Posts tagged ‘Romney’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Social Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) VOTING RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS: Which party is more likely to promote a constitution amendment to remove money from campaigns, or appoint Supreme Court justices willing to interpret large contributions as bribery? Romney goes in the wrong direction as he suggests getting rid of campaign finance laws. (1-16-12). Who is more likely to promote and protect the right to vote by removing unnecessary obstacles, and yet preserve the integrity of the system? Democrats clearly win this one.

(D) MEDICARE: Although the nation must get Medicare spending under control, Romney has no solution, for he would block grant it to the states, which would effectively kill it. (10-18-11) (11-12-11) (2-22-12). Not changing things for current retirees is just a way of screwing those who’ll retire later (1-8-12) Romney wants a premium voucher program, which inevitably will not cover increases in insurance company premiums (1-16-12).

(D) MEDICAID: Romney would also effectively end Medicaid by sending it to the states. (1-16-12). As he put it, he would get the government out of Medicaid. (1-19-12). The problem is a large segment of the population will prematurely die off.

(D) HEALTH CARE COSTS: Health care needs tough federal regulation to control doctor and hospital costs, as well as drug prices, but neither party openly proposes a solution. Since regulation is the only answer, and the modern Republican Party never advocates price controls, Romney cannot be the solution.

(D) OBAMACARE: Romney was wrong when he thought Obamacare would be declared unconstitutional. (12-10-11). He repeatedly promised to repeal it. (10-11-11) (10-18-11) (1-7-12) (1-16-12) (1-19-12) (2-22-12). He posed a good question when he asked what we would be replaced with. (10-11-11). He alleged Obamacare raises taxes 500 billion, cuts Medicare 500 billion, and is a government takeover. (10-11-11). He thinks eliminating it would save 95 billion annually (11-12-11) (1-7-12). Romney would give states health care waivers (9-22-11), which effectively would repeal it. Since the current health care system is dysfunctional, the greatest problem with the Republican position is their failure to suggest a rational intelligent alternative.

(D) INDIVIDUAL MANDATE: Romney argued people need to purchase health insurance to show their personal responsibility. (8-11-11) (11-9-11). He said uninsured persons are going to emergency rooms and taxpayers end up picking up the tab. (9-7-11). Romney insulted those who cannot afford health insurance by calling them “free riders.” (1-26-12). He later contradicted himself saying he opposed the individual mandate (1-23-12). The problem is even with a government voucher program, health care providers and health insurance companies will continue raising costs and premiums, and most will be priced out of coverage. Deductibles and co-pays will continue to rise. Prices need to be controlled and regulated. Since Republicans will never regulate, the vote has got to go to the Democrats.

(D) PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Romney said he would not repeal the unfunded Prescription Drug Program started by Little Bush (9-12-11). The problem is we need drug price regulation, but the Republicans will never do it. Our only hope is with Democrats.

(D) SOCIAL SECURITY RETIREMENT: Social Security retirement should never be confused with Medicare, or other social welfare programs. The retirement plan, created in 1935, is the most successful and efficient program ever created by the federal government. It needs nothing, except to be left alone. While Romney called it an “essential program” (9-12-11), Republicans from Reagan to Little Bush have advocated phasing it out. So, even though Romney said we should save the retirement plan (9-7-11), he would be pressured by House Republicans to push a right-wing agenda, which is to privatize it. Although Romney said it would not change for current retirees (1-8-12), he would add a year or two to the retirement age (1-16-12).

(D) WELFARE: Romney would turn poverty programs back to the states (1-8-12), which would kill them. He thinks Obama is creating a welfare state (1-19-12), and the U.S. has become an entitlement society. (1-16-12). Romney would block grant Food Stamps (2-22-12), which would cripple the needs of the hungry.

(D) EDUCATION: Romney apparently thinks there is something wrong with teacher unions, as he said he would stand up them. (9-22-11) While he would test children in math and English (2-22-12), which is fine, too many Republicans push the idea of privatizing schools, a long range threat to our culture.

(D) EDUCATIONAL TV/PUBLIC BROADCASTING (PBS): In an shocking campaign promise, Romney said he would eliminate Public Broadcasting (11-12-11). At a time when more, not less, non-fictional programming on science is needed, why cut PBS? Personally, it’s the only benefit I ever received from the federal government. I can’t believe any candidate would eliminate it.

(D) ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: In Presidential elections, we don’t just elect a man; we choose a party to manage the agencies of government. If Romney wins, House Republicans will name the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Extremists like Republican Michelle Bachmann, who advocated abolishing it, will have influence. If Romney wins, we will have a weak EPA. We should prefer over-regulation, than the other way around. Although Romney said we can’t let pollution flow from one state to another (1-8-12), which implies a need for federal law, modern Republicans cannot be trusted to regulate.

(D) FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA) The storm that just hit the East Coast is a good reminder of how bad it would be if FEMA had been abolished, or privatized. We need to remember we all sink or swim together.

(D) SUPREME COURT: It is likely the next President will appoint one or more Justices. A Romney win would tip the court to the hard right. The Court currently has four right-wing Justices: Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts (on most issues). Reagan’s appointee Kennedy completes the usual conservative majority, which has existed since 1972.

(D) ABORTION: The secular right to “liberty” found in the 5th and 14th Amendments allows women to have an abortion in the earlier stages of pregnancy, when the fetus is incapable of living outside the womb. As a practical matter, attempts to outlaw abortion have been a waste of time. Even if the anti-abortion crowd had another Justice, who would ignore precedent, and reverse Roe v Wade, subsequent attempts to convict women and doctors would fail. Prosecutors will never get 12 jurors to convict women or doctors, and there would be hung jury after hung jury. We live in a free country which has no official religious creed. People disagree as to whether life begins at birth, or some other point before the fetus can live outside the womb. Romney, a missionary for the very conservative Mormon Church, will almost certainly appoint right-wing Justices. He changed his position on abortion. Most recently, he said he is pro-life (12-15-11) (1-19-12). He said Roe v Wade was wrong, it should be overturned, and the issue should be left to the states. (1-7-12). His stand would only give religious fanatics the power to impose their religious views on a secular society, filled with many who want to be free.

(D) CONTRACEPTIVES: Romney did not think any state wanted to ban contraceptives (1-7-12), but he is part of a right-wing Republican Party willing to turn back the hands of time.

(D) GAYS: Romney, whose Mormon grandfather fled the U.S. and moved to Mexico, because he believed strongly in the right to have more than one wife, ironically wants to amend the Constitution to limit marriages to one man and one women. Why the Republicans want to control the life of gays, who are genetically predisposed, is a mystery. We live in free country. It’s time to leave gays alone. Although Romney opposes same-sex marriage (12-15-11) (1-8-12) (1-16-12), and would amend the constitution to stop gay marriage (1-7-12) (1-8-12), the Democrats have the better position, as they believe in personal freedom.

(D) GUNS: Neither party is doing much to control hand guns in cities. Romney signed an assault weapons ban when he was Gov. in Massachusetts, but now he says he is pro-gun (12-15-11). The Republicans offer little hope to control firearm violence.

(D) RELIGION: Romney served overseas in France as a missionary for the Mormon Church. (12-10-11). He said he would seek guidance and providence in making critical decisions (1-26-12). He thinks Obama is somehow attacking religious freedom. (2-22-12). I have no idea what Romney is talking about.

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Economic Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) DEFICITS AND DEBT: Which party has shown an ability to end deficit spending and produce surpluses? Reagan made drastic tax cuts for the rich in 1981 and 1986, and tripled the debt. Bill Clinton’s budget in 1993 was passed by Democrats, without a single Republican vote, and it led to surpluses. Little Bush cut tax rates again, started an optional war in Iraq, and failed to request taxes for it. He just handed a great recession to Obama. While right-wing Republicans control the House, and promise to spend more on the military, they stubbornly refuse to tax for it. There’s no reason to believe they are capable of managing the debt.

(D) TAXES IN GENERAL: Which party is more likely to implement fair tax policies that may correct the deficit and debt. Romney said he would not raise taxes. (1-8-12). He stated a desire to lower them even further. (1-16-12). He said we only need taxes for the military, nothing else. (1-7-12) With these extreme positions, he would never get close to correcting deficits and debt.

(D) TAXES: CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS AND INTEREST: Which party has the better position on taxes as to capital gains, corporate dividends, and interest income? Romney repeatedly said during the Republican debates he wanted to completely eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest (9-7-11) (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (12-10-11) (1-16-12) He later said he would limit his plan to incomes of less than $200,000. (1-23-12) In either event, it’s unfair to people who pay taxes on earned income. His policies would either raise taxes on the Middle Class, or make the deficit and debt worse. He never explained how he would make up for the lost revenues.

(D) TAXES: PAYROLL: Which party is more likely to promote tax cuts for regular workers? Romney was dismissive of Obama’s ongoing payroll tax cuts, as he called them a band-aid (12-10-11)

(D) TAXES: CORPORATE: Romney advocated lowering the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. (11-9-11). This new loss of revenue would have to be made up by the Middle Class.

(D) TAXES: RETIREES & THOSE WITH SMALL INCOMES: Although everyone pays sales taxes, gas taxes, real estate taxes (as a part of rent), as well as other excise taxes, Romney said everyone (poor, elderly, etc.) should pay income taxes. (9-7-11).

(D) TAX RETURNS AND HIDDEN WEALTH: Why didn’t Romney disclose more personal income tax returns? Romney promised to release “multiple years.” (1-19-12). In the end, however, he only showed us two years. We don’t know if he is hiding something, or telling the truth. Gingrich said Romney lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts (1-26-12)

(D) BUDGET, NATIONAL DEBT, MILITARY SPENDING: Romney said we need to stop spending like we have for the past 40 years. (1-8-12). He was critical about leaving debt to the next generation. (11-9-11). He claimed he would cut spending, but he didn’t explain how (11-9-11), except by saying he would ban earmarks. (2-22-12). Romney promises not to cut wasteful military spending, of any kind. (10-11-11). He wants 350 million for the F-22, more aircraft carriers, more Navy cruisers, more Air Force bombers, and more troops. (11-22-11). He would increase Navy shipbuilding each year from 9 to 15, and would add 100,000 troops. (12-15-11) (1-23-12) (2-22-12). He makes the case for the other side, saying Obama is shrinking the military (1-7-12) Romney thinks our Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (1-16-12) (1-23-12).

(D) JOBS: Which party would be better for promoting jobs? Obama inherited a recession where unemployment reached over 10% in 2009. It is now down to 7.9% and the trend has been in the right direction the past three years. Romney incorrectly argued no jobs were created from the job stimulus bill (10-11-11) He said Obama’s polices worsened the job situation, which is obviously a false claim (1-7-12). Romney argues the government doesn’t create jobs (12-15-11), the private sector does (12-10-11), but then inconsistently blames Obama for not creating jobs.

(D) LABOR: Which party is more likely to protect the rights of working people? The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) insures fairness between organized labor and management. Romney said he would curtail the NLRB (12-10-11), and would promote anti-union “right to work” laws throughout the U.S. (1-8-12) He repeatedly showed hostility towards the NLRB, by saying it was filled with “labor stooges” (1-8-12) (1-19-12).

(D) MINIMUM WAGE: Do you think Romney would ever promote an increase in the minimum wage? In one word: no.

(D) MANUFACTURING: Which party appears to be more interested in saving American manufacturing? The Republicans clearly opposed loans help GM and Chrysler get through the Great Recession. Over fierce opposition, Obama helped them. Had they gone through bankruptcy, the nation would now be reeling from the economic ripple effects. Obama took a gamble and succeeded.  Romney said funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler (10-11-11) Romney again said the auto bailout was wrong; they should have gone bankrupt. (11-9-11).

(D) AGRICULTURE: Romney would end farm subsidies as he said to let the markets work. (1-23-12). What he is actually promoting is a localized depression in Midwestern small towns.

(D) TRANSPORTATION/MASS TRANSIT: In one debate, Romney advocated improving the infrastructure, by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds and air transport systems. We can’t criticize him for that, but we should not forget his party harbors the likes of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Scott of Florida, who blocked mass transit proposals. So on transit, it appears the Republican Party will not help America enter the 21st Century.

(D) ENERGY: Who has the better energy policy? Romney wants energy security and independence by using our own resources (10-18-11 (1-7-12) (1-19-12) That’s a nice idea, but energy resources are fungible and are sold on world markets, so no nation controls them. Romney put emphasis on developing coal, oil, gas, and nuclear (9-7-11)(1-16-12) He’d give more permits for natural gas and oil drills. (12-15-11). He does not discuss solar or wind, but why not? Since Obama includes all energy resources, his policy is better.

(N) ANTITRUST: Has either candidate advocated antitrust lawsuits to break up companies too big to fail? No. Antitrust was a Republican idea in 1890, and prosecutions are now needed to break up the concentrations of power in the hands of a few.

(D) FEDERAL RESERVE: Romney claims Federal Reserve chair Bernanke pumped too much money into the economy (9-7-11), and he would discharge him. (10-11-11). He said Congress should have Fed oversight, but no control over the currency. (9-12-11). Since Romney is opposed to priming the pump through Monetary Policy, how would he have stimulated it?

(D) BANK BAILOUTS: At one point, Romney said he didn’t want to save the Wall Street banks, as Bush did (2-22-12). It appears he would have just let the system collapse, but if that had happened, we’d be in a deep depression right now.

(D) WALL STREET: Romney correctly pointed out the derivatives market was not regulated (1-23-12), but he failed to promote a regulation of it. He instead criticized those occupying Wall Street, by saying they were engaged in dangerous class warfare (10-18-11).

(D) HOUSING: Romney supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (10-11-11) (10-18-11) He accused Fannie and Freddie of offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them (1-26-12). He opposed the Dodd-Frank law, claiming it makes it harder for banks to make loans (1-7-12)(1-8-12).  He said the government should not stop the banks from foreclosing (10-18-11). He claimed Obama was holding off the foreclosure process, and argued we must let the market work (11-9-11) His non-solution solution is to block-grant housing vouchers (2-22-12).

(D) VULTURE CAPITALIST: If Romney wins, he’ll be the first President with a vulture capitalist background. He claims to have successfully operated businesses (12-15-11), but he was really a Bain investor, who just made money for himself and his partners. Gingrich accused him of profiting by stripping American businesses of assets,  bankrupting companies, and laying off workers (1-7-12) Romney said they had to be downsized (1-7-12) Gingrich said Romney’s Bain looted companies and left people unemployed (1-8-12). Gingrich said he was engaged in vulture capitalism. (1-16-12). In an interesting contradiction, while discussing tax returns, Romney said his income came from a blind trust. He said the money I earn: “is not made by me.” (1-26-12).

09/19/2012

Romney’s 47% Comment Was Ignorant

Mitt Romney comment that 47% of the voters pay no income taxes, are dependent on the government, and will vote for President Obama no matter what, is not only misleading and incorrect, it demonstrates a shocking political ignorance, or a deep cynicism by a candidate willing to twist, manipulate, and confuse statistics to his strategic advantage.

But what was even worse was the media’s initial response, as it was seriously challenged, showing little awareness or knowledge of the many inaccuracies contained in Romney’s statement.

There are 308,000 million people in the U.S. including 234,000 adults, and 74 million children.

234 million, 18 years of age or older, can vote, if they register, and are not otherwise disqualified due to a felony status.

Of the 234 million, only 55% or 130 million actually voted for President in 2008. 45%, constituting 104 million Americans, failed to vote.

Of the 55% who voted, 70 million, or 53%, went for Obama, and 60 million, or 47%, chose McCain.

With regards to federal income taxes, 162 million households are occupied by 234 million adults.

86 million households, representing 53%, paid at least some federal income taxes, while 76 million, or 47%, paid none.

Romney was wrong in many ways:

1) Many of the 74 million children in the U.S. are dependent on the government, but they cannot vote, and will not vote for Obama.

2) Many of the 104 million adults who don’t vote, receive government benefits, but they won’t be voting for Obama, because they failed to register, or simply are not interested in politics, and won’t show up on Election Day.

3) Of the 60 million who voted for McCain, a substantial number and probably at least half, paid no income taxes. We know McCain received more than half of the retirees, most of whom pay no income taxes. McCain also got votes from people earning more than $50,000, who were able to reduce their taxable income to zero by using mortgage interest expenses and other deductions.

The probable truth is only 25% of those who receive government benefits voted for Obama, as 25% voted for McCain, and 50% did not vote at all.

06/14/2012

Coal: Why Don’t Republicans Discuss It?

During the Republican debates, aside from Gov. Romney’s comment that he would promote coal, and Sen. Santorum’s disclosure that he served on a coal company board, the other conservatives simply encouraged oil and gas drilling, criticized clean energy like solar and wind, but said nothing about coal.

Although Republicans argued in favor of repealing regulations that interfere with energy, expressed a desire to eliminate the Energy Dept., and repeatedly demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency get out of the way, they were not specific.

So what would their coal policy be? The question is important because coal remains a major energy source. Large quantities of it are sold to electric power plants, as over half of all electric power in the U.S. is generated by coal. As coal is burned, it heats water in boilers, creates steam, spins turbines, and generates electricity.

The U.S. has one-third of the world’s coal supply, enough to mine for another 350 years. The U.S. started burning coal around 1850 and its use eventually turned America into a strong industrial nation. Most U.S. mining has been located in West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as other parts of the Appalachians, from Pennsylvania to Alabama.

Only Russia has greater coal reserves. Germany’s deposits are in the Ruhr River Valley, Britain’s are in Wales, and China’s are in Manchuria. Historically, coal fields were so important, nations fought wars over them. Germany and France, for example, battled over Alsace Lorraine, Saarland, and the Ruhr many times.

But what are the political issues in the U.S.? One issue concerns mine safety and the rights of coal miners, as coal mining is potentially dangerous. Most coal miners in the U.S. descend about 260 feet underground. Mines must be constructed properly and ventilated constantly. If the pillars in mines supporting their roofs collapse, cave-ins can be fatal. If the air flowing into the mines is interrupted, gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane can build up, catch fire, and explode causing death.

Another issue is the air pollution generated from burning coal. While some equipment eliminates some smoke and soot, there remain many environmental costs from using coal.

The two progressive forces that have protected workers regarding safety, and the public as to pollution, namely the unions and the Environmental Protection Agency, are being attacked by the Republicans.

Although the United Mine Workers Union contributed greatly to mine safety laws, such as the Coal Mine Inspection Act, the Republicans have declared war against all organized labor, and cannot be trusted do anything about mining safety complaints.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency has been the watchdog for the public as to air pollution generated by power plants, Republicans have pledged to abolish it, and our air will not be as safe, if the right-wing gains total control.

Although the Republicans have not clearly stated a coal policy, what they have said about destroying unions and dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency is all we need to know to figure out the rest. We should be concerned that if the right-wing takes total control, the coal industry will become more dangerous to workers, and the purity of the air will decline.

06/07/2012

Wisconsin: How to Win Badger State

People scratch their heads upon learning Wisconsinites blew away Sen. John McCain by 14 points when supporting President Obama in 2008, but then gave right-winger Scott Walker 52% of the vote in the 2010 governor’s race, and an even slightly larger margin of 53% in the 2012 gubernatorial recall.

The distinction between the Presidential and Governor’s race is relatively easy to understand, because the issues were different. Since the state’s dominant German-American population was sent to Europe in World War I to fight an unclear battle against the Kaiser, the Badger State has had an antiwar tilt. When Sen. John McCain visited in 2008, he found no friendly military bases at which to push his endless idea of war, and as the articulate Sen. Obama delivered a message that Iraq was a mistake, it was well received. While it is no surprise McCain lost in a landslide, the Democrats must be mindful, the next contest will be much closer, as Romney has none of McCain’s military baggage.

The other factor in the governor’s election and recall survival was the focus on economics. Wisconsinites also have a very deep-seated German-American work ethic. Whether they are socialists, willing to spread the wealth, or hard-core capitalists, they all share the same belief that government must be run efficiently. They do not like seeing or hearing about waste, fraud, or abuse. Since the governor’s contest involved economics, instead of foreign affairs, the race was necessarily much closer than the 2008 contest.

The third factor has to do with political science and understanding it is generally difficult to win a statewide contest using a Madison or Milwaukee-based strategy. While Illinois, with a population of 13 million, can be won by turning out votes in greater Chicago, where 8 million reside, Wisconsin, with a total of 6 million, is not dominated by greater Milwaukee, as it only has 2 million. It was a fundamental mistake to hope Madison or Milwaukee could single-handedly carry the day. It was also a major error to have pep rallies at the end with Jessie Jackson, as he may have unintentionally triggered heavy white turnouts, in Republican dominated Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee counties.

Democrats have to remember winning Wisconsin means playing in all 72 counties, not just Madison or Milwaukee. In the past, with the notable exception of Jim Doyle of Madison, whose father was a federal judge, governors have come from small towns in the northern or western areas. The fact Walker was elected even though he was a Milwaukee County Executive, was because his opponent Tom Barrett, was Milwaukee Mayor, and the voters had no choice.

In the past, Republican Tommy Thompson (1987-01) came from little Elroy, in Western Wisconsin. Democrat Tony Earl (1983-87) was elected from Wausau, in the north. Republican Lee Dreyfus hailed from nearby Stevens Point, in the north. Democrat Patrick Lucey (1971-77) crawled out of tiny Gays Mills, a poor little Crawford County town, four hours from Milwaukee, near the Mississippi. Republican Warren Knowles claimed New Richmond, in the northwest. Democrat John Reynolds (1963-65) hailed from Green Bay, in the northeast. Democrat Gaylord Nelson (1959-63) came from little Clear Lake, in the northwest. Republican Vernon Thompson (1957-59) was from the farming town of Richland Center, in the southwest.

It is too easy to divide and conquer against a Milwaukee mayor. People in little white towns, who have never met anyone like Jessie Jackson, certainly were not even going to listen to his chants. They tend to think all big city people want to do is take their guns away. To neutralize the prejudice, next time, Democrats need a guy like Tom Barrett, only one without the Milwaukee or Madison label, or in other words, one from a small town. If the Republicans slander machine had not had all the problems of Milwaukee to unfairly dump on Barrett’s head, the election may have favored a Democrat.

05/31/2012

Auto Loans: Romney Tries to Hitch Ride

It was funny earlier this month when Gov. Romney tried to take credit for the auto industry bailout that saved Chrysler and GM from a certain Chapter 7 bankruptcy, by providing federal loans in a depressed economy where no money whatsoever was available from private sector banks. I mean it was not just odd that Romney would say what he did, in that sense of the word funny, but truly funny to the point where we couldn’t stop laughing, as we listened to Romney say he supported the auto industry bailout, all along.

Romney must really think we are stupid. As painful as it was, I had watched all 20 Republican debates, just to listen to what the right-wingers were saying. All of their candidates, including Romney, repeatedly stated an opposition to the loans that saved Chrysler and GM. They had no concern for the countless number of jobs that would have been lost, not only at those companies, but at the component part factories that also would have closed.

In the debates, Romney said he would have let Chrysler and GM go bankrupt. (6-13-11) Funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler, he argued. (10-11-11). The auto bailout was wrong, he insisted, as he opposed the transfer of GM to the UAW, and Chrysler to Fiat. (11-9-11) As the debates dragged on, Romney often repeated his talking points that the government should not have loaned money to GM or Chrysler, and again insisted they should have been allowed to go bankrupt. (12-8-11)

It was only when Romney approached the Michigan primary that he started campaigning differently. Then he said: “No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear.” (2-22-12). It’s interesting how he changed his tune so quickly. Santorum correctly pointed out Romney was not a principled person, because he favored the Wall Street bailout, but opposed any aid for the Detroit auto workers. (2-22-12)

The truth is Obama inherited an auto industry that was on the verge of bankruptcy, but he refused to let it die. Now, GM is once again the world’s number one automaker, Chrysler has grown, and Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants. The industry has now added 160,000 jobs, and Obama said we will soon be selling U.S. cars in Korea. (1-25-12)

Hopefully, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will not forget the truth of where Romney stood in their hour of need. Obama deserves credit for saving not only two of our most important auto factories, but also their component part suppliers. And Romney, the next time you totally contradict yourself, which we have come to learn is on a fairly regular basis, please at least try to come up with a lie that is much more plausible. After all, the debates were videotaped.

05/30/2012

Jobs: Republicans Deserve No Credit

It always amusing when Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Walker take credit for job increases, as if they personally interviewed the unemployed, one by one, and told them they were hired. While Democrats have historically helped those out of work by creating public sector jobs, Republicans don’t even budget enough money to meet the current government payroll, and they certainly are not entitled to take credit for any new government employment.

As to the private sector, governments can only indirectly stimulate economic activity through Fiscal Policies, which increase government spending. Since Republicans again routinely vote against job stimulus bills, they cannot legitimately take credit for any employment the government may trigger in the private sector.

When politicians like Republican Gov. Perry claim they added 1 million new jobs in Texas, they try to take credit for something they did not do, since they added no public sector jobs, and stimulated no private employment, through state budgeting.

While Gov. Romney argued jobs are established in the private sector, and not in Washington, he repeatedly failed to explain his theory that only those who understand “how the economy works” can create employment. The truth is merely understanding “how the economy works” is not a formula for job creation. Slogans like: “to create jobs, you have to have had one,” sound great, but insult our intelligence, since they explain nothing.

What is funny is when politicians like Romney, Perry, Huntsman, Bachmann, Ron Paul, Gingrich, and all the others, repeat the standard Republican talking points that jobs can be created by eliminating regulation, lowering taxes, and repealing Health Care.

Just how would the elimination of regulations create jobs? Have you ever thought about it? The right wing repeatedly makes this argument, but nobody pauses to think about what they are saying? If we repealed food safety rules made by the Food and Drug Administration, our health would be endangered for sure, but how would that create jobs, except perhaps in emergency rooms? If we eliminated air safety rules promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration, we may have more plane crashes, but explain the job creation theory, because the connection is not at all obvious.

Lowering taxes to create jobs is another interesting theory. President George W. Bush tried it in a big way, as he dramatically cut taxes for the wealthy, and what happened? 4 million lost their jobs in 2008, in the six months before President Obama took office. Bush’s cuts sounded good to the wealthy, but if the policy had worked for all of us, the rich would have used their new wealth to invest in job creation, but they obviously did not do that.

How would the repeal of the new Health Care law increase jobs? If the nation will be adding health coverage for 40 million people, one need not be a rocket scientist to understand that a countless number of jobs will necessarily be created to take care of them. The right wing theory that repealing the law would somehow add jobs is totally baseless and illogical.

While Republicans pay lip service to unemployment, saying it is a tragedy that affects millions, they avoid direct solutions like public works hiring projects, and oppose government stimulus plans. Reducing taxes for the rich, eliminating unspecific regulations, and making other reforms not even remotely related to jobs, is no answer. The very least the right wingers and Republicans could do is avoid taking credit for jobs, since they certainly have no right to claim credit for them.

05/24/2012

Dodd-Frank: What Did The Law Include?

After the crash of 2008, the Democratic Party, led by President Obama, passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act of 2010, and even though all Republicans, including Gov. Romney, instinctively denounced it during the Republican debates (2011-2012), perhaps it would be wise to first examine its many sub-titles, before passing judgment.

CONSUMER PROTECTION FROM BANKS: Title X of Dodd-Frank created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which can regulate banks, payday lenders, and other financial institutions. Its job is to protect consumers from abusive financial practices by promoting transparency and fairness as to mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and other financial natters.

MORTGAGES REMOVE PREDATORY PRACTICES: Title XIV of Dodd-Frank outlaws predatory lending by reforming mortgages. It requires loan originators to make a good faith effort to verify that consumers reasonably have the ability to repay their loans, when considering 2nd mortgages, insurance, assessments, and taxes. Points and fees are now limited to 3% of the loan.

INVESTOR PROTECTION: Title IX helps those who invest in stocks, bonds, and securities. It protects stockholders from being ripped off by those managing corporations, by requiring the disclosure of all CEO compensation. It makes Credit Reporting Agencies, such as Moody’s and Standard and Poors, provide accurate reports as to the financial condition of businesses. It gives the SEC the authority to impose greater fiduciary duties on securities brokers and dealers. It also addresses the sale of asset-backed securities and creates an office of the Investor Advocate.

FINANCIAL STABILITY IS GOAL: One explicit purpose of the law was to promote financial stability by ending bailouts for entities “too big to fail.” To better monitor the financial markets Title I of Dodd-Frank created: 1) Financial Stability Oversight Council; and 2) Office of Financial Research.

LAW COORDINATES FEDERAL AGENCIES: Dodd-Frank brings together representatives of: 1) Treasury; 2) Federal Reserve; 3) Currency; 4) Consumer Protection;  5) SEC; 6) FDIC; 7) Commodities; 8) Housing Finance; and 9) Credit Union Board.

LIQUIDATIONS INCLUDE INSURANCE AND NON-BANKS: The existing ability to liquidate banks was broadened to include insurance companies and non-bank financial entities. It allows for the orderly winding down of bankrupt firms.

BANKS CAN NO LONGER ENGAGE IN SPECULATION: The Volker Rule prohibits banks from engaging in proprietary trading.

HEDGE FUNDS AND VENTURE CAPITAL REGULATION: The law now regulates hedge funds and private equity funds. Investment advisors, hedge funds, and private equity firms now have to register with the SEC.

DEFAULT SWAPS AND DERIVATIVES REGULATION: Dodd-Frank brought the sale of derivatives out into the open, by requiring that they be traded on the exchanges.

INSURANCE REGULATION: The law allows the monitoring of the insurance industry.

LAW REQUIRES MONEY BE PAID BACK: Dodd-Frank reduced the amounts available under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (2008) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (2008) and restricted the use of federal funds.

Dodd-Frank provided protection to consumers, credit card users, mortgage borrowers, and investors, and it gave the government more power to regulate the financial sector, so as to provide greater stability for all of us. The knee-jerk objection to the law by Republicans like Romney simply shows how out of touch he is with real people, and how much he is in bed with Wall Street.

05/23/2012

Bank Bailouts: Were They Needed?

As the banks crashed in 2008, George Bush’s government took action to bail them out, and his emergency measures continued under President Obama in 2009, and beyond, as both parties, at least tacitly, approved of the efforts.

During the Republican primary debates in 2011 and 2012, all of the conservatives criticized the bank bailouts, including Congresswoman Bachmann who categorically opposed all government loans. Congressman Ron Paul said he would not give any assistance to any private firm. He mocked the bailouts saying: “They thought the world would end, if we did not bail out the banks.” He was concerned, because he said the Fed even sent five billion overseas to bail out foreign banks.

Gov. Huntsman opposed the bailouts, arguing we spent trillions, and have nothing to show for it. Sen. Santorum opposed the bank rescue, noting he would have done nothing about the meltdown. He said the financial institutions should have been allowed to go bankrupt. Why prop them up through government, he asked? Santorum asked Gov. Romney why he supported the Wall Street bank bailouts, if he believed in capitalism. Why not let destructive capitalism work, he asked?

Gov. Romney felt President Bush had to take action to keep all banks from closing, but characteristically contradicted himself, saying: “I didn’t want to save Wall Street banks.” Romney also said if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give a blank check, or go over there to save their banks, but then he contradicted himself again, saying he would take action, if all of the economies of the entire world were collapsing, because we would need to prevent a contagion from affecting U.S. banks.

While the banks survived thanks to the bailouts, we have no way of knowing for sure what would have happened if the government had done nothing. At the very least, several major institutions would have closed their doors, and it is likely the entire economy would have sustained major seizures. Instead of 10% out of work, the country may have confronted a 25% unemployment rate, and people would have been asking why no intervention was taken.

In retrospect, the bank bailouts were appropriate to get the big institutions through their perilous moment, provided the loans extended by the government are now fully repaid, with interest.

Since the big banks were “too big to fail,” the government made the correct decision to save them, but now that the crisis has ended, it’s time to break them up, under new antitrust laws, so if we face a similar situations in the future, we will be able to let much smaller downsized institutions simply go under.