Monday, January 14, 2013

Congress Interrupted

The November elections are over. The new members of Congress have been sworn in, and despite our staggering economic and social problems, Congress has adjourned itself. Why? Well, apparently no one had the foresight to remove it from the agenda. Of course, I guess we shouldn't be surprised. The previous 113th Congress has the dubious distinction of being perhaps the worse Congress in US history (and that's saying something), so why expect any different from this one? In fact, the US Congress now has an approval rating of just 8%. Think about that. That means 92% of Americans think Congress stinks at doing its job. To put it another way, voters think more highly of lice, cockroaches, lint, and toe fungus than they do of the men and women of the United States Congress. Wow.

Well, first off, the so-call "financial cliff" was of Washington's making. Secondly, like most Washington's self inflicted problems, it wasn't "solved". It was simply kicked down the proverbial road for another 60 days. What it did accomplish, however, was return Social Security rates to 6.9%, which effectively raised everyone's taxes. The average worker will see (or more correctly "won't see") about $1000.00 annually missing from their paychecks. They also managed, in their busy and often heated (and childish) "negotiations " to find time to slip in some prime cut political pork for their buddies on Wall Street.

Congress inserted approximately one dozen new tax loopholes for their corporate masters which will cost the American Public billions of extra tax dollars over the next year. Congress not surprising choose not to call this graft for what it was, but decided on a slightly less criminal sounding "tax extenders". One the biggest tax extenders allows businesses who lend money(even to themselves) and earn interest overseas to defer US taxes (currently set at 35%) on that income indefinitely. Now, the acknowledged intent is to promote business expansion and improvement, as well as to make additional investments, it provides an incentive to export and/or maintain more jobs overseas rather than to invest that income in jobs and material here in America, and all the while, to avoid paying taxes on the earned income. The estimated costs to US Taxpayers runs into the billions of dollars. I guess Santa Claus had one more delivery to make.

So, you may be wondering just how many US companies engage active-financing. Must be a lot huh? Well, interestingly enough, no. Only about 20. But more importantly, they have their own lobbying coalition, the Active-Finance Working. The coalition retained the lobbying firm Elmendorf Ryan, owned by former Democratic staffer Steve Elmendorf. You may interested to know that all eight of their lobbyists are former congressional aides. According to a Huffington Post article, "Fiscal Cliff Deal Sneaked In Wall Street Gifts..." written on 1/2/13, many of these aides have close ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana). I want to reemphasis that this lobbying firm, which is engaged in helping businesses avoid taxes is staffed by Democrats just in case any of you still labor under the fantasy that there is difference between "pro-business" Republicans and "pro-working class" Democrats. There is only one political party, the Corporate Party, which just so happens to have two branches so that voters get to enjoy the illusion of choice. Still, it's a shame the American Taxpayer doesn't have a lobbying firm looking after their financial interest.

Obviously, we still face the expense of "Obamacare", which will lead to reduction of hours, layoffs, and increased costs to offset the additional taxes (you didn't expect businesses to absorb the costs did you?). We still are yet to face illegal immigration, which both parties have been putting off or outright ignoring for a decade or more. Of course Obama has all but gutted any attempt at enforcement and has pushed through a modified version of his co-called "Dream Act" which allows children of illegal immigrates to remain in the country. Of course, don't think this was done out of some grand altruism. It was political pure and simple. Obama is hoping these children will repay him by registering Democrat and/or supporting his various initiatives. With approximately 12 million (or more) illegals now living in the US, and more coming everyday in the hopes of getting in on some type of amnesty, the new registration could all but end the GOP as a viable alternative to liberal politics. Of course, the Republican Party has been doing a pretty good job of that all by themselves with their focus on social rather than economic or foreign policy issues.

The GOP has an almost insurmountable hole to climb out off when it comes to women, blue collar workers, and minorities like Asians, blacks, and Hispanics (who, by the way,are considered generally conservative). The Republicans appear to even be losing their one foothold among Hispanics---the Cuban-Americans, who have traditionally voted Republican since John Kennedy's botched 1961 Pay of Pigs invasion. Now, the grandchildren and great grandchildren, at odds with the GOP over social issues, are now registering Democrat or Independent (but voting Democrat).

There are a host of other pressing issues such as raising the debt ceiling so we can borrow more from China to pay our bills, increased energy dependence on the Middle East, the rise of militant Islam, more extreme climate change and costly natural disasters, decline in available fresh water and productive farmland, our declining educational system or falling standard of living just to name a few if Congress doesn't like any of the other unfolding disasters previously mentioned. Right now, however, the public's attention is being redirected from the failing economy by Vice President Biden's "task force" to limit the 2nd Amendment in the name of reigning in violence. About all he'll curtail is the time and trouble crooks will face in robbing us, not to mention chipping away at the Constitution. Of course, living in their armed gated communities, I'm sure Congress and rich elites will have nothing to worry about.

What we desperately need in American and frankly, around the world, are not more" bought and paid for" politicians with their empty promises, but true independent statesmen and women who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone while safeguarding the planet for our grandchildren and their children. That means ending partisan politics and corporate control over our economies and governments. The trouble with kicking cans down the road is that so or later, there's too many cans and not enough road. Folks, we are there.

Congressional Elections: Most Members Returning Despite Low Approval Rating

Fiscal Cliff Deal Sneaked In Wall Street Gifts

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