Tax Cuts for the Rich

Republicans are pushing for the continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. On the one hand, they criticize the present administration for the size of the budget deficit, yet on the other, they want the tax cuts to continue. They say that we can’t afford $20 billion dollars in assistance to the unemployed, but we can afford the $650 billion in tax cuts for the rich.

How can they defend that? Well, according to the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, “There is no evidence that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy.” This is complete hogwash! President Clinton left office with a surplus. When the Bush tax cuts took place in 2001, the surplus turned into a deficit, and we have had a deficit every year leading up to the crash.

We already know that this economic concept does not work, no matter how “vibrant” we may limn it to be. President Reagan said the same thing, that his tax cuts would reduce the deficit. Instead they blew out the deficit to three times the amount.

Now Republicans are insisting that the tax cuts are an essential tool to increase employment. We have had nearly ten years to see if increased employment is a benefit of the tax cuts. What do we find? Since the tax cuts were instituted, there has hardly been any job growth, and, of course, in the last couple years with the economy in its inevitable decline, the tax cuts have done nothing to counter the loss of jobs and the severe decline in family income.

There is absolutely no evidence that the continued gift of $650 billion to those who need it the least will produce one single job. We are better off putting that money back into revenue.

A Christian Cretin

About that Florida minister, Terry Jones, who is about to create havoc with the burning of the Quran, I agree with everything others have said about his selfish and precipitous intention, including the Rev. Pat Robertson, whom I criticized in a previous post (“Misplaced Reverence”, January 18th, 2010). There is no need to repeat the condemnation from so many others in this post.

But on his own religious terms, Jones should go back to praying and ask himself, to whom did he listen when he decided on this action. Was it God, or Satan, or his own vanity (which in Christian terms is the same as Satan)?

Consider the discord he is creating, the future danger to our soldiers in Afghanistan and to all Americans overseas, and the increased likelihood of attacks to this country from terrorists. Consider the encouragement of hate in people who have bought and sent him copies of the Quran. (They certainly did not have them lying around at home.) Consider the feelings of hate that are churning inside him. Yes, it is pretty clear that he is acting in the interests, not of God, but of Satan.

The sad thing is that his own vanity (the sin of pride, Satan’s sin) won’t let him back down. And, no doubt to the joy of the Evil One, the rest of us will have to suffer.

California’s Budget Mess

Once more California is in financial crisis mode because the Assembly cannot pass a budget. The longer the budget is stalled, the more costly it is to the state. This situation occurs every year and it is one that the state can ill afford, especially at a time of economic downturn.

The reason why this happens is that because a shortsighted voter initiative requires the state budget to be passed by a two-thirds majority vote in the State Assembly and Senate. While one party can have a simple majority, it is impossible for one party to have two thirds. At present the Democrats hold the simple majority, but the dilemma will be exactly the same when the Republicans hold the majority. So even when they do reach a compromise, it is always a budget that cannot work, a budget that contains a large dose of wishful thinking needed to get it passed. Add to this an intransigent governor, as at present, and there is a triangle of opposites that must be accommodated. Since he has a line item veto, the budget is further compromised.

In a situation like this, a super majority is really not a majority. It flies in the face of basic democratic principles. The power is held by the minority party in order to make up the required two-thirds. The fate of the budget can therefore end up depending on the vote of one assemblyman in the minority party – a situation that has happened. It is unconscionable that one person should be able to hold the whole state at ransom. That is not democracy!

In addition to the impasses, there are no senior members on either side in the Assembly who can exert their influence to facilitate the budgetary process. This is due to another shortsighted voter initiative, which prevents assemblymen from serving more than three terms of two years each. So far-reaching decisions end up being made by rookies and sophomores.

The financial mess that California finds itself in cannot be fixed until both those initiatives are overturned.

There is a chance that the undemocratic two-thirds majority will be overturned this November through Proposition 25 (2010), which restores the simple majority to the budgetary process. Opponents of the proposition see tax increases implied in the initiative, or at least that is what they will use in an attempt to defeat it. Such increases are not in the proposition.

It is possible that following passage of Proposition 25 (2010), a budget could pass on a simple majority with tax increases, just as a budget could pass with deep cuts in social services. The governor still remains as a factor that has to be accommodated. And the electorate can vote out those who supported the undesired aspects in the budget, or recall the governor, or vote in a new governor next time. In other words, it is the democratic process at work.