We Are In A Class War Already Why Don’t People Admit It?

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 The opening shot of the class war was fired on January 20, 1981 at 12:00 noon when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States.

Before we go into a discussion of this war, we need to take a brief look at its first commander-in-chief, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Ronald Reagan was born in humble beginnings in Dixon, Illinois and he later became a sports announcer, actor, labor leader and later politician and Governor of California and President of the United States.

Reagan was a Democrat until 1962 and gave a rousing speech for Senator Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican National Convention.  This was the door that opened him up to the Governorship of California and later, the Presidency.

Ronald Reagan loved to tout his blue collar roots and he was always happy to tell people that he was the only President who was a former labor leader. 

While it is true that he was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947 to 1952 and then again from 1959 to 1960; he is probably one of the few if any major labor leaders who reported his own guild members to the government for alleged “un-American “activities.

You see Ronald Reagan was a fervent diehard anti-Communist.  He was so paranoid of a Communist take over in the United States that he saw red behind every rock and door in the U.S.  Countless lives and careers were altered or destroyed due to his paranoia.

This war started on January 20, 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States.

The landmark economic theory of the Reagan Administration was what was to be known as Reaganomics.  Reaganomics was based on four main principles:  1. reduce growth of government spending.  2.  Reduce income tax and capital gains tax.  3.  Reduce government regulation.  4.  Control the money supply to reduce inflation.

Now I am no economist by a long shot.  But to me at least three of these precepts look like you are giving a blank check to the wealthy and the corporate interests. 

When Reagan took office the tax rate on the top income bracket was 70%.  When he left office in 1989, it was 28%

To top off all of that the luxury tax was eliminated as well as the capital gains tax.  Another knife in the back of the economy was the fact that while revenues were significantly reduced during the Reagan years, defense spending significantly were increased as well.

Because of all this the national debt increased substantionally.  It rose from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion during the Reagan years.

The entire theory of Reaganomics is flawed.  During the FDR’s years Will Rogers coined a phrase for this type of economic philosophy.  He called it “The Trickle Down Theory.” The thought being that if the rich have more money, the wealth will trickle down to the lower classes.

George HW Bush had a better term for it.  During the 1980 Republican Presidential Primary he called it “Voodoo Economics.” I think that this is an excellent two word assessment of the entire Reagan economic policy.  It is unfortunate that Reagan’s policies were carried on by his successors including Mr. Bush.

The next commander-in-chief of the elitist class was George HW Bush.  Bush was a descendant of a blue blood family from New England and his Bush and Pierce relations have been in the American elitist class dating back to colonial times.

He ran for President dedicated to not raising taxes and to reduce the deficit that has significantly increased during the Reagan Administration of which he was a ranking member of.

Bush believed that the best way to reduce the deficit was to reduce spending.  This put him into an ideological war with the Democratic controlled Congress who believed that the best way was to raise taxes.

During the 1988 campaign Bush pledged to never raise taxes.  “Read my lips, no new taxes” was his battle cry which would eventually come back to haunt him.

Bush accepted a deal from the Democrats in Congress that would raise revenues with spending cuts which would reduce the deficit by $500 billion in the next five years.

Feeling betrayed, the Republicans in Congress along with some conservative Democrats forced the defeat of the compromise.  This forced Bush to accept a Democratic proposal that allowed for higher taxes and increased spending.  Somehow this passed and Bush signed it which he admitted later was a mistake because the elitist Republicans in Congress helped to have his popularity decrease nation wide.

In 1991, we entered an illegal war against Iraq.  Bush was able to get Congressional approval for this war and along with the U.N., we invaded Kuwait and pushed Iraqi forces back and forced them to surrender.

The idea was put out that this was a war to preserve freedom in democracy but in actuality it was a war to preserve the flow of oil to the west, primarily the United States.  It was later found out that the Bush family had long standing ties with the Saudi royal family and this was another motivation for the war against Iraq.

In the spring-summer of 1992, the U.S. entered into a deep recession.  Congress passed a bill extending unemployment compensation to the long term unemployed.  Bush refused to sign the bill stating that it wasn’t necessary, that there was no need for it.  This proved that his blue blood had him so far out of reality that he didn’t understand what the average American was going through.  This was further demonstrated during the election when George HW Bush proved that he didn’t even know how to shop for groceries and he couldn’t even try to guess what the average cost of a normal everyday grocery item would cost.

The last blue blooded elitist commander-in-chief that I am going to discuss is George W Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, the son of former President George HW Bush.

He ran for election in 2000 with one of the dirtiest below the belt campaigns in recent memory.  I’m not even going to discuss the issue that he was put in office illegally.  That is for another time.  Suffice it to say that he was placed into office by a majority of lifetime appointed court justices who demonstrated once again that a democratically elected candidate can still be denied his rightful office.

George W Bush has been classified as a “neoconservative.” That term means simply that focuses on foreign policy.  It also believes that it is necessary and proper to use American economic and military power to bring democracy and freedom to other countries.  George W Bush is a prime example of that term as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven.

The hallmark of the bush Administration was a series of tax reduction bills commonly called “the Bush Tax Cuts.” These measures while providing some minute relief to the middle and lower classes provided substantial tax cuts to corporations and the upper income brackets.

Supporters of these cuts stated that they would spur economic growth.  Studies have indicated that growth never happened, just another reason why “Voodoo Economics” does not work nor will it ever work.  Many economists have stated that these tax cuts were merely a redistribution of wealth shifting the burden away from the rich and increasing the burden to the middle and lower classes.  It’s like Marie Antoinette has returned, “let them eat bread!”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, extending these tax cuts for 10 years would increase the deficit by $3.5 trillion.

Couple that with the wars the President Bush started.  We are in the middle of two overseas wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  These wars are costing the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars per day.  As we have seen already, it is costing the middle and lower classes, not the upper classes.  They have no financial responsibility because they mostly pay little if any taxes.

George W. Bush was a complete disaster as President.  Because of his fiscal policies and his illegal foreign interventions he turned a budget surplus left over from the Clinton Administration into the largest budget deficits in American history.  It’s no wonder that you rarely see him in public and he is afraid to travel overseas.  Many countries want to try him as a war criminal and I for one hope that they get the opportunity.

Go back and look at the administrations of each of these three Presidents.  There is no way that any logical person can claim that there is no class war going on.  This is war between the upper and lower classes, between the rich and the poor.

Since the administration of Ronald Reagan, there has been no middle class.  His economic policies virtually destroyed that group.  Now all that is left is the working class and the elite.  That’s it, and believe me you had better start fighting for what you believe in or there will be nothing left to fight for.

Some people claim that it was Reagan’s increasing of defense spending and the fears of the Soviet Union of our “Star Wars” plan that caused Communism to fall.  That is simply not true.  Communism fell in Eastern Europe for one reason and one reason only.  People want freedom and economic independence.  People want to be able to have a life, provide for their family and see their children have a better life than they did.  These are all basic human rights that every human being on this planet should have.

Take a look at what is going on in the world right at this moment.  Look at Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Jordan.  What is happening there?   People are fighting for their freedom from oppressive governments that are unresponsive to them.  People like Gadiffy, Mubarek and Saleh.  Mubarek is gone.  Gadiffy and Saleh are not gone yet but it will probably be soon.  Even Saudi Arabia is attempting to begin reforms along with Jordan because they see the writing on the wall.

The people of the United States better wake up and realize that this is total war, there will be no prisoners.  The government of the United States, especially the elitist, racist Republican Party had better wake up too and hear what the people want instead of some heartless corporation.

The Preamble of the U.S. Constitutions reads, “We The People…..” not we the über rich and corporations.  Wake up America, your future depends on it!!!

 

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Birth Certificate, What’s The Big Deal?

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Birth Certificate, What’s The Big Deal?

 

For the longest time there has been talk that the President of the United States is not constitutionally qualified to be President of the United State wholly because he was not born in this country and that his Hawaiian birth certificate is not proper because it is not the “long form.”

Let’s take some time and examine exactly what the constitutional requirements are for being President of the United States.

Let’s now turn to the U.S. Constitution.  Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 reads as follows:    No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Where in the Constitution does it say that a birth certificate is required?  Do you really think that Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy had to produce a birth certificate?  I highly doubt it.

It is my contention that this entire “birth certificate” issue is nothing more than racism.  Donald Trump, Mitt Romney and members of the Tea Party movement as well as many Republicans hate President Barack Obama for one reason and one reason alone.  That reason is this:  he is black.  They refuse to look past the color of his skin.

They don’t see a highly intelligent man with compassion and a pure desire to help people.  What they see is a black man who took the Presidency from a white man.

They say that blacks elected President Obama.  While it is true that many black people voted for Barack Obama, many white people did too as well as Asians and Hispanics.  To claim that he is President of only the blacks is a foolish and an unintelligent statement to make.

They also contend that the President was born in Kenya.  Even if he was it wouldn’t matter one little bit.  His mother was an American born in Kansas.  He would be a natural born citizen anyway.

During the 2008 Presidential Election we had two main candidates, Barack Obama, born in Hawaii and John McCain born in Panama.  Excuse me?  What did you say?  Panama?

Yes, John McCain was born in Panama, the son of an American Naval officer, John McCain, Jr.

Now don’t you find it kind of strange that this wasn’t mentioned except as a footnote in the election?  Where were the demonstrators stating that Senator McCain wasn’t a citizen but they were continually hammering then Senator Obama about his citizenship?

The answer is plain and simple to me.  They are racists.  The Republican Party is filled with racists from top to bottom.

There is no provision in the Constitution or in any statue that I am aware of that demands that a candidate has to produce a birth certificate.  Don’t you think that the Democratic Party vetted its presidential candidates before the primary season to see if they are eligible?  Of course they did.  There is no way that the Party power brokers and money people are going to throw money away by supporting an unqualified candidate, especially considering how expensive modern elections are.

This is my assertion.  If you hate the President, fine.  If you hate his policies, fine.  If you are a racist, that’s okay too; even though many people don’t approve of racism.  Just be adult enough to admit it.

President Barack Obama is qualified to be the President of the United States.  Just because you hate him doesn’t make him unqualified.

Republicans and Tea Party members need to learn their history and they especially need to learn the U.S. Constitution.  They should carry it with them or if that is impractable maybe they should have it tattooed on their bodies!

Americans need to wake up and face the problems that are out there today.  Stop protesting and complaining about trite things that have no bearing on anything.

We need to unite as a people and work together otherwise our great country will decline even more and it may even cease to exist.  To quote President Abraham Lincoln, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

 

 

States Rights

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States Rights

 

There has been a lot of talk recently on states rights.  The Republican-Tea Party (RTP) constantly invokes the term and especially since we are at the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War I thought that maybe it was a good time to examine this particular issue.

I think that before we even go into the discussion of states rights we should examine what the US Constitution actually states about these rights.

The parts of the Constitution that we are going to examine are the following:  The Supremacy Clause, The Necessary And Proper Clause and The Tenth Amendment.

After we examine these clauses we will dig into the issue of “states rights”.

The Supremacy Clause is Article VI Clause 2 and reads as follows:  This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

This clause establishes the US Constitution, federal statutes and US treaties as the supreme law of the land.  All state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and any state law or provision in any state constitution.

There have been a number of Supreme Court decisions to reaffirm this clause through the years.  In 1819 in McCulloch v. Maryland the Supreme Court reviewed a tax levied on the federally incorporated Bank of the United States.  The Court ruled that this tax was unconstitutional because it made a state statue supreme over federal statutes therefore violating the Supremacy Clause.

In 1859, in Ableman v. Booth, the Supreme Court stated that state courts cannot issue rulings the contradict federal courts.  The Court cited the Supremacy Clause and overturned a decision made by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

In 1958, in Cooper v. Aaron, the Court rejected repeated attempts of the state of Arkansas’ attempts to nullify a previous decision of the Supreme Court on desegregation (Brown v. Board of Education).  Arkansas using a flawed states rights theory had attempted to bypass the Supreme Court by passing these laws.  The Supreme Court declared this to be unconstitutional via the Supremacy Clause.

In 1982, in Edgar v. Mite Corporation, the Court ruled that “A state statue is void to the extent that it actually conflicts with a valid federal statue.”

Furthermore a state law will be found to violate the Supremacy Clause if one or both of these conditions exist.”1.  Compliance with both Federal and State laws is impossible and or 2.  State laws stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”

The Necessary and proper Clause is from Article I Section 8 Clause 18 and reads as follows:  To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Basically this clause states that the Congress of the United States has the authority to make all laws which are necessary and proper for carrying out their powers which have previously been stated in the Constitution.

As with The Supremacy Clause the case of McCulloch v, Maryland is used as precedence.  Not only did this case state that Federal law is the supreme law of the land but it also asserts that the Congress has the right to pass all laws that are necessary and proper as well.

The final section of the Constitution that we are going to examine is the Tenth Amendment.  It reads as follows:  The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This is the part of the Constitution that most states righters cling to.  They believe that this amendment adds fuel to their claim that the rights of the states are supreme.  This is simply not true.

The Tenth Amendment is similar to an earlier provision in the Articles of Confederation that guaranteed states to sovereignty, freedom and independence.

After the Constitution was ratified, some people wanted to add a similar amendment to the Constitution limiting powers of the federal government to “expressly” delegated thus denying the federal government “implied powers.”

However, the words “expressly” did not appear in the Tenth Amendment therefore the amendment did not reject the implied powers allowed by the Necessary and Proper Clause.

The term states rights has reared its head a number of times since the beginning of our country.

The first instance was after the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798.  At that time we were in the middle of a quazi war with France.

The acts were actually a series of bills that were intended to address the issue of enemy aliens and also to address the issue of handling seditious acts that were interpreted to weaken the federal government by people who wrote articles that criticized the federal government.

Vice-President Thomas Jefferson strongly opposed these acts and even came out to state that he felt that they were unconstitutional.  They were a hotbed of debate during the elections of 1798 and 1800.  They were very unpopular and they are probably the main reason that John Adams was not re elected in 1800.

Jefferson and James Madison even went far enough to state in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that these acts violated states rights.  “Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: That to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party….each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

As lofty as these resolutions were, the government under the Supremacy Clause could write this type of law.

The laws were never declared unconstitutional because they were never brought in front of the Supreme Court.  If they had, I am sure that they would have been declared unconstitutional.

States rights came up again during the War of 1812.  The British naval blockade was severely damaging the shipping interests in New England and at the Hartford Convention the New England states started discussing secession from the Union but nothing like that happened.

One continued problem that seemed to plague the Union from around 1820 through the Civil War was the issue of tariffs.

The north and the south had two very diverse types of economies.  The north was industrial and the south was agricultural.  They depended on imports from Europe or from industry in the north.  The south had very few established industries and was almost totally dependant on outside sources for industrial implements.

In 1828 Congress passed a series of protective tariffs to benefit trade in the north but hurt the south.

Throughout the south these were several protests to these tariffs.

On November 24, 1832, South Carolina passed an Ordinance of Nullification declaring the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the boundaries of South Carolina.

This unconstitutional ordinance set up an immediate constitutional crisis.  On December 10, 1843, President Andrew Jackson sent a flotilla of ships and threatened to send ground troops to South Carolina to enforce the tariffs.  Faced with a military confrontation, South Carolina backed down.

The biggest dispute over states rights have to be over slavery and the Civil War.

Actually, states rights have been used by both pro slavery and anti slavery proponents.

The pro slavery faction believed that slaves were property and they and the state had the right to protect their property no matter where they were.  In other words, if they were in a free state their slave was still considered their property and they were entitled to recover and protect their property.

The anti slavery faction believed that their state rights were violated by The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the Dred Scott Decision of 1857 which gave slave owners the right to cross state lines and enter a free state to attempt to recover runaway slaves.

Now if you are a supporter of states rights, which position do you take?  I guess that it all depends on which side of the issue you are on.

My assertion is this.  Look at the evidence.  States rights were claimed by both sides, north and south.  What is the underlying issue here?  The answer is simple.  It’s slavery.  Slavery was the primary issue of the Civil War.  States rights was merely a side issue.

Furthermore, the Constitution of The United State states implicitly that Federal law is the supreme law of the land.  States rights is a non issue and that term has been used since the Civil War era up until today to talk about the segregation of African Americans from the American way of life.

I contend that “states rights” is merely a euphemism for Apartheid, American version.  Anyone who claims states rights issues for the Civil War or any piece of social legislation is in my mind a racist.  If you hold to the states rights myth you are no better than George Wallace in my opinion!

 

The Real Motive of our Founding Fathers

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There is a common misconception out there that is being perpetrated by the Republican-Tea Party that the 13 original colonies rebelled against the Kingdom of Great Britain due to some lofty principle as the right of the people to determine their government instead of a monarch who claimed “Divine Right.”  In my opinion this is a misconception that needs to be brought out into the open.

They claim that the Founding Fathers wanted independence so that the colonists could rule themselves as was there right.  This is not correct and there is ample evidence out there to prove that.

It is my assertion that the Founding Fathers were elitists mostly from either the landed gentry or from the merchant class and they incited a revolution in order to protect their livelihoods because the policies of the British Government were restricting their income.

First, let’s take a look at who exactly the Founding Fathers are.  It is generally accepted that there are seven primary Founding Fathers.  They are:  Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. There are others associated with these gentleman but these in my view were the primary Founding Fathers.

Let’s look at each one of them individually.  The first one is Benjamin Franklin.  Mr. Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706.  He was a son of a soap maker and a candle maker.

Although he was born to a working class family he later became a very wealthy publisher and author.  He founded “Poor Richards Almanack” as well as the publisher of the “Philadelphia Gazette.”

Franklin’s main objective to the British Government was a result of the Stamp Act.  This act required that a stamp was placed on all official documents as well as books and newspapers.  You had to pay a tax in order to get the stamp affixed to any documents.  Now bear in mind Mr. Franklin had definite republican tendencies due to his Puritan upbringing but the Stamp Act was his main motivation for wanting independence.

The second Founding Father was George Washington.  Mr. Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland Co., Virginia.  He was born to a family of planters and his family was one of the founding families of the Colony of Virginia and he was an established member of the Church of England and a pillar of the community.

Washington was a member of the Virginia militia and his invasion of Ft. Duquesne before war was declared with France was probably one of the precipitators of the war.

Throughout the French and Indian War, Washington, as a colonel was often treated poorly by British officers of all ranks and this may have been the start of his republican leanings.

After the war, the British Parliament passed a series of revenue (taxes) acts to help pay for the war.  Many of these taxes affected Washington’s plantation and this might have been what pushed him over the edge to support the colonists in independence.

The third Founding Father was John Adams.  Mr. Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts.  He was a fifth generation descendant of one of the founding families of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  His father was a Puritan deacon and his family was one of the established families of Boston.

Even before the Revolution he was a prominent lawyer and public figure.  He was vilified by the public and especially by his second cousin, Samuel Adams for defending the British soldiers who fired on the crowd at the Boston Massacre causing the death of Crispus Atticus.  Six soldiers were acquitted and the two that fired into the crowd were convicted of manslaughter.

What brought Adams into the revolutionary fray was in 1772 when Governor Hutchinson informed the Massachusetts legislature that his salary and the salaries of the colonial judges would be paid by the King from collected duties.

Adams was persuaded to argue that this was a violation of the Charter granted by King James I and that payment by collected duties on the order of the British Parliament was a violation of that charter and it left the colonists no other alternative then to declare themselves independent.

The entire involvement on Adam’s part had nothing to do with “Divine Right” or republicanism, but on salaries.  Hardly on lofty principles it would seem.

The fourth Founding Father was Thomas Jefferson.  Mr. Jefferson was born on April 13, 1747 in Shadwell, Virginia, the son of a prominent planter.  Like George Washington, Jefferson came from the landed gentry, but unlike Washington, Jefferson did not join the military.  He was a well educated lawyer and politician as well as a prolific writer.

He was probably influenced partially because the gentry were economically affected by the tax policies of the British Parliament.

The fifth Founding Father was John Jay.  Mr. Jay was born on December 12, 1745 in New York, New York.  He was the son of wealthy merchants.

John Jay was a lawyer and had an established law practice with Robert Livingston.

He was in the First Committee of Correspondence of New York in 1774.  He represented the conservative faction who was interested in protecting property rights of the affluent.  This was hardy a lofty principle of republicanism.

The sixth Founding Father was James Madison.  Mr. Madison was born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, Virginia.  He was the son of a prominent plantation owner.  Their primary crop was tobacco and after Madison inherited the plantation from his father, he expanded it to make it the largest plantation of any type in Orange County, Virginia.

Madison was also an attorney and was considered a protégé of Thomas Jefferson.

As with most planters and merchants the revenue acts passed by the British Parliament directly affected their livelihoods.

The seventh and final Founding Father that we are going to discuss is Alexander Hamilton.  Mr. Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 or 1757 in Nevis, Caribbean.  He was the only Founding Father born outside of the Thirteen Colonies.

He was the illegitimate child of a James Hamilton who abandoned him and his mother at an early age.

Hamilton is probably the only Founding Father who was born from humble beginnings.  He was denied membership in the Church of England because his parents were not married and this may have been the beginning of his anti-British sentiments.

He was adopted into a family of merchants and once again he may have been influenced by the restrictions that the British Government put on their business via the revenue acts.

The popular belief perpetrated by the RTP is that the Founding Fathers had all these lofty principles as far as founding our country.  In my view this is a misinterpretation of history.  I assert that this country was founded on money and wealth.  The corporate influences that permeate our government today are the natural evolution of the landed gentry and merchant class of the Eighteenth Century.

The Founding Fathers did not trust the working class or the rabble as they used to call it.  Why do you think that we have the Electoral College?

Now, I am not asserting that money was the only motivation.  The American Age of Enlightenment had a lot to do with it as well as the writings of Locke and Rousseau.

What I am asserting is this.  Money was the initial piece of ammunition.  If the Parliament had not passed these revenue laws and if George III hadn’t taken such a principled hard lined stance on this we would probably still be flying the Union Jack over what is now the United States.

 

The First 100 Days of President Barack Obama

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Now the first 100 day of the Obama Administration was not as dramatic as the first 100 days of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, but in my view it’s pretty impressive especially considering how polarized the 111th Congress is.

Here is a listing of the  federal legislation passed during President Obama’s first 100 days:

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SCHIP)
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009
Omnibus Public Land Management Act
Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Lets start with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  This became law on January 29, 2009.  This bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

The law was a direct answer to  Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. a 2007 Supreme Court decision that stated that the statue of limitations begins on the date that the rate of pay was  agreed upon not the date of the most recent paycheck that a lower court had ruled.

Republicans claimed that this bill would help to initiate frivolous lawsuits and would be unfair to business.  Democrats supported the bill claiming that it would make it easier for employees to combat wage discrimination.

The next bill enacted was the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SCHIP).  This is a program that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed with the intent to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.

This was in essence a renewal of this program that was originally a part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

SCHIP is a partnership between federal and state governments. The programs are run by the individual states according to requirements set by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. States may design their SCHIP programs as an independent program separate from Medicaid (separate child health programs), use SCHIP funds to expand their Medicaid program (SCHIP Medicaid expansion programs), or combine these approaches (SCHIP combination programs). States receive enhanced federal funds for their SCHIP programs at a rate above the regular Medicaid match.

The bill was passed by a mostly party line vote in both houses and became law on February 4, 2009.

The next bill put into law was the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  This act became law on February 17, 2009.  This law is commonly referred to as the stimulus package that was enacted to stimulate the economy that was in the throws of a deep recession of which we are still trying to recover from.

This is a very complicated bill.  To briefly sum it up you could say that the government attempted to pump money into the economy in a Keynesian style  way.  In short it was a kind of mini New Deal.  It provided funds for various public works projects and provided tax breaks and incentives for businesses and individuals as well.  I plan on discussing this act in a later installment on this blog.  you could write books on this act alone.  There is a lot more to this act than what I’ve stated here.

The next act to discuss is the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. This became law on March 11, 2009.  This act combines bills funding the operations of each of the Cabinet departments, except Defense, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs into a single appropriation bill. This bill passed on pretty much party lines as well.

The act to pass is the   Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This act became law on March 30, 2009.  This is a very complex act broken up into 15 Titles.  I will list each separately in order to make it easier to explain.

Title I

Title I of the bill designates two million acres of wilderness in nine states (California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) for protection through addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Title II

Title II establishes a National Landscape Conservation System, to include Bureau of Land Management-administered National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, components of the National Trails System, components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

It also designates three new National Conservation Areas as well as transferring lands in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Washington to federal control.

Title III

Title III authorizes the United States Secretary of Agriculture to, through the Chief of the United States Forest Service, conduct studies in the interest of preserving open space in southern Colorado and deliver an annual report on the wildland firefighter safety practices…including training programs and activities for wildland fire suppression, prescribed burning, and wildland fire use, during the preceding calendar year.

Title IV

Title IV authorizes the Chief of the Forest Service to solicit (from regional foresters) nominations of forest landscapes of at least 50,000 acres, primarily consisting of national forest lands, which are in need of active ecosystem restoration, for the carrying out of ecological restoration treatments. The Chief, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture, then may select up to ten of these proposals, aided by a fifteen-member advisory board, to be funded in any given fiscal year. For each proposal selected, 50% of the expenditures of the execution and monitoring of ecological restoration treatments would be paid for by a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund in the United States Treasury. However, each proposal’s expenditures are limited to $4 million per year.

Title V

Title V designates thousands of miles of new additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also adds six trails to the National Trails System.

Title VI

Title VI creates a number of new United States Department of the Interior programs.

Another part of Title VI, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act.  This provision establishes stronger penalties than previously required for nonpermitted removal of scientifically significant fossils from federal lands.

Title VII

Title VII makes three additions to the National Park System and expands current National Park designations. It also authorizes an American Battlefield Protection Program, a Preserve America program, a Save America’s Treasures Program, and a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, all to be carried out by the National Park Service.

Title VIII

Title VIII designates ten new National Heritage Areas .

Title IX

Title IX authorizes three new studies to examine new reclamation projects under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation. It also creates 15 new water and endangered fish projects in four states. F Title IX also puts some federal water reclamation facilities under local control and funds conservation efforts.

Title X

Title X codifies the settlements of three water disputes in California, Nevada, and New Mexico. This will help end years of litigation between these states in regards to water rights which is a huge issue in the West.

Title XI

Title XI reauthorizes the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 as well as  authorizing groundwater surveys in New Mexico.

Title XII

Title XII creates five new oceanic observation, research, and exploration programs including programs for undersea research, undersea and coastal mapping, acidification research, and ocean conservation.

Title XIII

Amends the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act.

Title XIV

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, provides  for coordinated paralysis research by the National Institutes of Health.

Title XV

Grants the Smithsonian Institution funds to build laboratories and greenhouses at three Smithsonian institutions.

This is a very complex act which provides funding to many different projects.  In my view many of the projects listed here are helpful to stimulating money in a recession wracked economy.

The final piece of federal legislation passed during the first 100 days of the Obama Administration is the  Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This bill became law on April 21, 2009.

In a nutshell this law expands reauthorizes and expands the Americorps which was created in 1993 and was one of the pet projects of President Bill Clinton who saw it as an updated version of the CCC.

Now if you go back and compare the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama during the beginning of both of their administrations you can easily come up to the conclusion that the Roosevelt Administration was more productive.

There are two factors that you have to take into consideration though.  First of all in 1933 we were in the middle of a deep depression and it was truly a national emergency.  One out of every four workers was unemployed, banks were failing and people were losing their homes to foreclosures at an alarming rate.

There was fear of revolution.  The Red Scare was still very prevalent at the time.  Farmers were even attacking bankers and attorneys at auctions to prevent their farms from being foreclosed.

The second factor was that President Roosevelt was not involved in the polarization that is so wide spread in today’s political arena.  Republicans in the 1930’s didn’t like what the President was proposing but they felt that he deserved a chance.  If it didn’t work then they would be back in power in four years.  I think that this should be a lesson for today’s GOP.

I think that President Obama has done an outstanding job and he has accomplished a lot in spite of all the opposition and interference that he has received from the other side.  You cannot for one minute claim that he has done nothing.  If the Republican’s weren’t so obstructionist, his first 100 days would have rivaled those of President Roosevelt.

The First 100 Days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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The First 100 Days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

During the past few years there has been a lot written comparing the first hundred days of the FDR Administration with the first hundred days of the Obama Administration.

Since many of us were not even alive during the dark days of the Great Depression, I think that it is appropriate to examine exactly what federal legislation was passed during those scary dark days.

I think that I will list each one passed and elaborate on them individually.

Here is the list:

March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Relief Act

March 20, 1933: Economy Act of 1933

March 31, 1933: Civilian Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief Act

May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act

May 12, 1933: Agricultural Adjustment Act

May 18, 1933: Tennessee Valley Authority Act

May 27, 1933: Securities Act

June 13, 1933: Home Owners’ Loan Act

June 16, 1933: Glass-Steagall Act (Banking Act of 1933)

June 16, 1933: National Industrial Recovery Act

June 16, 1933: Farm Credit Act of 1933

It should be noted that the President was not sworn into office until March 4, 1933. This was the last time that this would happen. The 20th Amendment changed the date to January 20th but it wouldn’t take effect until 1937.

It should also be noted that Congress was not in session on Inauguration Day. President Roosevelt after he was sworn in called a special session of Congress from March 4, 1933 to March 6, 1933 to address the crisis. The regular session of Congress was due to begin on March 9th so basically the President was starting their session early.

Let’s discuss the Emergency Banking Relief Act. Here are its provisions:

Title I, Section 1. To affirm any orders or regulations the President or Secretary of the Treasury had given since March 4, 1933.

Title I, Section 2. To give the President the ability to declare a national emergency and have absolute control over the national finances and foreign exchange of the United States in the event of such an emergency.

Title I, Section 3. To authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to order any individual or organization in the United States to deliver any gold that they possess or have custody of to the Treasury in return for “any other form of coin or currency coined or issued under the laws of the United States”.

Title I, Section 4. To make it illegal for a bank to do business during a national emergency (per section 2) without the approval of the President.

Title II. To enable the Comptroller of the Currency (a post in the US Treasury) to take complete control of and operate any bank in the United States or its territories and to establish the terms and conditions under which bank is administered.

Title III. To allow banks to disown their debts with the permission of the Comptroller of the Currency and a majority vote of their stockholders.

Title IV, Section 401. To allow Federal Reserve banks to convert any US debt obligation (such as a bond) into cash at par value and any check, draft, banker acceptance, etc, into cash at 90% of its apparent value.

Title IV, Section 402. To allow the Federal Reserve banks to make unsecured loans to any member bank at an interest rate of 1% over the prevailing discount rate.

Title IV, Section 403. To allow Federal Reserve banks to make loans to anyone for up to 90 days if the loan is secured by a general obligation of the United States (such as a Treasury bond, for example).

Title V, Section 501. Appropriation of $2,000,000 to the President for carrying out this legislation.

Title V, Section 502. (a severability clause)

 

This was introduced to a joint session of Congress and was passed the same evening amid a lot of chaos and confusion. There was only one copy of the bill and most members of Congress voted on it without even reading the provisions of the bill. The Clerk had the only viable copy of it.

On March 5th, the President had declared a “Bank Holiday” and all banks were required to close. The Federal Reserve had assured that all re-opened banks would have an unlimited supply of cash to guarantee deposits.

Prior to the Bank Holiday there were several runs on banks and many people were hoarding their money no longer trusting banks and there was a real concern that the public would no longer trust banks.

On March 12, 1933, President Roosevelt conducted his first Fireside Chat. He explained this new law to the public and assured them that the newly re-opened banks would be safer than stuffing your money in a mattress.

On March 13, 1933, the banks re-opened. People stood in line to return their cash that they had stashed. Within two weeks, Americans had returned more than half the cash that they had hoarded.

This law was only a temporary measure. The Banking Act of 1933 replaced this temporary measure and it also set up the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which guaranteed deposits up to a certain amount. This law ended the bank runs that were so prevalent during the Great Depression.

Next is the Economy Act of 1933. This act was fairly controversial due to the fact that it reduced the benefits of veterans from World War I and the Spanish-American War. As a result, many veterans lost disability pensions or they were greatly reduced. This measure also substantially cut the salaries of federal employees. This was an attempt to cut the federal budget deficit.

This law had little effect on the economy or the budget and was short lived.

The next measure was the Civilian Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief Act (CCC). This measure became law on March 31, 1933. This act was a public work relief program for unemployed men age 18-25, providing unskilled manual labor related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural areas of the U.S. from 1933 until 1942. Each enrollee was trained at an army camp and once work began they were paid $1 a day plus room and board. Over three million men worked for the CCC and it was one of the most popular programs of the New Deal.

All 48 states had CCC projects including the territories of Alaska and Hawaii as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

It was only considered a temporary program and Congress ended its funding on June 30, 1942 during World War II.

The next act was the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA). This became law on May 12, 1933. It replaced the Emergency Relief Administration which was passed under the Hoover Administration to provide loans to the states in order to operate state relief operations.

The main difference between the two was that Hoovers provided loans and Roosevelt’s provided grants to the states to provide emergency relief to the citizens.

FERA’s main goal was to alleviate unemployment by creating unskilled jobs in the state and local government. The theory was that even though it was more expensive to hire someone then to simply hand out the money, it was considered better for the individuals self worth if they actually worked for the money. Between May of 1933 and December of 1935 FERA gave states and localities $3.1 billion. FERA provided work for over 20 million people and developed facilities on public lands across the country.

Faced with continued high unemployment and concerns for public welfare during the coming winter of 1933-34, FERA instituted the Civil Works Administration (CWA) as a $400 million short-term measure to get people to work.

FERA utilized quite a few diverse projects including construction, projects for writers, artists and musicians as well as the production of consumer goods.

FERA also instituted adult education programs as well and FERA employed over 2,000 teachers nation wide.

FERA was terminated in 1935 and many of its projects were taken over by the newly formed agencies of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Social Security Administration.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was passed on May 12, 1933. This measure was passed to restrict agricultural production nation wide by paying farmers for reducing crop area thus enabling crop prices to rise. The money for these subsidies was generated through an exclusive tax on companies which processed farm products. It was considered the first modern farm bill. In 1936, the Supreme Court case United States v. Butler declared the Act unconstitutional for levying this tax on the processors only to have it paid back to the farmers. Regulation of agriculture was deemed a state power. However, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 remedied these issues.

On May 18, 1933 the Tennessee Valley Authority Act became law. This act set up the first government run public utility. It provides electricity to the states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana and Virginia.

Previously, many of these areas were without electricity and extremely poor. This measure is still in force today and has been highly successful.

On May 27, 1933 the Securities Act of 1933 was passed. It requires that any offer or sale of securities using the means and instrumentalities of interstate commerce be registered pursuant to the 1933 Act, unless an exemption from registration exists under the law.

This was the first federal legislation to regulate the offer and sale of securities. Prior to this act, states regulated securities.

The reason this act was passed because it was felt that more regulation was needed in this area and abuses in the way securities were bought and sold was one of the primary contributors to the Stock Market Crash of 1929On June 13, 1933 the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Act was passed. This act set up the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) whose purpose was to refinance home mortgages currently in default to prevent foreclosure. This was accomplished by selling bonds to lenders in exchange for the home mortgages. Through its work the HOLC prevented over a million homes from being foreclosed.

When the HOLC ended its operations in 1951 and liquidated its assets, it actually turned a small profit.

The Glass-Steagall Act (Banking Act of 1933) became law on June 16, 1933. This act set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and it instituted some banking reforms as well. It also separated investment banking from depository banking.

This act was repealed in 1999 and many believe that as a result the financial crisis of 2007-2010 was actually made worse.

The FDIC is still in force by its own act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (FDICIA).

On June 16, 1933 the National Industrial Recovery Act was adopted. This authorized the President to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery, and established a national public works program.

Section 7 (a) guaranteed the bargaining rights of employees and it is considered the first law which guaranteed the workers right to organize.

This act set up various public works projects nationwide and by permitting some monopolies it was hoped that between the two it would stimulate the economy.

It was run by two agencies, the National Recovery Administration (NRA) for the business and industry part and the Public Works Administration (PWA) for the public works end.

On May 27, 1935 the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional under the grounds that the Executive Branch had exceeded its authority in writing codes without the consent of the Legislative Branch.

On the same day, June 16, 1933, the Farm Credit Act of 1933 was enacted creating the Farm Credit Administration (FCA).

The FCA regulates and examines banks and associations of the Farm Credit System. It helped farmers to refinance mortgages over a longer period of time at below market interest rates. Many farmers who were affected by the Dust Bowl were able to save their farms because of this act.

This one hundred day marathon was the most productive Presidency in American history. Not every measure that President Roosevelt tried worked. Many feel that the WPA was a complete failure. At least he tried to make conditions better for Americans.

Many of his measures helped pull the US out of the dark days of the Great Depression.

Many people believe that World War II actually ended the Great Depression. That may be the case but I believe that the measures tried by the Roosevelt Administration would have eventually done the trick; it just would’ve taken longer.

There were more things that the President did by executive order; I’m just listing the statutes here.

Much of the opposition to the New Deal are the same worn out arguments that we hear from Republicans in 2010. As usual, no new ideas. They merely want to return to the laisse faire mentality of the Harding, Coolidge, Hoover years.

In my next installment, we will examine the accomplishments of President Barack Obama. Although they are not as profound as President Roosevelt’s, they are pretty amazing in their own right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constitutional Amendments That The Republican-Tea Party Want To Abolish Or Alter Part III

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This is my third and final installment of Constitutional Amendments that the Republican-Tea Party (RTP) wants to alter or abolish prior to today’s election.  This one in particular puzzles me the most.  They want to eliminate the 17th Amendment.  This is the amendment that provides for the popular election of Senators.  Prior to this Amendment, they were appointed by the State Legislatures.

Here is the Amendment:

XVII Amendment

1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

2: When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

3: This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

I’m not going to break down this amendment section by section.  It’s intent and purpose is fairly self explanatory.   It provided for the direct election of Senators replacing the previous method which was appointment by the State Legislatures.

The history behind this amendment will help explain why this amendment was enacted.  It began in the 1850’s during the pre-Civil War era struggles between Free States and Slave States.

These difficulties always occurred when Congress was not in session.  The slavery issue was dividing the country and making it extremely difficult to get business taken care of.

In Indiana a new Senator was not in place from 1855-1857 and in California, the same thing happened during the same two years.

After the Civil War, it became worse and finally Congress attempted to reform the laws regarding Senator selection by State Legislatures.  These methods were fairly ineffective and there was finally a push in the early 1900’s to get a Constitutional Amendment to provide for direct election of US Senators.  This fight was led by Senator Robert M. LaFollette a Progressive from Wisconsin.

He felt that there was too much corruption involved with the process of having the Legislatures appoint Senators.  He also believed that having Senators directly elected would help to eliminate a lot of the dishonesty involved in the current process that was in force at the time.

This Amendment was approved by Congress and it was ratified by the State Legislatures and became part of the Constitution in 1913.

Now why would the RTP want to revert back to having the State Legislatures elect the Senators instead of the people?  That’s a really good question.  All I can to at this point is offer conjecture  because there is no real logical explanation for their motives.

Since corruption and dishonesty appears to be one of their main motives this would fall into place with their ideals.  Why have the people elect Senators when they can pull the process back into the smoke filled rooms where graft and bribery are so commonplace?  This to me is one of the reasons and the other reason is completely logical to me.  Most of the current State Legislatures are controlled by the RTP.  It is logical to conclude that these Legislatures would appoint someone from within their own ranks.  Hence a RTP majority would be guaranteed.

Think about this for a minute.  The RTP hates Liberals and Democrats because they consider them elitist. Why is it that Liberals want to involve more people in the democratic process?  Liberals are inclusive, we try to bring people together.  The RTP is exclusive, they push people away.

Finally, the Constitution is not just some dusty old document resting in a museum somewhere.  IT IS A LIVING, BREATHING DOCUMENT that changes and evolves over time.

The framers of the Constitution made altering it a difficult process.  They realized that deep thought and careful consideration was required before changes should be made.

You have to remember that when the Constitution was written our form of government was radical and untested.  It was called the “Great American Experiment.”  Our liberties were recently won in battle from Great Britain and every country in Europe was watching us waiting for our government to fail.

We proved to the world that our form of government although not perfect, was the most responsive to the will and needs of the people.

When you vote today, remember that your vote will change the course of history for our great country.  Either you want to move forward with continued PROGRESS or  you will vote for the RTP and go backwards or REGRESS.  The choice is yours.  Please think before you vote.  Our future will depend on it.

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