Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Are You Feeling The Bern?

If you're feeling the bern as the saying goes, I have found a bag of Birdseye frozen peas can provide instant relief from Bern-aches and migraines.

Monday, March 28, 2016

And Now, A Word From One Of My Readers.

Ed. Note: This is a posting on FB by a friend of mine who has managed to summarize my thinking on the entire Colonel Sanders campaign, where it originated, how it's whoring out the Democratic party, and what the likelihood of success would be if the Colonel wasn't being a cynical and pragmatic practitioner of realpolitik, Kissinger style. I've kept his name confidential so as to avoid him being slagged by the Bernistas.

As I have noted before, I felt the Bern....a bag of frozen peas works wonders in such instances.

You have the floor, sir.

Sorry, xxxx, but Bernie is only running as a Democrat because of the exposure it provides him. If he was running as the genuine independent he's  always claimed to be, he'd have no campaign.

He'd get fractionally more press than the Green Party's
Jill Stein, because he's a sitting Senator, but he'd have nobody to debate and would have to spend far more of his campaign warchest on infrastructure and phone banks, leaving him with much less available for TV ads and fundraising mailers.

What everybody overlooks is that the  parties_ pay for the cost of the primaries and caucuses and conventions. the candidates pay for their own staffs, infrastructure (travel, offices, meals), fundraising and media.

In 2012, combining all national and governor elections, about $7.2B was spent. The breakdown was $2B from the parties, $3.2B from the candidates and $2B from PACs.

Bernie is dipping into a pool of around $350M dollars the DNC is spending on the national Presidential campaign. That's on top the roughly $100M he's raised himself. And it's highly questionable that he'd have been able to raise that much if he hadn't been spending DNC money to fund his fundraising.

Bottom line: if Bernie were honestly running as an independent, his own fundraising would be down in the $1-2M range. The aforementioned Jill Stein, with an actual party infrastructure (Green), has raised a whopping $320,000. As a sitting Senator, bernie would do better than that, but not much. Jim Webb raised about $800k before he dropped out. Lindsay Graham, with RNC support, only managed to raise $10M. 

Without DNC support, Bernie would be somewhere in between, probably closer to Webb's total.

For Bernie, it's NOT about which party his own views are most aligned with. Bernie is much closer to the Greens than the Democrats, but they can't even afford to get their candidate on the ballots of more than 22 states.

It's also NOT about "reforming the Democratic Party." Bernie could give a shit about the party. If he did care about the party, he'd be putting resources into the party to promote like-minded candidates, down-ticket. He hasn't.

It's about which party will subsidize his ambitions, and which actually gives him a chance to win. I see him as being willing to sell out his principles in the name of pragmatism, just for a seat at the table.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Koolaid From Heaven, or, How Bernie Sanders Will Pay For The Free Stuff.

So there I was, chatting with someone and they said in response to my well aged and mellowed skepticism that Bernie Sanders did, indeed, have a plan to completely pay for each spending program he has proposed right down to the last penny.

So you know me, that's red meat.  Here goes.

I didn't say this, it came straight off the Sanders campaign website.

1. In order to rebuild our sagging infrastructure -for which read roads and bridges-Sanders will raise a trillion dollars (that's right, trillion with all those zeroes) by making corporations pay taxes on all their "profits" because these "profits have been sent offshore to the Cayman Islands and other tax havens (of course not mentioning the ones in white countries like Switzerland and Ireland) and other unnamed "loopholes."

2. In order to fund free college tuition in state universities for everyone Sanders is going to impose a tax on "Wall Street speculators" that will raise $300 billion.

3. Beef up Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income from the present $250,000 annual income-which is something that is both doable and a good idea, long advocated by many of us party stooges.

4. Create a Youth Jobs Program funded by ending the "carried interest loophole"...but I thought we already got rid of all the loopholes right there in number 1.

5. 12 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave which you, my fellow citizens, will pay for by an increased payroll tax.

6. Protect pensions from cuts by closing a tax loophole on inherited money and expensive artwork.

7. Invest in clean energy jobs by stopping taxpayer funded giveaways to oil, gas, and coal companies.

8. Universal health care by raising taxes on employers and households, taxing capital gains and dividends the same as income, limiting tax deductions for the rich, "adjusting" the estate tax, and savings from health tax expenditures.

There it is folks. The complete "Every Man A King" plan.

To tell the truth I'm more confused than I was when I started but all I really see is that identified people in one place-you and me-are going to get hosed.

I still don't have any idea who "Wall Street Speculators" are or what they do or how they can be identified so easily. A speculator is one who buys and sells with the expectation of a profit if the market for the commodity rises or falls.
Would that include a person with a machine shop who buys a few drums of cutting oil because they got a good price on it and they figure they could resell one of the drums and cover their expenditure?

Does that include you, when you bought a lawnmower at an auction and put it out in the front yard with a for sale sign on it? OK, you say. I'm not on Wall Street, I live in Paramus. I'm off the hook, right?

Honestly folks, I don't know. And they're not telling. Supposedly this will apply to sales of stocks, bonds and derivatives.

I can tell you that it will hurt you right in your 401K or pension plan, because that's what those plans do-they buy and sell stocks, bonds, derivatives and scads of other investments. How much? They haven't said.

They say they'll save pensions from cuts by closing tax loopholes on inherited money and artwork. Given that most people these days do not have pensions (defined benefit plans) but are funding their own retirements through 401Ks, this seems to be swatting at termites with a sledgehammer.

So how many people actually have pensions? about 22 per cent of people in private industry as of 2012.

The pension benefit guaranty corporation was supposed to protect pensions anyway.

But then, we have the issue of pensions for government employees, which is the norm. Most of these plans are seriously underfunded or bankrupt.

Illinois, for example, has a pension overhang of $85 billion it cannot pay.

In 2012 pension funds nationally were underfunded by $2.5 trillion dollars that are nowhere to be found.

Somehow, and don't get me wrong here, if Bernie Sanders thinks that what he's proposing is going to plug the hole in that dike, he's pissing in the wind.

As far as college tuition goes it is estimated that the average cost for a year's tuition, books, room and board at a public college is about $15,022. Of that, $9,410 is tuition. To that, we have approximately 14.65 million public college students.

Taking the lowest figures, that comes out to $1.364 trillion, give or take per year. Using the Sanders "tax on speculators" figure of $300 billion if it is all raised, we're still over a trillion dollars short.

There just isn't enough money available.

I haven't looked at health care proposals because this has already given me a migraine except that the burden on workers and their employers would be an 8.4 per cent tax increase. If I know my human nature, tax increases tend to drive sectors of the economy underground until things reach equilibrium.

It's a natural law. Capital and money flee from the tax man.

So how any of this could get accomplished with the congress we have right now is beyond me.