Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Bad Political Decisions

May 14, 2013

I think Mr. Obama is wrong again. He’s using a red herring to distract from another red herring, the Benghazi attack.

The Republicans are digging into Benghazi in hopes of finding something that they can use to attack Hillary Clinton as well as Mr. Obama. But using the IRS as a distraction from that is simply playing into Republican hands.

This is part of IRS guidelines that I got from a CNN article:

“A “501(c)(4)” organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code if it meets two criteria: the “organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.”
To meet the IRS social welfare requirements, “an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community,” The IRS further defines this critical criterion under section 501(c)(4) as “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”
But the IRS has said that “the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” That said, “a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.” And, according to the IRS, a 501(c)(4) may also engage in lobbying.
For example, guidance from the IRS available online suggests that an organization is likely to be deemed tax-exempt under section 501(c)(4) if its educational activities are conducted in a non-partisan manner and if the organization is not affiliated with a political party — even though the organization’s philosophy on the issues it is providing education about is broadly consistent with the view of a major political party.
The same guidance also points to past rulings by the IRS that allowed tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) for “organizations primarily engaged in advocating a particular point of view on an issue of public concern, through lobbying and public education.””

Read that carefully. And then ask yourself why the IRS shouldn’t scrutinize an application that has “Tea Party” in it’s name? Or other political and non-bipartisan slogan or similar political lobbying effort aimed at raising money and spending it to the benefit of one party?

This is the inevitable result of a bad Supreme Court decision, one of many that this court has made. Citizens United, now Monsanto’s deciding that it owns the seeds of seeds they’ve sold, presumably forever; and for that matter, allowing any country or any state or any company to sell a product that it refuses to identify as GMO or allows to inject into the ground (i.e., fracking) without identifying what is in that…

This court, and the American government in general, may be doing what the Constitution demands by protecting citizens from repressive government. But no one is protecting citizens from oppressive and exploitative private industry and finance. Those last two now own the government and have gained that by the simple expedient of buying people who operate that government.

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Political commentary

August 20, 2012

To me, there’s an issue of character about Romney and also Ryan. Bluntly, I don’t see anything I’d label as character about either. And I’m not at all sure that Romney’s evasions are always legal. Show the records; let investigators dig into them.
Meantime, it may be very satisfying to boot Obama. But what will you replace him with?
What will Romney do? He won’t say. So we’re asked to ‘trust’ a man of no demonstrated character to take principled stands regarding jobs and housing and immigration and education? A man who famously has said he’s not concerned with the poor, that he likes firing people, that he thinks we don’t need cops and firemen and teachers? Who would turn more social programs over to the rapacious healthcare insurance executives and for-profit entities to teach children? To care for old people at the end of life? We’ve see what their objective is: profit. Anything else is secondary. We’ve seen rebates from companies that spend less than 80 of the money they collect on healthcare for people; that, after paying executives tens of millions per year. Trust the man who thinks this is good? A man who led the offshoring of jobs? Who deliberately wrecked companies so he could loot the bones, regardless of the human cost?
No character. No ethic, other than personal profit first. No morality beyond “I’ve got mine!” And no openness from a man who conceals great wealth offshore and who now asks you to trust him.
Obama has made some mistakes by not being bold enough, in my judgment. Romney? He’s going to cost lives and increase national misery by exponential amounts.
It’s discouraging that others refuse to recognize this.

A Critique of Both Presidential Candidates, and a Suggested Tax Solution

June 22, 2012

There’s a point behind some of Romney’s criticism.
While Obama had Congressional power, he worked to get the Affordable Health Care Act passed. That took much of his political capital. Attempting to also get immigration reform, education reform, any number of other issues addressed, would simply have meant that nothing got passed, given the obstructionist aims of Republicans.
But Obama allowed Congress to work through most of this without risking his own political status. This is not the action of a strong president.
He also didn’t risk that status by attempting to address any other hot-button issue such as immigration reform.
That weakness or unwillingness is now coming around. He’s been a weak president. Put into context, that’s understandable. He’s the first Black president. A serious mistake can set back 70 years of progress in a nation that has had a history of enslavement of Blacks and oppression of minorities in general. For a lot of the Republican base, Mr Obama’s skin color trumps all of the other issues. Racism is not an issue that Republicans address; there’s a reason for that. Put simply, Republicans can count on the racist vote.
Not that I think Romney is an improvement over Obama. The policies he apparently favors, as much as any outsider can determine his real opinions regarding education, budget, the safety net, and the economy, are a disaster in the making.
He would ‘encourage private enterprise.’ I hope he has a better idea than his predecessor in the Republican Party. Encouragement then was to simply shovel enormous amounts of public money to financial firms, who were then suitably ‘encouraged’ to sit on some of that money as a cushion for future losses, skim off some of it as shareholder dividends and executive bonuses, and use some of it to acquire competitors. Supposedly, they were to loan the money in the hope that this would stimulate the economy; not being fools, they used it in ways that seemed most profitable to themselves.
That, BTW, is how you encourage industry: you decide what you want them to do, and via a carrot-stick approach (tax breaks, tax penalties) you encourage them to do that. They’re in it for the money, after all; so use that to encourage them to act in the national interest.
A Value-Added Tax, to replace the current corporate tax system, works. Say you dump the tax rate that only the foolish pay and the savvy avoid; replace it with a VAT, but suspend a portion of that tax for any product produced domestically using domestic labor. No loopholes. Set this at a nominal 15% (vice the current rate, the one that Apple and GE and Big Oil doesn’t pay), and put in a mechanism that automatically raises or lowers this depending on our international balance-of-trade. Work to keep trade within a narrow range, + or – 1% of balance for example. Trade will still happen, but not based on cost; instead, it would be based on quality. Better quality always wins out in international trade.  Nations that want to sell us goods and services would thereby be encouraged to purchase our goods and services or see that VAT rise.
In this way, everyone who has access to the US market pays for that, and those who bring goods in as imports will pay more than those who produce goods domestically.  Want to export a lot of goods to us, then buy our domestically produced goods.  If you don’t want to buy from us, then don’t plan to sell to us.  Balance of trade can easily be determined quarterly; indeed, such information is currently published in The Economist.  And the automatic adjustment mechanism (needed to take the matter out of the hands of a Congress that is far too easily bought by special interests) can take effect as soon as this information is obtained, certainly within the following quarter.
What about planning on the part of managers who might want reassurance of tax rates before they produce goods?  So long as those goods are produced domestically, the manufacturers can be sure their products won’t be undercut in price by imports.
Simple. And it encourages domestic companies to act in the national interest, not their own financial interest. That’s the kind of ‘encouragement’ that they understand.