Category Archives: Politics

Republicans Want to Lower Caps for 401(k)’s

The Republicans are back at it again. The ruthless party that keeps on screwing with everybody—except their uber-rich donors and cronies. Oh and of course, themselves.

This time they’re trying to slam the door on those of us who have been responsibly saving for our retirement through our 401(k)’s.

How? House Republicans are shamefully considering capping the annual amount hard working Americans can set aside for their future to as low as $2,400 for 401(k) accounts!

A paltry $2,400? What a bunch of crooks.

Now many of you Republicans out there will find some lame excuse for this greedy plan. You always do.

But there is no denying that the Republicans are actively and seriously discussing a proposal to sharply reduce the annual amount workers can set aside and save in tax-deferred retirement accounts.

Today, workers can put up to $18,000 a year in a 401(k) account without paying taxes upfront. If you’re over 50, the cap is increased to $24,000.

But if the Republicans get their way, our ability to save for our retirement will be taken away from us.

Now the Republicans are trying to control how much money we can save for our futures?

WHY?

DUH. Republicans need it to offset the revenue loss from having to reduce business tax rates.

You know, take whatever you can from us hardworking slobs so you can give it to your wealthy donors who are breathing down your slimy necks for you to SHOW THEM THE MONEY—or else.

Paul Ryan’s so-called path to prosperity for all looks more like Paul Ryan’s path to middle class poverty.

Reducing American’s contribution limits is a diabolically clever accounting maneuver, no?

By lowering the cap for 401(k)’s, Republicans can collect tax revenue on all that money that Americans could otherwise be saving tax-deferred, NOW, instead of later.

WOW. Is there no limit to the lengths that Republicans will go to line the pockets of their rich friends—and themselves?

Oh, and one more maddening tidbit of information: The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that tax exclusions for individual retirement contributions will cost the federal government $115 billion in 2018 alone!

Republicans are frothing at the mouth for that money.

Cha-Ching. Cha-Ching.

I don’t know how you feel, but 2018 elections can’t come quickly enough for me.

 

The U.S. Needs a Presidential Candidate Like Macron In 2020

Thirty-nine-year-old French President Emmanuel Macron has lectured Putin and faced down Trump’s aggressive handshake.

He has been in office for less than three weeks, and has already asserted himself as a top-down operator and shown the world what “Presidential” means.

Like the United States, French politics are sharply divided along ideological lines between the left and right.

Macron has been described as a nimble politician who is able to juggle two opposing viewpoints at once.

“And at the same time,” is a catch phrase Macron uses in most of his speeches to reflect his ability to strategically balance.

His willingness to find a middle ground appealed to many French voters who didn’t see themselves as adequately represented by any of the other presidential candidates.

And that strategically balanced middle ground is the reason why Macron became the President of France.

As I fervently read as much about him as possible, and then watched him tackle Putin and Trump head on, I quickly deduced that the U.S. could use a politician like Macron.

Bigly.

If there any U.S. Macron’s out there who can save us from this political dogfight, please show yourself! Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever.

Throughout Macron’s campaign, he emphasized his concern that France and its partner Germany were being threatened by two unpredictable behemoths: Trump’s America and Russia.

Trump’s America.

On the eve of Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate deal, Macron was blunt about the consequences of that decision.

In a phone call to Trump, Macron reportedly sternly told him that France would continue to work with the U.S., but not on climate change.

He also issued a joint written statement with Germany and Italy directly affirming that the Paris accords would not be renegotiated.

And then he did what no other French President has ever done:

Last night, while he started off in French, he strayed away from the cherished national tongue by speaking to his country, and the world, in English and broadsided Trump.

He chided Trump’s decision to abandon the global climate pact calling it an “error for the interests of his country, his people and a mistake for the future of our planet.

“Don’t be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B,” Macron said solemnly.

And then Macron spoke directly to Americans, asking scientists, entrepreneurs, and committed citizens to “Come here with us to work together on concrete solutions for our climate.” He also reassured Americans that “The world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation.”

As he spoke those words, I felt his sincerity, and they struck me as ironic, and got me thinking about his view of America vs. Trump’s America.

That Macron believes in all Americans, not just some Americans.

And that this isn’t about  Trump. This is bigger than Trump. This is about who we are as a nation. All of us, not just some of us.

And when Macron purposefully ended his speech by asking the world to “Make our planet great again,” I couldn’t help but feel slightly vindicated, but mostly hopeful.

Today, EU officials have decided to cut out Trump’s White House and deal directly with the U.S. states and major corporations, many of whom have already pledged to live by the terms forged in Paris. A truly brilliant move.

Albus Dumbledore, the wizard who tutored Harry Potter in the ways of the world, said it best: There will be a time when we must choose between what’s easy and what’s right.

While Trump is playing checkers, the EU is playing chess.

Looks like Trump got trumped.  Checkmate.

 

 

Who Else Is Sick of Hearing About Politics on Facebook?

Every time I log onto Facebook I cringe.

I am so sick of the political discourse, and yes, I know I have participated in it.

But I need to move on.

And I think I have come up with a brilliant solution that will help me to deal with all the noisy political nonsense.

HOW ABOUT THAT DINNER PIC?

I am going to try

really

really

really

hard to stop discussing politics.

And the first place I am going to start is on Facebook.

As of today, I have put a self-imposed all-things-political blog ban on The Teri Tome and will make my best efforts to muzzle my political opinions for the next thirty days.

If anyone caught my blog post Drinking Alcohol. How Much Is Too Much?  not blogging about politics and you-know-who, might be harder than cutting out the vino.

And my new passive aggressive approach starting right now?

Every time I read something on Facebook that irks me, makes me roll my eyes, and yes—sometimes enrages me, I’m going to post a food pic.

Hell, I might even throw in a recipe or two.

So just to give you a heads up—if you see a food pic or a recipe from me in your Facebook comments section, you’ll know why.

Building a wall?  [Nothing close to the walnut chicken I recently whipped up.]

Crowd size? [No biggie. Take a look at the size of the steak I grilled on the barbie last night.]  

American carnage? [Nothing like a little chili con carne to get the American party started!]

Trump, to roll back Obamacare? [My challah roll bread is to die for.]

Make America great again! [Take a gander at this great American dinner I made tonight!]

Cutting sanctuary city funds? [How about that cut of prime rib my butcher recently prepared for me?]

Three to five million voter fraud? [Anyone interested in my five layer rainbow cake recipe?]

I suggest you all try my approach!  PLEASE.

Blame Lost Jobs on Robots and Automation

Donald Trump won the Presidency in large part, by promising to bring back jobs by mostly clamping down on trade.

But the truth is that trade has very little to do with the loss of jobs. The real job loss culprit isn’t trade—it’s automation and robot employees.  And I would be very surprised if Trump clamps down on either.

The new labor sheriff coming to town—Andrew F. Puzder, Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, won’t be clamping down on automation or robot employees either.

The current chief executive of CKE Restaurants Puzder had this to say to Business Insider this past March about robot employees: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

Yes, that’s what he said, folks. So it doesn’t sound like Puzder will be looking to replace robot employees with warm bodies anytime soon.

Trump won a seemingly political victory when he convinced Carrier to keep 800 jobs in Indiana.

And yes, Trump may have convinced Carrier to save jobs. For now.

But here’s what you might not know. Carrier plans on taking advantage of all those Trump tax cuts and incentives, totaling some $16 million, and investing it in automation.

And sure, automation could create some new jobs, but those jobs will require retraining. People with obsolete skills will have to reposition themselves and be retrained for different careers. Job training is essential in addressing skill gaps to prepare the current and future workforce with the tools they need to compete in an increasingly automated America. But Trump’s got no plan on the table for job training at all.

Additionally, the U.S. doesn’t have any kind of national productivity policy or commission in place to identify opportunities and policies for improving productivity.

According to a recent McKinsey Report, existing technology could automate 45 percent of activities people are now paid to do, and the World Economic Forum has estimated that five millions jobs will be lost by 2020.

Boston Consulting Group recently reported that it costs barely $8 an hour to use a robot for spot welding in the auto industry, compared to $25 for a worker—and the gap is only going to widen.

And in 2013 and Oxford study reported that work automation will put 47% of existing jobs in the U.S. at “high risk,” meaning human workers in those jobs will be replaced by robots within 20 years.

So it’s time to stop blaming immigrants, trade, offshoring, China, and Mexico on lost jobs.

Blame it on scientific genius, high-tech innovation, robotic process automation, advanced manufacturing, and hugely successful machinery efficiencies.

What we really need is a President who has the guts to tell the truth about the future of work, not one who thinks he can sell us a Trumped-up myth and pretend that he and he alone will bring back jobs, “real quick,” and make America great again.

Because history has proven, our technological advancements are what will continue to make America great. There’s no possibility of going back in time, and Trump knows it.

American Industry is at its highest level in history. It’s not the industry that’s in decline. The decline is in factory employment, due primarily to automation and increased efficiency.

And for the record, the U.S. unemployment rate in December was among the lowest percentages since 1981, as follows:

U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATES:

December 2016: 4.7%

January 2009: 7.8%

January 2001: 4.2%

January 1993: 7.3%

January 1989: 5.4%

January 1981: 7.5%

The truth is America has never been wealthier. The real problem is that the middle class, “the forgotten people,” are not the beneficiary of that wealth.

Why? Because, while the middle class gives up ridiculous amounts of their salaries to the government, the wealthy minority, like Trump and his ilk make sure they use any and all means to avoid paying taxes whatsoever.

And Trump has no plans to do anything about that carnage.

 

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Since the 1700’s, the United States press has held government officials, corporations, and institutions accountable to the American people for secret practices, wrongdoing, and corruption.

Investigative journalism has not only helped to keep government honest, but it has also sparked public outcry on many exposed wrongdoings, often resulting in reforms.

Trump’s declaration of media failure and vows to punish them is an eerie reminder of authoritarian regimes around the word and their brutal silencing of the press.

Trump has relentlessly attacked, undermined and disparaged the Democrats, American citizens who didn’t vote for him, the news media, and most recently the intelligence community. Trump actually compared our United States intelligence officials to Nazis.

Everyone knows that authoritarian regimes start with muzzling and locking down their media and adversaries to ensure absolute rule and repress any insurrection.

If they don’t like the message? They shoot the messenger.

Then they go after their citizens and their foes.

I have always taken for granted our free and independent press. And every morning while reading The New York Times, I discover some article that provides me with a better understanding of the world and in many cases of my own country.

But there are plenty of Americans out there that don’t know much about public affairs. And a lot of them don’t regularly read a newspaper.

But let’s be clear. We need media watchdogs.

The media’s job is to be the public’s eyes and ears. They help to maintain law and order, call out blatant untruths and uncover injustices and lies.

It is NOT the media’s job to provide powerful people, including President-elect Trump a safe haven or a hall pass.

Should the media have turned their backs on the problem of lead in the Flint Michigan water?

Or should the press have turned a blind eye to price gouging by pharmaceutical companies?

Stand-up journalism holds feet to the fire and demands accountability and vigilance. If the media sees something, they need to report something.

Trump’s chew toy of the month is CNN, calling them fake news. He has in the past barred the Washington Post and The New York Times from events, and he has denigrated multiple media outlets and continues to try to silence the press.

It seems painfully obvious that if it’s not pro-Trump news, it’s fake news.

And according to a recent article in The New York Times, the Trump administration is now considering ejecting the press corps from their on-site cubicles in the West Wing.

This action would basically prove that Trump is not willing or won’t allow his presidency to be held accountable. Think of it this way: When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

I find it terribly disconcerting that Trump continues to denigrate and try to constrain and control our media.

In shutting out the press, he is willfully, if not purposefully trying to mislead and deny the American people of the information they deserve to know.

It appears to me that Trump and his team will do anything and everything to avoid accountability. The POTUS shouldn’t be able to fly under the media radar.

We the people need to be alarmed at his media accusations and attempts to muzzle the press. If there is no transparency, there is no truth.

It’s up to the public as a whole to keep the pressure on Trump and his administration to ensure that the Constitution and our nation’s laws are adhered to. And that no one, not even—and especially, the President of the United States, is above the law and/or the scrutiny by the media.

CNN is not fake news, people. This is a major and very real news organization doing their job.

And thank God they’re not going anywhere.

Facts matter. A free press is more essential now than ever before.

From left, right and center, we need to back the media up, not shoot them down.

History is proof that without an independent press, our free democratic society is at risk.

Why Iowa?

Iowa A

Many states are jealous of Iowa’s #1 status and question their lack of minorities: According to the 2014 United States Census Bureau, 92.1% of Iowans are white vs. the USA percent of 77.4.

In 1972, due to scheduling conflicts, the Democratic National Party innocently moved its Iowa caucus earlier than the New Hampshire primary. Since the caucus wasn’t considered to be in the same league as a primary, nobody paid much attention.

Here’s how the caucus works: There are no voting polls at all. Instead, registered Iowan voters assemble in a public place, town hall style, to review the candidates and choose who should get the primary nomination. The Republicans write their choice on a piece of paper and are counted by hand. The Democrats physically move into clusters based on the candidate they support, and the size of each group is manually tallied.

And while a caucus isn’t considered to be in the same league as a primary, Iowa’s ability to be the first state to weigh in during the presidential campaign has become the envy of most others.

The fluke change in timing in 1972 forever supplanted New Hampshire as the first contest.

That year, Jimmy Carter, after winning Iowa, won the presidency. The Republican response was to immediately move their Iowa caucus earlier as well.

There you have it—Numero Uno status for Iowa.

And until both parties make a fundamental change in their rules, Iowa will continue to remain first out of the gate.

Additionally, in 1972, New Hampshire took legal steps to protect its “first primary in the nation” status by passing a law that gives its secretary of state the power to change the date to precede any other primary by one week. A genius political move on their part.

Even though both the Democrats and the Republicans have it in their rules that Iowa goes first, it’s not legally binding. But if a state holds their primaries earlier than Iowa, the number of delegates the state can send to the national convention is reduced, a punishment wielded by both parties as a huge disincentive. No state wants to cut back on delegates.

The 2016 National Conventions: Republicans will meet in Cleveland, Ohio from July 18-21, and Democrats will meet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from July 26-28.

Health Care and Gun Control

ShootingcolumbineShootingVirginiaTech

ShootingauroraShootingNewtownShootingRoseburg

April 20, 1999-Columbine High School: 13 dead and 21 wounded

April 16, 2007-Virginia Tech: 32 dead and 17 wounded

July 20, 2012-Aurora Century 16 Theater: 12 dead and 70 wounded

December 14, 2012-Sandy Hook Elementary School: 26 dead

October 1, 2015-Umpqua Community College: 9 dead and 7 wounded

STUFF HAPPENS?

That’s just BS Jeb Bush, aka Mr. Wanna-be-the-President-of-the-United-States. And you know it.

But without the NRA on your side, your political goose is cooked. And after your insensitive and unpresidential comment about “stuff,” I hope your political goose is decimated.

And make no mistake about it: Our elected officials don’t control the NRA. The NRA controls our elected officials.

These officials, whom we voted into office, need to stop kowtowing to the NRA and do something bold and courageous. And we need to put pressure on those officials and force them to effect change and take charge of getting us on the right path. It is up to us to force our elected officials to curb gun violence in America and protect the safety of the public.

I have always felt that we need stricter gun laws. But I also think that our elected officials need to significantly reform our mental health system. Guns and mental health issues are a cataclysmic combination.

And until we as Americans take the necessary steps to ensure that our representatives in Washington, D.C. are looking for solutions, “stuff” is going to continue to happen. BAD STUFF. DEVASTATING STUFF. HEARTBREAKING STUFF.

The U.S. loses 90 people every day from gun violence. And since our elected officials are incapable or plain old afraid to do anything about it, it’s time for the entire country to stand up and take charge.

And sorry to inform you Jeb, your simpleminded opinion that “stuff happens” just doesn’t cut it.

Ted Cruz Is a Presidential Contender???

“It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country.” TREVOR POTTER, a Republican campaign finance lawyer, talking about Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge-fund magnate who is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four “super PACs” that recently raised $31 million for Cruz’s campaign.

I wasn’t going to blog about Ted Cruz, but after seeing his commercial on television, I just couldn’t resist. First off, it seems way too early for campaign commercials, and I really hope I don’t have to see this one a gazillion times, because it’s a real beaut.

Three seconds into the spot, viewers see the Cruz family praying. Twelve seconds later, viewers see some children praying. Twenty seconds in, viewers see another person praying. Praying in and of itself is not the issue. I pray all the time.  But we’re talking about a 30 second spot. Give me some meat Cruz.

Ted Cruz, the first Hispanic U.S. senator from Texas (R), officially declared his bid for president with his first television ad of the 2016 campaign cycle over Easter and Passover weekend.

What I took away from his commercial, is that he supports praying.

But what else does Ted Cruz support and is he presidential material?

Here are a few interesting facts (at least to me) about Ted Cruz, the 44 year old senator with a mere two years of experience in elective office.

  • The senator’s full name is Rafael Edward Cruz.
  • Ted Cruz was born in Canada. Since his mother, Eleanor, was born in the US, he was a dual citizen of Canada and the United States—until he renounced his Canadian citizenship in June of 2014.
  • Cruz’s father is an evangelical pastor who has said that President Obama should be “sent back to Kenya,” is a lot like Fidel Castro, and that Obama “seeks to destroy all concept of God.” Okay, we’re talking about his father here, but a lot of people are judged by the company they keep.
  • Cruz has proclaimed himself as a steadfast conservative who would stand for Christian ideals, and undo much of President Barack Obama’s agenda.
  • Cruz, who attended Harvard Law School, once declared that some members of the faculty were “Marxists who believed in the communists overthrowing the United States government.”
  • Cruz stopped listening to rock music after 9/11 because he “didn’t like how rock music responded.”
  • Cruz does not believe that global warming is supported by data.
  • Cruz is opposed to same-sex marriage and if he were to be elected President of the United States, promised to “uphold the sacrament of marriage.” Cruz has also been one of the biggest defenders of the Indiana religious freedom law, and forcefully argued this week that the outrage over the law is an “assault” on the First Amendment.
  • Although Cruz is described as one of the GOP’s Hispanic stars, he has taken positions that are out of sync with most Latinos. Cruz has introduced legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is strongly supported by Hispanics, and he is against “amnesty” for the undocumented.
  • Cruz wants to do away with the federal government’s tax collection agency. He thinks we “ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax where the average American can fill out taxes on a postcard.”
  • Cruz voted against Hurricane Sandy relief.
  • Cruz voted against the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Cruz voted against John Kerry’s nomination for secretary of State.
  • Cruz avidly supports gun rights guaranteed by the Constitution’s Second Amendment. He has said that “Congress should not create new legislation restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans.”
  • Two tea party groups — the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are Cruz’s two largest campaign contributors.
  • Cruz does not play well with others. His brash style has inspired less than flattering name-calling from both sides of the aisle. Harry Reid once described him as a “schoolyard bully,” while John McCain called him a “wacko bird.”

To be clear, I have no interest in Ted Cruz. My interest is in seeing how many Americans actually buy into his “values.”