I received an unusual email from the Edwards campaign last night. Unusual because it had nothing to do with his Presidential campaign. It was a call to contact our Senators to filibuster or defeat a bill which would give retroactive immunity to phone carriers who illegally tapped phone conversations at Bush’s request. This bill would be a signal that both the President and the companies who conduct illegal operations for him are above the law, something which is a spit in the eye to the legal structure of the United States. The Constitution specifically states the President is part of the legal system, not above it, and the Supreme Court has roundly rejected any argument to the contrary. For Edwards to take time away from his campaign, and ask others to do the same, to uphold basic legal principles in this country is warming. He is really starting to win my support.
I did want to make a few comments about the Republican debate last night, just to show people that I do pay attention to both sides. Actually, this was the first debate I saw and I fell asleep in the middle of it. But I did make an attempt to watch it, and had a few things I wanted to say. You can read the transcript here.
Much of the debate was focused on the state of the economy and the new economy rejuvenation act that Bush asked Congress to approve. Let me just say that all those out there who think the economy is in a big mess because of the mortgage problems obviously haven’t been paying attention. The economy in this country as been struggling for years; Bush has been denying that it’s headed for a recession for months. Obviously the mortgage situation has damaged the health of the economy, causing it to slip into recession (if it wasn’t before), but to put the onus squarely upon this one issue is shortsighted and causes us to miss the bigger problems that have been evolving for quite some time.
Some could also wonder how Bush was able to screw up the economy in a time of war, truly a historic feat of ineptitude, but that’s an argument for another day.
Anyway, one of the arguments which received almost universal agreement was that the tax rebates were a good start, but did not go far enough. They should be coupled with permanent tax relief, the GOP candidates said, with an extra focus on bigger tax breaks for corporations and capital gains taxes.
Get that? In order to spur the economy, we should give tax breaks to the super wealthy that need them the least. After all, what better way to grow our GDP than an influx of yacht purchases and foi gras consumption?
McCain even went the length to wonder how families are going to figure out their 2010 budget when the tax breaks aren’t permanent. Are you kidding me?? Could you say anything that better illustrates how out of touch you are with the average American? Anything at all? I’m sure the average $45,000 income family is running to H&R Block to ask how the tax code is going to affect their DVD purchases in 2010. What a frickin’ moron.
But there was one person, one heroic person, who actually made an intelligent comment regarding the best way to improve the economy and offer aid to real Americans. It wasn’t through tax rebates, he said. I’ll offer the whole quote here because it’s so beautiful (and I assure you that I’m NOT being sarcastic):
One of the concerns that I have is that we’ll probably end up borrowing this $150 billion from the Chinese and when we get those rebate checks, most people are going to go out and buy stuff that’s been imported from China.
I have to wonder whose economy is going to be stimulated the most by the package. And I’m grateful that something is being done. I think we all could at least acknowledge that it’s good to see Congress working with the president to do something.
But if we’re going to spend $150 billion, I’d like to suggest that maybe we add two lanes of highway from Bangor all the way to Miami on I-95. A third of the United States population lives within 100 miles of that.
This nation’s infrastructure is falling apart and if we built those lanes of highways with American labor, American steel, American concrete, I believe it would do more to stimulate the economy. And the reason I say that is because when we were going to through a recession in my state, we were in the middle of a $1 billion highway construction program that brought about 40,000 jobs and brought $1 billion of capital into the economy.
That’s a long-term stimulus package that I think would have more impact on the American long-term future and it would keep social capital from being wasted, fuel wasted.
A lot of people in Florida sit around in traffic every day, never getting to their kids’ dance recitals or soccer games because they’re stuck in traffic, and we’ve done nothing about it.
Mr. Mike Huckabee, I shout out a long and glorious “Amen” and Hallelujah” to you.
McCain said that if we stopped spending so much money on pork-barrel projects we could have given a $1000 tax credit for every child in America. That might sound good if you have a child (or three). And everybody admits that pork-barrel projects are bad . . . except those in their community. You see, though there should be limits on Congressional pork, this money goes to things like building and updating roads, or building more schools or creating new parks. $1000 per child would be great; if you want your child to go back to walking through the woods every morning to attend a one-room schoolhouse. The trick is to approve these with some sense, not to eliminate them altogether.
One final thought about Republican “responsibility.” Much has been made of the way the Bush administration oversaw the movement back from surpluses to deficit spending, prompting many Republicans to say they need to go back to their roots as the fiscal responsibility party. But most of these Republicans also say they’re Reagan wannabe’s; how “Reagan” someone is often determines if they get the GOP nod. Funny thing about that, though. As reported on zfacts.com, data from page 5 of the White House’s own Historical Tables of the Budget of the United States Government, compiled by the Office of Management and Budget, shows that the federal deficit as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product has only increased during three president’s terms since the end of World War II. Those three Presidents are Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George Bush. Fiscal responsibility indeed.
Now, many people blame the rampant deficit in the 1980’s on the Democrat Congress. These people don’t know how the budget is enacted. First, contrary to popular Limbaugh-listeners’ belief, the budget originates in the Office of Management and Budget which, of course, is part of the White House. Then it is sent to Congress for appropriation, at which time it’s finalized and then sent back to the President to be signed into law. So these people actually suggest that something which begins and ends with the President cannot be the President’s fault. The reality is that not only was the deficit not Congress’ fault, but in the 1980’s Reagan asked for $29.4 billion more in spending than Congress approved.
Finally, remember when in the ‘90’s Congress wanted to pass a budget that Clinton said was too big so he shut the government down and all the Republicans acted like he was a big jerk but then magically the yearly deficit turned into a surplus? That’s fiscal responsibility.
I still don’t like Hillary, though.