The Affordable Care Act will be an incredible expense to folks on Capitol Hill starting next year, which is causing some folks to think about an early retirement:
Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.
The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.
The problem is far more acute in the House, where lawmakers and aides are generally younger and less wealthy. Sources said several aides have already given lawmakers notice that they’ll be leaving over concerns about Obamacare. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the chatter about retiring now, to remain on the current health care plan, is constant.
“If you like your health care, you can keep it.”
Unless you can’t afford it, then you retire and go back home where you’ve foisted this monstrosity upon the masses who can’t just “retire.”
Now let’s take a minute and remember our roles.
Republicans are the uncaring, heartless hate-filled ones.
Democrats are the bleeding-heart empaths.
Now, let’s go to the video:
“The cards will fall where they may.”
In other words, who cares what happens? It’s not me and it’s not my fault.”
Reid used a procedural maneuver called “filling the tree,” which allows the majority leader to say a piece of legislation has had all of its possibilities for amendments.
McConnell had tried to offer the president’s job package as an amendment to the China currency legislation, which was being debated in chamber. By “filling the tree,” Reid blocked that move.
“What I am trying to do here today by requesting this vote on the president’s jobs bill … is to honor the request of the president of the United States that we vote on it now,” McConnell said. “He has been asking us repeatedly over the last few weeks that we vote on it now.”
“I think the president of the United States, whose polices I generally do not support … is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal that he has been out talking about … and suggesting that we are unwilling to vote on it,” he said.
Reid called McConnell’s request a “political stunt” and “senseless.”
Apparently, Reid thinks the bill needs a little debate.
Not one to ever let facts dictate the agenda, the Obama campaign sent out this letter later in the day:
President Obama is in Dallas today urging Americans who support the American Jobs Act to demand that Congress pass it already.
Though it’s been nearly a month since he laid out this plan, House Republicans haven’t acted to pass it. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is out there actually bragging that they won’t even put the jobs package up for a vote — ever.
It’s not clear which part of the bill they now object to: building roads, hiring teachers, getting veterans back to work. They’re willing to block the American Jobs Act — and they think you won’t do anything about it.
But here’s something you can do: Find Republican members of Congress on Twitter, call them out, and demand they pass this bill.
I recently got a phone call from a friend of mine who asked me how he could get a message to his Congressman regarding the economy and the debt negotiations.
While I thought it was fairly obvious, this fellow had no idea, so I thought I would compile a list of a few ways you can get the attention of your Congressman or Senator.
1. Call their office
Every Congressman or Senator has an office on Capitol Hill. You can find the number in the Congressional Directory at Congress.org. They have made it simple to find your representatives.
When you add your zip code, this is what you’ll get:
Click on the representative you want to call, and:
Now you can call your Senator and let them know how you would like to be represented in whatever committees they are on or how you would like them to vote on an upcoming bill.
It’s important to note that you will probably not be talking to the Congressmen or Senators, but to one of the staffers in their office. This person takes a lot of phone calls every day and I’m guessing a lot of attitude from less than courteous callers.
Remember to state your position clearly, without giving the person a reason to hang up the phone and throw your message in the circle file. It’s probably a low paying, mostly thankless job. Giving them a reason to “lose” your call isn’t the best way to get your representative’s ear.
2. Email them
Going back to our representative’s bio on Congress.org, you can see a link to their official webpage. Click on it:
Every representative’s page will look different, but they should have a place where you can email them. This is Claire’s:
Click the link and fire off a letter to whoever represents you. Same rules apply as to the phone call. It’s probably going to be a staffer that opens the letter and reads it.
3. Snail Mail
If you were so inclined, you could also go a little old school and send a letter in the mail. I have heard some legislators say this method carries a little more weight with them because of the time it takes to sit down and write the letter, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and mail it.
To find your representative’s mailing address, go back to Congress.org, search for your representative and click “Contact,” just like we did for the phone number.
Once you have that, it’s a matter of putting pen to paper and sounding off. Once again, say what you need to say as politely as possible and keep the message clear and concise. That will increase your chances of being heard.
While the first three are good methods of getting your representative’s attention, the following three are ways to really get them to hear you.
4. Attend a Town Hall Meeting
Since the Tea Party has started attending town hall meetings, representatives have been a little less enthusiastic about holding them, but this is still one of the best ways to get some face time with your people in DC.
That is unless Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee is your representative. Then it would still be better to call her:
Be Prepared. Most people don’t present their Member of Congress with a well-researched, well-rehearsed pitch. They just say what they think – which has value. But those who come to town hall meetings with thoughtful arguments, good data, and persuasive stories always get remembered.
Tell a Personal Story. This is why Members of Congress hold town hall meetings – to get first-hand accounts of the impact of policies on their constituents. Think in advance of how a policy might affect you, your family, your business, or your community. Whether the congressman supports you or not, they want to hear your story.
Use Numbers If You Have Them. Politicians live for one thing: 50% plus 1. This keeps them re-elected and in a job. Nearly every person to come before a Member of Congress represents more constituents either by a class or as a spokesperson. Use these numbers. “I have 50 employees,” “I represent 100 people in my union,” “There are 500 people in my community that think just like me.” The legislator is trying to do the political math the minute you stand up – make it easy for him.
Be Respectful. You’d be surprised how many people start a conversation with “I pay your salary so you better listen to me.” It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to your grocer or a public official – starting any conversation with another person in a rude manner is no way to persuade them. Members of Congress want to hear your views, you don’t need to badger them to get your message through.
Go in Groups. Nothing says “listen to me” to a public official like a mob. This is not to suggest that you should bring pitch forks and torches to your next town hall meeting. But a chorus is better than a solo performance.
One not on Brad’s list is, if you attend a town hall meeting, bring a way to take video. Some of these folks still have not learned that almost every cell phone has a camera. That’s how we hear about things like Rep. Pete Stark telling one of his constituents that urinating on his would be a waste of Stark’s urine.
5. Other events
Politicians don’t just appear at town halls.
For example, I know that every year, my Congressman Sam Graves will be at the Wingnuts Flying Circus air show. If I have something I need to tell him, I know I will have direct access to his ear canal and can tell him myself.
You can find out where your representatives are going to appear by subscribing to any news letters they offer or by going to their website and looking for announcements of appearances.
6. Visit their office
You want face time, you can get face time. Simply set up a visit to your Congressman or Senator’s office and you can guarantee you will be heard.
Sen. Claire McCaskill has a form you can fill out that puts your name on a list to meet with her. It also has a nice disclaimer stating that not everyone will be able to meet because of the high volume of requests. I’m guessing that if you sent some abusive emails or called and lit up some staffers on the phone, you are probably not going to be jotted down on Claire’s calendar.
If you can’t make the trip to DC, or simply never want to go near the place, your representatives have local offices as well. Go to their website and find out where the closest local office is and stop by.
This is just six ways to get the attention of your representative. Some are quicker and easier than others, some will have a greater chance of being heard. And it’s important to note, don’t limit yourself to just your elected officials in DC. Reach out to your state and local people as well. They need to know who you are also.
What’s important is that you make the effort to get your voice heard, whether it’s by snail mail or a surprise visit. Make sure they know your name.
Reuters published a story on the latest round of debt ceiling negotiations between Congressional Republicans and President Obama in which Reuters argued that “President Barack Obama and top Republicans faced growing pressure at home and abroad on Thursday to stop deficit talks from spiraling out of control and sending shock waves through the global financial system.” In the more than 750-word article which included speculation on the House Republicans’ motives and goals, Reuters reporters quoted no House Republicans.
Instead, the reporters chose to quote a JP Morgan executive who claimed that “No one, no one can tell me with certainty that a default wouldn’t cause catastrophe and therefore it’s irresponsible to take that chance.” Reuters also quoted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who said that “I don’t need to see markets drop 400 points but Republicans may need to see markets drop 400 points [to come to a deal].”
Reuters also chose to highlight the predictions of “economists and U.S. Treasury officials” who argue that a failure to raise the debt ceiling will necessarily cause a U.S. sovereign debt default. Reuters claims that Republicans “refuse to believe a default is imminent” neglecting to note that othersalsoargue that a failure to raise the ceiling by August 2 need not result in default.
Despite the position of House Republicans in negotiations and Reuters’ attacks on their views of the consequences of a breakdown in talks, Reuters does not quote any House Republicans. Instead Reuters notes that “A leading Republican said Obama walked out of the [debt negotiation] meeting.” Reuters also states:
Despite the apocalyptic warnings from economists and U.S. Treasury officials, some conservative Republicans refuse to believe a default is imminent. A group of 56 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Obama on Thursday saying there was enough money to stave off a debt default beyond August 2.
But that view is not shared by many of the party’s top leaders, who accept that if the debt ceiling is not raised in time there could be a default with drastic repercussions.
This is also stated without any on-record quotes, either from the letter or the “top leaders.” Finally, Reuters claims that “House Republicans are eager to deliver on a promise to slash spending and scale back the government, and a number of conservatives dispute the need to raise the debt ceiling.”
Reuters apparently finds the views of the minority party in the House of Representatives (which has little power) more important than those of the President’s negotiating counterparts.
In a report for “All Things Considered,” National Public Radio (NPR) reported that a Senate vote to repeal certain tax incentives for ethanol fuel production “splinter[ed]” the GOP, even though a clear majority of Senate Republicans favored the repeal.
NPR ran the headline, “Ethanol Subsidies Survive Senate Vote, Splinter GOP,” even as it reported that “Where senators stand on ethanol tax subsidies often has more to do with which state they’re from than which party they belong to.” The report also asserted that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) had “resorted to a parliamentary maneuver to oblige the Senate” to consider his proposal to halt the tax breaks.
NPR spoke with “Anti-tax crusader” Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform who “question[ed] Coburn’s motives in trying to end the ethanol tax breaks.”
Coburn’s measure failed, with 34 Republicans (70% of the caucus) voting to end the subsidies. However, half a dozen Democrats (11% of the caucus) also voted to end the subsidies. As many Republicans voted to keep the subsidies—six—as Democrats voted to end them. But NPR apparently does not believe the Democratic Caucus is also splintering.
NPR asserts that the “tally showed that when it comes to at least one tax break, even Republicans who generally oppose raising taxes are willing to make an exception.” Actually, free-market economists point out that ethanol credits are tax breaks in name only.
“Special provisions, like ethanol tax breaks, are effectively subsidies,” Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute argues. “To the extent that the alcohol fuel mixture credit exceeds one’s tax liability (under Section 4081), or if the person has no Section 4081 liability, ethanol blenders may file for a refund equal to the credit,” the Renewable Fuels Association claims.
“In other words,” investigative reporter Timothy P. Carney writes in his column in The Washington Examiner, “this ‘tax credit’ is really just a payment from the U.S. Treasury that has nothing to do with one’s tax liability.”
Sen. Coburn has pointed out that ethanol enjoys “a triple crown of government intervention: its use is mandated by law, it is protected by tariffs and companies are paid by the federal government to use it.”
Investor’s Business Daily offered a different take on the subject. In an unsigned editorial, IBD pointed out that even the Coburn bill to end ethanol subsidies “would end two of these [subsidies] — the 45-cents-a-gallon tax credit and the 54-cents-a-gallon import tariff.”
Meanwhile, “it would leave in place the equally awful Renewable Fuel Standard, enacted under President Bush in 2005 and expanded in 2007, which mandates ever-increasing amounts of ethanol and other renewable fuels in gasoline.”
IBD notes that “the Congressional Budget Office calculated that up to 15% of the rise in food prices from 2007-2008 was due to the increased use of ethanol.”
Call it a debt hawk’s dream, but Rep. Tom Reed introduced a resolution last week to install a ticking clock to blare the national debt directly onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Reid, a New York Republican who says he talks about the debt “incessantly,” said he had the idea on a recent trip to Manhattan’s billboard-sized clock near Times Square.
“What I envision is a computer-generated type item that would be right there in the House chamber, also off the website, that would show the debt racking up as we speak,” Reed said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “We’re borrowing 40 cents on every dollar. Fifty-eight thousands dollars per second.”
That’s a staggering statistic. That’s almost as much as my house cost, every second.
I can’t see this going anywhere, but I would love to see it installed. In the mean time, I would recommend Rep. Reed invest in a projector phone and simply throw it up on the wall whenever he sits down.
The U.S. media propaganda campaign in favor of Al-Jazeera getting on more American television networks, stations and cable systems has reached Time magazine and The Washington Post. But the shocking truth about this Arab government-funded “news” network may still get out through congressional hearings arranged by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Time has a story, “Why the U.S. Needs Al Jazeera,” by Ishaan Tharoor, who claims, that “…millions across the world, including many first-time viewers in the U.S., have marveled in recent weeks at Al Jazeera English’s impressive coverage from the front lines of the protests currently shaking the Middle East.”
A different opinion is provided by Florida broadcaster Jerry Kenney, who compares Al-Jazeera to an arsonist who, after setting a fire, records the inferno and then brags about the film footage. Hundreds have died in the violence in the Middle East egged on by Al-Jazeera. AIM’s “Terror Television” DVD showed captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera.
Could the same thing happen here if Al-Jazeera English reaches more American Muslims, who don’t speak Arabic, with inflammatory words and images making America out to be the enemy and villain in the Middle East?
Experts are warning, if the Congress doesn’t extend the current tax system, there will be a mega-sell-off in December, as investors try to keep a larger portion of their property than they will be able to next year.
While it is unclear how bad the sell off could be, it could wipe out the year’s gains, they warn.
“Capital gains tax rate will increase from 15 to 20 percent if the tax cuts are not extended. The last time the capital gains tax rate increased–on Jan. 1, 1987 from 20 to 28 percent–investors realized their gains at the lower tax rate,” said Daniel Clifton at a Washington partner at Strategas Research Partners. “We would expect a similar effect this time around as investors see the tax rate going up and choose to realize their gains and incur the 15 percent tax.”
December 15th is the day most will start selling, as “Many stockoptions expire that day and investors have to act.”
Democrats in Congress passed an extension of the current tax system, but only for the middle class. It was a punt. They know the Senate won’t pass it, but they can position themselves as the advocates for the little guys to millions who don’t know better.
Meanwhile, small businesses are looking at a looming increase in taxes and wondering how they are expected to grow while investors look to unload their investments so they can keep what is theirs.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial of the 20-term lawmaker and nearly six hours of deliberations.
“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law,” Lofgren said. “We believe we have accomplished that mission.”
The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment. Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, which Rangel refused to agree to in July, or a censure would need just a simple majority. The ethics panel could also impose a fine and diminish some of Rangel’s privileges.
Asked if he had any reaction to the panel’s decision, Rangel initally told reporters, “Nope, none.”
Rangel will most likely be reprimanded or censured. As Ed Morrissey said, it’s highly unlikely he will be expelled from the Congress.
Rangel, meanwhile, is busy screaming from the hilltops that he is a victim.
In an official statement, Rangel slammed the ethics subcommittee’s “unprecedented” decision, saying his due process rights were violated since the panel ruled without him having legal representation.
“How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” Rangel said. “I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanction.”
The congressman did not indicate he would seek to appeal the decision saying, “While I am required to accept the findings of the Ethics Committee, I am compelled to state again the unfairness of its continuation without affording me the opportunity to obtain legal counsel as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.”
Rangel’s legal team exited the scene in the middle of last month, and during that time, Rangel didn’t replace them, which he thinks is equal to Congress denying him due process.
“I object to the proceedings, and I, with all due respect, since I don’t have counsel to advise me, I’m going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings,” Rangel said, speaking without notes and interrupting Lofgren as he stood before the lawmakers.
Fresh off winning a 21st term, Rangel said he has spent more than $2 million from his campaign account on two legal teams, forensic accountants and media advisers. For the past month he has been unable to afford legal representation, and he is barred by the new strict ban on gifts from receiving pro bono legal help.
How much is that property in the Dominican Republic worth? Did he sell it so he could afford legal counsel?
Did he sell his other properties? Did he do anything that requires sacrifice to attempt to raise money?
Take your lumps, Charlie. You’re not above the law.