Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 19th, 2011

Dave Hansen Retained; US Reps dither in DC

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Folks, I have two things to discuss tonight.

First, in the “grand opening” recall election, Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) has easily defeated Republican challenger David Vanderleest.   The Associated Press called the race with 47 of 72 precincts reporting; so far, Hansen has 13,675 votes to Vanderleest’s 6,191.  Or, in other words, Hansen has 69% of the vote to Vanderleest’s 31%.

This recall election may or may not be a harbinger for the six Republicans who face recall on August 9, 2011 — remember, this was an election where the question was, “Do you wish to retain Dave Hansen, or not?” more so than, “How angry are you with Dave Hansen?  Do you want him out?”  And while the six Republicans certainly will have to face all three questions, too, my best guess is that the second two questions — i.e, “How angry are you with Alberta Darling?  Do you want her out, or not?” (fill in the name of the other five Senators in place of Darling’s, here) — that will count far more in those elections.

Otherwise, I’ve been bemused for several days now watching the United States House of Representatives dither in Washington, DC.  The Republicans there have proposed something called a “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan that would cap the amount of federal expenditures to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (what used to be called Gross National Product), which sounds good until you realize they’re talking about doing this for political advantage rather than to do anything good for the country at all.  And the fact that the US remains in, if not an actual, textbook definition recession, in very bad economic straits does not help anything.

See, sometimes if you cut programs that work during a recession (or in this case, in very bad economic straits — a “jobless recovery,” in short), that is counterproductive.   It adds more strain to the economy when you don’t make any provisions for people who are hurting.  And it adds more strain on the economy when people can’t find work — the case all over the country, but worse in some areas than others — or are working far below their capacity, either in hours, in pay, or in most cases, both.

All I know is, that “Cap, Cut and Balance” plan will never pass the US Senate.  And the House Reps know this — which means all of this has been political posturing, not anything that will do any good in the long run.

I’d rather the US House of Reps, Rs and Ds alike, concentrated on the “art of the possible” rather than play these ridiculous games.  And right now, what’s possible is this — raise taxes on the top 1%.  Close loopholes in the tax rates so corporations pay some taxes — it’s absolutely absurd that a big company like General Electric pays less in taxes than I do, and some companies pay even less than GE!  And continue the troop draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring those troops back home, and station them instead on the border with Mexico to help out there.  (This way, there aren’t a whole bunch of soldiers joining the ranks of the unemployed, and they’re doing something vital and necessary, to boot.  But we get rid of a lot of expenses that come from having a bunch of our folks overseas in the bargain.)

If the Republicans do all of that — or even if they do some of it, as we’re talking about the “art of the possible,” here — then I agree that changes to the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs should be discussed, too.  But at this time, the Rs have shown absolutely no willingness to raise revenue at all — not even by closing tax loopholes, which is the easiest thing in the world to do — which frustrates me greatly.

During a time of three separate wars — Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — we need all the revenue we can in order to keep funding those wars (even if they do start immediate draw-downs as I believe would be best for the country in many senses).   Why the Rs refuse to close the tax loopholes is beyond me, because that would be by far the easiest thing to do — then they can work on instituting additional taxes on the top 1% to bring them in line with the middle class in this country (note that I’m not asking for draconian increases; I simply want to see something that’s comparable to what the middle class are paying, that’s all).

So far, the Rs in Congress — especially in the House of Reps — have shown no willingness to compromise whatsoever.  Which makes me wonder: why did they even go to DC at all, if they were going to refuse to work on issues that are best for the country? 

Surely these Rs don’t believe that defaulting on our debt as of August 2, 2011, is really the best thing to do, right?   So taking that as an axiom, why is it these Rs don’t want to deal with what they know will work — raising some revenue, even if it’s only by closing tax loopholes or eliminating corporate subsidies for oil companies (the wealthiest companies ever to exist on this Earth according to more than one economist), speed up the troop draw-downs, and then and only then talk about cuts to essential programs that many Americans use — and need — every day?

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm