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Middle Class

You don’t – at least, I certainly don’t – see as much talk about the national debt as there was, say, back in the 1990’s. Perhaps even debt hawks among the sorriest dregs and rinsings of the contemporary human intellect – the conservative punditry – realize that the issue has lost its edge since it’s become clear that a huge federal debt doesn’t mean economic apocalypse.
 
But that’s not to suggest that a gi-normous national debt is a good thing. Especially if you consider what has really caused it. If you’re reading this you’re presumably enough into the issue to have seen graphs like the following plenty of times before.
 
US-national-debt-GDP-graph
 
Yeah, it started with Almighty Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich and military spending. And the fundamentals haven’t changed. The U.S. national debt is nothing more or less than the cost of 35+ years of aggrandizing the plutocrats and warmongers.
 
But the real cost of prioritizing that aggrandizement is even greater – indeed, far greater. It’s the cost of the lost potential inherent in a shrinking middle class, and a long-term underclass being screwed in almost every conceivable way. And so on; again, if you’ve read this far, having come to this blog, you know what I’m typing about. Fundamentally, we’re talking about constrained to virtually nonexistent access to substantial resources and opportunity for those not born to wealth, or otherwise granted ready access to it.
 
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middleclassIf this might affect you personally you really should read the whole article. There are multiple factors in play.
 

Considering it’s been less than a decade since the real estate crash that plunged the world into economic calamity, you might think Republicans in Congress would be a little wary of legislation that risked infuriating voters by pushing down house prices.
 
Apparently not! As part of the massive tax-cut push they’ve cued up for this year, GOP leaders are quietly contemplating a proposal that would indirectly curtail the mortgage interest deduction, long considered a sacred cow of American tax policy. The move would almost certainly lead some home values to fall, though it’s hard to predict by how much.
(Slate)

Proper reform of the deduction would stick to making it a lot less of yet another handout to the rich man. But that’s not in the cards.
 

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The Romney Disconect

by TheShannonFiles on January 25, 2012 · 3 comments

I’m using my blog at theshannonfiles.com more for show information these days, so when I get the ambition to actually type something, you’ll have to put up with me here.

In one of Michelle Tafoya’s last shows on WCCO Radio, she used her “Starting 5” to remind us who the wealthiest people in America are, and asked why we don’t bastardize them like we do Mitt Romney.

As someone that made 0.00009 of what Romney made in 2010, I can’t say I’m necessarily envious of him, nor do I dislike him because of his wealth.

The list of people Michelle spoke of included mostly entertainers like Lady Gaga. I don’t envy her wealth either. I also don’t expect her to run for President any time soon.

My biggest problem with Mitt Romney is his disconnect with average Americans. While Lady Gaga  could buy and sell Romney today, I imagine it wasn’t all that long ago when she was just another struggling artist. Anybody know when the last time Mitt did something as basic as drive himself to work? I find it very hard to believe he has any idea what struggles the average American goes through.

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… are very comfortable with where we are.”

Say WHAT??!?

Our guys, obviously, are very comfortable with where we are.” —  House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove  —  30 June 2011, 8:30pm

Well, actually that’s true – because “their guys” are The Top 2% of wage earners; their guys are their Boardroom Base; their guys are  the guys this recession hasn’t even hit.

Here’s Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton explaining last night exactly why the GOP chose to shut down the great state of Minnesota today:

“I cannot accept a Minnesota where people with disabilities lose part of the time they are cared for by personal care attendants so that millionaires do not have to pay $1 more in taxes.

I cannot accept a Minnesota where young people cannot afford the rising tuitions at the University of Minnesota or a MnSCU campus, so that millionaires do not have to pay $1 more in taxes.

I cannot accept a Minnesota where elderly widows are denied the at-home services that permit them to remain healthy and able to live in their own homes. Or a Minnesota where local governments have to further slash their firefighter and police forces. Or a Minnesota where special education is being cut, so that millionaires do not have to pay $1 more in taxes. That is not Minnesota.” – Governor Mark Dayton, 30 June 2011

GOP: “Our guys, obviously, are very comfortable with where we are.”

Governor Dayton: “I cannot accept a Minnesota where (fill in GOPer slash ‘n burn) so that millionaires do not have to pay $1 more in taxes.”

Will you stand for the GOP’s Boardroom Base, which includes “guys” like Target Corp CEO Gregg Steinhafel?

Or will you stand with the workers in the middle class?

Pick your side, Ladies and Gentlemen – pick your side.

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Wages

by SV1000 on March 7, 2011 · 0 comments

Why isn’t anyone talking about wages? Corporate profits have taken Trillions of dollars out of production and put it into over-inflating stock and futures markets. Higher wages would put those dollars to work and stabilize the middle class.

This may be a short entry but what more needs to be said except asking the question over and over again until we get some answers.

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Republicans at War with American People

by Grace Kelly on March 4, 2011 · 0 comments

Let’s face it! Republicans are at war with the American People. First of all they try to bankrupt and destroy the American governments at federal, state and local levels. Republicans stop the checks on corporate power. Republicans support policies that export jobs to foreign countries. Buried in the Republican Governor Walkers budget is the plan to sell heating, cooling, and energy plants for “no bid” which translates into bargain rates. And then there is attack on workers’ rights. The corporate media obviously reports only the view of corporations. Yet there are a few heroes speaking out!

This morning, Rep. George Miller took to the floor to talk about the discuss the Republican attacks on middle class Americans. Check out the full transcript and video of his remarks below:

TRANSCRIPT:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight a very serious and dangerous attack on middle class Americans being waged by the Republicans in the Congress and in State Houses across the country.

The Wisconsin governor’s assault on public employees is getting most of the media attention, but it is just one of the fronts of the extreme right-wing and anti-worker agenda trying to be carried out in this country. In fact, there is a well financed and coordinated national attack against working families in the unions they may belong to the goal of which is to take away power from the middle class and give it to the wealthy special interests that have backed Republicans in their elections.

Heres how it’s playing out: The Republicans are taking a real problem, a serious problem, that of the budget deficits and long-term debt in this country, and they are assigning it to a fake cause. Under the guise of cutting deficits, they say the working people’s union rights and workplace protections must be eliminated.

In fact, this attack against working people is designed to remove the vital check on special interest corporate power from overrunning our democracy. This is an extreme agenda that they have always pursued, but they are now using their newfound political power to relaunch the attacks to attack the guarantee to a decent wage, to attack the rights to ensure a safe workplace so when the workers leave home in the morning, they know they will return safely at night. They attack the right to have access to affordable health care and secure retirement. And, yes, they are even attacking the rights of working people to join together and to bargain for a better life and better conditions in the workplace.

So, at the same time that the governors of Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey are demanding more and public-private union employee sacrifices, the Republicans in Washington are using the budget fight to roll back the rights and protections of American workers. Their spending priorities and so-called continuing resolution of last week showed their hand.

They (Republicans) voted to take away the workers’ ability to repeal unjust and unfair and illegal actions in the workplace by getting rid of the national labor relations board. They voted to undermine the wages of construction workers. They voted to rollback workplace and safety protections guarantee by federal law. All of this while protecting the corporate interest they have sought to cut education funding and critical support for workers and the need for job training, and, yes, even kids in Head Start.

These rights and services help to build and sustain our nation’s middle class in the last century, making the United States the greatest economic power in the history of the world.

We have the greatest workers in the world because of these rights, but now the rights and economic strength of Americas middle class is at risk. Its under systematic assault in the statehouse is controlled by Republican legislatures and Republican governors and in this House of Representatives controlled by the Republicans – a systematic assault that goes beyond after the unions, after the workers, have agreed to give back furlough days, to give back health care benefits, pension benefits, they want more. They (Republicans) want their union, they want their rights in the workplace to be terminated. Its un-American.

There’s a reason we have collective bargaining in this country because we know that workers have a right — should have a right — to bond together to improve the workplace, to improve the working conditions, and when they do, those rights flow to the rest of middle class working families in this country and even the nonunion workplaces, those rights are there. Thats how we achieved an eight-hour day. Thats how we achieved vacation time. Thats how we achieved health care. Thats how we achieved overtime whether in the union or not. Now they want to take away the rights of unions to organize in the workplace, the rights of workers to organize.

But, the Republicans have asked for no sacrifices in all these cuts. They have asked for no sacrifices of the well-off and the well-connected. In fact, these cuts are being made in the name of the well-off and the well-connected so that they’ll be able to push for lower wages, for lower benefits, for lower health care for our workers, for lower take-home pay. What does it do for our economy? It makes America poor.

How do you build a strong middle class community on the back of lower-wage workers? You can’t do it. Many years ago in America we wanted to add a strong, vibrant middle class and we did that by forming the union and giving people the right to have a say at work. Study after study where workers have a say in the workplace, they work harder, more productive, more open to new ideas.

But what do we say to workers with the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana? Do what we tell you to do, do it for less pay, do it for less benefit, and do it because we told you so. That doesn’t sound like America to me. It doesn’t sound like a powerful country that has the best and most productive workers in the history of the world. That sounds like something that we are not familiar with in this country.

That sounds like an autocratic system that just demands and takes but never gives.”

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It is gonna happen, what can be done?

by Judeling on December 11, 2010 · 0 comments

Not very much. The house is the only slim hope.

The key I think is separation. The framework is the framework but tweaks are possible. Setting up the future debate while in retreat can still help make the coming fight easier.

Some suggestions..
The payday holiday is in and of itself not a terrible idea. But we need a bit more separation from the paycheck to paycheck calculation. It needs to be clearer that this is special. Make it a quarterly rebate. As we learned from the stimulus, the money taken out of the paycheck isn’t noticed. In addition bigger chunks of money will be used for larger and more stimulative purchases then just making the day to day purchases. This keeps all employer calculations the same and so is not seen as a pay raise.

Extend the under $250,000 for three years and the +250,00 for two. The GOP will never let this go through but the debate will help tremendously.

Reimpose the Capital gains vs Dividend differential. The best way to do this is to treat dividend income as regular income. That way the retirement accounts will have the same tax advantage as the investor class already gets. What little value Capital gains tax rates have in today’s environment as an offset to risk has been removed by making dividends equal tax wise. Giving the expansionary more aggressive companies slightly better access to capital can only help. While making it clearer that the markets are more of a casino then they are perceived to be.

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Middle class does best when Democrats are in charge

by The Big E on September 10, 2010 · 3 comments

I believe that this graph says all we Democrats need to say for the 2010 election.  The middle class does better, far far better when Democrats are in control.  This graph tracks income growth rate by income percentile.

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Lame duck Minnesota Governor and 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty proposed extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  When confronted about how he would replace the $40,000,000,000 in lost revenue each year, he proposed taking money from the stimulus program which benefits the middle class.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) called for the extension of all the Bush tax cuts, and at least attempted to provide a way to pay for them – use unspent stimulus money to find $40 billion:
HUNT: Okay, alright. $40 billion is what those [Bush tax cuts for the wealthy] cost in one year. Where you take the $40 billion from?

PAWLENTY: That’s easy. You can start by going back and looking at the stimulus package, which is still half unspent, which is not a good package. That could be redesigned and redeployed. And number two, if you look at the growth in federal spending, whether it’s in the entitlement side or the mandatory outlay side or on the discretionary side, you could easily find $40 billion.

Watch it:

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Marty Seifert’s Seven Point Plan

by MsTigerHawk on April 20, 2010 · 2 comments

Here is Marty Seifert’s seven point plan for our state. This is what will be enacted in Minnesota should Seifert be elected governor. After reading it, I’d like your input as to which of these points are the scariest for not only Democrats but for Minnesota as a whole.

Here is his plan fully laid out.

http://seifertforgovernor.com/…

Look at all the cuts. This plan might be acceptable to the wealthy and perhaps some middle class families. But what on earth are poor people to do?

Read below the break for condensed details…

Seven Point Plan

ST. PAUL – Representative Marty Seifert is proposing a 7-point plan that the campaign is calling “Marty Seifert’s Leadership Plan for Minnesota.”

“Much like in 1994, Republicans need to propose specific solutions,” Seifert said. “I want people to know exactly what they would be getting in a Seifert administration.”

The plan entails:

1). Job growth legislation that cuts regulations, licensing, bureaucracy, and permits, plus reforms and downsizes the tax code to make Minnesota competitive in the 21st century job environment. Seifert will also balance our budget by ensuring that government lives within its means, just like families and businesses do.

2). A Health Care Reform bill that lowers health insurance premiums by enacting sweeping tort reform, market choices,  insurance reform, and tax incentives so that middle class families can afford health insurance.

3). A K-12 bill that respects parental choices, ensures fair and equitable funding for all students and respects local control.

4). End pork-barrel spending and earmarks, which bloat the state budget and bonding bill.

5). Repeal sanctuary city ordinances for illegal aliens, empower law enforcement to enforce our laws and ensure accountability for law breakers.

6). Reform welfare in Minnesota to bring about accountability, work, and responsibility. This will include welfare benefits being no higher for out of state residents than the state they are coming from; ending EBT welfare debit card abuses; increasing waiting periods and enrollment standards for out of state residents.

7). Pass a sweeping ethics reform proposal that holds office-holders to higher standards.

Seifert said, “Elect me as Governor and like-minded people to the legislature and this is the agenda that we will pursue.”

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