Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

US Senate Narrowly Approves Debate on Controversial Jobless Aid Bill

00 Politics. Merry Christmas... There's No Room at the Inn. 02.01.13

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On Tuesday, the US Senate narrowly approved debate on a temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits (UIBs) to over one million jobless Americans, giving some unexpected momentum in the new year to the Democrats and the Obama administration. The vote to approve debate was 60-37. With six Republicans and all present Democrats backing the move to begin formal debate on the bill, supporters reached the 60 votes required to advance it with no room to spare. The measure, sponsored by Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI), would retroactively restore federal aid payments to about 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans that expired at the end of last year. Previously, that aid kicked in after state benefits expired, after about 26 weeks in most states.

Five Republicans joined Heller to support moving forward on the legislation… Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Rob Portman of Ohio. Those lawmakers… who said they want leaders to find a way to offset the cost of the federal benefits… mightn’t support final passage of the bill. However, their support Tuesday kept the legislation alive, despite last-minute doubts that the procedural vote would pass. Senator Harry Reid told reporters after the vote, “It was in the balance until the last minute”. If the final bill does pass the Senate, it’s not clear that the GOP-led House would take it up. House Republican leaders painted the current proposal as fiscally irresponsible. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that any extension of the program must be paid for and contain House-backed job creation plans, saying, “One month ago, I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits shouldn’t only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan”.

Senate opponents of the measure said that they never intended that the emergency aid programme, first enacted during the height of the economic recession, be permanent, and that spending cuts elsewhere in the budget should offset the aid. In a statement, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), said, “Spending 6.5 billion USD (216 billion Roubles. 7.03 billion CAD. 7.28 billion AUD. 4.8 billion Euros. 4 billion UK Pounds) in three months without trying to find ways to pay for it or improve the underlying policy is irresponsible and takes us in the wrong direction”. Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed paying for the insurance extension by delaying a key mandate in the president’s health care law, a major Republican aim, and a clear non-starter with Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Reid immediately rejected that proposal as a mere “guise to obstruct”.

Outside rightwing groups like the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and the anti-tax Club for Growth had also urged a “no” vote on Monday’s procedural measure, calling the extension proposal fiscally irresponsible. Supporters… including the White House… argued that the abrupt end to the benefits on 28 December plunged long-term jobless into further desperation and would hurt the American economy if it’s not reversed by a retroactive extension. Senator Reid said, “This investment in our fellow Americans is one of the most effective ways to spark and sustain an economic recovery”. He accused Republicans who opposed the legislation of “callously turned their backs on the long-term unemployed”. US President Obama planned to speak about the unemployment insurance extension shortly after the Senate vote. He’s sure to paint the GOP as out of touch with Americans concerned about income inequality and the plight of the working poor, issues that Democrats believe would mobilise their political base in 2014 and beyond.

7 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_07/US-Senate-narrowly-votes-to-advance-controversial-jobless-aid-bill-0634/

Editor’s Note:

There are three simple things that the Congress can do to get the money to fund UIB extensions:

  • Abolish the Bush tax cuts for all those making over 1 million USD (33.2 million Roubles. 1.08 million CAD. 1.12 million AUD. 736,000 Euros. 610,000 UK Pounds) a year from whatever source (earned, corporate, or capital gains)
  • Tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income
  • Remove the cap on FICA taxes (and extend them to capital gains earnings)

This won’t happen. The Republican Party has become the willing running dog of the rich… the so-called “conservative” movement is just a bunch of political hacks in the pay of the American oligarchs (through campaign contributions unleashed by the immoral and basically-illegal Citizens United decision… corporations AREN’T people, and anyone who says such is a loon). In short, the GOP has become a criminal organisation in objective terms… as it advocates policies that were illegal prior to 1980. Those regulations and laws were in place to prevent another Great Depression. What was the result of this Republican slide into criminality? The Great Recession, that’s what. Note well that the rich REFUSE to help those hurt by their rapacious policies. Indeed, they want to stamp on those hurt by their greed even more. Such policies are evil… and no Christian or decent person can support them, and it doesn’t matter how “pro-life” the Republican Party is. The GOP’s pro-life stance is hypocritical and empty… their intent to protect the rich and stamp on the poor to do so is all too real and all too heartfelt.

Orthodox people should watch the Unholy Trinity… Bilirakis, Issa, and Amash… watch ‘em all vote against UIB extension in the House. None call it evil, none call it satanic, none call it godless… but it is, and in spades. It’s time for REAL Orthodox Christians to oppose these jerks and their konvertsy supporters. Don’t forget that Orthodox people were in the forefront of the labour movement. Some of us haven’t forgotten that (and I’m not alone… the Obama bumper stickers outnumbered the GOP ones by a huge margin at St T’s on Memorial Day)…

BMD

 

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Extended UIBs to End Courtesy of Republican Slimeballs… Over One Million to Be Thrown into Penury by These Anti-Christian Greedsters

01-unemployed-worker-in-las-vegas

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More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering American economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new midterm election year. Nudging Congress along, a vacationing President Obama called two senators proposing an extension to offer his support. On Friday, the White House said, that Obama pledged to push Congress to move quickly next year to address this “urgent economic priority”. For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government’s “emergency unemployment compensation” will mean some difficult belt-tightening as people lose their average monthly stipend of 1,166 USD (38,000 Roubles. 1,250 CAD. 1,315 AUD. 850 Euros. 708 UK Pounds).

Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy might suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the “emergency” program expire as part of a budget deal, it’s unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew. An estimated 1.3 million people would lose benefits when the federally-funded unemployment payments end Saturday. The Labor Department said that some 214,000 Californians would lose eligibility, a figure expected to rise to more than a half-million by June. In the last 12 months, Californians received 4.5 billion USD (146.7 billion Roubles. 4.8 billion CAD. 5.1 billion AUD. 3.28 billion Euros. 2.74 billion UK Pounds) in federal jobless benefits, much of it ploughed back into the local economy. In addition, more than 127,000 New Yorkers would get the chop this weekend. In New Jersey, 11th among states in population, 90,000 people would immediately lose out.

Started under President George W Bush, the benefits were supposed to be a cushion for the millions of American citizens who lost their jobs in the Great Recession and failed to find new ones whilst receiving state jobless benefits, which in most states expire after six months. Analysts expect another 1.9 million people across the country to exhaust their state benefits before the end of June. However, Obama has no quick fix. He hailed this month’s two-year budget agreement as a breakthrough of bipartisan cooperation whilst his administration worked with Democratic allies in the House and Senate to revive an extension of jobless benefits for those unemployed more than six months. The Obama administration said that those payments kept 11.4 million people out of poverty and benefited almost 17 million children. The cost of them since 2008 totalled 225 billion USD (7.34 trillion Roubles. 241 billion CAD. 254 billion AUD. 163.8 billion Euros. 136.5 billion UK Pounds).

At the depth of the recession, laid-off workers could qualify for up to 99 weeks of benefits, including the initial 26 weeks provided by states. The most recent extension allowed a total of up to 73 weeks, depending on the state. According to the Congressional Budget Office, restoring up to 47 extra weeks of benefits through 2014 would cost 19 billion USD (619.5 billion Roubles. 20.4 billion CAD. 21.5 billion AUD. 13.8 billion Euros. 11.5 billion UK Pounds). House Democrats led by Sander Levin (D-MI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) sought to include an extension through March by offsetting the costs with potential farm bill savings. The Republicans rebuffed them. Senate Democrats and some Republicans plan another push in 2014. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a bill offering a similar three-month extension and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to bring it up. However, as with much in Congress, an extension is no sure thing. In phone calls on Friday, Obama told Reed and Heller that he was glad that they were working together to address the problem. Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a statement, “It defies economic sense, precedent, and our values”.

Earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner spoke with Obama about an extension. Boehner and said his caucus would consider the possibility “as long as it’s paid for and as long as there are other efforts that’ll help get our economy moving once again”. He said that the White House has yet to introduce a plan that meets his standards. For other Republicans, the bar is higher. Many of them look at signs of economic growth and an unemployment rate now down to 7 percent and expected to drop further as evidence the additional weeks of benefits are no longer necessary. For decades, there’s been a fierce debate on the effect of jobless benefits on the unemployment rate. To qualify, people have to be seeking work. Tea Partiers such as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) argue that the payments aggravate rather than relieve unemployment. The benefits allow some jobseekers to hold out for higher wages. Without the benefits, they might accept lower-paying jobs, reducing the unemployment rate. Others may be looking for work only to keep the benefits flowing and would drop out of the job market entirely once the checks stop. In theory, that also would push the unemployment rate lower.

In addition to alleviating suffering, the flip side is that the benefits get spent on consumer goods, stimulating the economy, and creating jobs. Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, argued that extended unemployment insurance “is really a lifeline to help pay the bills, put food on the table, and put gas in the tank, so people can look for work”. Michael Feroli, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase, said ending the extended benefits would lower the unemployment rate by half a percentage point as the long-term unemployed leave the labour force. Whilst that statistical change might look good superficially, Feroli cautioned that a similar decrease in consumer spending could accompany the drop. That would also hurt clothing retailers, car dealers, and other Main Street businesses. On the other hand, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that extending the programme would boost GDP growth by some 0.2 percent and increase full-time employment by 200,000 next year, but at the price of increasing government debt. Advocates of extended benefits say communities hardest hit by the recession would feel the sudden loss of cash in circulation the most. They cite a set of their own troublesome figures… three jobseekers still competing for each opening, some 4 million people in the ranks of long-term unemployed, and unemployment lasting on average 37 weeks, two months longer than most states provide insurance.

Bradley Klapper

Associated Press

http://news.yahoo.com/1-3-million-losing-unemployment-benefits-saturday-172757185.html

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00 US Military Spending 1962-2015. 28.12.13

Gross War Spending 1962-2015

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00 US Military Spending per capita. 1962-2015. 28.12.13

Per Capita War Spending 1962-2015

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Editor’s Note:

The Republicans are liars… full stop. There’s plenty of “give” in the budget. However, the Republicans want to enrich the Affluent Effluent at all costs… if that means that people of little means get smashed in the process, well, so be it. Let them die and decrease the surplus population! The Republicans wish to give MORE to a class that REFUSES to invest in the USA, a class that hides its money in overseas tax havens… but demands the right to dictate American economic policy. In short, a criminal and unpatriotic class leads the Republicans by the nose. When Marx said, “Capital has no homeland”, he meant that crapitalists don’t give a damn about their homeland… they’d sell it out for filthy lucre, as Wet Willy Romney did (and received the Republican nomination for President as a reward).

Look at the above graphs… there’s PLENTY of FAT in the DoD budget. It’d be simple to find 19 billion USD… but Congress won’t… for it’d mean that fatcat corporate donors would lose business. You see, if the fatcats lost business, their political running dogs would lose some of their bribes and “campaign donations”… and that can’t be! Do note that war spending is UP, compared to the Cold War. Where’s the money going? It’s going to political and corporate corruption, on both sides of the aisle, but more so on the Republican side.

I’ll tell you what angers me. The men who die and who suffer grievous wounds in current wars are mostly men from families of small means, whilst the Affluent Effluent doesn’t shoulder any of the burdens of service. As Dick Cheney put it, “I had better things to do”… and Willy Romney hid in France for two years during the height of the Vietnam War. That should tell you something of the character of the Republican Party (or, rather, its lack of same).

Orthodox people should beware Victor Potapov, Alexander Webster, Rod Dreher, John Whiteford, Patrick Reardon, and Josiah Trenham… they all cheerlead for the Godless Amoral Right… yet, they deck their idol in the robes of the Church, thereby blaspheming Our Lord Christ and what He really did (do recall that the powers-that-be tacked him up for being a pesky rebel). They’re in total opposition to HH and Pope Francisco, who see eye-to-eye on social justice matters.

You can follow the above-named worthies or you can follow HH… I choose His Holiness… who’s friends with Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz and who just gave a high Church decoration to Iosif Kobzon. The Church is NOT a friend of the Right… no matter how much the contemporary teabagger chernosotentsy konvertsy rant and rave. Keep it focused and don’t let the bastards grind you down…

BMD

 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Senate Solons Announce Deal to End US Shutdown

00 Mike Luckovich. Axis of Evil. 2013. 16.10.13

Axis of Evil 2013

Mike Luckovich

2013

We’ve seen what the Tea Party haters want to do. As a professing Christian, I’m disgusted at how they wrap themselves up in pseudo-Christian vesture. Christ didn’t come to earth to empower the rich (“It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”)… after all, the powers-that-be did crucify him, didn’t they (and the religious authorities of the time applauded his death)?

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A Republican Senator said that lawmakers in Washington reached an agreement that’d reopen the government and save the country from default. US Senate leaders intend to announce their deal to reopen the government and raise the country’s debt limit when the Senate convenes at noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Wednesday, a senior aide said. An aide said that the first vote would occur in the Republican-led House of Representatives, where observers expect it to pass, mostly with Democratic votes. Then, the measure would go to the Senate for final congressional approval, which would clear the way for US President Barack Obama to sign it into law. A deal would keep the government open through at least 15 January, and raise the debt ceiling through 7 February.

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US Senate leaders announced a deal to re-open the government and raise the country’s debt limit on the 16th day of the US federal government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), leader of the upper chamber’s Republican minority, declared the agreement on the floor of the Senate. Speaking from the Senate floor, Reid said that the agreement called for reopening the federal government with a temporary budget until 15 January, and it extends US government borrowing authority until 7 February. Reportedly, Senate leaders were close to an agreement since Monday. An effort Tuesday by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to put forward an alternative plan stalled when he was unable to gain the support of his own Republican Party, which holds a majority in the lower chamber.

The American stock market rallied on the news of a possible agreement to end the crisis before Thursday, when the US Treasury said it could be at risk of default on government obligations if Congress didn’t raise the 16.7 trillion USD (536 billion Roubles. 17.3 billion CAD. 17.5 billion AUD. 12.4 billion Euros. 10.5 billion UK Pounds) debt limit. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.2 per cent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.3 per cent around 12.45 EDT (20.45 MSK. 17.45 UTC. 09.45 PDT. 03.45 17 October AEDT)

16 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_16/US-Senate-leaders-confirm-deal-to-end-govt-shutdown-prevent-default-7926/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_16/Senate-leaders-reach-deal-to-avoid-default-end-shutdown-sources-7119/

Editor’s Note:

The Tea Party is DEAD. Mind you, the extremists will still win in districts with a majority of white sectarians… that’s the new “base” of the Republican Party. It’s time for Orthodox Christians to disassociate ourselves, both as individuals and as “Church”, from all evangelical organisations (including so-called “Pro-Life” groups). We don’t agree with their “religion”, we don’t agree with their goofy take on science, we don’t agree with their heretical notions of the “Prosperity Gospel”, and we don’t agree with their conceptions of the state. Most of all, we don’t agree with their lunatic opium dream of American Exceptionalism… which leads to dangerous, puffed-up, and jumped up projects. We should leave them be… we shouldn’t attack them gratuitously, but we should leave them to their oddbod notions!

However, the Tea Party IS dead. Yet, we shouldn’t relax our vigilance… the Right isn’t dead… only the most feral group amongst them is. There be dragons out there WORSE than the Tea Party and Grover Norquist are… and they’re NOT dead.

BMD

Saturday, 22 December 2012

22 December 2012. Senator Daniel Inouye… A Man of Honour, A Man of Respect… and A Principled Man Thirsty for Justice

00 Sen Daniel Inouye. 22.12.12

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Vigilance abroad doesn’t require us to abandon our ideals or the rule of law at home. On the contrary, without our principles and without our ideals, we’ve little that’s special or worthy to defend.

Daniel Inouye

US Senator (D-HI)

President pro tempore of the US Senate

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We remember a man who inspired all of us with his courage, and moved us with his compassion, that inspired us with his integrity and who taught so many of us… including a young boy growing up in Hawaii… that America has a place for everyone. May God bless Daniel Inouye. May God grant us more souls like his.

Barack Obama

President of the United States of America

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I remember introducing my children to [Inouye] and telling them, “I wish I could be more like that man. He’s a better man than I am”. I think his physical courage was matched by his moral courage. I don’t know anybody else that I can say that of.

Joseph Biden

Vice President of the United States of America

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Daniel Inouye advocated for the rights of all Americans… regardless of the colour of their skin, or where their parents were born, or what their religion was. He was blessed. He had work to do here amongst us, and he stayed until that work was done. As Ecclesiastes says, there’s “a time to every purpose”, and this was Dan’s time. The 24th Psalm asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart”. That’s Daniel Inouye… pure of heart, clean of hand.

During his 1968 convention speech, Dan taught the nation that “aloha” doesn’t just mean “hello”, and it doesn’t just mean “goodbye”. It also means, “I love you”. “Aloha” was Dan’s last word. So, I say to my friend in return, “Daniel Ken Inouye, aloha. I love you… and goodbye until we meet again”.

Harry Reid

US Senator (D-NV)

Majority Leader of the US Senate

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Senator Inouye devastated the loudmouthed liar Oliver North at the Iran-Contra hearings with simple truth and decency. I wonder why Fox News didn’t tell you that about their “news star?” Senator Inouye had a love of fairness, truth, and justice… that led him to be leftist on social issues, but strong on military preparedness and law-and-order, too. That is, leftists aren’t only patriots, but also strong and heartfelt patriots, much more so than the rightwing loudmouths who send their money abroad to avoid legit taxation, who send jobs abroad to fatten their profits, and who refuse to serve in the wars that they advocate so stridently.

The rightwing lies have to cease… but they won’t. I’ve come to the conclusion that the teabaggers and greedsters are beyond the reach of rational discussion… the only thing that decent people can do is to oppose them at every juncture, with all that God has given us in the way of talent. We must face them down at the barricades… that’s what Senator Inouye would’ve done… and show them no quarter until their evil programme lies in the dust, dead and gone… the good Senator would’ve done that too. That’s how we can honour Senator Dan’s legacy… and I’m NOT alone in thinking that way.

Jonathan del Arco wrote in the HuffPost (don’t lecture me about del Arco being gay… I know it… what of it? The truth’s the truth, no matter who speaks it):

The nation has no idea yet what a great leader and cornerstone of our democracy we’ve lost this week. As it was also his style not to call too much attention to himself, he tended to flow under the radar of DC politics. Rest in peace, Senator. You were a great man for all the ages, and I hope we can carry your example of bravery, integrity, and patriotism.

Truer words were never spoken… there’s nothing to add to that. Aloha, Senator Dan… may God receive you.

BMD

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