Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What CEOs Don't Want You To Know

Excerpts from Tom Hartmann:
Last year - as part of the Wall Street reform bill passed by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama - there was a provision forcing corporations to disclose just how large the pay gap is between their CEOs and their average workers.


The provision was included in hopes that if people knew just how gross the pay gap was between CEOs and workers - then maybe there would be more pressure to shrink it…as they say - sunlight is the best disinfectant. And today - outrageous corporate pay is infecting our economy.
Consider that back in the 1970s - CEOs made about 30 times more than their average worker - as in what they did was 30 times more valuable to the company than what other workers did.

But since then - the numbers have exploded - and today - CEOs make as much as 400 times their average worker and in some cases on Wall Street, for example - as much as 2,000 times the average worker.


And that’s why - as soon as Republican took control of the House of Representatives at the beginning of the year - CEOs from 81 of the biggest corporations in America - including McDonalds - General Dynamics - and IBM started a massive lobbying effort to repeal the new CEO-pay disclosure requirement.

And when corporate CEOs talk - Republicans listen.

Last week - Republicans did as they were told - and repealed the CEO pay disclosure provision in a party line vote in a House Committee, House of Representatives.

Republicans don’t think you should know that while unemployment is hovering around 9% and average employee wages are sinking lower and lower - people like Phillipe Dauman made more than $84 million last year as the CEO of Viacom.

Or that while nearly 50 million Americans languish in poverty - Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum made $76 million last year.

Or that while more than 40 million Americans need food stamps just to eat - Lawrence Ellison of Oracle made $70 million last year.

Republicans don’t want you to know that every $15 million dollars a CEO gets - is paid for with a $1000 pay-cut to 15,000 workers.

Or that every $30 million check cut to a CEO - they could have instead hired 600 new workers at $50,000 dollars a year.

And these are the guys that Republicans call the “job creators” in America - the guys who’d rather stash $30 million in a Swiss bank account - where it will sit untouched collecting interest - rather than spend a dime employing one of the 25 million unemployed people in the United States right now.


These CEOs are not job creators - they’re stealing from the people who are the ACTUAL job creators - people like you and me who buy stuff.

When the middle class in America has money - they buy stuff - and the more stuff they buy - then the more stuff needs to be made - and the more stuff that needs to be made - then the more workers need to be hired. That's how an economy works.
Big corporations are making record profits.

Big corporate CEOs are making record salaries.

More tax cuts and tax exemptions are the last things they need.  The current tax cuts and tax exemptions are not creating jobs.  They are only creating profits and wealth for those that already have it.

It is time for policies that have proven to create jobs...and those are not the ones that republicans are promoting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can Take Your Debt Limit And Shove It

The United States Constitution:
14th Amendment:
"Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

The Supreme Court:
In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond "went beyond the congressional power" on account of Section 4.[48] Republican economist Bruce Bartlett argues that Section 4 renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and obligates the President to consider the debt ceiling null and void. (Reference)

Republicans -- Take your debt limit and go to hell! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Happened to the NON in NON-Profit?

Wendell Potter (You remember him.  He is the former Vice President of corporate communications at CIGNA, turned whistleblower) has an interesting article on his blog about the amount of money non-profit health insurance companies are making.

Many people, myself included, have said that we should get the profit out of the health insurance business.  Government and non-profit private companies are the only way to go.  Why profit on someone else's suffering?  Use the money to alleviate the suffering, not line the pockets of insurance executives and rich investors.

California is attempting to rein in excessive health insurance rate increases by giving state regulators the authority to reject rate increases that are excessive or discriminatory.  The insurance industry is fighting the bill to do this.  Those fighting it include the state’s biggest supposedly nonprofit health plans: Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente.
Kaiser alone has spent $700,000 so far this year lobbying lawmakers in Sacramento. It undoubtedly will be spending quite a bit more this summer to persuade state senators to vote against the rate control bill.  And if any health plan can pull it off, it’s Kaiser, which has the biggest market share in the state and is also one of the country’s most profitable insurance companies.
Wait a minute?!?  " of the country’s most profitable insurance companies"?!?  I thought Kaiser was NON-profit.

According to public filings, Kaiser has made a whopping $5 billion in profits since 2009. That’s more than all but a small handful of the country’s for-profit insurance corporations have made. During the first three months of this year, Kaiser made more than $920 million in profits. Yet because it has been able to maintain its legal structure as a nonprofit, it doesn’t pay taxes on that money like the for-profits do.
One of the ways the company has been able to keep profitability strong is by demanding double-digit rate increases from its customers. Earlier this year, Kaiser announced it would raise rates on many of its policyholders in California by as much as 23 percent. No wonder it doesn’t want the state’s insurance commissioner to have the power to say “no” to such increases.
What happened over the decades is that a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Kurz. “Nonprofits found they could raise their rates and still be competitive by riding the coattails of for-profits. Nonprofits can’t pay dividends or buy back stock, so they simply add the surplus to their reserves.
Of course with fat reserves, you can afford more generous compensation and perks and still have money to spare...Kaiser’s CEO’s $8 million in compensation puts him in the same league as the CEOs of the biggest for-profits.  Blue Shield of California and many of the other nonprofit Blues around the country are also doing quite out of 10 nonprofit Blues plans had at least three times more in reserves than regulators required. To be able to maintain that level of profitability, nonprofit health plans have to hike rates just as high and just as often as their for-profit competitors.
So, nonprofits are spending millions of dollars of policyholders premiums just like for-profit companies.  They pay executives high salaries.  They spend millions lobbying politicians.  They charge comparable premiums rates.
How do they maintain non-profit status?  Political contributions?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How Bad Is The Budget Deficit?

It is so bad, that if we do nothing, the "deficits will disappear entirely by the end of President Obama's second term".  That's right.  DO NOTHING!  In other words, let the Bush Tax Cuts expire.  Let them expire and the deficit is projected to disappear by 2016.  We don't need to cut Social Security.  We don't need to cut Medicare.  Hell, we don't even need to get out of three wars and cut the defense budget!  Simply let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Check out the figures below.  The top ones shows what happens if the Bush tax cuts expire and the bottom one shows what happens if they don't.

The republican budget crisis is a manufactured crisis.  The solution is simple.  Simply let the Bush tax cuts expires as they were originally designed to do by the republicans.

End of problem!

h/t to Green Eagle for this link.  Check out his post about it.

UPDATE:  The other thing to note is that these figures show that the deficit is clearly a revenue problem, not a spending problem like the republicans are so fond of saying.  One, count them, one revenue related item needs to be done and the deficit is solved!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thank You Republicans and George Bush

More details HERE.

The GOP Continues Its NO Campaign Against Women

In this day and age of modern medical miracles and wonder drugs, the life expectancy of women in the US is "rapidly falling behind the rest of the industrialized world".  In fact, in 313 counties in these United States, the life expectancy of women is falling!  That's right!  The life expectancy of women is falling.

In order to reverse this trend, the U.S. needs to strengthen its investment into public health programs, particularly those focused on preventive medicine and nutrition.

And what have the republicans done to help the health of the American people?

"In Congress and state legislatures across the country, however, Republicans have targeted public health programs for drastic spending cuts or full elimination, focusing especially on programs that benefit women the most."

They have:
  • WIC: The GOP’s initial budget sought to cut 10 percent from the 2010 spending level for the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides aid to low-income pregnant and nursing women and their infant children.
  • Title X: The budget plan the GOP released in February sought to eliminate funding for Title X, which provides family planning to low-income families, altogether.
  • Planned Parenthood: The GOP took the government to the brink of shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides millions of women with basic health services each year.
  • Medicare/Medicaid: The House GOP budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) would end Medicare as we know it and turn Medicaid into a block-grant system, disproportionately hurting women.
  • Affordable Care Act: During the health care debate, Republicans fought to prevent maternity care from becoming a standard inclusion on medical plans and attempted to keep the bill from passing despite its many benefits for women.
And where does the money for these programs go?  Into the pockets of the wealthy and the big corporations in the form of tax cuts and tax benefits.  Rather than helping those that need help, they help those who need it the least.

Republicans - Support government for those that can pay for it, rather than those that need it.


I Am Rapidly Becoming... Apple fan.

I have always been a Window person, primarily because that is what was used at work.  It just seemed to make sense to buy Windows computers for home use too.  Two sons are avid Apple users.  One of them does video and audio editing for a major film studio and is firmly locked into Apple products.  He recently convinced Mrs. Critter to buy an iMac and an iPad.

We have the grandchildren today.  As I sit here on my Windows laptop, the 11 year old is at the iMac editing a video using iMovie, a video she shot on her camera and uploaded to the iMac.

The 5 year old is on the iPad making a video using toy dinosaurs, laughing and giggling, and having a great time. 

I can't imagine either one of them doing this on a Windows machine.

I think Window computers are like republicans and Apple computers are like democrats.  One is old, dodgy, and slow-witted, while the other is current, hip, and people-oriented.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here Is What The Party Of NO Has Been Saying No To

Here is a list of bills that the republicans have either blocked or tried to block.  If you really think republicans have your interests in mind, read this list and think about it.  More details on this list are available over at addictinginfo.
  • Tax on Companies that ship jobs overseas
  • Political Ad disclosure bill
  • Subpoena Power for the Committee investigating the BP Oil Spill
  • The Small Business Jobs Act
  • The DREAM Act
  • Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Senator Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill 
  • Benefits for Homeless Veterans
  • Affordable Health Care For America Act
  • Health Care for the 9/11 First Responders who got sick from being at Ground Zero
  • The Jobs Bill
  • Wall Street Reform
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 
  • Oil Spill Liability
  • Immigration Reform
  • Unemployment extension bill HR-4213
  • Fair Pay Act of 2009
What have republicans done for the average American? 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Republicans Can't Create Jobs

Republicans campaigned on job creation, but since the election, they have done virtually nothing about creating jobs.  Republicans are good at making promises.  They are bad to fulfilling those promises. 

Do you want jobs?  Then elect democrats as shown in this graphic that I picked up over at ataxingmatter.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Republican War On Children

Are these the people we want running our country?  The republicans have declared all out war on the children of the world.  Here are the highlights from an article posted in The Pragmatic Progressive Forum.

  • According to USAID, 70,000 children around the world will die if Republicans make the cuts it wants to make. Approximately 30,000 kids would die from cuts in malaria control programs, 24,000 from lack of immunizations, and 16,000 due to unsafe birthing practices.
  • Republicans are currently attempting to eliminate the ban on insurance companies that keeps them from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. That puts 19.4 million children at risk of possible harm or even death.
  • If Republicans have their way, kids will no longer be able to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 and pregnant women as well as breast and prostate cancer patients could be thrown off the insurance rolls.
  • They are also targeting welfare, unemployment benefits, and food stamps. Nearly half of all US children depend on food stamps during childhood.  Without food stamps, WIC, unemployment benefits, and welfare in general, millions of children across the country are at risk of starving to death.
  • In addition to attacking the health and nutrition of children, they are also seeking to destroy their minds and their childhoods as well. Republicans in many states, especially in Missouri and Maine, are introducing bills that will repeal child labor laws.
  • Republicans are essentially making it easier for pedophiles to rape children. In Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, former governor and potential Republican candidate for President, pardoned a child molester while he was in office, so that molester’s wife could open a child day care center in THEIR home.
  • The GOP is also waging war against the public school system. In their effort abolish public education in favor of privately run schools, Republicans are trying to slash funding that is used for desks, books, technology, and other materials that contribute to learning. That’s all in addition to their scheme to rewrite textbooks in order to indoctrinate children to the conservative philosophy.
  • Republicans in Michigan and other red states are pushing for laws that will only allow foster children to buy second hand clothing.  Thousands of foster children are being denied permanent homes because of Republican opposition to same sex marriage.
  • Republicans also want to shatter our children’s dreams and aspirations too. Many Republicans have stated that President Obama is an illegitimate President, because he is an illegitimate child.
Are these the people who should be running our country?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Are We As Stupid As The Republicans Think We Are?

Cut taxes, reduce spending.  That's what we continually hear from republicans.  In fact, they seem to be trying to outdo one another.  Who can cut taxes the most?  Who can reduce benefits to the American people the most?  Social Security?  Medicare?  Medicaid?  Education?  Who needs them?  If you can't afford it, tough say the republicans.

And on top of all of this, we have Tim Pawlenty proposing tax cuts three times the size of the Bush tax cuts.  Tax cuts that will cost $7.8 trillion...and explode the deficit

But he says his economic plan with create an economic growth of 5% per year for 10 years.  Never mind that it has never been done before.  We have never had a 10 year period of economic growth of that magnitude. 

We have had a couple of short periods of economic growth of about 5%, one under Reagan and one under Clinton.  So we just need to repeat what they did but for a longer period of time.

But wait!  Those high growth periods, the highest growth periods in the last 30 years, occurred after TAX INCREASES.

Federal income taxes are at historic lows now.  Republicans want to reduce them further.  They say reducing taxes will result in 5% growth for 10 years.  But the only times in the last 30 years where our economy has achieved 5% or greater growth is after a TAX INCREASE, and they were tax increases on top of taxes which were higher than they are now!

How stupid do the republicans think we are?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Study: 44 million could lose Medicaid coverage under GOP plan

 According to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"Ryan has touted his budget plan as a way to preserve Medicaid by offering states more flexibility to wring savings from their programs."

The republican way of preserving a plan is to kill off all the people who participate in it!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are These REALLY Bad Ideas?

How To Turn The Economy Around In One Year...

1.  Make banks loosen credit.

2.  Make corporations bring jobs back to the US.

And do it without spending tax dollars!