Posts Tagged ‘Bailout’

House of Representatives Votes to Tax AIG Executives’ Bonuses at 90%

March 19, 2009

The House just passed H.R. 1586, officially titled “To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients” (sponsored by Charlie Rangel [D-NY]), which taxes the bonuses of AIG executives.  The bill technically places a tax on any bonuses given by companies who received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.

The following is the text of the legislation:

HR 1586 IH

 

111th CONGRESS 

1st Session

H. R. 1586

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 18, 2009

Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. ISRAEL, Mr. PETERS, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. STARK, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. TANNER, Mr. POMEROY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. PASCRELL, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. ETHERIDGE, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. YARMUTH, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. LUJAN, Mr. MAFFEI, Mr. PERRIELLO, Mr. CARNEY, Ms. CASTOR of Florida, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. HARE, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. LOEBSACK, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SIRES, Mr. WELCH, Mr. WILSON of Ohio, Mr. WU, and Mr. HILL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

 


 

A BILL 

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. BONUSES RECEIVED FROM CERTAIN TARP RECIPIENTS.

    (a) In General- In the case of an employee or former employee of a covered TARP recipient, the tax imposed by chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for any taxable year shall not be less than the sum of–

 (1) the tax that would be determined under such chapter if the taxable income of the taxpayer for such taxable year were reduced (but not below zero) by the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year, plus

(2) 90 percent of the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

    (b) TARP Bonus- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `TARP bonus’ means, with respect to any individual for any taxable year, the lesser of–

(A) the aggregate disqualified bonus payments received from covered TARP recipients during such taxable year, or

(B) the excess of–

(i) the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for such taxable year, over

(ii) $250,000 ($125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).

 (2) DISQUALIFIED BONUS PAYMENT-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `disqualified bonus payment’ means any retention payment, incentive payment, or other bonus which is in addition to any amount payable to such individual for service performed by such individual at a regular hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or similar periodic rate.

(B) EXCEPTIONS- Such term shall not include commissions, welfare or fringe benefits, or expense reimbursements.

(C) WAIVER OR RETURN OF PAYMENTS- Such term shall not include any amount if the employee irrevocably waives the employee’s entitlement to such payment, or the employee returns such payment to the employer, before the close of the taxable year in which such payment is due. The preceding sentence shall not apply if the employee receives any benefit from the employer in connection with the waiver or return of such payment.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT OF TAX TREATED AS TARP BONUS- Any reimbursement by a covered TARP recipient of the tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be treated as a disqualified bonus payment to the taxpayer liable for such tax.

    (c) Covered TARP Recipient- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `covered TARP recipient’ means–

(A) any person who receives after December 31, 2007, capital infusions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000,000,000,

(B) the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation,

(C) any person who is a member of the same affiliated group (as defined in section 1504 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, determined without regard to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b)) as a person described in subparagraph (A) or (B), and

(D) any partnership if more than 50 percent of the capital or profits interests of such partnership are owned directly or indirectly by one or more persons described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

 (2) EXCEPTION FOR TARP RECIPIENTS WHO REPAY ASSISTANCE- A person shall be treated as described in paragraph (1)(A) for any period only if–

(A) the excess of the aggregate amount of capital infusions described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such person over the amounts repaid by such person to the Federal Government with respect to such capital infusions, exceeds

(B) $5,000,000,000.

    (d) Other Definitions- Terms used in this section which are also used in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 shall have the same meaning when used in this section as when used in such Code.
    (e) Coordination With Internal Revenue Code of 1986- Any increase in the tax imposed under chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by reason of subsection (a) shall not be treated as a tax imposed by such chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under such chapter or for purposes of section 55 of such Code.
    (f) Regulations- The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary’s delegate, shall prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
    (g) Effective Date- This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.

The bill passed 328 (243 Democrats, 85 Republicans)-93 (6 Democrats, 87 Republicans).

Personally, this bill is very troubling to me.  It’s debatable as to whether or not it’s Constitutional.  Some have said that it’s a bill of attainder (a bill that focuses on punishing 1 group of people).  Technically, it never names AIG as the focus of the bill, but that’s definitely the intent.

This bill is more legally binding than Representative Gary Peters’ bill (H.R. 1527) that would impose a 60% tax on bonuses paid to executives if “the ownership interest of the Federal Government” is at least 79%.  Basically that says that if the government owns at least 79% of a company’s stock, it can tax bonuses on that company’s executives at a rate of 60%.  The problem with that bill, which I talked about yesterday, is that the government technically doesn’t own AIG. 

Even if it is Constitutional, I find this a huge invasion of the business sector.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  It’s a complete twist of the American tax code, and it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

I don’t think AIG executives should have received the bonuses, but that stipulation should have been placed in the original TARP legislation.

Now, that stipulation WAS in the original bill; however, when it went to the conference committee, the Democrats took out that provision.  The exact details of how that happened are still unknown, but Chris Dodd had said that he introduced an amendment at the request of the Obama administration.  When this actually gets sorted out, I’ll let you know what actually happened.

Regardless of how they were allowed to get the bonuses, they were, and taking the bonuses away like this is questionably constitutional, but in the least, a blatant perversion of the tax code.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Bonuses for AIG Executives Are Disgusting, but Legally Necessary

March 18, 2009

I’m sure that by now, most of you have heard about AIG giving out $165 million in bonuses, and that has outraged many Americans, including many politicians because people don’t think that executives should be getting money for driving AIG into the ground and then receiving government bailout money.

Personally, I agree that they don’t deserve bonuses, especially after receiving government money.

The problem is, there’s really no way that I see the government LEGALLY stopping these bonuses.  The government lent out money to AIG originally, without putting any requirements on the money not going toward bonuses, so the government has no right to step in and stop it now.

The bonuses are in the executives’ contracts, and thus should be paid out.

And the idea to tax the bonuses 100% is just plain wrong – that’s government intrusion and it crosses the line.

And Representative Barney Frank’s (D-MA) solution isn’t exactly legal either.  He told CNN earlier today:

We own this company in effect, and we’re not asking that these bonuses be rescinded because we have lent money to the company.  I believe we are saying as the owners of the company, we do not think we should be paying bonuses or should have paid bonuses to people who made mistakes, who were incompetent.

No, I don’t think the American people want a situation where Congress, whenever it feels a contract shouldn’t have been signed, passes a law to abrogate that past contract.  That’s why I am saying we should assert our ownership rights.

I want to invalidate these contracts and say, look, we are the owners of this company.  Yes, contracts were signed with you that I wish hadn’t been signed.  But given how badly you performed, I want to argue that they did not perform under the contract.

The difference would be having a precedent that I don’t think the American people want, even if for this situation, we’d all like to see it different, where whenever Congress thinks a contract should be abrogated, it should be abrogated.  So, I’m talking about a legislative abrogation of a contract.  I’m talking about a lawsuit as an owner of the company [that wants to reward a] bonus, we ought to fine you for messing it up.

Well, I personally have a problem with Representative Frank’s plan.  Sure, the government pumped billions of dollars into AIG, but they did it as a loan.  We’re not talking about being the majority shareholder here – we’re not talking about buying stocks, we’re talking about a loan.  Giving a company a loan gives Congress absolutely no ownership rights, and the fact that Barney Frank thinks that the loan gave the government “ownership,” even in the slightest, is honestly quite scary.

Think of it on a more personal level than if it were a company.  Imagine that the government gave you a student loan.  If they gave you a loan intended for school, but never put in writing that it had to be spent on school, and you spent the money on candy bars, you have that legal right.  What Barney Frank wants to do is say, “The federal government is part owner of your life, and you are not allowed to buy candy bars.”  Well, I would be fine with that if it had been in the original agreement, but it wasn’t.  Now, what was in the original agreement was that the the government got “equity participant warrants” for 79.9% of AIG’s equity.  For those of you who don’t know what equity warrants are, they’re a contract that says that the government has the option and right to own 79.9% of the AIG shares; however, the government is not exercising that option now.  Until we exercise that option, the government has NO RIGHT to step in here.

If the government takes back any of this money and gets away with it, it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

Now, Edward Liddy, the CEO of AIG, is encouraging employees to give back half of the bonus money.  And if they do, that’s fine, because THEY are giving it up.  But if the government takes the money simply because the executives dont’ deserve it, that would be a major government intrusion.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

A Look at the Causes of the Credit Crisis

March 17, 2009

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the American credit system.  Personally, I think Americans rely far too heavily on credit, and that is going to come back to haunt us VERY soon if we don’t make some drastic changes.

Back during the debate over the first bailout bill of this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following comments:

more about “A Look at the American Credit System …“, posted with vodpod

And it’s that type of thinking that leads to the credit crisis that we’re in now.  The credit system is like our circulatory system?  NO!  We should not be relying that heavily on our credit system.  Credit is NOT intended to be the same thing as money.  Equating credit with available spending money is one of the major factors that led to the Great Depression.  People were buying things on credit and laying out installment payment plans.  That enabled them to buy more stuff, and this created an artificially high demand for items (such as radios or cars, both of which were often being bought on credit).  But once they began having to pay multiple payments back, people could no longer to afford to continue buying stuff (thus why I called the demand “artificially high”) – the demand for those items was not necessarily high, people were just buying things immediately that they normally would have saved up for.  And when they didn’t keep track of how much that would cost in the long run, the credit bubble burst.

The other day, I posted a comment on a friend’s blog (Right Wing Reform), and that’s what got me thinking about all of this.  The following is my comment (with a little more added in – I wrote the original comment to be quick and short):

The credit system is intended to be used as a crutch.  You still do the walking, but you can’t quite walk all by yourself at the beginning of an injury (purchasing a large item).  Over time, you begin to pay off the debt (heal), and use less and less of the crutch, until eventually you don’t need it (the item is paid off).  The problem with the current way many Americans are using credit is that they’re using it more like a wheelchair than a crutch.  And it’s used too often, even to take one little step in a room (buying a meal at McDonald’s or a small purchase at the grocery store).  The problem with using it for small items is that over time, you begin to lose track of how much you’re spending (unless you have a GREAT memory), and a lot of people find themselves not being able to pay off the entire credit card bill at the end of the month.  And do you know what that means?  That’s right, they have to pay interest on that.  And that means less money in their pocket, meaning that they are MORE likely to use credit as cash.  And the person (or family) gets deeper and deeper into debt.

When you overburden the credit system and you never try to walk on your own, the crutch breaks.

Honestly, we’re never going to be able to get rid of credit.  And there’s no reason to.  When used responsibly, it’s a great tool.  But a strong financial system would be able to withstand a loss of a credit system (at least small item credit [the biggest example of a small item credit system would be credit cards; another example would be  installment payments for stuff like furniture] - I would argue that it should be able to withstand the loss of large item credit, but this would mean that buying a house would be something that takes a lot of work and time, and you’d go back to the days of people building their own houses and living with other people rather than a single person owning a home by the age of 23).

Right now, America would not withstand the loss of even the small item credit system, and THAT is a problem for us financially.

If Americans want to get through this financial crisis, keeping the credit cards at home more often would be one way to help.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

The Bill that Nobody Read: The Economic Stimulus Package (H.R. 1)

February 23, 2009

So, I know it’s been a while since Congress passed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus plan, but C-SPAN finally uploaded and categorized all the videos, so better late than never.  I wanted to show you all just how much the Democratic leadership tried to hide the details of the latest stimulus plan:

Here’s the first clip, courtesy of C-SPAN. In this clip, Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) asks for additional time for debate, so that more than 90 minutes will available for debate. Lewis was not allowed to ask for the additional time (not sure if that’s in the rules of the House or one of the previous resolutions), so he asked Representative David Obey (D-WI) (Appropriations Committee Chairman) to do so, but Obey refused to allow for more debate time. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) then asked if the bill could be read aloud by the clerk, since no member had had time to read it; however, this request was refused because House resolution 168 made it so that the bill was to be considered read (even though it was physically impossible). This violated a previous promise by the Democrats to keep all bills available for 72 hours before a final vote was brought up.


 

In this clip, Representative Lewis shows how secretive the drafting of this bill was. Even many Democrats were left out of the negotiations.

 

Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) emphasized that the Democrats refused to allow the House Clerk to read the bill and that debate was limited to 90 minutes. 

 

Representative Obey (D-WI) responds to Jack Kingston (R-GA) talking about appropriations to protect a mouse. He said that there’s nowhere in the bill that mentions a mouse. Well, that’s true – the word “mouse” is never in the bill; however, there is money for that’s given to the EPA for a saltwater marsh protection program where the focus of that is to protect a certain species of mouse (according to an EPA representative). So, while what Mr. Obey said was technically true, it would also be true if I said that the bill never talks about “tax cuts.” The phrase “tax cut” or “tax cuts” is never in the bill, but the legal equivalent is. So, Mr. Obey is really just playing with the words here, and he’s ultimately lying through his teeth. But what really makes him look like a fool is when he tells the Republicans to find the section they’re talking about, as he holds up the 1,000+ page bill that even HE didn’t have time to read through.


In this clip, Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN) has one of my favorite quotes of the debate, “If ever there was a massive bill where the devil is in the details, it is this bill. And there are many devils in the details of this bill.” He also does a good job at placing some of the blame on the Republicans.


Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) explains the mouse in the bill: “They say there is no mouse in this bill. But there is, sir. What they don’t tell you is that in the EPA projects, it cites for sure and for certain they will spend money on the salt marsh habitat for the mouse in San Francisco. Certainly, the Speaker is getting her cheese.”


In this clip, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) shows where the blame lies in saying that people borrowed and spent too much: “Too many of our fellow citizens borrowed too much. They spent too much, and they couldn’t pay it back. And now the mistakes of individuals, the Democrats want to force upon us collectively.” He also explains how the Congressional Budget Office says this bill was a disaster.


Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) (the youngest House member) talks about how we’re spending trillions at a time and that we can’t afford to get this wrong.


Representative Lewis shows, again, how unprepared Congress was to even debate the bill: “Mr. Speaker, we just received official scoring of the $792 billion bill at 12:04 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive this critical information until one-third of our very limited debate time was over.” He later goes on to say, “While portions of the bill were scored by CBO earlier, in the case of the appropriations section, 40 percent of this entire package, the Members have not had the benefit of knowing what effects this bill would have. Now that we have this information, let me tell you what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concedes.” Lewis also shows that the Democrats are simply rushing this through in one big bill instead of going through the proper appropriations channels: CBO estimates that only 11 percent of the money will spend out this year. It begs the question why has the majority decided to include this in this bill rather than through the regular appropriations process? Why have they decided to create 33 new programs and permanently expand 73 programs? By growing the Federal Government now in this bill, the majority knows that they have a much better chance of permanently increasing government.”


House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) goes over some great points on why he opposed the bill.


Alright, I hope that opened your eyes to how much the Democratic leadership in Congress tried to keep this bill hidden from the members of Congress before they voted on the bill.  So many of the Democrats in Congress have said that they wish that they would’ve asked more question before supporting the War in Iraq.  I’m guessing that many Democrats will be  saying the same about this bill in a year or 2.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Lansing, Michigan Mayor: Automotive Union Members Have Sacrificed Enough

February 18, 2009

Yesterday on Happening Now on FOX News, Virg Bernero, the Mayor of Lansing Michigan, said that auto industry workers have already sacrificed enough and it’s time for Wall Street to start making some sacrifices.  Watch the video (courtesy of FOX News), and I’ll discuss it below:

Alright, honestly, the mayor went nuts in my opinion, and kinda made a fool out of himself.  He said, “I was a little offended by your question, you know, have the unions given up enough, has the working man given up enough?  You know, my question is, has Wall Street given up enough, for the billions that they have taken?”  Um, the anchor (who’s  name slips my mind at this point) never said ANYTHING about union concessions or anything related to it!

The anchor points out that that wasn’t his question (go back to the beginning and check – it was NOT his question).  When asked if he thought that the UAW should have to “swallow some pay cuts,” Bernero focused solely on health benefits, again NOT answering the question that was asked!

Bernero late shows exactly what the problem with Michigan is, when he asks the question, “What are we going to produce in this country, if we allow the auto industry to go by the wayside?”  For too long, Michigan has relied on the auto industry as “our industry.”  The fact is that the auto industry isn’t what it used to be, and we can no longer rely on it as our only industry.  And to ask what we will produce if we don’t produce automobiles, as if saying that’s all we produce, is insulting to those who work in other manufacturing fields.

The anchor also brings up the fact that UAW members don’t need health care for life!  That’s one of the reasons that the Big 3 are suffering, because they’re giving health care to people who don’t work for them anymore.  Bernero says that the UAW has given concessions.  True, they have, but they need to give up WAY more.  UAW members are WAY overpaid and get WAY too many benefits.

If UAW members would just realize that he auto industry is in trouble and can’t afford to pay them what they have been up until now, and would take some pay/benefit cuts, then the auto industry could rebound.  But while the UAW shares the mentality that Bernero has, the auto industry is going to continue to suffer.  I’ve said time and time again that while the auto executives share some of the blame, a lot of the blame falls on the greedy UAW for keeping the auto industry in such a choke hold.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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President Obama Signs $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan

February 17, 2009

Moments ago, President Obama singed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus package into law.  Unfortunately, I was taking a phone call during the beginning of his speech, so I couldn’t live blog it, but I did catch some key parts (I’ll do a summary of the whole speech later).

One part that caught my eye was when he said that the bill was “a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.  It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.  And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.”

Really?  Because, I remember the Democrats promising that the final version of the bill would be available to be read for 48 hours before being brought to a vote, but it was brought to a vote around 12 hours after the bill was posted (posted on-line around 12:30 A.M. last Friday), and voted on, I believe around 2:00 P.M. in the House, and later in the Senate.  At one point, Representative David Obey (D-WI) got in an argument with a Republican Representative (I don’t remember who), and asked the Republican to show him something in the bill.  He held it up and the Republicans just laughed.  He made a fool out of  himself by SHOWING that nobody could quickly find anything in the bill – it’s over 1,000 pages long!

So, I wonder if the Democrats and Obama will stick to this  promise of “transparency and accountability” or if they will continue to change their promises like they’ve been doing so far.

I see us being right back in position of “needing” another stimulus package in 6 months or so.  Hopefully the next one  won’t be “needed,” but if one is proposed, I hope that one fails in Congress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Normal Day in the Senate: Economic Stimulus, Health Care … Pornography at the National Science Foundation?

February 8, 2009

Alright, so I was watching the Senate discuss more amendments to H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the latest economic stimulus bill.  Anyway, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was talking about his amendment and some health care stuff, when all of a sudden, he breaks off on to the subject of pornography being viewed at work by some of the staff at the National Science Foundation, and that we need to make sure that stimulus money isn’t going towards wasting time at work (whether that’s pornography or not – people should be doing work at work, not viewing pornography or playing Free Cell).  Here’s that video clip, courtesy of C-SPAN: 

more about “A Normal Day in the Senate: Economic …“, posted with vodpod

I will say, I love the looks coming from whoever was sitting behind him.  This one really caught me off guard.  I was watching it, but doing other things, but all of a sudden, this snapped me back into paying attention.

It’s never a dull day in the Senate!

But Grassley is right.  If my tax dollars are going to the NSF, I at least want work to be getting done.  The fact that it was pornography just adds insult to injury.  I don’t care if it’s as innocent as playing Asteroid, it’s government TIME.  And the fact that the one manager was using up 20% of his work time to do this is just appalling!  We need more oversight if we’re going to be putting money into this, and this is proof of that need.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of Governor Granholm’s Michigan State of the State Address

February 3, 2009

The Michigan State of the State address is about to begin.  I will be live blogging the event, giving my analysis (so my apologies for any spelling errors – I’ll fix them eventually).

Alright, she’s entering the chamber (I’m not sure if this is the House or Senate – probably House since  it’s bigger).

Oh – my roommate (Democrat) just about made me die of laughter – he said, “Where is she?”  I said, “Right there.”  And he goes, “Oh, I thought that was a dude.”

Alright – she’s making her way up to the podium – about half the room is still clapping – probably the Democrats.  There’s Lt. Governor John Cherry up in his chair.

There’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D).

She’s saying welcome and thank you.  She’s welcoming and congratulating the new representatives.

She’s now welcoming Supreme Court Justice Dianne Hathaway, elected this year.  And she’s congratulating the longest serving president of the State Board of Education.

Now thanking the servicemen and women from Michigan as well as the first responders.

We just gave a moment of silence for those who lost their lives defending this country and state overseas.

“I will not sugar-coat the crisis facing this state. … Our auto companies fought for their very existence, and as the bottom fell out of the national economy” Michigan “went from bad to worse.”  She’s absolutely right about that.  “Any honest assessment of our state’s economy must recognize that things are likely to get worse before they get better. … Things will get better … because Michigan citizens are resilient … because our battle plan is focused on the three things that matter most: fighting for more good paying jobs in Michigan, educating and training people to fill those good paying jobs, and protecting out people.”

“This is not time for pet projects or special interests.”

Now talking about Michigan now having “a friend in the White House who now shares our agenda.  I say this based on pragmatism, not upon partisanship.”  BULL CRAP!

She’s talking about him being focused on energy jobs, education, and protecting people.  COME ON Madame Governor, the Republicans are interested in all of those things too!

“We’ve made many tough choices in our budget.”  True, but you could have done a lot more to fix the state, but you didn’t, and that’s why we’re as bad as we are now.

“I have a veto pen, and I will use it. … The President’s economic plan is a one-time opportunity.”  Really?  Because so far, I count THREE bailout bills.  What’s to stop three more?

She’s saying that our problems will be here after the economic stimulus money is gone.  Lt. Governor Cherry will be in charge of downsizing government, reducing number of departments from 18 to 8.

Something about we can’t have “9-5 government in a 24/7 world.”  Good point there – I’ll give her that one.

Her and Cherry are reducing salaries of all elected state officials in Michigan by 10%.  That’s a good move – I COMMEND HER on that, but I don’t really see how she can directly do that.

“Already, I’ve cut more than any other Governor in Michigan.”

She’s saying that a national survey showed that MI has done more to cut spending than other state in the country.  I’d like to see the details of the survey, but if it’s all true, I commend her on that.

She’s cutting funding for the state fair – because it’s not essential to government.  GOOD CALL!

Talking about preserving our wetlands.

Talking about reducing corrections spending.  We’re going to close 3 more facilities in the coming months.  Reinvest in more law enforcement on the street.  More law enforcement is good, but I’m not too keen on closing 3 facilities – that means more criminals on the streets, since our prisons are already TOO FULL!

Funding for roads, bridges, and transit systems – um, we’ve needed that for the past FEW years!

We can focus on jobs when we spend within our means.

We need to diversify, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing our number one industry, the auto industry.  When pundits and ill-informed politicians take cheap shots at the auto industry and its workers, we (she’s saying this) will defend the auto industry.

Talking about the green auto industry being great.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost since 2000.  “These losses have fueled our determination to bring new industry to Michigan.”  Good – we can’t JUST depend on the auto industry anymore.

Talking about film and TV project coming to Michigan after the tax breaks to film companies.

Three major announcements:

  • Wonderstruck Animation Studios – $86 million in Detroit.
  • Stardock Systems (digital gaming) – build in Plymouth
  • Motown Motion Pictures – $54 million in Pontiac (former GM plant)

Motown MP alone will create 3,600 jobs.  That’s great news – especially for the Pontiac area.

“But our success with the film industry is not an isolated example.”  Talking about renewable energy industry – solar panel production companies are building here in Michigan.

Just like the auto industry “it creates all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people.”  And that’s a good thing – I am VERY enthusiastic about renewable energy, as long as it’s not expensively forced on the people.

She’s talking about wind turbines (and wind power is something I have always been really excited about – that  and nuclear power).

Jobs for manufacturers and engineers – for solar panels and electric car batteries.

She’s getting really intense about this.  “The fact that these jobs are in Michigan is no accident.”

We bring them here by beating out other states and countries.

We passed incentives to make sure those batteries are made in Michigan.  Within weeks of passage, GM said that they’d make batteries for the Volt automobile will be made here in Michigan.  5 million electric car batteries to be made a year, creating 14,000 jobs.

She’s saying that we want electric cars researched and designed here as well as all kinds of renewable energy companies.

She set a goal for becoming more dependent on renewable energy.

  • 3 wind turbine manufactures to expand in Michigan.
  • Unisolar to build solar panel factory in Battle Creek.
  • HSC – $1 billion for solar panel expansion
  • Dow-Corning – more solar panels.
  • Great Lakes Turbine to build in Monroe (where my roommate’s from!)

“We all know that  we need more jobs – a lot more.”  I agree with you there.

President Obama has demanded more use of renewable energy.  This will increase jobs in Michigan.

“By 2020, Michigan will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity by 45%. … We’ll do it through increased renewable energy and gains in energy efficiency.”  Sounds like a good idea to me, but I think 45% is high.  I have no problem with it as long as it doesn’t jack up prices.  But if it makes energy unaffordable, don’t do it.

Instead of importing coal, we’ll spend energy money on Michigan wind turbines and solar panels and energy efficiency devices, all installed by Michigan workers.

Ask Legislatures to allow for Michigan homeowners to become entrepreneurs by installing solar panels on roofs and selling money back to power company.  Sounds good to me – it’s giving people the choice to do this, and enables people to eventually make that money back.

Asking utility companies to invest in energy efficient products.  Good.

Unlike the coal we buy right now, the money that we will spend on energy efficiency will create jobs in Michigan.

Create Michigan Energy Corps - creating jobs and turning natural resources into renewable fuels and weatherizing houses.

Saying that we’ll need less coal power  plants here in Michigan.

I’m kinda mad that she hasn’t said anything about more nuclear here in Michigan.

Talking about how she’ll bring new jobs to Michigan – that she’s gone all over the world to get jobs.  Yeah, well you haven’t been too successful so far.  You can go places to bring jobs here, but that doesn’t matter until you bring some here.

Saying she’ll require (I think it was universities) to buy Michigan.  I have a problem with that though, because she wants a tuition freeze in order for universities to get stimulus money.  How can they do that if you FORCE them to buy Michigan-made (more expensive at times).

Saying people should buy Michigan products.  Buy everything from Ford to Faygo.

Talking about the Michigan $4,000 putting college in the reach of all students.  Um, $4,000 really doesn’t do that much.

Michigan will be the first state to replicate the Kalamazoo promise on a large scale.  Something about free education, and I missed the rest.

#2 in the country for well qualified teachers in the classroom.  How are we #2 with the Detroit Public School system?

No Worker Left Behind: Talking about free college tuition – $5,000 per year for 2 years.  Training people for jobs, such as nurses, electricians, computer technicians.  52,000 people.  Helping us to remake Michigan.

Added more resources to the unemployment system – THAT’s what we need – to allow more people to rely on welfare!

Asking universities and colleges to freeze tuition for the next year.  The problem with that is, what if THEY can’t afford it?

Give people 90 days without the fear of foreclosure.  That’s absolutely insane.  If people buy a house that they can’t afford, then they should lose it.

Talking about asking auto insurance companies to freeze rates on auto insurance.  Sure, if they want to, but don’t make it mandatory.

She’s saying we’ll use every administrative tool to ensure that affordable rates are given to consumers.  That should be up to the companies, not the government.

Saying that we shouldn’t strip people of health coverage in order to reduce spending.  We shouldn’t HAVE state sponsored health care!  She’s saying we should protect those whom people of faith often call “the least of these.”  Well, people of faith need to step up and help the poor.  That’s their duty as good Christians (as it is my duty), NOT the governments.  When did Jesus ever say that the government should help the poor?  He didn’t!  He said his followers should – that’s why it makes me angry when people give that as a reason that Jesus would be a Democrat!

And wouldn’t “the least of these” refer to the unborn babies as well?  I don’t see you protecting them, Madame Governor!

“Is it harder to balance the state budget or the budget of a family who went from 2 paychecks to 1?”  Talking about the harships of family being much greater than the hardships of politicians as leaders.

She’s now giving an example of a guy on unemployment who used No Worker Left Behind to go to a university and now he’s working for Dow Corning.

Sorry – my news station just stopped covering it – ABC needed to go back to “regular scheduled programming.”

OK – I’m back.

Talking about hope and strength.  “We together will build a better Michigan.  God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Michigan.”

Tim Skubik is on now – saying that “Doom and Gloom” only got 2 paragraphs.  He’s right – I think she could’ve shown that things are bad more than she did instead of just saying, “This is what we WILL do,” since she’s been saying that for YEARS now.

She never really said exactly how much she wanted to cut out of the government.  I will commend her for some of her pro-energy efficient plans, but I think she may wind up driving up costs at a time that we can’t afford it.  Allowing people to sell back energy from solar panels is a GOOD thing, because it gives individuals the choice to do it, instead of  mandating it.

And now Mike Bishop’s response:

He’s saying that “we all want what’s best for our state.”

“Each one of us has felt the effects of this economy.”

Saying that the Governor wants to use federal funds to fix the state, but a quick infusion of money “will never be the antidote. … You can’t increase spending and debt and somehow hope to resolve a serious budget crisis.”  The Republicans will submit a plan in the next 45 days for instant stimulus – it incentives job providers instead of increasing spending.

The House must pass Senate Bill 1.  Get rid of the 22% business surcharge.

Talking about manufacturing complexes and other companies coming in due to tax cuts, proving that business tax cuts DO work.

The second part of the plan would bring property taxes in line with home values.  Third, a tax credit for purchases of new homes will be created.  This would spur the housing market.  And he’s absolutely right – that was one of the things my parents looked into was the huge jump in taxes we would’ve payed if we moved this past summer.

Review each item in the state budget and find savings – good!

We must “be certain that state resources are used efficiently.”  Absolutely!

Talking about opportunities coming with adversity – leaders need to rise up and “take the reins that will lead us back to prosperity. … Time for us to fix Michigan. … Thank you … God bless you, our families, and our great state of Michigan.”

Alright – I’m off to a meeting – I’ll spell check this and finish my analysis when I get back.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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House of Representatives Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus Package

January 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, Congress’s latest economic stimulus package.  That bill passed 244-188; 11 Democrats broke ranks, while all of the voting Republicans voted against it.  First, I would like to commend the 11 Democrats who voted against the $819 billion “stimulus” bill.  This bill is an atrocity to the Congressional system of appropriations.  Instead of focusing on true STIMULUS (after all, it is an “economic STIMULUS package”), the Democrats in the House packed the bill with billions of dollars of un-stimulating spending.  For those of  you who want to read the sources, here’s the version of the bill as it was introduced (it has been slightly changed, but not too much), here’s the summary from the House Appropriations Committee, and here’s the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  And here’s the link to the roll call vote, Roll number 46.

Let’s take a look at the  following, keeping in mind that this is just a fraction of the spending packed in the 647-page bill (which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to quite get through, although I skimmed most of it): $650,000,000 for digital TV converters, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration, $250,000,000 for NASA climate research, $600,000,000 for the government to lease plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles, $500,000,000 for airport security, $150,000,000 for bridge removal by the Coast Guard, $1,700,000,000 for National Parks Service maintenance, $200,000,000 to clean up leaking underground sewage storage tanks, $850,000,000 for wildland fire management, $150,000,000 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50,000,000 for the National Cemetery Administration to make cemetery repairs.  And this is all after some apportionments were taken out.  The Republicans urged Democrats to take out some of the unnecessary spending, such as making funds available for “family planning” and contraceptives, as well as $200,000,000 to revitalize and re-sod the National Mall, but I think those were the only 2 spending things that were cut out of the bill.  Either way, the point is – there’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Now, I am not saying that the expenditures in this bill are unimportant.  Clearly bridge removal, airport security, wildland fire management, etc. are very important; however, Congress has an apportionment process for a reason.  This bill takes the traditional apportionment process and throws it out the window, and that is absolutely unacceptable!  The Democrats essentially drafted this bill telling THEIR caucus members, “If you want money apportioned for something, stick it in this ‘stimulus package’ and we’ll get it passed no questions asked,” and that’s exactly what happened.  Keep in mind, a normal apportionment bill is debated for days, but here the House Democrats crammed what would have been hundreds of apportionment bills into one bill and debated it on the floor for ONLY THREE DAYS.  That’s right folks – this was introduced on January 26, and it was passed on January 28.  That is both unacceptable and just plain DANGEROUS.  Half of the Representatives don’t even know what all is in the bill!

If Congress wants to spend money, that is perfectly fine, but they need to do it through the proper channels of apportionment, not by hijacking the taxpayers’ wallets under the guise of an “economic stimulus package.”

So where were the Republicans in all of this?  I’ll tell you.  They were left out until the very end.  Not ONE Republican had any real input while this bill was drafted.  Sure, Obama met with Republicans and “took their input,” but no Republican ever put a pen anywhere near this bill as it was being written.  The only input they had was on the floor of the House during debate and when they were proposing amendments.  And how many Republican amendments were passed?  Only two, neither of which spared us from the utter fiscal disaster that this bill is.

I was watching C-SPAN on-line late last night (waiting for the House to upload the Congressional record so I could look stuff up and write a story on this for my newspaper column) and quite a few Republicans took a strong stand against the bill.  In particular, the Representative from the Central Michigan Area, Dave Camp (R-MI4) submitted an amendment that would have changed the stimulus package to a pure tax-cut instead of this ridiculous spending spree / tax-cut combo, but that substitute bill (labelled as an amendment) failed along party lines, with 2 Democrats crossing over.

Personally, I don’t think that a spending spree is what we need right now, but even if the Democrats insist on increasing spending, they need to do it through the proper means of apportionment instead of shoving it into one big bill.  That way, maybe at least some of the frivolous spending will fail, but the way it’s going right now, the Democrats are on board with this “all or nothing” crap.  I really don’t see how the Democrats think that all this spending is going to stimulate the economy, especially since some of this stuff is just so focused, like repairing graves at national cemeteries.  Sure, it’s probably a good expenditure, but it’s not economic stimulus.

Hopefully the Senate votes against their version of this bill, but somehow I don’t see that happening.  If they could at least cut out some of the spending though, it’d make me a little happier.

We’re gonna be in for a rough period if Congress keeps this kind of stuff up.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senate Approves Release of Additional $350 Bailout Funds

January 16, 2009

Yesterday, the Senate voted 42-52 to not block the release of the second half of the $700 billion bailout (the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP] money).  Within hours of that vote, the Department of the Treasury announced that $118 billion of the $350 billion would be spent on bailing out Bank of America by investing in it and guaranteeing loans.

President-Elect Obama told reporters, “We can’t just spend our way out of the problem.  At some point credit has to flow effectively. … Banks now are fully caught up in a downward spiral where they have now affected the real economy, the real economy is now affecting their balance sheets.  And so we’re going to have to intelligently and strategically infuse some additional capital into the financial system.”

He went on to say, “[This] wasn’t an easy vote … because of the frustration so many of us share,” referring to how President Bush handled the release of  the first $350 billion.  He continued, “Restoring the economy requires that we maintain the flow of credit to families and businesses.  So I’m gratified that a majority of the U.S. Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, voted today to give me the authority to implement the rest of the financial rescue plan in a new and responsible way.”

This bill, Senate Joint Resolution 5 (sponsored by David Vitter [R-LA]) was kinda backwards, in that the vote against the Joint Resolution actually meant that the Senate supported the release of more money.  The vote fell pretty much along party lines, with a few dissenters on both sides.

I think you all know how I feel – this was absolutely terrible.  The Bush Administration and Treasury Secretary Paulson mishandled the release of the first $350 billion, and I really don’t think the Obama Administration will do much better.  Even if they released the money absolutely “perfectly” (according to how they planned it to go), I STILL think that it will harm the economy and just waste government/taxpayer money.

These bailouts have got to stop!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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