Tag Archives: Obama

“I viewed my bad investment as yet another moral failure.”

“I viewed my bad investment as yet another moral failure.”

That’s the problem with the GOP and conservatives and anyone who views “bad circumstances” as “moral failures.” This article perfectly outlines the poor logical reasoning behind many right-leaning and/or conservative outlooks. It just doesn’t make sense.

More often than not, by pushing for the viewpoints that the GOP advocates for, you are hurting yourself as well as others. He says it himself: “Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems on the government, the only institution that was actively working to alleviate my suffering. I railed against government spending (i.e., raising my own salary). At the same time, the earned income tax credit was the only way I could balance my budget at the end of the year… I felt my own poverty was a moral failure. To support my feelings of inadequacy, every move I made only pushed me deeper into poverty.”

By pushing against the minimum wage raise, for example, you are hurting your own prospects as well as the prospects of others. If wages were raised, money would be pumped into the economy making life better for EVERYONE. Just look at the states that have raised the minimum wage this year, they’re seeing higher employment growth than the states that didn’t.

I was poor, but a GOP die-hard: How I finally left the politics of shame

BY 

“I was a 20-year-old college dropout with no more than $100 in the bank the day my son was born in 1994.  I’d been in the Coast Guard just over six months. Joining the service was my solution to a lot of problems, not the least of which was being married to a pregnant, 19-year-old fellow dropout.  We were poor, and my overwhelming response to poverty was a profound shame that drove me into the arms of the people least willing to help — conservatives.

Just before our first baby arrived, my wife and I walked into the social services office near the base where I was stationed in rural North Carolina. “You qualify for WIC and food stamps,” the middle-aged woman said.  I don’t know whether she disapproved of us or if all social services workers in the South oozed an understated unpleasantness.  We took the Women, Infants, Children vouchers for free peanut butter, cheese and baby formula and got into the food stamp line.

Looking around, I saw no other young servicemen.  Coming from the white working class, I’d always been taught that food stamps were for the “others” — failures, drug addicts or immigrants, maybe — not for real Americans like me.  I could not bear the stigma, so we walked out before our number was called.

Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam.  Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems on the government, the only institution that was actively working to alleviate my suffering. I railed against government spending (i.e., raising my own salary).  At the same time, the earned income tax credit was the only way I could balance my budget at the end of the year.

I felt my own poverty was a moral failure.  To support my feelings of inadequacy, every move I made only pushed me deeper into poverty.  I bought a car and got screwed on the financing.  The credit I could get, I overused and was overpriced to start with.  My wife couldn’t get or keep a job, and we could not afford reliable day care in any case.  I was naive, broke and uneducated but still felt entitled to a middle-class existence.

If you had taken WIC and the EITC away from me, my son would still have eaten, but my life would have been much more miserable.  Without government help, I would have had to borrow money from my family more often.  I borrowed money from my parents less than a handful of times, but I remember every single instance with a burning shame.  To ask for money was to admit defeat, to be a de facto loser.

To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me.  They earned it.  My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash.

In my second tour of duty, I grew in rank and my circumstances improved.  I voted for George W. Bush.  I sent his campaign money, even though I had little to spare. During the Bush v. Gore recount, I grabbed a sign and walked the streets of San Francisco to protest, carrying my toddler on my shoulders.  I got emotional, thinking of “freedom.”

Sometime after he took office, I watched Bush speak at an event.  He talked of tax cuts.  “It’s the people’s money,” he said.  By then I was making even better money, but I didn’t care about tax cuts for myself.  I was still paying little if any income tax, but I believed in “fairness.” The “death tax” (aka the estate tax) was unfair and rich people paid more taxes so they should get more of a tax break.  I ignored my own personal struggles when I made political decisions.

By the financial meltdown of 2008, I was out of the military and living in Reno, Nevada —  a state hard hit by the downturn.  I voted libertarian that election year, even though the utter failure of the free market was obvious.  The financial crisis proved that rich people are no better than me, and in fact, are often inferior to average people.  They crash companies, loot pensions and destroy banks, and when they hit a snag, they scream to be rescued by government largess.  By contrast, I continued to pay my oversize mortgage for years, even as my home lost more than half its value.  I viewed my bad investment as yet another moral failure.  When it comes to voting and investing, rich people make calculated decisions, while regular people make “emotional” and “moral” ones.  Despite growing self-awareness, I pushed away reality for another election cycle.

In 2010, I couldn’t support my own Tea Party candidate for Senate because Sharron Angle was an obvious lunatic.  I instead sent money to the Rand Paul campaign.  Immediately the Tea Party-led Congress pushed drastic cuts in government spending that prolonged the economic pain.  The jobs crisis in my own city was exacerbated by the needless gutting of government employment.  The people who crashed the economy — bankers and business people — screamed about government spending and exploited Tea Party outrage to get their own taxes lowered.  Just months after the Tea Party victory, I realized my mistake, but I could only watch as the people I supported inflicted massive, unnecessary pain on the economy through government shutdowns, spending cuts and gleeful cruelty.

I finally “got it.”  In 2012, I shunned my self-destructive voting habits and supported Obama. I only wished there were a major party more liberal than the Democrats for whom I could vote.  Even as I saw the folly of my own lifelong voting record, many of my friends and family moved further into the Tea Party embrace, even as conservative policies made their lives worse.

I have a close friend on permanent disability.  He votes reliably for the most extreme conservative in every election.  Although he’s a Nevadan, he lives just across the border in California, because that progressive state provides better social safety nets for its disabled. He always votes for the person most likely to slash the program he depends on daily for his own survival.  It’s like clinging to the end of a thin rope and voting for the rope-cutting razor party.

The people who most support the Republicans and the Tea Party carry a secret burden.  Many know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government.  They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor.  They believe “freedom” is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system.

I didn’t become a liberal until I was nearly 40. By the time I came around, I was an educated professional, married to another professional.  We’re “making it,” whatever that means these days.  I gladly pay taxes now, but this attitude is also rooted in self-interest.  I have relatives who are poor, and without government services, I might have to support them.  We can all go back to living in clans, like cavemen, or we can build institutions and programs that help people who need it.  It seems like a great bargain to me.

I’m angry at my younger self, not for being poor, but for supporting politicians who would have kept me poor if they were able.  Despite my personal attempts to destroy the safety net, those benefits helped me.  I earned a bachelor’s degree for free courtesy of a federal program, and after my military service I used the GI Bill to get two graduate degrees, all while making ends meet with the earned income tax credit.  The GI Bill not only helped me, it also created much of the American middle class after World War II.  Conservatives often crow about “supporting the military,” but imagine how much better America would be if the government used just 10 percent of the military budget to pay for universal higher education, rather than saddling 20-year-olds with mortgage-like debt.

Government often fails because the moneyed interests don’t want it to succeed.  They hate government and most especially activist government (aka government that does something useful).  Their hatred for government is really disdain for Americans, except as consumers or underpaid labor.

Sadly, it took me years — decades — to see the illogic of supporting people who disdain me.  But I’m a super-slow learner.  I wish I could take the poorest, struggling conservatives and shake them.  I would scream that their circumstances or failures or joblessness are not all their fault.  They should wise up and vote themselves a break.  Rich people vote their self-interest in every single election.  Why don’t poor people?”

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President Obama Has the Perfect Rebuttal to All the People Who Want to Impeach Him

President Obama Has the Perfect Rebuttal to All the People Who Want to Impeach Him

The news: “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.”

It may not have been the exact quote from The Departed, but for President Barack Obama, this line perfectly encapsulated his ongoing standoff with House Republicans. Like a scene straight out of an SNL parody, the president took the stage at an Austin rally on Thursday and openly mocked GOP threats to sue and impeach him.

“‘Sue him! Impeach him!’ Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job?” Obama asked with sarcastic bewilderment as the crowd cheered. “I mean think about that — you’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job while you don’t do your job? Huh.”

It’s been an unhappy union. Obama’s give-no-damn speech follows the Republicans’ decision to officially draft a suit, accusing the president of abusing his authority in implementing his health care law. “What we’re talking about here are places where the president is basically rewriting law to make it fit his own needs,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an announcement.

The White House has called the suit a “political stunt,” but the president may end up getting a better deal than he thought: Boehner’s suit is expected to quell calls for impeachment from the more outspoken wing of his party. 

Obama may be on an executive kick, but it’s not abnormal. During his State of the Union address this year, Obama promised a “year of action,” with or without congressional backing, and so far, he has been delivering. After unilaterally easing student loanscapping carbon emissions, strengthening federal background checks for gun purchases and increasing minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 an hour, the president announced recently that he will also enact new immigration policies.

For Boehner and his ilk, this has all proved Obama’s abuse of executive privilege. But as Obama himself has noted, he has been issuing executive orders at a far lower rate than any president in the past century. As of last month, Obama has issued 182 such orders and will likely issue less than George W. Bush (291), Bill Clinton (364) and Ronald Reagan (381).

Image Credit: Brookings Institute

“Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did,” Obama said at the rally. “Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know.”

Obama really doesn’t seem to care anymore. As Obama admitted on Thursday, “I don’t have to run for office again so I can just let her rip.” Going into midterms for his second term, the president really hasn’t been holding back any punches when it comes to blaming Republicans for Congress’ historically unproductive year.

“It’s lonely just me doing stuff. I’d love if the Republicans did stuff too,” Obama added, tongue firmly in cheek. With just over two years left to go, he seems ready to hang up his presidential hat and become the sasser-in-chief.”

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Mind the Gap: How One Employer Tackled Pay Equity

Mind the Gap: How One Employer Tackled Pay Equity

“…To recalibrate its paychecks, McGill spent years sorting employees into 150 job classifications, then ranking each job’s importance according to the education and skills required…”

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President Obama to Congress: “So Sue Me”

President Obama to Congress: “So Sue Me”
president, obama, to, congress:,
President Obama to Congress: “So Sue Me”
Image Credit: AP

“”Middle class families can’t wait for a Republican Congress to do stuff,” Obama said in a speech on Tuesday, criticizing the legislature for failing to address the United States’ infrastructure problems. “So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.”

The comment follows House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)’s threat last week to sue Obama over alleged abuse of executive power. Republicans have been angry about the president’s reliance on executive actions to bypass Congress, while Obama has countered by saying, “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.”

The gaping hole in infrastructure: If Obama’s goal is to light a fire under Congress’ ass, he has a good reason for doing so. The Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to run out in 57 days, which means that 877,000 jobs and $28 billion in U.S. exports are at risk. Obama would like to eliminate corporate tax breaks to replenish the coffers; Republicans would rather end Saturday U.S. Postal Service deliveries or raise state online sales taxes.

Congress remains in a partisan deadlock over the issue and Obama is threatening to step in if they can’t resolve it soon. “It’s not crazy; it’s not socialism. It’s not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken, it’s just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing,” he emphasized.

And just to make it clear who he blames, he added, “House Republicans have refused to act on this idea. I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted, it’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff. No, seriously. They’re not doing anything. Why don’t they do this?”

Obama is on an executive kick right now. During his State of the Union address this year, Obama promised a “year of action,” with or without congressional backing, and so far, he has been delivering. After unilaterally easing student loans, capping carbon emissions, strengthening federal background checks for gun purchases and increasing minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 an hour, the president announced on Monday that he will also enact new immigration policies.

But while Boehner might see these actions as evidence of Obama’s “king-like authority,” the president has actually issued the fewest executive actions of any U.S. president in the past century. And as midterm elections approach, it’s clear that Obama wants to tick off agenda items that he promised voters, even if it means going it alone — and that might mean even more no-fucks-given moves in the future.”

 

To provide some context on executive orders, Franklin Roosevelt is the president with the most executive orders at 3,522 during his presidency. In the last couple presidencies, Ronald Reagan had 381, George HW Bush had 166, Bill Clinton had 364, George W Bush had 291, and Obama has 182 so far.

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No, President Obama Did Not Break the Middle East

It’s so important to put into perspective what Obama has done during his presidency. Many people criticize him for not doing what he promised during his campaigns, but it’s important to note the context within which he’s working.

Congress is at an all time historical low for passing bills, they block everything the president wants to do (even shutting down the government in the process). Obama first came into office right at the beginning of the Great Recession and during a war between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas in the Middle East.

Gun restrictions had been slowly loosened over the course of the past couple decades thanks to NRA-like lobbying. Inflation since the 70s and productivity since the 80s have been increasing without match, thereby plummeting their correlation to minimum wage. Meanwhile, corporations are finding more and more loopholes so that they can continue to increase their profit margins while simultaneously not allowing the profits to “trickle down” (instead all the excess profit is going into off-shore, non-taxed accts).

Manufacturing jobs have been gradually outsourced to other countries over the past couple decades, effectively slashing the averagely-skilled, middle-class workforce in the US. And the oil and rubber lobbyists have pretty much monopolized the entire energy economy in the US, making it near impossible to move beyond our out-dated, limited-resource-based energy systems.

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June 23, 2014 · 4:38 pm

Minimum Wage: Who Makes It?

“…One in eight lives in a high-income household. About 12 percent of those who would gain from an increase to $10.10 live in households with incomes above $100,000. This group highlights the fact that the minimum wage is not nearly as well targeted toward poverty reduction as the earned-income tax credit, a wage subsidy whose receipt, unlike the minimum wage, is predicated on family income.

Still, a minimum-wage increase does much more to help low- and moderate-income households than any other groups. Households that make less than $20,000 receive 5 percent of the nation’s total earnings, for instance — but would receive 26 percent of the benefit from the proposed minimum-wage increase…”

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June 11, 2014 · 5:25 pm

GEORGE WILL’S COVETED SEXUAL-ASSAULT “PRIVILEGE”

“…By the logic of his “proliferation” narrative, there was some small number of rapes, and when women saw how attentive everyone was being to the survivors, and the “privileges” they got, they wanted a piece of the action, too…”

Uuuggggggggghhhhhhhhhh

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June 11, 2014 · 4:18 pm