An internal memo that a Walmart VP sent out became public a couple weeks ago. In it a vice-president of Walmart made the observation that shoppers and purchases were off to the slowest year start in over seven years. Of course once that leaked out, there were scores of articles speculating on the cause and what it forebode.
And I will speculate also. My guess is that there is that some folks are finally voting with their feet and taking their business elsewhere. But I think a bigger share is that even the mythical ‘low price leader’ is too expensive for many at the bottom rung of our society. They no longer can afford Walmart and have now taken what little business they have elsewhere. Employers can be proud that they have literally starved their employees.
Branstad and Medicaid
Well another couple of Republican governors have decided that it is better to sign up for Medicaid expansion than to hurt their own people. Not Terry Branstad, though. He may claim he is a man of principle. My guess is that he is beholden to someone with some money or someone who will take care of him in his post-governor days. The chance to get a large amount of federal aid coming in to Iowa, to help those who do not have health insurance and at the same time creating thousands of jobs sounds very suspicious to Branstad.
Branstad is a person who has seen 18,000 jobs created in his state in 2 years and takes credit for 150,000. He is also a guy who takes 2 paychecks from Iowa, yet stands in the way of a little help, mostly from the federal government for one of us common mooks. I have always said most people do not pay attention to anything that doesn’t directly affect them. I propose Branstad as Exhibit A.
Is Medicaid Welfare?
My representative, Tom Sands, stands in full opposition to Medicaid Expansion. His objection is that it is welfare and he is opposed to welfare. Welfare is one of those code words that comes with a series of images attached to them. I am sure that your mind has already brought those pictures up – the Cadillac, the sitting in front of the TV collecting checks.
One of the main objectives for Medicaid Expansion is to cover workers in low wage jobs. Walmart is probably the biggest offender in this area. So I would ask Mr. Sands if he has an alternative for Walmart workers in particular. Walmart policy is to dump their workers onto the government medical workers as much as they can by giving them too few hours to qualify for company health care and paying way too little for an employee to buy their own health care.
Also, if Medicaid is welfare, was rural electrification? What about those businesses in Iowa that get research credits and actually not only do not pay taxes, but get millions back?
Be Careful What You Wish For
A little snow (and I do mean a little snow) and we start hearing all the “I hate snow” people sing a chorus of their old song. Let me caution them that 6 months from now when the temperature is 98 degrees in the shade and rain is nowhere in sight, they may miss the days of 30 degrees and a few clouds in the sky.
Well, Now we Are Sequestered
It amazes me that Republicans continue to find ways to hurt poor and average Americans. It is like they inherited a bag of tricks from the Inquisition. What doesn’t amaze me is that the main stream media which is owned 99% by the wealthy has very little bad to say about our new state of governing. The Democrats introduced a concept of planning in the 1930s. Plan for old age, put some money aside for disasters, even plan for such things as bank foreclosures and other human screw ups.
With Reagan, Bush and Bush, Republicans created this concept of lurching from one man made crisis to another. “Shock Doctrine” was how Naomi Klein stated their new way of doing business. Now we see that in a a democracy a minority so determined to wreck things for the majority can do so by misusing the rules of the democracy.
Lurching from crisis to crisis is a terrible way to run anything. But Republicans have come to the conclusion apparently they can’t run anything so the only power they have is to screw everything up and scare the citizens half to death. Thus they can come to power occasionally long enough to empty the treasury out to their buddies.
Congratulations To Marcus Branstad
On being named to the Natural Resources Board. Way to pick your parents.
Not everyone can attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week, but the planners developed five ways to people to get involved, if you can’t be there in person. Check out the full story at the link, and here’s the list:
1. Host or attend a Watch Party in your community. On Thursday, September 6, Americans will gather together at watch parties across the country to watch President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden deliver their nomination acceptance speeches. Find a party near you and join, or get a group of friends together to host your own.
2. Download the 2012 DNC Mobile App. The first-ever DNC mobile app offers another opportunity to engage and participate in the convention. Live stream the convention from gavel-to-gavel straight to your phone; get an all access pass to convention events; and share your favorite convention moments and photos, all right at your fingertips.
3. Watch the live stream on DemConvention.com. The entire convention floor program, from the Keynote Address to the platform approval to the President’s acceptance speech, will be broadcast live on the DNCC website and YouTube channel so you can watch from your mobile phone, computer, or tablet device.
4. Join the conversation @DemConvention and #DNC2012. Use social media to engage with fellow Americans as you watch the convention unfold. Use the official hashtag #DNC2012 and get updates from @DemConvention on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube.
5. Take an “I’m There” photo to show your support, and encourage others to get involved. Take a photo with the DemConvention logo and tweet it or post it to Facebook. Get your friends and family to follow your lead and let us know that you’re “there” for the President.
What did it mean when Rep. Dave Loebsack voted for H.R.8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, on Wednesday, Aug. 1, one of 19 Democrats to join the Republicans who supported the bill? Only that Dave Loebsack will continue to stand for the values of middle class Iowans and small businesses, and be our voice in Washington.
H.R. 8 would extend the so-called Bush tax cuts to everyone for an additional year. President Obama wants something better, to extend the tax cuts for one year for everyone except the wealthiest two percent of Americans, and for 97 percent of small businesses. Some liberals were quick to pounce on Loebsack for his vote, saying he should have sided with Democrats. They may not have been aware that Loebsack also voted for the Democratic version of the tax relief bill. As for me, I am keeping my powder dry for the real fight during the lame duck session, because Loebsack did stand for Democratic values last week.
The vote on H.R. 8 and its Democratic alternative was political theater and will likely be rendered moot by the Nov. 6 election. For now, the partisan lines are drawn on taxing the wealthy, and an easy prediction is that nothing will happen on the Bush tax cut expiration until the lame duck session. Loebsack’s vote seems more a marker about where the consensus builders will land on the final vote. In the zero-sum game of voting lockstep with the party, it is good to see Loebsack actually working with other members to get something done to protect the interests of the middle class.
Loebsack was one of two Democrats who voted for both the Republican and Democratic versions of how to deal with the tax cut expiration. He also introduced his own bill, H.R. 6262, the Middle Class and Small Business Tax Relief Act, to amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide tax relief to middle-class families, small businesses and family farms.
H.R. 6262 is close to President Obama’s proposal and would fix the expiring tax cuts. If the Bush tax cuts expire without relief, those hurt most by the expiration would be members of the middle class, who would see a substantial tax increase. Based on his actions, Loebsack sides with the middle class, even if it means voting for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone is the only possible political solution. Of course he would vote for H.R. 8. Doing nothing carries too high a price.
Behind the bluster and misinformation of society are found people like Congressman Dave Loebsack, doing the work we sent him to Washington to do, to be our voice for change, protecting the middle class in the toxic environment that is the 112th Congress. His vote on H.R. 8 was just one more example of that.
Looks like Mitt Romney will be taking an Overseas trip this month. No doubt this is to burnish his image as a presidential candidate. Insiders know that there will be at least one stop to roll around in his money at the secret vault in Switzerland than none of us, including the government know any thing about. Don’t you dare say anything.
Tying this in with the Olympics, Mitt will do a cannonball into a pool filled with $100 bills.
But Something Stinks
The more I think about Romney and his secret bank accounts and the mystery surrounding them, I can’t help but think we are slowly being drawn in to a cheap crime novel. And in those novels there is always a reason for the secrecy and it is never good. I have to think that is true here also. If Romney is hiding information about himself, then he and his team must view it as potentially damaging. I have no idea what it may be, but it must be good if he is willing to throw away a chance to be president over it.
The way he is handling this scares me when I think of him having control of our armed forces and our nuclear force. This is why the Founders wanted openness, so we could tell the character of our officials. I couldn’t trust him before for lying about damn near everything, but this covering up really makes me suspicious.
Cities Going Broke
Scranton, Pennsylvania teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. San Bernadino, California joins Stockton and Mammouth Lakes in California as cities that have declared bankruptcy. Birmingham, Alabama and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania also teeter on the verge of bankruptcy.
There are various reasons for these bankruptcies – less tax revenue, investing in the mortgage backed bonds, industries leaving town. Whatever the reason (and no, I don’t buy that pensions are too high – these were negotiated as part of a pay package) – cities going bankrupt opens unique opportunities for the vulture capitalists who will swoop in and buy municipal holdings for pennies on a dollar. They will also take over such city amenities as swimming pools or city cemeteries. Most of America lives in cities. I believe we are watching the leading edge of what will become a sorry trend. And the lives of those who live in the cities will become a much sadder affair. Public spaces will be sold off or not maintained. Parks, pools, libraries will become private businesses priced out of the range of residents.
This is the Shock Doctrine in action.
Romney at the NAACP reminded me of this quote
I have always seen this attributed to JC Watts father “Black people voting for Republicans is like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.”
Team USA’s Olympic uniforms Made in China
OK – this is really stupid. Sounds like something that Bain would do. Good Grief!
Why does Romney lie when they can be checked?
This most recent scandal involving Romney – one which may end up with him in some serious trouble – is a product of his own propensity to say whatever he feels fits the moment, whether it is true or not. If he were an average man on the street, I would feel little sympathy for him. I feel no sympathy here. Romney has been rich all his life and has lied and bullied his way through life. He seems to have gone one too far. No doubt he has a team of lawyers and PR guys trying to finesse this one.
Hey Mitt, be a man. Show some “personal responsibility.” Tell the truth and take the consequences.
Obama has done a hell of a job.
If you can step out of the moment and view the Obama presidency through a historical perspective, Barack Obama has done one hell of a job. Especially considering that the Senate has created new rules with the express purpose of stopping any positive moves that might happen.
The PPACA is enough of an accomplishment for any one presidency, as would stopping the whirlpool toward a massive depression. Add in an incredible change in the military that openly gay people can serve and many other accomplishments. He has more problems to solve, but I believe he will at least attempt to solve them. Mitt Romney will only do as he is told by his owners.
I will proudly vote for President Obama.
I will also proudly vote for Dave Loebsack. The second district is well represented by Loebsack. His opponent will only be a nameless, faceless tea party rubber stamp. It really makes little difference who it is.
Great line from John Fugelsang:
“Romney, show us your worth certificate.”
by Ralph Scharnau
The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). This act is the most sweeping piece of domestic legislation since the passage of Medicare in 1965.
ACA requires everyone, healthy as well as sick, to buy insurance or face a penalty, while aiding those for whom this is a financial hardship. This system is already working in Massachusetts where it passed with the support of Governor Mitt Romney in 2006.
Under ACA, those who have good health benefits from employers can keep them. The act is aimed at Americans who fall through the cracks, either going without coverage or relying on the miserably malfunctioning individual “non-group” insurance. The issue becomes more urgent because fewer and fewer jobs come with health benefits, and, at the same time, employment-based coverage continues to decline.
Although not without flaws, the Affordable Care Act improves our health care system. It extends coverage to approximately 30 million uninsured people, and it expands Medicare to about 15 million low-income people. It prohibits the insurance industry from: refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, ending coverage for the sick, discriminating against women, and putting annual and lifetime payment limits on overall coverage. Seniors get help with high drug costs, small businesses get tax credits for providing coverage, and children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. The legislation also launches a variety of public initiatives to prevent disease and encourage healthy behavior which will cut health care costs.
A vitriolic debate has erupted over this landmark health care law and the limits of federal power. At the center of the legal controversy over the act is the so-called “individual mandate.” Upholding the mandate would simply mean that the “healthcare market” which virtually everyone participates in would not allow free-riders and that Congress has the power to regulate that market. The individual mandate imposes an affirmative duty to buy health insurance. Other federal laws impose similar duties, such as paying taxes, registering for the draft, and providing safe workplaces. The mandate is irrelevant to the 80 percent of non-elderly Americans who already have insurance, either through their employers, government programs, or purchased on their own.
The individual insurance requirement that the court is reviewing isn’t the first federal mandate involving health care. There’s a Medicare payroll tax on workers and employers and a requirement that hospitals provide free emergency services to indigents.
The court decision, expected in June, will affect the way virtually every American receives and pays for health care. The justices’ decision will become a significant part of this year’s presidential and congressional election campaigns.
It is unclear what the court will do in the end, whether it will let the law stand, strike the whole thing down, or invalidate only the mandate. Lee Epstein, a political scientist and lecturer at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, stated, “The political science side of me,” sees a 5-4 decision to strike the law while “the law professor side of me” sees it 6 to 3 to uphold. If the court invalidates the mandate, the law risks losing funding from a larger pool of premium payers necessary to provide coverage to newly insured individuals.
It should be remembered that our federal government has the judicially affirmed power under our Constitution to use public revenues to provide a needed public service such as education, national security, retirement insurance, or health care. We really need health care reform that simply extends Medicare and Medicaid coverage to all who want and need it while allowing others to opt out for private insurance coverage.
Ralph Scharnau teaches U. S. history at Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta. He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque. Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
As our nation kicks off African American History Month, the campaign is launching African Americans for Obama. There are ample opportunities to get involved, so begin by watching this message from the President and sharing it with your family and friends.
There’s no better time than African American History Month to consider the tremendous progress we’ve made through the sacrifice of so many—or a better time to commit to meeting the very real challenges we face right now.
Visit africanamericans.barackobama.com for more information about all the ways you can get involved—from attending HBCU organizing workshops to becoming a Congregation Captain—and say you’re ready to keep making history. Thanks, and see you out there.