The Public Perception of the ACA, Romney’s Shadowy Finances and The New Gilded Age

Complaint by Some Members of the Dutch Reformed Church

In 1664, the Dutch colony of New Netherland ceased to exist when Governor Peter Stuyvesant was forced to surrender New Amsterdam–soon to be renamed New York–to an English fleet. Many residents of what became the British colonies of New York and New Jersey continued to speak Dutch and to worship in churches where services were conducted in Dutch. This pamphlet, published in New York in 1725, concerns a dispute within a Dutch Reformed congregation in Raritan, “in the Province of New Jersey, in North America, under the Crown of Great Britain,” involving the minister, Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, and members of his congregation. Born in the Netherlands in 1691, Frelinghuysen studied theology and was ordained a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church at the age of 26. In 1720, he immigrated to New Jersey to establish a church for the Dutch settlements along the Raritan River in Somerset and Middlesex counties, New Jersey. Many of his sermons were published both in the original Dutch and in English translations.

Like so much of early American history conservatives like to paint what would become the U.S.A. in very simplistic terms, i.e. we were a Christian nation. We were a pluralistic nation frequently divided up into enclaves based on the beliefs of small groups of people. And of course native Americans practiced their religions.

Lou Gehrig in Tears After Ovation

The original caption reads;  7/4/39-New York:  Lou Gehrig, the “Iron Horse” of baseball, who was forced to the bency by amyotrophic lateral scherosis after playing 2,130 consecutive games, is touched by fans demonstration as he is acclaimed in a manner unrivaled in baseball history.  Upwards of 75,000 jammed Yankee Stadium to honor Lou.  He is shown here–handkerchief to his face, deeply moved by the ovation they gave him. July 4, 1939. Gehrig’s uniform number 4 was retired. The first time that honor ws ever bestowed on a major league player. In the movie The Pride of the Yankees, Lou was played by Gary Cooper. Contrary to the real speech in the photo, in the movie Cooper appeared alone when he made the now famous goodbye speech,” Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”

Cockpit of DC 6 with U.S. flag

The Douglas DC-6 was originally designed for military transport duties from 1946 to 1958. It went through some retrofitting to compete in the commercial air carrier markets. Many are still in use today. Several are in use as freighters or fire fighting waterbombers in Canada.

They have surrogates trying to backpedal as I write this, but Mitt Romney sided with President Obama in claiming that the ACA mandate was not a new tax. Call it anything you like, Romney and his opponent say it is not a tax. It may end up looking like a payroll tax listed like Medicare or Social Security on paycheck stubs for those very few people who have a job, but do not get some kind of basic insurance from one of the insurance exchanges on their own. The mouth breathers are terribly upset and claim that if Romney does not start calling it a tax he might as well pack up and go home. They underestimate the public. If the public perceives they are getting value from a specific tax – like Medicare that either helps them or helps their parents, they support it. The Taxmegedgon language does not work all the time in all circumstances. Though it is fun to watch conservatives freak out at losing what they perceive as some kind of tactical advantage. Another plus the far Right thought they could wring out the SCOTUS decision was the ability to rally the base to repeal Obamacare. The country ain’t in no mood for another season of unhinged demagoguery: Polling shows Republicans fighting a losing battle on ACA repeal 

But perhaps the most problematic polling number for Republicans is this:

This poll fielded following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the heart of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) finds a majority of Americans (56 percent) now say they would like to see the law’s detractors stop their efforts to block its implementation and move on to other national problems…

Solid majorities of voters of every political stripe say the decision won’t impact whether or not they vote this November – though Republicans are more likely than Democrats (31 percent compared to 18 percent) to say the result makes them more likely to turn out.

The economy and jobs are top of mind for voters this election, not the intricacies of healthcare law. But the Republicans have spent so much time inflaming their base by painting the Affordable Care Act as a Communist takeover, that they don’t have much choice but to make full repeal of the law a rallying cry through November. The more they talk about it, the more voters will see Republicans as unfocused on their principal concerns.

As a policy matter, the fight will really be over implementation of Medicaid expansion. But as a political matter, that too is a losing battle for Republicans. Bright red states where Romney is already assured of victory won’t have any problem with letting poor people die due to lack of access to healthcare, but that won’t fly well with more morally sane parts of the country where the election will be decided.

When you ask people if they would like to see the ACA repealed the split is about even. If you ask people about repealing individual provisions – like letting the kids stay on your policy until they’re 26, or repealing the preexisting conditions protections, people support those provisions. So chalk a partial win for the Republican noise machine in demonizing Obamacare, but they lose in the end on what the new reforms actually mean to American families. Back in the 1960s the initial passage of Medicare had similar divided support. Now it is one of those things that most Americans agree is a good program and an example of one of the things government can do well.

One could easily imagine the shrill cries of outrage if president Obama has a tax sheltering bank account in the Cayman Islands. An extensive investigative report from VF,  Where the Money Lives

The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.

[  ]…The media soon noticed Romney’s familiarity with foreign tax havens. A $3 million Swiss bank account appeared in the 2010 returns, then winked out of existence in 2011 after the trustee closed it, as if to remind us of George Romney’s warning that one or two tax returns can provide a misleading picture. Ed Kleinbard, a professor of tax law at the University of Southern California, says the Swiss account “has political but not tax-policy resonance,” since it—like many other Romney investments—constituted a bet against the U.S. dollar, an odd thing for a presidential candidate to do. The Obama campaign provided a helpful world map pointing to the tax havens Bermuda, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands, where Romney and his family have assets, each with the tagline “Value: not disclosed in tax returns.”

[  ]…Likewise, the Romneys were reported to have invested at least $1 million in Elliott Associates, L.P., a hedge fund specializing in “distressed assets.” Elliott buys up cheap debt, often at cents on the dollar, from lenders to deeply troubled nations such as Congo-Brazzaville, then attacks the debtor states with lawsuits to squeeze maximum repayment. Elliott is run by the secretive hedge-fund billionaire and G.O.P. super-donor Paul Singer, whom Fortune recently dubbed Mitt Romney’s “Hedge Fund Kingmaker.” (Singer has given $1 million to Romney’s super-pac Restore Our Future.)

[  ]….Many Americans might react with a shrug to the idea of shady foreign money such as Robert Maxwell’s being invested here. But, says Rebecca Wilkins, of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Citizens for Tax Justice, “It is shocking that a presidential candidate should think that is O.K.”

Some of this financial wrangling may be legal – and that is giving Mittens a very large benefit of a doubt, but is it ethical.

It’s time for the Wacky shenanigans of the Allen West(R-FL) Show

There seems to be a bit of pattern to how Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) conducts himself. Periodically, the unhinged Republican lawmaker will say something ridiculous, which is soon followed by a period in which West revels in the attention. Then he’ll send out a fundraising letter celebrating his notoriety, before enjoying a little quiet time.

West will, invariably, then start the cycle over again.

It’s been a while since the Floridian’s latest outburst, so I suppose we were due for garbage like this.

The Republican congressman was speaking an event in his district, where West explained his deranged perspective on President Obama: “He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning, and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.”

It’s worth noting that (a) President Obama is not trying to enslave the population; and (b) as Maddow Blog has noted before, Allen West is a little too fond of slave metaphors.

Like many media spectacles the Deranged West Show is long on hyperbole, tired exaggerations and lots of sleaze. West is currently on the public’s payroll. We support him and his family via his Congressional salary. he also has kindly given his military retirement benefits before being thrown out of the military for acting like a sadistic coward in a combat zone. If anyone or any movement is trying to turn America into the new Confederacy with a plantation style economy it is West and his comrades, 8 Ways America’s Headed Back to the Robber-Baron Era

1. Unregulated Corporate Capitalism Creates Economic Collapse

In the late 19th century, corrupt railroad capitalists created the Panic of 1873 and Panic of 1893 through lying about their business activities, buying off politicians and siphoning off capital into their own pockets. Railroad corporations set up phony corporations that allowed them to embezzle money from the railroad into their bank accounts. When exposed, the entire economy collapsed as banks failed around the country. The Panic of 1893 lasted five years, created 25% unemployment, and was the worst economic crisis in American history before the Great Depression.

In the early 21st century, the poorly regulated financial industry plunged the nation into the longest economic downturn since the Depression. Like in the Gilded Age, none of the culprits have served a day in prison.

2. Union Busting

In the Gilded Age, business used the power of the state to crush labor unions. President Hayes called in the Army to break the Great Railroad Strike of 1877; President Cleveland did the same against the Pullman strikers in 1894.

Today’s corporations don’t have to use such blunt force to destroy unions, but like in the past, they convince the government to do their bidding. Whether it is holding up FAA renewal in order to make it harder for airline employees to unionize, Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board leaking material on cases to Republican insiders, or governors Scott Walker and John Kasich seeking to bust their states’ public sector unions, not since before the Great Depression has the government attacked unions with such force.

3. Income Inequality

Today, we have the highest levels of income inequality since the 1920s and the gap is widening to late 19th century levels with great speed. In those days, individuals like John D. Rockefeller had more money than the federal government, while the majority of Americans lived in squalor, poverty and disease.

In the Progressive Era, we started creating laws like the federal income tax, child labor laws and workers’ compensation to begin giving workers a fair share of the pie. For decades, labor fought to increase their share and by the 1970s, had turned much of the working class into the middle class. Today, that middle class is under attack by a new generation of plutocrats who wish to recreate the massive fortunes of the Gilded Age.

4. Open Purchase of Elections

In 1890, copper magnate William Clark paid Montana lawmakers $140,000 to elect him to the U.S. Senate. While most plutocrats did not share Clark’s interest in being politicians, they ensured their lackeys would serve in office, often by offering corporate stock to politicians. Disgusted by this corruption, America in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century created a number of reforms, including the 17th Amendment that created direct elections of senators, as well as a 1912 Montana state law limiting corporate expenditures in politics.

Beginning with the Citizens United decision and continuing with the recent overturning of that 1912 law, the Supreme Court has allowed corporations and wealthy plutocrats to buy elections openly once again.

5. Supreme Court Partisanship

In the Gilded Age, the Supreme Court interpreted laws not as to the intent of the lawmakers, but to promote business interests. It refused to enforce the 14th Amendment to stop segregation, but it did create the idea that a corporation was a person with rights. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was intended to moderate monopolies; the Supreme Court only enforced it against unions since organized labor “unfairly restrained trade.”

Today’s Supreme Court has resorted to this aggressively partisan stance. The Court is fine with the open flouting of the 4th Amendment, allowing strip searches of middle-school girls if they’re suspected to be carrying drugs, but creates a grotesque expansion of the 14th Amendment in the Citizens United decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia just took the opportunity in a Supreme Court dissent to lambast his colleagues for striking down much of the Arizona anti-immigration law by approvingly citing 19th-century laws in the South that limited the movement of African Americans.

If Rep. West is capable of making a cogent argument with clear evidence that supports his bizarre remarks I have never heard them. Until he does he is just another conservative Republican flame thrower. One for whom it seems impossible to tap down the insanity long enough to provide actual evidence of his accusations. We can all be thankful he is not a judge trying criminal cases. Murderers would go free, innocent people convicted and the justice system turned into a circus. I would ask the people of Florida’s 22nd district to do one thing. To force West to undergo and make public a psychiatric examination before anyone votes for him again.

The black helicopters are coming, the black helicopters are coming – Limbaugh Falsely Claims IRS Is Hiring “16,000 New Agents” To Implement Health Care Reform . They’re also going to spray your entire family with fluoride and contaminate their precious bodily fluids.

Why Does Scott Brown (R-MA) Hate Retired Americans?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced that over 14 million American seniors are getting special treatment under the affordable health care law, otherwise known as Obamacare. This special treatment is in the form of preventive benefits under Medicare.

The section of the law that I am referring to allows the elderly to receive an annual checkup, without paying a co-pay or deductible along with other preventive services, like cancer screening and mammograms. This all without an out-of-pocket cost to our senior citizens.

“These free preventive services are helping people in Medicare stay healthy and lower their health care costs,” acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

So before Sen. Scott Brown sides with the radical right and votes to repeal this law, perhaps Brown should read the bill also. By Brown voting to repeal, this benefit along with many others, like closing of the doughnut hole, will be ultimately detrimental to our elderly.

Preventive care holds down costs. Yet another example of Republicans taking positions on public policy based on the obscure ideological goals of conservatism rather than what is best for America.