Posts tagged ‘Federal Regulation’

01/16/2012

Republican Debate: New Hamp (1-7-12)

QUALIFICATIONS: Huntsman repeated he lived overseas four times and managed two American embassies, one in China. Santorum mentioned his eight years on the Armed Services Committee, as qualification for Commander-in-Chief.

TERROR: Santorum said Obama is trying to make the war on terror politically correct by removing the words “radical Islam” from every defense document.

DEFENSE: Santorum argued government has a role to play in defense. Romney accused Obama of wanting to shrink the military, and Perry said he is cutting 1 billion in defense spending.

MILITARY SERVICE: Paul, who was drafted and served when he was young, noted 40,000 were seriously injured in our recent wars, while 8,500 died, and those who received 3, 4 or 5 deferments and did not serve, have no right to send our kids off to war. Gingrich said during the Vietnam War, he was married and never requested a deferment. He claimed he was somehow ineligible for the draft. Paul said when he was drafted, he went despite being married with two children. Romney, who received several deferments during Vietnam, finds it extraordinary that only a few families are paying the price for freedom.

AFGHAN: Huntsman said we drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, ran al Qaeda out into sanctuaries, held free elections, and eliminated bin Laden. It is time to come home and stop nation-building. He thinks a civil war is around the corner. He would leave behind only Special Forces and 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering. Romney would listen to the generals on the ground, and without reason, said he would wait until 2014 to withdraw. Huntsman said we deferred to the generals in 1967 and did not get good results.

IRAN: Paul said he does not want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, but putting sanctions against Iran will only lead to the unintended consequence of pushing them into the hands of China. Romney accused Obama of not imposing crippling sanctions against Iran. Santorum wants to help the revolutionaries in Iran as he called the situation the most pressing issue of the day. Gingrich worries more about the closing of the Straits of Hormuz, since one of six barrels of oil flows through it every day.

IRAQ: Perry wants to send troops back into Iraq now. He worries Iran will enter Iraq. Romney would not now send troops to Iraq.

TRADE: Romney said China and European states opened 44 different trade relationships with various nations around the world. We have to do the same for American goods, claiming Obama not. He also said China manipulates their currency and if you artificially hold down its value, you make your products lower-priced and kill American jobs. Huntsman said its nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China your first day in office as Romney would do. He said Romney would take us into a trade war where we would get tariffs in return that will hurt our exports. Romney said China does not want a trade war, because they sell more to us than we sell to them. He would hold China to free and fair trade rules. Gingrich said we cannot compete with China with an inferior infrastructure.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich accused Romney of making spectacular profits by stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder, and killing jobs for big financial rewards. He opposed leveraged buyouts, where money is taken out and workers are left behind. He said Bain bankrupted companies and laid off employees. Romney said companies must downsize before turning around and making a success. Bain invested in over 100 businesses, he said, and on balance claimed 100,000 jobs were added. Steel Dynamics in Indiana added thousands, Bright Horizons 15,000, Sports Authority 15,000, and Staples 90,000. Romney said sometimes they were not successful.

MANUFACTURING: Huntsman thinks we can win back investment and have a manufacturing renaissance.

FINANCE: Paul thinks we are in a 40-year financial bubble which is bursting and we must liquidate the debt. Romney opposed the Dodd-Frank bill.

CLASS WAR: Santorum said there are no classes in America; there are middle income people

JOBS: Romney hopes the economy is turning around, because there are 25 million unemployed or who stopped looking. Obama’s policies have made the recession deeper, he argues. Perry wants New Hampshire to pass a right-to-work law, and Paul said Santorum voted against right-to-work laws.

REGULATIONS: Perry thinks Americans want less regulation.

ENERGY: Romney said our policies keep us from using our own energy. Perry wants to open up federal lands and waters to more domestic energy drilling, so we are not hostage to countries hostile to us. Gingrich wants an energy plan free of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela. Santorum served on a coal company board.

TRANSPORTATION: Gingrich said we must make investments, because we cannot complete with China with an inferior infrastructure. Romney advocated improving our infrastructure by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds, and air transport systems.

HEALTH: Romney opposed Obamacare. Huntsman said he reformed health care in Utah, without an individual mandate. Paul said Santorum voted for the Prescription drug program.

EDUCATION: Paul said Santorum voted to double the Dept of Education.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Santorum said he voted for SS reform.

BUDGET/DEBT: Paul said Santorum is a big government person who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times. For the past 26 years, Paul voted against appropriations bills. Perry wants to get rid of what he called corrupt spending. Santorum said increases in the debt ceiling have happened for 200 years.

TAXES: Huntsman would eliminate 1 billion of loopholes in the tax code. He implemented a flat tax in Utah, and said the Wall St Journal endorsed his tax plan. Santorum would keep only the deductions for health care, housing, pensions, children, and charity.  He would cut corporate income tax in half, down to 17.5%. He claims the 35% rate is the highest in the world. Romney said we must have some taxes to pay for our military, but noted government has grown from 27% in JFK’s day to 37% now. He repeated a pledge to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. Perry thinks Americans want less taxation.  Gingrich would reduce capital gains to zero, corporate income tax to 12.5% and he would abolish the death tax. He would allow 100% expensing for all new equipment.

TERM LIMITS: Huntsman wants Congressional terms limits.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said the legal system discriminates, as it arrests and imprisons blacks for drug offenses far more than whites. They get the death penalty more often, he added.

CONTRACEPTION: Santorum believes there is no constitutional right to privacy, and states have a 10th Amendment right to ban contraception. After being directed to Griswold v Conn (1965), in which a state law banning contraception was challenged, Romney doesn’t think any state today wants to ban contraception.

ABORTION: Romney said Roe v Wade (1973) was not decided correctly because he thinks the issue should have been left to the states. He wants the ruling overturned.

PRIVACY: Paul correctly informed everyone the 4th Amendment contains privacy protections. Santorum agreed there is a right to privacy in the 4th Amendment.

GAYS: Huntsman, married 28 years with 7 children, thinks civil unions are fair. Santorum said gay marriage is not a federal issue, but marriage itself is because we need one law on the topic. We cannot have someone married in one state, and not in another. He wants a federal law that bans adoption for gay couples. Romney would amend the constitution as to gay marriage. Gingrich said gays ought to be able to designate friends in their last will or who can make hospital visits, but not through marriage, which should be reserved to one man and one woman. Perry favors a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gingrich, Santorum, Romney all got it wrong when they said in succession if they were not debating they would be watching the championship college football game. The game was actually not on until a few evenings later.

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11/18/2011

Republican Debate: Michigan (11-9-11)

The Republicans debated in Michigan on Nov. 9, 2011:

CHINA TRADE: Romney would sue China in the WTO, because he said they are unfairly cheating, and not playing by the rules, as they engage in predatory manipulations of their currency, and make Chinese goods artificially low-priced. Huntsman warned randomly slapping tariffs on Chinese goods would trigger a trade war, which is not a good idea, since China would do the same to our exports. Santorum called tariffs a tax on “you.”

EURO CRISIS: As to Europe, Romney said they should take care of their own problems. What is happening in Italy and Greece, he said, is where we are headed if we don’t change. When asked about U.S. contributions to the IMF used to help the Euro Zone, he said the U.S. must focus of our own deficits. Huntsman warned if we do not get on top of our debt, we will soon look like Europe. Cain said there was not a lot we could do about Italy, because they were already beyond the point of return.

OCCUPY WALL STREET: Huntsman wants to be the President of the 99% as well as the 1%. He agreed we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He disagreed with the anti-capitalism message some made.

BANKS: Huntsman is concerned about “too big to fail” and wants a proper size for banks. We must address the problem of banks too big to fail, because they are setting us up long-term disaster. He said six institutions have 9.4 trillion or 60 to 65% of our GDP with implied taxpayer guarantees of protection, which is unfair to taxpayers. They need to be “right-sized.” The banks need to pay to take the risk away from taxpayers. Cain wants to get regulators off the backs of the banks.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Gingrich would fire the Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, and would audit the Fed with a complete disclosure so we know who was bailed out and why. Paul said the Fed is engaged in price-fixing by setting interest rates well below market levels. We are cheating the elderly of interest income they could earn on their CDs, as banks get loans at zero percent.

HOUSING: What about the 25% who owe more to the bank than their house is worth? Gingrich said “short sales” need to be easier. He thinks the banks profit more from foreclosing than by doing “short sales.” He thinks unemployment is keeping housing from coming back. Romney said holding off the foreclosure process, like the president has done, won’t work. The government cannot buy up all the homes in America. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gave loans to people who could not afford to pay them back. We won’t see home prices return, unless we let the market work. Bachmann said at the time of the meltdown, 50% of homes were financed by Freddie and Fannie, and now its 90%, and yet they want another 7 billion. Cain would make Freddie and Fannie private entities. Paul said the housing debt has to be liquidated, as we are just prolonging the housing bubble agony. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just keep demanding more money, Paul said.

CORPORATIONS: Romney said it is not a choice between job creation and maximizing profits. Profits help expand businesses and cause them to hire people, he said. Profitable enterprises hire people. He accused the Democrats of not liking business. Perry wants the market and private sector to make decisions. He would let consumers choose winners and losers. He said if a company is too big to fail, it is too big.

LABOR: Cain said the NLRB should not be telling Boeing what to do in South Carolina.

REGULATIONS: Perry said regulations are killing America, and we need to pull back on them. If it kills jobs, do away with it, he said. He would eliminate three agencies, Commerce, Education, but he could not remember the third, until someone prompted him to say EPA. But then he recanted, and said not the EPA. He later said he was trying to remember the Energy Dept.

AUTO BAILOUT: Romney said the auto bailout was wrong, adding they should have gone through a managed bankruptcy. He opposed giving GM to the UAW, and Chrysler to Fiat. Huntsman did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. He said Americans are sick and tired of bailouts.

ENERGY: Huntsman wants energy independence. Bachmann said we need to legalize American energy. Santorum wants to produce energy in this country. He wants to cut all the subsidies, and let the market work. He does not favor incentives to get energy businesses going.

HEALTH: Huntsman said we need to address health care cost containment with the 50 governors. He would not have a costly mandate. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. We have to get cost out of the system. Patients need to be empowered. We need truly affordable insurance. Paul supports medical savings accounts and would allow opt-outs from Obamacare. We need market forces in medicine, he said. Perry said if Medicare were run by the states, it would save a ton of money. Romney would let the states do their own programs, but thinks individuals must have insurance. Health care has to work more like a market, where people have a stake cost. The malpractice system is nuts, he said, and should be taken over by the federal government. He said government is playing too heavy a role, and patients need to have a stake in cost. He was asked about providing subsidies for those who cannot afford health insurance. Gingrich would turn health care over to the states for experimentation. Bachmann said health care is too expensive. She said Obama promised we would save $2,500 per year in premiums. We need to end the insurance monopoly in every state and allow a free market. Santorum wants the government out of the health care business, and replace it with a consumer driven market.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Gingrich said President Johnson put Social Security into the general budget, and politicians now hide behind it. The money is there and available and the country ought to pay the debt it owes to those who put it there. Bachmann opposes an extension of the payroll tax cut, because it is blowing a hole in the Trust Fund. Perry talked about going to some kind of vague blended price and wage program.

EDUCATION: Paul said there is no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be involved in education. He would get rid of student loans. Gingrich was asked about student loans and the fact they cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy. Perry said we have to control college Boards of Regents.

SPENDING AND DEBT: Romney said we cannot continue to pass massive debts to the next generation. Romney wants to cut spending. Paul said spending is taxing. He would cut 1 trillion from five departments in his first year. Bachmann said Washington receives 2.2 trillion but spends 3.7 trillion.

TAXES: Bachmann believes taxes cause jobs to leave the U.S. We have the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the world, she said. If state and federal rates are combined, she claimed we have a 40% corporate rate. Capital went to places where rates were falling. We have to lower our rates. Santorum was asked if his proposed zero tax on manufacturing would be flatter, simpler, or fairer. He said he was not picking winners and losers. He said the government made us uncompetitive, and we need to compete on taxes. Perry proposed a 20% flat tax on personal and corporate incomes. Cain would throw out the current tax code. We need something simple, since complexity is costing 430 billion a year. He wants all treated the same, without winners or losers. Romney was asked why he was holding on to the progressive income tax. He said he wanted flatter rates.  He wants special breaks removed. He would reduce the corporate rate from 35% to 25%. Bachman said there is something wrong with the income tax when only 53% pay it, and 47% do not. She wants everyone to pay something. Huntsman wants to phase out loopholes, deductions, corporate welfare, and subsidies. He would lower rates.

HARASSMENT: Cain said he was being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded sexual harassment accusations. Voters don’t care about the character assassination, he said. Romney would not say if a CEO like Cain could be kept.

09/17/2011

Cable TV Failed To Show Football Game

One would think Charter Communications, the Cable TV monopoly in Madison, would have carried the football game on Sat. Sep. 17 between the 7th ranked University of Wisconsin Badgers and Northern Illinois, but the game was not on any of the 50 Basic Service stations, the 56 on Expanded Service, or any of the 54 on Digital View Plus, even though we subscribers give Charter plenty of money each month to provide good service.

So what was on Cable at 2:30 p.m. instead? Their lineup included seven football games, including none we wanted to watch: 1) Versus carried Texas Tech and New Mexico; 2) Fox showed Colorado St. v Colorado; 3) ESPN went with Texas and UCLA; 4) CBS broadcast Tennessee v Florida; 5) NBC had Notre Dame and Michigan St.; 6) ABC announced Nebraska and Washington; and 7) the Big Ten Network chose Minnesota and Miami of Ohio. If I had purchased cable’s Sports View package, and spent even more money, Northwestern v Army was on CBS Sport Network, and Virginia v North Carolina was on ESPNU.

Why does Cable TV do this? When will they ever learn that our interest in a local football team, does not translate into a general desire to watch whatever game they decide to give us. Like the vast majority in Wisconsin, I turned the TV off, and had to watch the Badger game on my laptop through an online stream of ESPN-3. When will advertisers learn the vast majority of people watching most games, are just fans of the two teams on the field.

Although the cable monopoly promotes itself as a wonderful carrier by advertising over 100 stations to choose from, the number of channels makes no difference, if they show only filler programming no one wants to watch. Cable TV could be so much better if the people of Wisconsin huddled up, went on offense, put Cable on defense, and pressured them to change their lineup. We should be able to stop them from calling all the plays. We should be able to move the ball in the direction we want it to go, by collectively forcing them to show us the games we want to watch.

08/02/2011

Cable TV Could Be So Much Better

When I was young, the TV set was known as a “black and white,” because nothing was broadcast in color, until 1964. “Rabbit ears” sat on top of it, so we could receive of one of the three VHF Milwaukee stations. We could also get one UHF channel, but the picture quality was grey and fuzzy, and frankly not very good.

The three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, had regular programs that allowed us to plan our TV viewing. The Green Bay Packers always kicked off their weekly game on Sunday, at Noon. The Johnny Carson Show started at 10:30 p.m. Most prime time entertainment comedies ran new episodes in their usual weekly half hour slots, the entire season from Sep. through May.

The major networks also carried a certain amount of educational programming. 60 Minutes first aired in 1968. The Sunday morning lineup included Face the Nation (CBS) and Meet the Press (NBC). In those days, networks adhered to quality standards. Facts were distinguished from opinion. People needed credentials to appear before national audiences. They behaved while on TV. No one shouted down, cut off, or interrupted other guests. The best part about TV in the day was that it was free.

Cable TV gradually replaced the old-style of broadcasting. While it made TV reception better, particularly in rural areas where there had been no broadcast signals, the quality of programming went down, despite additional stations, since most new ones carried nothing worth watching, and competition weakened the networks.

On the plus side, ABC, CBS and NBC remained on the air. Although PBS is still shown, they are routinely threatened with extinction by Congress. I like it when cable offers the BBC, because American networks are weak as to international news. The Weather Channel comes in handy in a storm. CSPAN is a plus when Congress is debating something important. The History Channel occasionally has a good story, and Discovery once in a while carries solid science. The Travel Channel is sometimes educational. MSNBC was needed to counterbalance Fox, the Republican network, and to replace CNN, which inconsistently jumped from serious news, to frivolous stuff.

But cable could be so much better, if consumers were allowed to pick a minimum basic lineup of 12 stations, for $1 per channel. I would select PBS, BBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, the Weather Channel, C-Span, C-Span-2, ESPN and the Big Ten Network. After purchasing a basic 12-pack, consumers could then select additional stations, again for $1 each. I would add History, Travel and Discovery, bringing my total to $15. I might also add a few movie channels, depending what they carried, for $1 sums.

We currently subsidize many stations not worth watching with our monthly payments. By allowing consumers to choose, we could remove most of the junk from cable, as several stations would find themselves without enough viewers. Why should I be forced to subsidize Fox, the Republican political network? Does anyone really watch religious programming? Degenerate entertainment like the hideous Jerry Springer Show, where people swear and throw chairs would die. How many Sci-Fi ax murderers do we need? Dumb Hollywood-types, like Paris Hilton, Ozzie Osborn, and the Kardashians, who have never done anything to deserve TV attention, would come to an end.

Viewers are smarter than cable companies assume, and most would turn to quality programs. We should let consumers choose their cable shows via their pocketbooks and improve TV viewing.

06/27/2011

Regulation Of Phones Was Not Bad

When my Verizon phone bill came to a higher than usual sum this month, I had to question it, since I rarely call anyone. As I examined it, I noticed I was charged extra for going over my 500 minutes. After a couple calls to Verizon, certain overcharges were reversed, but the episode reminded me of how things used to be.

In the old days, each geographic area had just one Telephone Company, which was granted a monopoly, but was regulated by the government. The system worked fairly well, as land line reception was good, monthly bills for local calls were a set sum, and the only added charges were for itemized long distance calls.

We did not pay for each and every local call. Users made as many of them as they wanted, no matter how many minutes were consumed. Now, the meter is constantly running as to local calls.

Back then, we were billed only for the long distance calls we placed to someone else. Now, we are charged every time someone calls us, locally or from a long distance, whether or not we want to talk to the caller. Even if the call is unsolicited, we get billed.

We are also subjected to other charges. This month, my bill once again had “messaging” charges, despite previously notifying Verizon on three separate occasions not to allow any texting. Since the phone company is unregulated, these abuses continue.

In the old days, the phone company would install phones and take them back when service ended. Now, consumers are forced to buy them. As the phone company continually upgrades equipment, they convince consumers to spend hundreds on the latest gadgets (most of which are not needed), while they reap huge profits.

The rate of inflation as to phone service and equipment over the past few decades has galloped in relation to other expenses. Since there are now only a few phone companies, there is little effective competition, and there continues to be a need for regulation.

While cell phones have been a major technological advance in terms of flexibility over the traditional land lines, the decline in federal regulation over phone companies has hurt consumers. It would be refreshing to hear politicians promote regulation again.