Current Events

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Current Affairs A Tea Party Agenda

I found the following ten point Tea Party agenda while I was out surfing.  Here is the url: 

My questions and comments are in italics after each point.
A Tea Party Agenda
Comments in Italics
1. Immediately roll back federal spending to 2003 levels. Not 2008 - that's too easy. The money saved needs to be used to pay down the skyrocketing debt, so that our children won't be forced to cough up the entire bill.
Which programs you would cut and by how much and which would you save? What would be the effects of the cuts on employment, business and revenue?
2.Completely rewrite the tax system of this country. Use the FairTax (HR25) as a template. We cannot compete in the worldwide marketplace when our unwieldy, incomprehensible, and confiscatory tax code invites those companies that can afford to leave to move their operations overseas, and those companies that cannot to file for bankruptcy.
This bill strives to repeal the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax, and to replace them with a national sales tax at a rate of 23%. It sets forth provisions for the states’ collection of sales tax revenues and the Treasury’s handling of the remittances of such revenues while setting up two new tax bureaus in the Department of Treasury in the place of the IRS. 
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration
For 97 years we have had agreement that a graduated tax system is fair and reasonable and at times we have had income tax rates as high as 90% or even more.  I think there is also agreement that sales taxes are regressive.  No doubt there are many ways we could improve the tax system, especially with respect to taxes other than on personal income.  For example, replacement of the corporate income tax with a VAT would likely help US firms to be more competitive in export markets because the VAT would not be levied on exports.  As for personal income tax itself, most of the provisions in the tax code that make it seem so complicated are there to encourage certain kinds of behavior which legislators consider contribute to the general welfare and which also, unfortunately, reduce the degree of progressivity in the tax system.  If progressivity is redistribution, let’s have more of it, because pure, unbridled capitalism isn’t getting the job done.  What would be the point of a tax system that encouraged businesses to invest, if the fruits of those investments continued to flow to the top 5% and the share of the rest of us continued to drop as it has been doing since around 1980?
3. Stop TARP and the ARRA stimulus COLD, and DEFUND Obamacare until you have been delivered filibuster- and veto-proof "Tea Party"-supported majorities, and a new president, in 2012.       
There is general agreement among economists that TARP and the stimulus were the most effective anti-recession programs   ever undertaken by the federal government.   Without them it is likely that millions more people would be unemployed and thousands s more businesses would have failed  and prospects for rapid recovery would be nil.  John Boehner shed tears of relief when the TARP passed in the House with his support.  The main problem with the stimulus was that it was too small. 
As for Obamacare is this what the Tea Party wants:
 We the Republican Leadership, assembled here in solemn session, pledge that we will do the following:
1. Deny health insurance coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
2. Put life time limits on benefits (Once you reach your limit, we will send you to one of Obama's death panels -- in the spirit of bipartisanship, we will retain the Obama panels for those who can't afford medical care on their own)
3. Allow retroactive cancellation of policies
4. Deny all appeals of claims
5. Dispense with free preventive services
6. As for people 21 to 26, let them get their own insurance or tap their parents IRA's when they get sick.
7. Affirm the right of anyone and everyone to go uninsured.

Not only do we believe that this is what the American people want, we wish to note that it is a job creation program, particularly in the mortuary industry.”
Yes, I drafted this, but it accurately reflects what the Republican leadership has said.  And let me add that it was the insurance companies that took the lead on the notorious “mandate,”  both in Massachusetts and in the federal law.  It’s worth mentioning that both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have said that we have the best health system in the world.  This is hard to reconcile with the facts: we spend twice as much per capita as other developed countries, yet we are 49th in life expectancy just ahead of Libya, ahead of African countries in reducing infant mortality but just behind Cuba and far behind Israel, Hungary, Greece, Italy and many others, among developed countries we are 19th out of 19 in “avoidable mortality.”
4. Audit the Federal Reserve - account for every penny these "corrupt bastards" (to paraphrase the indomitable Sarah Palin) have committed to our demise as a world economic power - and then strip them of their authority to distort our free-market system to satisfy their own ends.
Milton Friedman just rolled over in his grave.  The bubble we’ve just experienced was the result of the Fed and the other regulatory agencies doing too little and having authority to do too little.  Please recall that an “undistorted” free market system dumps its waste in our rivers, maximizes profits by not putting scrubbers on its smoke stacks and uses asbestos where it pleases.
Could you be more specific about the nefarious ends of Ben Bernanke and the other "corrupt bastards" at the Federal Reserve?  (Ask Sarah, and while you’re at it, ask her to explain what the Fed does).
5. Save some trees, and our sanity; any bill that is larger than 18 pages - the size of our Constitution, single-spaced, on 8 1/2" x 11" paper - should not leave committee until all of the loopholes are removed and it comes in below this threshold. The era of 1000+ page spending bills needs to come to an end - it's too easy to hide evil things inside monstrosities that you cannot even read, let alone understand.
Have you ever read a bill?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to put together language which is specific enough to accomplish a bill’s purpose without opening up dozens of other doors and inviting hundreds of legal challenges?  Among the reasons bills take so many big words is to ensure that they limit the authorities they grant and possibilities for “waste, fraud and abuse.”
6. While we're at it, in every bill that you create, we are going to require that you specify the exact Article, Section, and Clause of the Constitution that explicitly gives you the authority to implement the legislation. If you can't find one, then don't even bother to submit it - it's unconstitutional. (We'll even allow you to go over the 18 page limit to add this.)
Piece of cake. Unnecessary,but could be done. If any law is unconstitutional, it is almost certain to be challenged in the courts and overturned, but only after judges hear arguments from both sides, both of whom can be considered to be arguing in good faith.  That’s our system set up in the Constitution – separation of powers.
7. Also, while we're on the subject of limits, we want you to limit the size of your congressional staffs to 12. If a dozen people cannot help you do your job, then either they're not doing their jobs, or you're not doing YOUR job. All the US Presidents before FDR made do with a staff of less than 12 - and they led the entire Executive Branch. You should certainly be able to meet the needs of your constituents with the same number.
Sorry but life is not as simple as it was when staffs were more limited.  This is not my area but I suspect that requests from constituents have increased geometrically.
8.  We will insist that you follow the rules that you expect all of us to live under. If it's "good" enough for us, it's "good" enough for you, too. This means no automatic lifetime pensions on our dime until the day you die, no superhealthcare arrangements like the ones you have now, and no exemptions from workplace employment laws, sexual harassment laws, ADA requirements, etc. We're sick and tired of being told, "Do as I say, not as I do."
The current salary (2010) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.
I assume everyone wants capable, dedicated people to serve as their representatives.  While we all tell lawyer jokes, writing laws or representing peoples interests in the courts is serious business and is normally performed by serious people, who don’t just happen to be lawyers.  (It’s o.k. to have a few doctors or other well educated non-lawyers among our law makers, but mostly we need lawyers.  They tend to be generalists who know a lot about a lot of things and also about what the law is.  Who better to write new laws or extend or cancel old ones)?  If I were a young lawyer looking at a choice between a path to partnership and fees of $400 or more an hour and the financial security that comes with that as opposed to a term or a career in Congress at $174,000 a year (about $86 per hour for a standard 40 work week), which would I choose?  With the prospect of a pension, perhaps I can go ahead and dedicate my time to public service without worrying that I am neglecting my family.  (How much does your plumber get for a house call? And is there a single congressman who works 40 hours or less per week?).
As for thesuperhealthcare arrangements,” that’s what the healthcare law is trying to bring to as many people as possible.  Are the people who already have healthcare coverage and are objecting to it for others perhaps dogs in the manger?
9. Re-evaluate every single one of our foreign commitments and treaty agreements. Many of them will not pass the "sniff test" and you are free to drastically scale down or even eliminate them. This includes our involvements with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the North American "Free" Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Court, and other entities and organizations that are destroying our sovereignty.
I think I can safely say that “every single one of our foreign commitments and treaty agreements” is under evaluation all the time.  All three branches of your government, which is staffed by people just like you and come from your town or one just like it, are staffed with people dedicated to guarding the interests of the United States.  Whole careers are spent learning the ins-and-outs of keeping us safe in a complex and dangerous world and representing your interests.  The world is not a grade school playground where bravado and superior strength always win the day.  We need things from the rest of the world and the way we get it at minimum cost is by cooperation.  And if we have any sense of decency at all, if we have things we can offer to others, we should.
10. And, please, stop funding the United Nations, and get the UN out of the United States. The UN is only interested in destroying this nation and bringing us down to size, not in "global cooperation."
What is our size and how much of a right do we have to the world’s resources other than what we have within our own borders?  Our population of 310.7 million is 4.5% of  the world population of 6.88 billion.
We invented the UN, and we are the UN.  Other countries are also members of the UN and some have interests different from ours.  In the UN we discuss these differences and try to reconcile them rather than sending the navy.  It would be naive to think that discussions in the UN would always be pleasant and always go our way.  Other countries feel just as strongly about their interests as we do about ours and in the UN we try to find common ground through compromise.  The alternative is unthinkable.  By the way, three are no black helicopters.

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