Senator Lindsey Graham Is A Coward

July 28, 2017

Thursday afternoon, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, had this to say about the Republican Party’s latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare), “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.”

Graham further called the so-called skinny repeal a “disaster” and “a fraud.” He went on to call it “the dumbest thing in history” and said it would drive up insurance premiums and would destabilize Wall Street markets, which in effect would destabilize world markets. The Republican Party has been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for eight years, and replace it with their own plan. Eight years later, they still do not have a passable alternative. How can that be? How is it that this party now controls the White House and both Houses of Congress, and yet still cannot get a bill passed?

When the Republican Party finally got around to voting on this disaster of a bill at 1:30 Friday morning, how did Graham vote? Of course, he voted for the bill, choosing to put party well ahead of the citizens of both South Carolina and America.

Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself. He act of cowardice is an embarrassment to both his state and country. His yes vote on the skinny repeal, despite repeatedly calling it derogatory names all day and night is exactly what is wrong with America’s broken political system, a system controlled by Big Business and Big Money.

Senator Graham was right about one thing. His vote was indeed horrible politics.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Repealing The Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare)

July 19, 2017

Just two short months ago, House members were dancing in the Rose Garden, having been invited by the president to celebrate their huge victory after passing legislation repealing The Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare), forgetting that in order for their legislation to become law it must also pass the Senate. Low and behold, news broke late Monday evening that the Senate cannot muster the fifty-one votes required to pass their version of a new health care bill.

How is it the Republican Party, who tried repealing ObamaCare nearly seventy times during the Obama presidency, has now failed for the third time in the past six months, despite controlling both Houses of Congress and the presidency? Imagine what Congress could actually accomplish if only they worked on something other than trying to repeal The Affordable Care Act. And yet Republicans are already wasting time trying to devise one more plan to repeal the act. All the while the president’s solution is to “let ObamaCare fail,” resulting in as many as fifty million Americans losing health care benefits. Is this leadership?

I’m no journalist, but if one, I would ask every Republican member of Congress and the president why they are so set in repealing The Affordable Care Act. Why not just fix what is wrong with it? The only rationale for their repeated failed attempts to repeal President Obama’s landmark legislation giving any American who wanted it health insurance is to diminish his legacy.

No other possible explanation has ever been given.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

U.S. – Cuban Relations (Or Lack Thereof)

June 23, 2017

The recent announcement by the president that his administration will roll back the normalization of relations with Cuba as enacted by former president Barack Obama, reeks of political pandering to the very small, yet very vocal Cuban-American community in the delegate rich state of Florida. Ironically, when President Obama announced the easement of the embargo, Cuban-Americans were outraged, yet the Cuban people rejoiced.

America’s fifty year embargo against Cuba via commercial, economic and financial sanctions did nothing but hurt the Cuban people and kept the Castro brothers in power all these years as they blamed America for all their hardship. Making matters much more dire, Russia has announced they are planning on opening a military base in the island nation located only ninety miles off the coast of Florida.

Even more ironic, just days after the announcement by the president that he is rolling back Cuban relations to Cold War status, Raul Castro has confirmed his plan to not seek another term as president when his current term expires in 2018.

What could ever possibly go wrong?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Another Massive Tax Cut For Big Business And Billionaires

April 28, 2017

With the president boasting that his one page tax reform plan (i.e., massive tax cuts for both Big Business and the wealthy elite) is the biggest in history, one thing for certain is that this proposed legislation will add to the soaring national debt, as experts are already opining that it will add an additional seven trillion dollars of debt over the next decade. The administration is saying this tax plan will pay for itself via economic growth. However, that was not the case when George W. Bush cut taxes twice during his terms in office.

Politicians, corporate leaders and business pundits all whine how the present corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world, yet they fail to mention the average, effective rate paid by all corporations is only 12.8%, hardly unfair. Many of this nation’s largest corporations pay little, if any federal tax, including Boeing, General Electric, Priceline.com, Verizon, American Electric Power, First Energy, Duke Energy, Con-Ed and FedEx, among many others. These same people say reducing the corporate rate to 15% will create jobs, however, it is demand that creates jobs. U.S. corporations have been sitting on record piles of cash the past few years, which has done nothing to stimulate the economy. The problem is the working man and woman have little, if any discretionary income, as they are barely getting by on minimum wage jobs. Now days, it takes both the husband and wife working full-time jobs to raise a family, whereas a few decades ago all it took was for the husband to be the breadwinner.

Why is it that nearly seventy percent of U.S. corporations are regarded as non-profits? According to the latest available Internal Revenue Service statistics that I could find, the percentage of non-profits has grown from twenty-four percent in 1986 to sixty-nine percent by 2008. Why the sudden surge in the number of corporations that consider themselves not-for-profit? This percentage is far higher when you add in sole proprietors and partnerships.

Congress needs to investigate why, in 1959 the IRS changed the wording of the actual law regarding the qualifications for tax-exemption status, when they had no legal authority to do so. I am not an attorney, nor a tax expert (who is?); however, the law as written by Congress in Section 501(C) of the tax code requires any entity not organized for profit, applying for tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization to be operated “exclusively” for the promotion of social welfare. Some non-profit corporations that do not seemingly meet the requirement of exclusively promoting social welfare are the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the NHL. The NFL just this month announced they are giving up their tax-free status, as Major League Baseball did in 2007.

Or, how about Wall Street bankers, earning millions of dollars a year, pay a federal rate of only 15% because their income is counted as capital gains. I guess that “golden rule” is true, isn’t it? Our tax code desperately needs overhauled, but once again slashing taxes paid by Big Business, millionaires and billionaires is not the answer. Nor will it simulate the economy. President Clinton raised taxes and the economy roared. George W. Bush cut taxes twice and he left office with the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Do I feel sorry for U.S. corporations or the wealthy elite who earn billions of dollars, yet pay little or no federal tax? Hardly.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Defense Spending Vs. The National Debt

March 3, 2017

With the recent announcement by the president that he is requesting at least a $54 billion increase to the military budget, though he also said it could approach $100 billion when all is said and done, it seems that decreasing the national debt is no longer a priority. With an annual defense budget of $600 billion, we spend thirty-six percent of the world-wide defense budget, out-spending number two China by $350 billion. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget.

Since September 11th, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us? As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, our country is falling apart. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, with more than half of total world-wide arms sales. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. America has a very extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.

Making matters worse is that we spend billions of dollars on military items our generals and admirals do not need, nor want, all because members of Congress feel the need to look good to their constituents back home by keeping jobs in their districts. A prime example of military waste is the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which Senator John McCain has proclaimed a boondoggle. Construction begun on the $13 billion carrier in 2005, and though not yet commissioned is two years behind schedule with cost overruns of nearly $3 billion. Furthermore, this does not include the nearly $5 billion cost of research and development, nor the cost of more than seventy-five aircraft that will take-off and land on her massive flight deck. One must also not forget that the Pentagon’s accounting books have been unauditable for years.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Coming from a five-star general, many credit for winning World War II, America should have listened.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

A Tale Of Two Parties (Apologies To Charles Dickens)

November 10, 2016

Less than twenty-four hours after the Republican Party candidate pulled off the biggest upset this year, no, make that number two behind Penn State pulling off a huge upset in a Happy Valley white-out against the Buckeyes, President Obama invited the president-elect, who mocked Obama for years, to the White House to discuss the peaceful transfer of power come January. Whatever happened to the president-elect’s investigation into the president’s birth and religion, the results of which we were told is gonna shock us?

Eight years ago, on the day President Obama was first sworn into office, Republican Congressional leaders met at the Caucus Room restaurant to make sure the “uppity” first-term Senator from Illinois was a complete failure, in effect the most perfect example of putting party over country. Especially considering the disastrous economy he inherited. Or a world economy on the brink of a catastrophic meltdown, due to the Wall Street mess. Not to mention the two longest wars in U.S. history, both unfunded and still ongoing. Also unfunded were two massive tax cuts, benefiting mainly the wealthy elite, as well as the Medicare prescription drug program.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had the audacity to announce his number one priority was seeing Barack Obama a one-term president. He couldn’t even get that right!!!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Allstate Good Hands Good Deed?

September 7, 2016

As collegiate football got underway this past weekend, it did not take Allstate Insurance long to start bragging about their good hands, good deed declarations during games to assert that they have now donated millions of dollars to fund college general scholarships during the past twelve years. Up until two years ago, the insurance conglomerate always told viewers the exact dollar amount of their donations. However, starting last season, they only state the amount is millions of dollars. I do not claim that my measly blog is responsible for Allstate realizing that for all the free advertising it receives all season long in lieu of donating a couple hundred thousand dollars each year, as I have been posting this piece for several years, but I have yet to see or hear any other person criticize the corporation for having the audacity to boast about such a trifling dollar amount considering all the free advertising it receives for its generosity.

Anyone who watches college football knows all to well that the Allstate Good Hands logo is placed advantageously in a great many stadiums across the country in the middle of the netting that is raised behind the goal posts on point after touchdowns and field goal attempts in order to prevent the kicked football from going into the stands. At first glance, it appears that Allstate is doing a great deed by donating money to fund college scholarships. However, when you consider all the free publicity the company receives all season long, generosity might not be the best word to describe Allstate’s publicity stunt. How many times are these logos shown during the course of each season for every college and university stadium that allows these netting logos? How many times during the year will game announcers proclaim to their viewers that Allstate has donated millions for college scholarships? Every time the logo-laden netting is raised or the announcers make the declaration, it is the equivalent one more free commercial for the insurance conglomerate.

I know not what a thirty-second commercial airing during a typical college football game costs, let alone that of a bowl game or the national championship playoffs, however for all the free advertising that it receives every year; Allstate should be embarrassed that it has donated only a few million dollars over twelve years to fund college scholarships. Allstate should have donated at least ten times that amount, if not one hundred times more than it has before it boasts of its good deed.

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87