning: “If the president has some free time in a few hours, he should stop by and listen to us tell him we want to lower the deficit, but only in ways we see fit.”

Soon after, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president need not hear Republicans “restate their maximalist position,” adding, “We know that position. That’s not a conversation worth having.”

Of course not. Everyone knows what everyone thinks and everyone’s position at this point. Obama doesn’t need to listen to Republicans demand 100% of what they want, anymore than McConnell needs to listen to Democrats tell him he can’t get 100% of what he wants.

This entire process made a right turn at farcical quite a while ago. Mitch McConnell isn’t just threatening to crash the economy, he’s also threatening to make mockery of the institution he claims to serve and turn the American political process into a reality-show circus.

Not to be outdone, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said President Obama has “diminished” his office by urging lawmakers to do their duty. If anyone explain what on earth Cornyn was blabbering about, I’m all ears.

And then there’s Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, who told Fox News this morning that the president goes golfing too much.

These aren’t random House backbenchers — McConnell, Cornyn, and Thune are three of the top four highest-ranking Republican members of the Senate. And they all appear to be rambling incoherently.

I was about to type that there are no adults left in the Republicans’ room, but that’s not entirely true. There are still a couple left, but they’re stuck in primary fights, so they have to go along with the madness to save their careers.

It’s a pathetic display.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, June 30, 2011

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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