Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No Taxes?!?

A few days ago I wrote about how much the top 400 earners paid in taxes. They pay an average of 17% in case you missed the post.

But that figure is an average, some paid more and some paid less.

Here in Los Angeles, the Dodgers are big news and since the owners are going through a divorce, we are getting a rare view inside the finances of relatively rich people. The McCourts are not in the top 400, not even close. However, they did have an income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009, according to documents Jamie McCourt recently filed. I don't think any of us would complain too loudly if we earned the same amount.

It seems that while they were earning over $100 million dollars during this period of time, they paid zero federal and state income tax.

Earning = $108,000,000.00

Taxes = $0.00

Now, no one at this point is saying that they did anything illegal. But there is something really wrong with our tax system that allows someone, or even a couple of someones, to earn that kind of money and pay no taxes.

What it means is that those of us who earn lowly amounts of money each year and pay our taxes are subsidizing the lifestyle of the rich.

And the republicans want to reduce taxes on the rich even more! What is next? If you earn over a certain amount the government will give you MORE money?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pawlenty Reaffirms Republican Plan

Tim Pawlenty has reaffirmed the republican health care plan:

Don't Get Sick.
If You Do, Die Quickly.

Here is what he said:

"Emergency rooms should be able to turn patients away to cut costs."

He went on to say,
""Well, for one thing you could do is change the federal law so that not every ER is required to treat everybody who comes in the door, even if they have a minor condition," Pawlenty said. "They should be -- if you have a minor condition, instead of being at the really expensive ER, you should be at the primary care clinic."

That would be great! Yes, they should be treated at primary care clinics instead of the ER for minor conditions.


Tim Pawlenty, republican Fucktard of the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Corporate Law Makers

This is what happens when corporations start making laws. They exempt themselves.

In his Sunday column, Michael Hiltzik discusses how Venoco Inc. is pouring money into a ballot initiative that would exempt it from Carpenteria's industrial development and environmental rules.

Carpenteria is a small California coastal city a little north of Los Angeles. It has a city-owned coastal preserve and one of the four remaining seal rookeries in Southern California.

Venoco Inc. is an independent oil company which owns an oil storage facility in Carpinteria. They are "spending lavishly to pass a ballot initiative specifically exempting itself from the city's industrial development and environmental rules". They want to operate a 10-story oil derrick round the clock on its property next to a 225-home residential neighborhood and on the edge of the ecologically sensitive coastal bluffs.

They are afraid that the city won't allow them to do so. Under existing municipal code, this project is illegal. The city and the company have been negotiating for four years. Last year an environmental review identified 11 significant and unavoidable impacts from this project. At that point, Venoco withdrew from the negotiations and started proceeding to put an initiative on the June ballot to exempt themselves from public planning and land-use review.

It is not unusual from corporations to pour money into statewide politicians and political causes. But Carpinteria is a small local town. There are about 6000 voters in Carpinteria. This is a municipal ballot issue. Venoco hired a firm to send paid signature gatherers into the city. They had spent over $155,000 at the end of last year. And the spending continues. This is in a town where it costs about $3500 to run for mayor.

This is the beginning of what can happen as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited political spending by corporations. You will see them coming into local elections and trying to buy politicians and create laws that unfairly favor them. They have been doing it for a while at the state and federal level. Now they are starting to do it at the local level.

They are trying to use the law to place themselves above the law. And that is not right!

Farewell Daddy

He died peacefully surrounded by family on Friday the 19th of February. He was sixteen years old.

Farewell, Daddy. You were a great doggy.

Daddy, RIP.

Condolences to Cesar Milan and family.

California Corporations Support Tax Cheats

That's right. According to an LA Times article -- "The California Chamber of Commerce, the Western States Petroleum Assn. and the California Manufacturers and Technology Assn. are lobbying against the bill, SBX8 32.

Why don't they like it?

Because "of a provision that would impose penalties on corporations and wealthy individuals who take tax credits to which they are not entitled."

Right! They do not want corporations and wealthy individuals to pay a penalty if they claim tax credits that they are not entitled to.

All this bill is doing is bringing California tax laws into line with federal tax law. Yes, federal law already imposes a 20% fine. California would just apply the same fine to California state taxes.

And what are they going to give up if the bill does not pass?

Tax breaks that can already be claimed on federal returns like:
  • Not having to pay income tax on the amount of money that your mortgage holder writes off on a short sale.
  • Renewable energy companies not having to pay income taxes on federal stimulus grants they receive to jump-start solar and other green energy projects.
Big California businesses are more concerned with helping tax cheats than Americans who have lost their homes or in creating jobs in new solar and other green energy industries.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has indicated he would not sign it unless it had support from all the major interests affected by it. He vetoed a similar bill last year because of its penalty provision.

Shame on Arnold and shame on the California Chamber of Commerce, the Western States Petroleum Assn. and the California Manufacturers and Technology Assn.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Much Do The Rich Pay In Taxes?

The republicans are always talking about tax cuts. They say, erroneously, that tax cuts will stimulate the economy. They pushed through two tax cuts during the Bush years with reconciliation. Tax cuts that primarily benefited the rich.

So, how much do the rich really pay?

How about 17%?

Do you pay 17%? I bet not, unless your income is low.

According to the IRS' 2006 figures and the IRS' ranking of the top 400 earners in the US, they only paid an average of 17% of federal income tax. These are people who earned over 1 billion dollars in 2006. MORE THAN 1 BILLION DOLLARS. And they only paid 17% taxes.

That needs to be changed!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who Gets Paid Off Next?

The GOP complains about income redistribution. What they don't tell you is that from their point-of-view, there is good income redistribution and bad income redistribution. To them, good redistribution is from the poor to the rich, not the other way around. They only complain about rich to poor distribution, not poor to rich. However, poor to rich is much more prevalent, particularly since the Reagan era.

It seems that the purpose of government is to collect our tax dollars and funnel it to various corporate enterprises. Lets take a look at some examples:
  • To Military/Industrial Complex -- Two current wars
  • To Drug Companies -- Medicare Part D - prescription program
  • Financial Industry -- Bailout
  • To Heathcare Insurance Companies -- Current reform bill (may not be passed. Insurance companies will be pissed.)
What comes next?

Big payoffs to the Media Corporations. The big, mainstream media companies are going to get a giant income increase as the recent Supreme Court decision on allowing unlimited corporate political contributions starts to have an impact. Watch this next election cycle. Corporations will pour huge amounts of money into the campaigns. And where does that money go? Right to the media corporations in the form of advertising.

Corporations will not only control politicians, but they will control the major sources of information distribution to the American people as well.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

More On Insurance Rates

An article today in the LA Times, says that the Anthem Blue Cross rate increase for California policy holders is being put on hold until May. But what I found interesting in the article is this statement:

"We have instructed the actuaries to review the rates with a fine-tooth comb to ensure they comply with state law that requires that 70 cents of every dollar in premiums is spent on medical benefits," Poizner said.

Poizner is the State Insurance Commissioner.

Notice how this statement is worded. "Requires that 70 cents of every dollar". He makes it sound like 70 cents is a lot. Well it is not. Want to compare it to Medicare? About 95 cents, that's NINETY-FIVE cents of every dollar is spent on medical benefits. Medicare spends almost 36% (that's THIRTY-SIX percent) more than is required by the state of California.

It sounds like the great state of California is more interested in the supporting the for-profit health insurance business than the people of California.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Health Insurance Profits

A new report out by Health Care For America NOW says:

"The five largest U.S. health insurance companies sailed through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression to set new industry profit records in 2009, a feat accomplished by leaving behind 2.7 million americans who had been inprivate health plans."

"...UnitedHealthGroup inc., WellPoint inc., Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., and Cigna Corp., enjoyed combined profit of $12.2 billion in 2009, up 56 percent from the previous year. It was the best year ever for Big Insurance."

The insurance industry says 56% increase is not so bad because 2008 was a bad year.

Well, just how good was 2009? The top five insurance companies made $12.2 billion in profit. That's $122 billion over 10 years. You know what? That is more than enough to pay for the current healthcare reform bill now being considered by Congress.

Let me say that again. The top five health insurance companies made enough in profits to pay for the current healthcare reform bill.

Why do we allow for-profit companies to provide insurance? Their profits alone will pay for health care reform.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Insurance Rates

I have had an Anthem Blue Cross individual health insurance policy for about the last 8 years. Every January they adjust the rate. Overall the rate adjustments have been relative slight. In fact, last year my premium actually went down a few dollars.

I turn 65 next month, so I have signed up for Medicare and can drop the private plan. A couple of weeks ago, I got my annual letter from Anthem Blue Cross about my premium. The cost is increasing from $360/month to $494/month, a healthy 37% increase for a plan with a $5000 deductible. If I wanted to increase the deductible to $7500, the cost would be $397/month. My first thought was that they don't want me to keep their insurance. They know I am turning 65 and can assume that I am going on Medicare. They just want to help me along by giving me an obscene rate increase.

Notice my surprise when I read this article - WellPoint price hike defense fails to satisfy feds. (Anthem Blue Cross is part of WellPoint) They are raising the rates in California by an average of 39%. Little did I realize that they were encouraging me to stay with them by raising my rates only 37%.

I still smiled when I called them up and told them to cancel my policy.

Let me add, Medicare is not free. Between the medical coverage and the drug plan, it will cost about $150/month, but that is a vast improvement over what I would have to pay for a private plan. Granted, because I am old, the government is subsidizing the cost. If we had Medicare for all, the cost would be higher for those under 65 because they would have to pay the full cost. But it would still be much less than private insurance.

So, remind me again why we are subsidizing private insurance companies with our hard earned money when the government has the ability to provide coverage at a lower cost to us?

Republican Brain

This figure is too good to pass up. I picked it up over at The Siren Chronicles. It is a perfect description of how the republican brain works. Of course, some would argue that republican and brain is an oxymoron.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Palin The Palm Reader

These photos are just too good not to pass on. Take a look at Sarah's left hand.

Sarah, at the Tea Bag Convention, had notes written on her hand. It looks like they say

budget (crossed out) cut Tax
Lift American Spirit

These are her three points of what to do if conservatives take over congress. She gave them in answer to one of the questions during the Q and A session. I only listened to a small part of the Q and A session, but I did hear this question. I only lasted about 5 minutes and then could not listen to any more. It seemed to me at the time that the questions were all pre-arranged. This proves it.

She needs crib notes so she can remember the three MOST important things that conservatives need to do. What does that tell you about her dedication and belief in what she is doing? It tells me that this is all put on. Like the Tea Party Convention, she is in it just for the money.

Sarah Palin -- palm reader.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Don't Be A Girly Man

The Senate republicans are a bunch of "girly men". They are afraid to have a question and answer session with Obama. That tells me that they do not even believe their own bullshit. Not willing to stand up to the President?

What's the matter? Afraid that you are going to hear some more truth like this?

Sanford Flies To DC To Demand Stimulus Money

They don't like examples of what hypocrites they are.

"South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) waged a high-profile war against the economic stimulus package last spring, claiming that accepting the $700 million for which his state was eligible would lead to “a thing called slavery.” Even as his state’s unemployment rate climbed above the national average, Sanford maintained his partisan and politically motivated refusal to take the funds.

But yesterday, Sanford flew to Washington to demand $300 million in stimulus money for education."

He should have stayed on the Appalachian Trail.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mitch, STFU!

I think that it is reasonable to expect that our leaders to be truthful and honorable people. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (the republican cabbage patch doll) apparently has not got the memo.

He said today, "What happened? He was given a 50 minute interrogation, probably Larry King has interrogated people longer than that."

He is talking about the interrogation of underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The statement is not only ridiculous, but completely wrong. The interrogation of Abdulmutallab has been highly successful provided hither to unknown intelligence about terrorists and their activities.

Here is what Keith Olbermann had to say about it.

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Here is some additional information on what Abdulmutallab has provided.

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So Mitch, shut the fuck up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama On the Offensive

The President is finally taking on the republicans. Here he is today talking about the bipartisan commission on debt reduction.

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Next, he had something to say about the recovery package.

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And, let's not forget about health care.

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It is about time that he starts "taking it" to the republicans.