Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Brief Update

It's been a while since I've posted anything to the blog, and with the disastrous election results in November, it's been especially difficult to become motivated.

However, to keep up with what's going on, I suggest visiting the Laconia Democrats Facebook page.

I'll try to post more frequently as the legislative session begins and Republicans try to reverse the progress made over the past four years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Local Democrats Have Big Plans for Weekend

LACONIA – With primary season now officially behind us with today’s vote, the Laconia Democratic Party is gearing up its Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts for November’s elections.

“Unlike the Republicans, we didn’t have a lot of contested primary races,” observed Laconia Democratic Party Chair Beth Arsenault. “That’s afforded us an opportunity to begin early our strategy for turning out the vote in November.”

This Saturday local Democrats will be conducting their first door-to-door canvass, with volunteers gathering at Arsenault’s house on Cottonwood Avenue. “We’re planning on two waves of canvassers, one hitting the streets at 11 a.m. followed by another group at 2 p.m.,” Arsenault indicated. “We’re excited that NH House Speaker Teri Norelli will be participating – going door to door with other volunteers.”

Following the afternoon of face-to-face meetings with voters, volunteers and other party activists will join together for a Harvest Cookoff at the Leavitt Park clubhouse beginning at 5 p.m.

“We’re inviting people who can’t participate in the canvass to share with volunteers their favorite fall dishes,” Arsenault explained. “This is the time of year when the aroma of fresh applesauce and apple pie, great stews and soups, and of course countless pumpkin recipes fill New Hampshire kitchens, and we expect many to be shared and sampled.”

For those volunteers participating in the canvass, Arsenault has promised to bake fresh apple pies for the ones who knocked on the most doors and collected from residents the most pledges to vote. “We’re confident that when people look at the issues and where the two parties stand, the majority will vote Democratic,” Arsenault said. “In the four short years that Democrats have had control of state government they’ve tackled the education funding crisis, they’ve balanced the budget during extraordinarily tough economic times, and they’ve managed to preserve the safety net for the most needy while at the same time creating opportunities for businesses to flourish.”

The local Democratic Party has endorsed five candidates for the NH House, including incumbents Arsenault and Richard Stuart, as well as Ed Allard, David Stamps and Maureen Baxley.

“We’re really fortunate to have so many well qualified, dedicated individuals willing to represent Laconia,” Arsneault said. “As voters get to know them better over the next couple of months, I expect they’ll be as enamored of the group as I am.”

The local party will also be heavily engaged in turning out the vote for NH Senate candidate Andrew Hosmer, the re-election of Governor John Lynch, the re-election of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and the election of Paul Hodes as the next U.S. Senator.

Anyone wishing to volunteer or to participate in the Canvassing should contact Beth Arsenault at 528-1727. For those interested in contributing to the Harvest Cookoff, contact Judie Reever at 525-2644 or Jane Wood at 528-2119.

“The more people we have, the merrier,” Arsenault insisted.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The President Speaks on Health Care in Portsmouth

President Barack Obama addressed a crowd in Portsmouth, NH today, focusing on his proposal for health care reform.

Let’s talk about health care reform

We all know that health care costs are climbing at an alarming rate, consuming a share of our Gross Domestic Product that simply cannot be sustained. Businesses are struggling to afford the cost of employee health insurance, the number of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical expenses is at record levels and mounting, and virtually every branch of government is trying to come to terms with employee benefit costs that are breaking their budgets.

Add to that the rising number of Americans who have no health insurance and instead have to forego treatment or avail themselves of hospital emergency rooms for even the most routine care, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Obama is correct in demanding that our nation reform its health care system. It’s become an enormous black hole, sucking in every available resource. And yet despite this overwhelming spending, the success at treating patients in this country lags far behind other nations that spend a mere fraction of what we do.

A real key to successful health care reform is making certain that everyone is covered. Yes, even those who believe they don’t need health insurance.

I realize that there are many who object to any laws that would force people to have health insurance. Yet virtually every state, including New Hampshire, has laws that require drivers to carry liability insurance. Admittedly, New Hampshire is a rarity, in that it doesn’t mandate that all drivers carry liability insurance. It limits the requirement to certain classes of drivers, including those who’ve been convicted of D.U.I.’s or other significant moving violations. The vast majority of states, however, insist that all drivers be insured and offer proof of insurance whenever stopped by a law enforcement official.

Moreover, every bank and/or lender requires collision insurance on any vehicle being financed. And in case you haven’t noticed, every mortgage lender requires homeowner insurance as well. From worker’s compensation insurance, to product liability insurance and even malpractice insurance, there are all sorts of insurance mandates with which individuals and businesses already comply.

Another key to successfully reforming our health care system is introducing competition. In New Hampshire there are essentially three insurance providers that cover over 90-percent of employer-based benefits. WellPoint (Anthem-Blue Cross) alone has 51 percent of the market, with Cigna and Harvard Pilgrim capturing the rest. The same scenario exists throughout the country, with only a handful of companies dominating the field.

Obama wants to offer a public option that would strengthen the competitive field and subsequently bring down costs. Naturally, the insurance companies are fighting competition. None of them are anxious to end the gravy train they’ve been enjoying.

Now, many fear government involvement in health insurance. Yet nearly all of our seniors are enrolled in Medicare, which is a government sponsored health insurance program that produces exceptional results. And many of our poor and disabled are enrolled in the government supported Medicaid program, though because of funding issues its success has been more marginal.

Add to that the Veteran’s Hospitals, the military’s health care system, and SCHIP, which covers children, and you’ve already got major government involvement in providing health insurance and health care services. It isn’t as if the government hasn’t produced a viable track record in providing health care for its citizens.

Ironically, many people express concern that health care reform will require dealing with government bureaucrats who will come between them and their doctors. Has anyone not dealt with insurance company bureaucrats? Talk about a staff trained to look for loopholes to deny coverage!

Another concern frequently heard is that government will ration health care, leaving the aged and infirm to die. Come on, people. The whole point of Medicare and Medicaid is to prevent that from occurring.

But yes, some constraints will be placed on spending, just as is true with private insurance companies which always cap the benefits they offer. Unnecessary tests that serve only to inflate the bottom line of providers will be eliminated, as will the prescription of some patented medications for which generic brands offer the same benefits at a much lower cost.

Call it rationing if you must, but from my perspective it’s good financial management. We should not be providing Cadillac coverage as part of a public program when a Chevrolet plan will achieve the same objectives, albeit without the same level of luxury. If people want a more luxurious plan, they can pay for it out of pocket.

That’s precisely what occurs now in our private health care plans. WellPoint offers several different levels of coverage, with premiums that reflect the costs of the benefits. And several insurers offer supplemental coverage above and beyond what Medicare covers. Nothing in Obama’s proposals seeks to curtail those options.

What Obama’s plan is attempting to achieve is ensuring that all Americans have access to basic coverage at a cost that doesn’t break the bank. A public option, that affords more competition in the marketplace, is a key to its success.

My advice is to learn the details of the various plans working their way through Congress, and to the president’s vision for the future of the health care industry. Oh, and don’t be motivated by fear, nor unduly influenced by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

We know the current system is seriously flawed. Now is the time to change it while we still have a chance.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How Foster's Daily Democrat Got It Wrong

Parroting GOP talking points, Foster's Daily Democrat whined in an editorial published on Saturday, July 18, 2008 that N.H shifts the burden onto local governments.

The newspaper, which is contemptible simply by virtue of its disingenuous name, having never espoused a Democratic principle in its lifetime, continues to trumpet the nonsense that NH taxpayers are being burdened by a downshifting in costs from the state level to county and municipal governments.

NH Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan fired back with a response that eviscerates Foster's propaganda.

More aid to cities and towns than ever before

by Senator Maggie Hassan (Democrat-Exeter)

States across the country are slashing budgets to cope with the worst national recession since the Great Depression. New Hampshire, like many other states, made difficult choices to adopt a responsible and balanced budget in these difficult economic times.

But one area where we continued to invest, rather than cut, was in state aid to cities, towns and schools.

The budget we passed makes cuts and changes to just about every area of state government. It reduces the state's workforce by at least 5 percent, closes district courts and the Laconia State Prison. It manages to fund essential services for our most vulnerable citizens through creative reorganization but puts off funding for other worthy programs until better times.

And let's be clear. We did not shortchange our local communities. In fact, in the aggregate, cities, towns and schools receive more direct state aid in this budget than in the last one. Overall, state general fund spending is down about 1 percent. State aid to communities, however, increases 1.7 percent in this budget.

More specifically, at a time when other states have decimated direct aid to local education, New Hampshire has lived up to its commitment to local school districts by substantially increasing education funding. In the next two years, we will send an additional $123 million in education aid to cities and towns — for a total of nearly $2 billion.

It's therefore grossly inaccurate for this editorial page or anyone else to say that the state has failed to live up to its commitment to local governments, or has shifted "the cost of state government onto the backs of local taxpayers" as Sunday's editorial in Fosters did. It is also an especially disappointing example of how difficult it can be to create new approaches to addressing our common needs and obligations in a time of crisis.

Overall aid to cities and towns has increased 1.7 percent. It is true that the state has suspended an arbitrary and outdated revenue sharing system, and reduced its contributions to the retirement costs of local employees. But the state has more than made up for these changes with an overall increase in local aid, including the $123 million in education aid.

The state revenue-sharing formula was devised before the state began spending a billion dollars a year on education. In fact, the revenue sharing concept was devised in part because the state was not contributing significantly to education. As it now stands, the revenue-sharing formula is not based on need and has been frozen for decades even as our population and demographics have shifted dramatically.

This budget also reduces the amount the state contributes to the retirement system for municipal employees. These are municipal, not state, employees, hired by the cities and towns with contracts and benefits negotiated by the cities and towns. The state has subsidized payments to the retirement system for these municipal employees for years. But at a time when we have made tough choices — and asked for sacrifice and creativity from every sector — it is also appropriate and necessary to ask local governments to do more to care for their own in this particular area.

Finally, local communities should recognize that their financial well being depends not only on the amount of direct state aid that they receive, but also on the continuation of many critical state functions preserved in this budget. Local families who receive state welfare payments (matched by the federal government) would have to turn to local property taxpayers for help if the state failed to fund the Aid to Needy Families program. Community hospitals will shut their doors without at least minimal provider payments from the state to help them care for the needy.

Difficult times call for difficult decisions and for all of us to learn how to function — constructively and together — to meet unprecedented challenges. This budget doesn't do things the way they've always been done — it can't and it shouldn't. But it does honor our commitments to keep our state safe and healthy, to educate our young people, to provide a modern infrastructure, and to protect our most vulnerable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reflections on Education Legislation

By Judith Reever

When Governor John Lynch signed Senate Bill 180 into law on July 14, it marked the extraordinary completion of an almost 20-year struggle to meet the Supreme Court’s ruling that the State of New Hampshire provide an adequate education for all students.

Senate Bill 180 was the last piece required to meet the state’s obligation to the funding of education. The Court ruled that the legislature define an adequate education, cost it, fund it and put in place measures to ensure we are providing the opportunity for an adequate education.

As I watched Gov. Lynch sign this final piece of legislation, I found myself reflecting on the 21 years I spent on the Laconia School Board and the frustration I felt with the lack of state financial support for education. Even when the legislature passed the Augenblick Formula in the 1980s, the state never fully funded it. Beginning in 1986, I served 11 years on the New Hampshire School Board Associations’ board of directors. School funding was always a part of our yearly resolutions.

In 1997, I left the school board but continued to watch, with incredible interest, the struggle to move the legislature to adopt a funding formula that was fair and constitutional. In 2001, I was appointed to the State Board of Education and then served as chair. It gave me another perspective on how the state financed education.
I left the State Board in 2004, 13 years after the Claremont I decision. I had given up hope. It seemed the state was trying to find a way around the actual funding of adequacy.

In 2006, I was elected as a state representative. The most frequently asked question of me was, “Are you going to solve the education funding mess?” My answer was, “I’d like to be a part of the discussion.”

I was assigned to the Education Committee, where I became a member of the education subcommittee working to define adequacy.

The final definition, which included kindergarten, passed both the House and the Senate and step one of the process was behind us.

When I was asked to serve on the Costing Committee, step two, I was thrilled. I said to my husband, “How cool is this!” When this bill passed, we were half way there.
In the summer and fall of ’08, I served on the Funding Committee and lastly the Accountability Committee. Both of those bills passed in this session.

I am honored to have been at each of those tables and to have been part of the discussion. I would like to list all of the truly amazing legislators involved but I fear missing someone. They know education; they care deeply, work hard and research each piece of legislation that comes before us. I am awed by their dedication.

I am very proud that this work was completed on our watch and that education is at last, fully funded in this budget!

(Judith Reever represents Belknap County District 4 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She serves as Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time To Pay Up!

(This column was first published in the Laconia Daily Sun on June 3, 2009)

Two times over the past three years I’ve been admitted as an inpatient at Lakes Region General Hospital. The care I received during those stays was extraordinary, as was the subsequent outpatient care extended. The dedicated professionals, from the nurses and physicians, to the technicians, surgeons, pharmacy workers, and orderlies, as well as the administrative staff and the incredibly devoted volunteers, have earned my gratitude and esteem.

Like the thousands of others who have come to rely upon LRGH and its ancillary operations and practices, I realize just how fortunate we are to have this resource available in our community. Yet, its very survival is at risk due to inadequate funding, a perennial problem that is being exacerbated by the state’s fiscal crisis.

Over the past few years I’ve written extensively about the challenges facing LRGHealthcare, which serves an aging population, a marketplace where fewer employers are able to afford to provide health insurance coverage, and rising costs that simply are not being offset by increases in revenue. At issue is our willingness to pay for the costs of services being delivered.

Currently, our local health care providers are struggling to accommodate an alarming expansion in the number of patients dependent upon Medicaid and Medicare, the two primary government insurance programs designed to ensure that the poor and the elderly receive basic health care services. It’s alarming because neither Medicare nor Medicaid come close to reimbursing the hospital nor doctors for their costs of treating insured patients.

Instead, costs are shifted to private insurers and to those few who pay cash out of their own pockets. It’s that cost shifting that has helped fuel the rise in private insurance premiums.

Tragically, with the state facing a budget meltdown, the stage is set for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates to be lowered even further. According to Henry Lipman, LRGHealthcare Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, the proposed cuts will trim over $3-million annually from the non-profit’s revenues.

Add to those losses the increased demand for charitable care as more and more people lose their jobs along with their health insurance, and it’s abundantly clear that LRGHealthcare and its providers are facing an economic tsunami.

State budget writers are taking the heat for the proposed cuts in state health care spending, accused of being irresponsible at best, and heartless at worst. But the fact remains that the legislature can only appropriate expenditures that can be covered by revenue, and New Hampshire is looking at what may be a $500-million shortfall in revenue over the next two years.

What I find so troubling about this is our tendency to blame lawmakers for the problem. It isn’t those we’ve elected to represent us who should be affixed with the blame. It is all of us.

As a state, we’ve come to expect something for nothing. We demand that government serve our needs, yet we balk when we’re presented with the bill. Admittedly, all of us cringe a bit when our PSNH bill arrives in the mail each month, and you can count me among those who deride the cable company for its predictable annual increases. Yet I’ve not once suggested that I shouldn’t pay the bill, realizing that the failure to do so would result in a prompt termination of services.

When government sends out its bill for the services it provides to its constituents, however, the complaints are deafening in their intensity, drowning out any reasonable discussion. People have come to embrace the notion that “government is bad”, forgetting that in a representative democracy, they are the government.

As much as we hate to admit it, our state and local governments run fairly efficient and cost effective operations in delivering the services demanded by the public. No, they’re not perfect. But then, I know few individuals who don’t waste a portion of their income, and government workers are individuals.

The fiscal problems facing New Hampshire have most assuredly been exacerbated by the overall economic decline. But there is undeniably a systemic problem that has plagued the Granite State for years that is rooted in the refusal by the state’s residents to pay for the services they demand. The New Hampshire way is to try to get others to pay the bill for them, whether it be local governments targeting Concord, the state targeting Washington, and everyone trying to entice folks from Massachusetts into paying our bills.

Grow up, and pay up New Hampshire. Otherwise, you’re going to find that government, just like PSNH and Metrocast, is going to terminate service. And that will likely mean that LRGHealthcare will be unable to respond with appropriate quality care when your life depends upon it.

(Ron Tunning is a former newspaper editor and is currently chair of the Laconia Democratic Committee.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

David Souter To Retire From Supreme Court

National Public Radio is reporting that Supreme Court Justice David Souter plans to retire at the end of the court's term this year.

The former NH Attorney General and NH Supreme Court Justice was nominated to serve on the nation's highest court in 1990 by then President George H.W. Bush at the urging of former NH Governor John Sununu, Bush's Chief of Staff, and former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH).

Souter has disappointed conservatives since his appointment to the court, frequently aligning himself with the court's few moderate members. He's made it clear over the years that he doesn't enjoy being in Washington, nor serving on the court, so the announced retirement comes as no surprise.

Souter's departure will provide President Barack Obama with his first opportunity to make an appointment to the nation's highest court. It isn't likely, however, to much alter the court's dominance by conservatives.

Monday, April 27, 2009

We Need More Courageous Leadership From Reynolds

After demonstrating a courageous commitment to defending heterosexuals’ marriages from impending doom, a number of voters will undoubtedly turn to Senator Deb Reynolds for a similar reassurance that she be equally vigilant in protecting New Hampshire against the swine flu.

Although President Obama acknowledged on Monday that the threat of spreading swine flu infections is a matter of concern, but “not cause of alarm,” one can trust that Senator Reynolds will not fall prey to the soothing words of a president who doesn’t know her constituents, nor respect their fears.

First, Senator Reynolds must insist that all pork be removed from the shelves and meat cases in New Hampshire’s grocery stores. Second, the Ashland Democrat should lead by introducing legislation that would enforce Biblical dietary restrictions.

Make no mistake. The Bible is even more clear about the wrongness of eating pork than it is about gays getting married. Indeed, the Bible says nary a word about two people of the same gender getting married, yet in Leviticus 11:7-8, Deuteronomy 14:7-8 and Isaiah 65:2-4, God is unequivocal in his proscription against consuming the meat of a pig.

And let’s be honest. If we didn’t have pigs, we wouldn’t have the swine flu. It’s as simple as that. Kill the pigs, eliminate the danger.

Now, it’s true that not everyone subscribes to the notion that eating pork is a grave sin. And eliminating ham, bacon, and pork chops from New Hampshire’s diets may cause some hardship for pig farmers, meat packers, and restaurants which cater to the breakfast whims of heathens from Massachusetts.

Moreover, the fact that literally billions of people throughout the world daily consume the flesh of swine could be cited as a reason for restraint. Yet, let us not be fooled. Given the over 5,000 years of Biblical warnings of the apocalyptic consequences of ingesting what “marketeers” have been fiercely trying to re-label as “the other white meat”, (See we cannot allow ourselves to be misguided.

For despite such efforts to purify their reputation, it’s going to take more than slickly produced ads and scientific evidence to alter the indelible impression of pigs as evil creatures. Readers of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” are quite aware of the wicked and conniving proclivities of one of the world’s most common barnyard animals. So, too, are the world’s 1.1 billion Muslims, who are forbidden to eat pork.

One realizes, of course, that it will require incredible fortitude for Senator Reynolds to stand up against those who would ignore simple, Biblical truths. Thankfully, she’s established a clear record of voting “consistent with what my constituents wanted me to do.“ What hasn’t been made clear, however, is precisely who those constituents are, and what she considers other voters who live in her district who don’t agree with her positions. But that’s another issue altogether.

What’s important is that Senator Reynolds’ response to this latest crisis be consistent with her reaction to the threat of gay marriage. Supermarket shelves should be preserved for beef, chicken, and other deserving products. The evidence is unambiguous. For every pound of pork consumed, 16 ounces of some other protein source will be denied its right to shelf space.

Allow a slab of spare ribs to be sold, and chances are that a cattle rancher will be deprived of the sale of his short ribs. And do we really want to encourage diners to choose bacon and eggs over steak and eggs?

I’m confident that if Senator Reynolds were to poll her constituents, she’d find many who believe that New Hampshire isn’t quite ready to allow a spiral ham to replace a frozen turkey as the main course for Christmas dinner, much less as a substitute for Zeroa at a Passover Seder. And to permit some ill-informed Baptist to include a rasher of bacon as a part of a Sunday brunch would clearly be a violation of the religious rights of Jews, Muslims, and others who believe in the literal translation of the Bible or the Koran.

Perhaps there will come a time when tolerance for an array of dietary habits can be considered, but now is not the time. We’re facing a potential crisis that demands absolute focus. Pigs and pork must be eliminated! Otherwise, we could all die of swine flu!

Senator Reynolds was forthright in her defense of having opposed gay marriage. "There will be another time, a better time, to focus on this issue," she said.

One can only hope that she views tolerance for the consumption of pork in a similar fashion.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kudos To The NH House

What an incredible week! Concord was rockin’ as the winds of change blew through the capitol.

No matter which side of the political aisle you call home, or if your place of comfort is to straddle the aisle, this most recent session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives - the people’s legislature - should have left you exhilarated.

Granted, no one is totally satisfied with the legislation passed. Count me as displeased with several outcomes. But I can live with that. And so can you.

What was most remarkable about this legislative session was the priority placed upon matters of historic proportion. Representatives didn’t content themselves with merely arguing over whether or not speed limits should be placed on boats racing around the lakes, or whether or not large numbers of helium filled balloons should be released into the atmosphere.

Instead, lawmakers dared to provide national leadership on issues from capital punishment to same sex marriages and the medicinal use of marijuana. And the debate wasn’t confined to committee rooms, it was waged on the floor of the House.

Now the focus shifts to the NH Senate where despite the 14 to 9 advantage among Democrats, there’s no assurance that a majority of senators will support any of these three bills passed by the House. After all, 25 House Democrats opposed the “gay marriage” bill, which won approval only because 15 Republicans voted for it.

And 46 Democratic House Reps. voted against repealing capital punishment. Had 32 Republicans not joined the majority, the bill would not have passed.

The vote on legalizing medicinal marijuana was so overwhelmingly bipartisan, that the 234-138 vote included 45 Republicans among the majority.

So as the bills move to the Senate, it’s time to begin contacting your state senators to let them know your position. And it wouldn’t hurt to let the Governor know as well how you stand on the issues.

We know that he’s promised to veto the bill repealing capital punishment, and given that 46 Democratic House Reps. opposed it as well, he has a legitimate argument even aside from his personal beliefs.

But I believe he can be persuaded on the “gay marriage” and “medical marijuana” legislation given the bipartisan support both bills earned.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Who's Really To Blame?

Sadly, liberals continue to be in denial regarding our current economic troubles, conveniently ignoring the lessons of the past.

Most of us recall vividly that during the 1980s the fundamental problem with the economy was all of those "welfare queens" driving Cadillacs, encouraging an ostentatious lifestyle that clearly could not be sustained. Tens of thousands could be tracked cruising the drive-through windows at Popeye’s or dashing in and out of mall parking lots, conspicuous consumption and carefree living all too apparent.

Adding fuel to the excess were cultural icons such as Natalie Cole extolling the comfort and luxury of owning a "Pink Cadillac", and Michael Jordan, whose "Air Jordans" propelled Nike and its sportswear to designer status among urban youth.

It wasn’t long before middle and upper income Americans jumped on the bandwagon, with Pink Cadillacs handed out by the hundreds by cosmetic maven Mary Kay Ash, and high-priced basketball shoes de rigueur even among the most non-athletic computer nerds. The ghetto was driving GDP.

Ronald Reagan, who won the presidency in 1980, had long warned the nation of the danger of welfare queens, but the liberal Democrats refused to heed his warnings and the profligate spending continued. The day of reckoning, however, could not be postponed forever, as Americans learned when OPEC reluctantly was forced to raise its oil prices to meet the demand for oil caused by all of those Cadillacs.

The sudden spike in oil prices propelled corporate America into action, determined as it was to protect American consumers. Billions of dollars were devoted to exploring for shale oil deposits and developing technology to convert shale oil into gasoline. Throughout Texas and Colorado, tens of thousands of new jobs were created and hundreds of new office buildings constructed to accommodate the anticipated, continued growth in employment. New subdivisions began sprouting along the fringes of the cities, and scores of new trailer parks were developed in mountainous areas of Colorado and Wyoming, all financed by the hard-earned savings of the American people which had been wisely entrusted to the nation’s Savings and Loan institutions led by such exemplary corporate titans as Charles Keating.

But even corporate America’s best efforts and Reagan’s heroic vigilance couldn’t forestall disaster. Bent on destruction, liberal Democrats forced into law stringent, new C.A.F.E. standards, requiring automobile manufacturers to achieve greater fuel efficiency, with a targeted average of 27.5 miles per gallon.

Suddenly, Cadillacs, Lincolns and even Chevrolets began to shrink in size and fuel consumption dropped dramatically. This caused oil prices to plummet, forcing oil companies to abandon their shale oil projects, laying off hundreds of thousands of workers and emptying millions of square feet of office space. The stock market crashed, homes were abandoned, trailer parks vacated, and hundreds of billions of dollars in loans went into default, ultimately requiring the government to intervene by taking over the Savings and Loan industry at taxpayer expense.

Finally, in 1994, Republicans wrested control of Congress and immediately embarked upon welfare reform to ensure that poor people would no longer be in a position to drive the economy over the edge. By limiting the period of time anyone could remain on welfare to less than the normal schedule of amortization of home and car loans, the nation was put back on a track to prosperity.

Throughout the 1990s, with these constraints in place, the economy flourished and millions of new jobs were created and the government actually reported a surplus. But flush with cash and with a Democrat in the White House, the stage was set for a new disaster, which is only now beginning to unfold.

It all began, of course, with another noble attempt to encourage the poor in their quest to be a part of the ownership society. Soon, welfare families were purchasing million dollar McMansions and scarfing up vacation retreats in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California, defrauding the banks and mortgage lenders by taking advantage of the lenders' altruistic desire to extend a helping hand.

Sadly, the lenders had been bolstered in their confidence by abstinence programs, the anti-abortion movement, and the war on contraceptives, which seemed to ensure that those welfare families would continue to have lots of children, each one providing a gigantic boost in monthly welfare payments. Loan officers merely anticipated that if a welfare family found it difficult to meet the rising monthly payment as its adjustable interest rate rose, it would simply have another baby in order to tide it over until the eligibility for welfare expired and the recipient could responsibly enter the workforce, achieving even greater prosperity.

Of course, those darned liberal policies that insist upon giving women a choice and encourage the use of contraceptives screwed up everything. Poor women avoided having more babies, which made it far more difficult for them to fulfill their mortgage responsibilities. Moreover, it reduced their ability to be active consumers, driving down demand for everything from plasma TVs and $300 sneakers to Pontiacs, Chrysler 300s, Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators.

That, as one could easily have predicted, resulted in hundreds of thousands of layoffs in the manufacturing and retail sectors, accelerating the downward spiral in the economy. Furthermore, it made it impossible for those whose welfare eligibility expired to find a job.

So once again, just like with the Savings & Loan bailout in the 1980s, the government is now forced to step in to bailout the beleaguered financial institutions because poor people have failed to live up to their responsibilities. Hopefully, this time we’ve learned the lesson that it makes much more sense to cut out the middle man (in this case the irresponsible welfare families) and just directly hand over our cash to the banking institutions which have proven to be wise stewards of our financial capital.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time For McDonald's To Hear From You

Once again we're reminded of how foolish corporations can be in dealing with the well-being of their employees. From my perspective, McDonald's is making a tremendous error in maintaining its position that it isn't liable for payment of medical expenses incurred by an employee, Nigel Haskett, who was shot by a customer following an altercation between the shooter and another customer during which Haskett intervened in the altercation.

Watch the video news report below and if you agree that McDonald's should change its position, contact the corporate offices.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

An Example of How Senate Republicans Are Mucking Things Up

Once again we can count on Senate Republicans to turn a plum piece of legislation into a prune.

Almost every credible economist acknowledges that we're in dire need of an economic stimulus package that focuses on creating jobs, the more the merrier. With 600,000 jobs lost in January alone, following two previous months of 500,000 job losses, consumer demand is plummeting, mortgage foreclosures rising, defaults on consumer and corporate debt escalating, state and local governments scrambling to control deficits, and the downward spiral accelerating at a frightening pace.

It's very much like a plane that has lost power in all of its engines and is plunging toward a catastrophic collision with the ground. Unless at least one of its engines can be ignited, there's no hope.

The purpose of the stimulus plan is to ignite multiple sectors of the economy, utilizing a variety of techniques, all designed to spur economic activity which in turn will restore both the consumers' capacity and confidence to spend.

Republicans, however, see the stimulus package as an opportunity to extend their failed policies that have led us to this dangerous precipice. Their focus is on expanding tax cuts, bailing out businesses, and providing financial incentives targeted largely to the most affluent members of our society.

A good example of their remedy for the current predicament is their support of a $15,000 tax credit to be extended to anyone purchasing a home as a primary residence. Not only will this help to extend the housing bubble, it will cost the treasury an estimated $35 billion.

Calculated Risk, a premier economic blog, offers a lucid assessment of the proposal in an entry titled simply "The Homebuyer Tax Credit". I highly recommend reading it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Bailout Rap

Not everyone's happy with the federal bailout of the financial services industry!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Today we witnessed history being made as Barack Hussein Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States of America.

After taking the oath of office, he addressed the nation:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This Is Your Land

A revival of the American Spirit was evident on The Mall in Washington, D.C. today as tens of thousands gathered for a concert celebrating the upcoming inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States. Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger led the crowd in a spirited rendition of "This Is Your Land".

California Leads The Way

The Golden State of California is proving once again to be a trendsetter, which we've long come to expect from the nation's most populous state which also features what's usually touted as the world's fifth-largest economy.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Cash Drying Up, California Is About To Delay Tax Refunds, Slash Aid To The Needy

By Mike Zapler
Mercury News

SACRAMENTO — California's budget meltdown is about to hit home for millions of taxpayers awaiting their refunds and people who depend on the social safety net to survive, a top state finance official warned Friday.

Controller John Chiang, who is responsible for managing the state's cash flow, plans to delay $3.7 billion in payments starting next month in response to lawmakers' failure to fix a projected $40 billion deficit through mid-2010.

Among those who won't get paid on time: taxpayers who file their returns early and are awaiting refunds; families who depend on welfare and aid for the aged, blind and disabled; and programs that serve developmentally disabled and mentally ill patients.

"Delaying payments will hurt real families, many of whom are just hanging on in these very, very tight and difficult times," Chiang said. "Taxpayers who expected to use their refunds to purchase a car, to make food payments, to pay off their credit card bills, will have to wait. That is something we should not be doing."

Continue Reading

Sadly, the state that gave us Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan also led the way in converting our nation to a culture of deadbeats and thugs. No one wants to pay for anything (Proposition 13), "three strikes and you're out" (Proposition 184), and civil rights are stripped (Proposition 8), are all examples of how California's vaunted liberalism is bogus.

Its public education system is failing, its healthcare system a travesty, its economy favors the wealthy and has long exploited poor immigrants and minorities, and even its law enforcement institutions have long been recognized as brutal.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Party Of Whiners

New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman does a great job of dissecting the GOP and offering a diagnosis for its recovery in a column that appears in today's Times.

As the new Democratic majority prepares to take power, Republicans have become, as Phil Gramm might put it, a party of whiners.

Some of the whining almost defies belief. Did Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general, really say, “I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror”? Did Rush Limbaugh really suggest that the financial crisis was the result of a conspiracy, masterminded by that evil genius Chuck Schumer?

Krugman traces the ills of the Republican Party to its "Southern Strategy", which has left it with nothing more than a strong, but limited base in the "Old Confederacy." And he parses no words in identifying the strategy as being race based.

Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

Serving such a narrow constituency, the Republican Party, Krugman asserts, lacks the power to effectively obstruct the Obama administration's initiatives. He concludes:

Mr. Obama therefore has room to be bold. If Republicans try a 1993-style strategy of attacking him for promoting big government, they’ll learn two things: not only has the financial crisis discredited their economic theories, the racial subtext of anti-government rhetoric doesn’t play the way it used to.

Will the Republicans eventually stage a comeback? Yes, of course. But barring some huge missteps by Mr. Obama, that will not happen until they stop whining and look at what really went wrong. And when they do, they will discover that they need to get in touch with the real “real America,” a country that is more diverse, more tolerant, and more demanding of effective government than is dreamt of in their political philosophy.