Obama just completed his 2014 State of the Union address, and the speech was full of things that he would like to do, and like to see, but the plans showed little appreciation for the actual behavior of markets or economics. It was a wish-list, as was last year’s SOTU address. The lame duck president was flat, and seemed to lack his usual flair. He mentioned his great accomplishments: lowest unemployment in five years, more oil production, and that he helped to cut the deficit by 1/2.
The economy and small business
The president talked of a “breakthrough year for America,” and attempted to frame Congress as the sticking point for changing regulations and tax breaks. The president wants tax loopholes closed (apparently, because they are only available to certain people and not everyone who takes advantage of them – the exact reason was left unclear). The president points to the growing economy, and cites the levels of the burgeoning Dow Jones, on the heels of months and months of quantitative easing. He also calls on Congress to undo cuts enacted last year, which affect things like education.
The issues with business and the economy, were contradicting activities. The president wants minimum wage raised, and he called on state governors to do it. Obama told them not to wait on Congress to act — this allows him to paint Congress as lazy or uncaring about the plight of minimum wage workers, as they move toward 2014 elections, while at the same time allowing state governors in tight races to pick up support.
Increasing the minimum wage would somehow lead to more money for consumers to spend, but Obama never mentioned the effect on the employers. While calling for businesses to pay their employees more, he neglected to mention the oncoming, but currently delayed, employer mandate for Obamacare. He also called on energy to continue to become cleaner, and mentions that may force families to make difficult choices.
President Obama says his energy policy is working – never mind that there is a propane shortage, coal and power producers are complaining, and gasoline is much higher than when he first took office. He calls on Congress to end tax cuts on fossil fuel companies (saying that they “don’t need them”). Carbon output is down in the U.S. more than in any other country (but he does not mention why – perhaps his regulations on the coal industry or the recession?)
He calls on Joe Biden and Congress to act to fund new job training programs. There are jobs that cannot find workers, and he wants to train these new workers. Starting new apprenticeships and increasing on-the-job training are the main ways he wants to fill these jobs. Again, he accused Congress of acting callously, and he called on them to restore unemployment benefits to the unemployed workers who have previously exhausted the 99 weeks of benefits.
Further, Obama stated that he does not resent people who make more than others, but was no where close to saying that they have earned it, or that they should not have to pay more in taxes to fund his domestic policy wishlist. Along with not resenting others’ salaries, he says he wants women to earn just as much as men do, and he restates the fallacious claim that they earn $0.77 for every $1.00 that a man earns – despite the fact his own staff underpaid women. “When women succeed, America succeeds, ” he tells us.
Surprisingly, he did mention Obamacare, but called it by its legislative name, “The Affordable Care Act,” perhaps because of its massive unpopularity. He told mothers to get their children to sign up, and for children to get their parents signed up, in what was the most disturbing and desperate part of the speech. He tells us that over nine million Americans have already signed up for the ACA, and he illustrated how it worked for a single patient who needed emergency surgery (although he neglected to share her deductible or how much her final bill was). Obama challenged Republicans to come up with a plan of their own, leaving a door open to have his own signature program finally buried and forgotten.
All in all, this year’s State of the Union address was incredibly similar to last year’s address. Obama issued the same promises, he engaged in the same rhetoric, and the same fundamental misunderstanding of the economy and labor market was evident, too. We are five years into the Obama presidency, and tonight, he illustrated that he still has not learned much. For his promise for a “year of action,” he has some major inertia to overcome.
In honor of the bumpy road that the Wendy Davis campaign is currently traversing, and thanks to an idea that started on Tony Katz Tonight, I put together a short playlist for the Wendy Davis campaign – just something for them to listen to when the days get long, and their bogus narratives wear thin. So, with credit to Tony, PrairieDogSD, and the many others who frequent the most entertaining chat room, weekdays between 9pm and midnight, I give you, the WDPL. (links lead to YouTube videos)
- “Maneater” by Hall & Oates (especially fitting after considering her divorce to her second husband was ONE day after he finished paying off her student loan debts)
- “Lies” by Fleetwood Mac
- “Oh No Not My Baby” by Aretha Franklin (In “honor” of her filibuster supporting abortions)
- “Stupid Girl” by Cold
- “New Low” by Middle Class Rut (“So many directions, I don’t know which way to go, I’m so busy doing nothing, I got nothing to show”)
- “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks (interesting when considered from a supporter’s point of view)
- “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones (for her dubious past and her attempts to change it)
- “Liar” by Rains (for either of her ex-husbands [the second filed for divorce citing ‘infidelity‘])
- “Oh Daddy” by Fleetwood Mac (the second Fleetwood song, due to her father introducing her to her second husband, who was 13 years her senior)
- “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff (if she should actually, somehow, win the Texas governor’s race)
So, there you have it – ten songs that fit her campaign for one reason or another. By title or lyric, there are so many more that would be applicable to this mess of a campaign, feel free to add your choices in the comments.
This week, Bloomberg Politics reported that investor and businessman, Sheldon Adelson, was taking advantage of a loophole in the current tax law to pass assets on to his heirs. Passing new tax laws in 1990–both the House and Senate were Democratic controlled at that time–is what created the loophole initially. It takes advantage of a special trust called a “GRAT” (grantor retained annuity trust), which allows placing assets into an irrevocable trust, where the person creating the trust pays a tax. The trust pays an annuity every year, and upon expiration, the beneficiaries receive the remaining assets in the trust, tax-free.
Adelson and other businessmen have successfully used this mechanism to pass their assets to others and to avoid paying penalizing government fees and estate taxes to the tune of $100 billion over the past 13 years. Adelson himself has been able to pass $7.9 billion of his money to his heirs. Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fortune) and Lloyd Blankfein (of Goldman Sachs Group) have also taken advantage of the loophole.
Proponents of big government seem suddenly to realize the additional billions that they could spend if the loophole were closed, and they bemoan the fact that it’s still available. Adding to that, the fact that there is simply such large amounts of money mentioned, and other’s greed and envy kick in as well. Ironically, the concerns that people utter, reflect the same thinking as Adelson et al., namely that, “I don’t have enough” and “I need a way to save what I have now for myself and my children”.
Quickly after that, any parallel thinking ends, and arbitrariness kicks in. All too suddenly, a self-concerned commenter engages in the conditioned response of this administration– “Surely those terribly rich men have enough money already? Why shouldn’t I be able to help spend some of that? Those businessmen must have made that money illegally or exploitatively…”
So, let us review: Congress screws up when they rewrite the tax code, Congress continues to refuse to fix the loophole, people are able to save their own money, and give it to their children. And the unavailable money that the government cannot collect is largely the businessman‘s fault? I am not sure what mental gymnastic enables one to bend logic that far, but it is quite a stretch.
I expect it will be some time before Congress does anything to close this loophole, since the right’s opposition to taxes is well-known, and the left has far too many big donors taking advantage of the loophole to close it. One thing is certain–whenever a government attempts to increasingly micromanage and legislate things, they will always underestimate the ability and ingenuity of the people to find ways to wriggle out of the most awful laws. The people may be dumb enough to vote for the Congressman, but they are smart enough not to follow his laws.
WASHINGTON (MU News) — Kathleen Sebelius visited a Miami hospital today, and shook hands with Obamacare navigators. The new photo-op’s aim was illustrating the number of people being helped by Obamacare, and to show how easy it was to sign up for the program.
However, what happened was that the site crashed while one lady was attempting to sign up for the program, and while the enrollee was speaking with Secretary Sebelius. The couple enrolling and at the mercy of the site remarked, “It’s OK – it’ll come back. It happens everyday.” Quickly trying to patch the situation, the Office of Health and Human Services revealed a “new” way to sign up for Obamacare, without even using the glitchy website.
At an HHS Obamacare program update, in Washington D.C., the agency introduced a man dressed in a jumpsuit as a new speaker for the department. He at first appeared nervous and out-of-place, but after shuffling some papers handed to him and being winked at by another man in a suit, seemed to compose himself and began to answer reporters’ questions.
How badly will this new program fair? Could HHS actually be any more incompetent? Read the rest of the satirical piece on The Constitution Club.
While many talking heads point to the many scandals that the administration continues to juggle, from Fast & Furious, to the Benghazi debacle, from Solyndra’s bankruptcy, to fisting safe-school czars, to Gaza-located campaign donations – President Obama has covered nearly every segment of scandal possible. Lack of leadership, the promotion of people of questionable character, shady money, and plenty of yes-men to provide quick, albeit, shallow, explanations for all of it are now part of the presidential modus operandi.
Like Obama, another politician who entered office with much fanfare, and promise, was Ulysses S. Grant, former Union general and war hero. Having never held office before, Grant realized that he would have to lean on others who proclaimed their own altruism and care for their country. After two terms, he left office with a much different view of politics, nearly dragging a split Republican party into ruin, and having a greatly sullied reputation.
How much are Obama and Grant actually alike? The entire article, scandals and all, can be found here, at The Constitution Club: http://constitutionclub.org/2013/11/06/history-repeating-itself-2/
Tonight, at midnight, the unthinkable occurred. Again. The government was shutdown as a result of poor management by the Senate, and their complete inability to compromise. The Majority Leader blamed the fact that Obamacare-defunding mechanisms were attached to the House’s continuing resolution bill. Harry Reid was unable to separate himself from his Obama-lapdog status, and was forced to do nothing, tabling the GOP-House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government.
It is expected that nowhere will be hit as hard by all this, as Hollywood, and no one will feel this worse than the jet-set Hollywood crowd that Democrats love to party with. The poor stars will not be able to spend their time at the closed national parks, or visit landmarks as they are so often known for doing. MU News has reached out to a few celebrities for their opinions on the entire financial mess, and the wise words of the stars tells the sad story.
Permanently famous-for-doing-nothing-in-particular star, Paris Hilton seemed nonplussed by the gridlock. “Daddy’s Maserati will still run, right? Like, I can still drink at “Le Throng” in L.A., right? So, the streetlights will be out then?”
Football star Peyton Manning appeared nonchalant. “Look, I’m a quarterback, not some idiot kicker – I’ve been watching what’s going on. But as long as my arm and my Papa John’s stock is alright, I don’t really care. Boehner’s finally acting like a general out there, and Harry Reid’s acting like a big, offensive lineman. If I were there in Washington, I’d tell him the same as I’d tell my own linemen – ‘move yer ass, Harry!'”.
Television personality and restless-leg sufferer, Chris Matthews could barely contain himself. “I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!! THOSE DAMNED REPUBLICANS ARE BLOCKING EVERYTHING AGAIN! They’re like governmental constipation! They’re gonna ruin everything, what with their ‘reduce spending’ and ‘spend more responsibly’ attitudes. God, they make me sick.”
MU News attempted to make contact with a couple of New York politicians, but we were told that Mayor Bloomberg was busy attempting to get the subways to run on time, and that Anthony Weiner was taking an important phone call.
Whatever the result of the shutdown will be, it will not change the fact that Obamacare is still greatly un-supported by Americans, and the list of grievances in regard to Obamacare continue to grow. Hopefully, Harry Reid will feel the pain of his Hollywood buddies, and act accordingly, and reaching a compromise with House republicans.
Clearly satire, MU (Made Up) News is a parody news agency. If it’s a Made Up story, it probably didn’t happen.