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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Would Romney's State-Based "FEMAs" Deal With Superstorm Sandy?

Romney is on record, transcript below, saying he'd like to turn FEMA over to the states... or even the private sector. He justifies this idea based on devolution of power from Washington and also claims it's essential for deficit reduction. So is Romney proposing NO federal disaster management funding go to the states? If not, where's the savings?

There are reasons to move away from state-based solutions. If left to themselves poorer states are incapable of funding anything from quality education, to health care, or their own highways.

By turning over these FEMA function to the states... these state-based "FEMAs", are not going to benefit from the deep pockets of the federal government. How will poorer states deal with disasters? How will tiny Rhode Island deal with a dead on hurricane strike? What if it's hit twice in a year? Who covers disasters that span state lines like superstorm Sandy? How would states coordinate such efforts? Without federal funds does Romney envision nationwide disaster bake-sales to raise the money?

If federal money does go to states... how will it be allocated? The East coast state has more hurricanes. Northern states might have more blizzards. The southeast more drought. So will money be weighted to states with more potential disasters or given out by population? The questions Romney's proposal raises are endless.

While Obama needs to be careful about playing politics with Sandy, it IS a legitimate for his campaign to ask what would Romney's disaster relief plan look like if he were president now having only the resources he's proposed.

This is an area that calls into question Romney's judgment and fitness for office. Here's Romney on June 13, 2011 during a primary debate speaking with CNN's  John King:

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut—we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?
ROMNEY: We cannot—we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Democrats MUST Target Norquist's No New Taxes Pledge

If a congressperson took a "No New Weapons System" pledge to a third party... would that interfere with their constitutional responsibility to defend the nation? I think we'd all agree it would.

So what if a congressperson took a "No New Taxes AND No New Borrowing" pledge... Would that not interfere with those constitutional duties that REQUIRE spending? Obviously. So what about a "No New taxes" Pledge?

Where is the red line where a third party pledge interferes with a congressperson's oath of office? Here's that that official Oath:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Even before the Norquist Pledge the GOP was pushing for irresponsible tax cuts hoping crushing deficits and debt would "starve the beast": put pressure on New Deal and Great Society programs... maybe even abolish them. To portray this fiscal irresponsibility as its opposite the GOP cultivated public support for these policies convincing many that tax cuts funded with borrowed money benefited us all. Heck, these tax cuts might even pay for themselves. It was the ultimate Free Lunch! Limbaugh once said if a tax cut... 

"...brings in, say, two dollars for every dollar of tax relief, we'll have more money in the treasury – and thus safeguard programs like Social Security! The idea behind tax cuts is to get the economy to grow. The economy is not static. The pie is not one size forever, with no new slices. The object is to grow so we have more people working and paying taxes. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan proved this with their tax cuts. The Democratic Congress spent every new dollar and more that Reagan brought in, but the fact is that the revenue coming into the treasury nearly doubled over his two terms."

Actually Reagan revenues in constant dollars only rose about 13.5% and that includes his tax HIKES. Individual income tax revenues only rose 8%. There simply was NO revenue boom the Democrats spent. No sensible person should expect the truth from Limbaugh.

To add to onslaught of propaganda coming from what I've dubbed the Orwellian Right, the No New Taxes Pledge added some unintended consequences. Stuck between the voters and Pledge enforcer Grover Norquist himself, GOP politicians found ways to provide goodies voters wanted but to do so in a way that didn't violate Norquist's Pledge. GOPers simply substituted borrowing for taxation dumping the cost onto future taxpayers. Running up massive debt seems to be acceptable to Norquist who, after all, had been quite open of his plan: to "Starve The Beast" until government is back where it was before the New Deal if not the late 19th Century.

This political dilemma forced the Orwellian Right to become more extreme in its propaganda. They were forced to take all fiscal common sense off the table. They convinced many voters in 2000 that even with nearly 6 trillion in debt, if there was a small budget surplus... it was "their" money and they deserved a refund. But if there had only been a 90 billion surplus to date, why would the GOP jump to $1.4 trillion tax cut?  More recently the Orwellian Right has convinced GOP voters that there's no revenue problem despite the fact that in constant dollars individual income tax revenues have yet to rise even back to Clinton's 2000 levels. They've convinced GOP voters that they're "overtaxed" when our generation has pissed away some 15 TRILLION on ourselves the past 30 years and REFUSED to pay for the bill.

The Orwellian Right and Norquist have given birth to what I call the Free Lunch Right... a generation of spoiled rotten GOPers who bitch and moan about Democratic social spending while utterly oblivious about THEIR freebies... including those tax cuts funded with BORROWED money stolen from our kids and grandkids.

If the Free Lunch Right thinks they are overtaxed even after refusing to pay the that 15 Trillion tax bill... imagine the shock there will be if we try to pay down debt with spending cuts alone!  To get to a surplus is, by definition, paying MORE in taxes than what we receive in government spending. We were there in 2000 and we know how irresponsibly the GOP dealt with the surplus then. We're to trust them should we ever get to a surplus again? 

If we ever get to a surplus how will the GOP then educate the voters they spent 30 years encouraging to be fiscally irresponsible? The debt numbers are staggering. Even if NO interest accruing, it would take 32  years to pay down the debt with a true $500 billion on-budget surplus. Problem is the Clinton on-budget Surplus only totaled about 90 billion over two years before the GOP sabotaged it. The idea that we can ever pay down the debt without huge spending cuts AND a large tax increase… and run that sort of surplus, is laughable.

The Democrats have had thirty years to come up with an effective political response to Starve The Beast… to the Orwellian Right lies about how tax cuts create revenue booms but tax hikes only hurt the economy. The political cowardice of the Democrats has made them complicit in the GOP's war against fiscal sanity.

I can only hope the Democrats target the Norquist anti-tax pledge this election cycle. There are some very real advantages to this strategy:

It goes after what enables the Right's Starve The Beast strategy.

It goes after the dysfunctional and dangerous ideological cohesion the Norquist Pledge brings to the GOP.

It exposes the grotesque fiscal irrationality the Pledge has brought to the GOP… they refuse to even recognize the simple reality that in constant dollars revenues have plummeted since Clinton's last year... and even with 16 trillion in debt they are proposing more irresponsible tax cuts.

It goes after Norquist, the chief enforcer of the Pledge and someone who's been immune to attack for too long.

It gives GOPers who want out of the pledge a good excuse to finally break ranks with Norquist.

It can be used against any GOPer who was foolish enough to sign the pledge. Let voters decide whether those who took the Pledge are undermining the Constitution itself and the fiscal health of government's ability to deal with emergencies.


revised: 10-14-12