TRUNC? Just Who are they?

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TRUNC will be at the Pahrump Nugget on Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM for a candidate debate. Why?

Top candidates will debate issues live based on questions submitted by CD2 residents. Special election is to fill CD2 Congressional seat vacated by Dean Heller. Pahrump, Elko, Sparks KPVM TV will air live. [PRLog Free Press]

TRUNC (Tea Party & Republicans Uniting Nevada Conservatives) is hosting the debate.

It is TRUNC’s position that the voters of Congressional District 2 have a right to hear from the candidates who are seeking their vote. TRUNC’s goal is to educate voters so that they can make an informed decision on who best represents them and Nevada in these critical times.

Nancy Price is one of the candidates seeking your vote. But she isn’t a member of the Tea Party, or a Republican. She is a Democrat. Nancy has issued this statement on the Nye County Nevada Democrats’ group on Facebook.

Please come to the debates in Pahrump and Elko. I will be debating Amodei and Lippold. The debt in Amodei’s commercial is due to wars of aggression not paid for. Eisenhower’s Republican administration had 91% tax rate for the top bracket. We paid our way then. Now we have war and austerity; I want peace and prosperity.

TRUNC’s invitation provides:

TRUNC feels that this is the best opportunity for constituents to hear from the candidates.
The debate will be live in three cities all within Congressional District 2. Pahrump June 23, Elko June 24, and Sparks June 25th. The events are FREE, but require registration for tickets. Visit www.TRUNConline.com and click on the Candidate Debate Ticket link.
All questions for the candidates will be submitted by mail to:
TRUNC/Debate
4045 S. Buffalo Drive #101-377
Las Vegas, NV 89147.
Residents wishing to submit questions should focus on issues and be received by June 20, 2011 for consideration. KPVM TV of Pahrump will air the debate live on June 23rd, and rebroadcast the debate again on June 25.

If you want to rub elbows with a VIP (whomever that is) at an “Exclusive Meet and Greet Reception” you can pay $125 per ticket at www.TRUNConline.com for the privilege. (Hey! This is a Tea Party Republican event. You gotta have the money for these “special” perks.

TRUNC intends to unite conservatives who believe in small government, fiscal responsibility, low taxes & are “pro” constitution under the umbrella of the Republican Party in Nevada, for the purpose of defeating liberal & socialist candidates & their agenda.

You can read more about TRUNC at TRUNCOnline.com and the TRUNC Blog.

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Wisconsin—A Laboratory of Democracy?

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Republicans argue that states are the "laboratories of democracy" that should be charged with developing new, innovative ways for delivering quality health care more efficiently. [Truthout]

First time I’ve ever heard that states were laboratories of democracy. Be that as it may, Wisconsin might be one of those laboratories.

ScottWalkerWisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, is trying to “shut the public out of a debate about Medicaid cuts and shield legislators from having to weigh in on cutting benefits and services for the neediest Americans.”

He is probably trying to shield his Republican legislators from risking recall elections following their attacks on public sector unions.

A new Wisconsin budget bill “grants broader power” to the Governor’s administration to “remake BadgerCare – Plus” (must be something to distinguish it from “ObamaCare”) and other state health programs with little legislative oversight.

Apparently Governor Walker wants that authority vested in him and his administration, specifically Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, to cut some $466 million in costs from the programs over the next two years.

Some 1 million people, men, women and children, are covered in those health programs.

If I understand it correctly it will result in Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services having the authority to make changes in the program with their state legislators approval and without any public hearings.

Doesn’t sound like a “laboratory of democracy” to me, but more akin to "a laboratory of dictatorial autocracy.”

This also doesn’t bode well for the GOP’s push to block grant the Medicaid program. After all, if states like Wisconsin — or any other Republican state that isn’t very invested in maintaining government-sponsored health care programs — are already demonstrating that they’re more interested in slashing enrollment rolls than developing any truly revolutionary health delivery models, you can easily predict how they would react to a block grant that does not keep up with projected health care costs, wrote Igor Volsky of Think Progress.

What a mess Wisconsin residents are in. So far we haven’t encountered this much right-wing abuse in Nevada, but I can see how it could happen.

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Single-Payer Health Care


Physicians for a National Health Program, is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 18,000 members and chapters across the United States. PNHP is also on Facebook.

Because there is some confusion about what a single-payer program is PNHP defines it as “Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.” In other words it is like Medicare only everyone can use it, not just those on Social Security.

“Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($8,160 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 51 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered,” they state.

If you have ever encountered hospital bills costing $30,000, $60,000 or more, as I have, the cost of health care will catch your interest. My wife and I would have been bankrupt years ago had we not had Medicare. Makes one wonder how that 51 million that is completely uninsured and the millions more that are not adequately covered, make it, or will make it in the future. Continue reading

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Why the rich want to get richer

 

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Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein wrote a piece in today’s Washington Post about why the rich want to get richer. It might simply be greed. But Klein believes, apparently, that globalization has permitted the wealthy to grow even more wealthy. He surmises that those who are wealthy enough to move from a national stage to a world stage opened the door to all that wealth to those who can afford it. (It takes money to make money.) He cites some examples.

“Kobe Bryant could start selling shoes in China. Goldman Sachs could easily invest in Indonesia. Universal Studios could put their films on DVDs and sell them in India. If you were big enough to get bigger, you’d do far better than those who weren’t quite big enough to expand overseas or sell their DVDs to millions.”

My simple conclusion that the rich want to get richer is motivated by greed didn’t make the cut in Klein’s analysis of the reason.

I’m not sure I understand Klein’s rationale or not, but I sort of come to the conclusion that Corporate CEO’s seek more and more income because they’re like many of us, “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Maybe you can read Klein’s story and explain it to me so I can grasp it.

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Redistribution of Wealth in America

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Americans are divided on taxing the rich to redistribute wealth. At the first of this month, June 2011, Gallup released a poll exploring the views of Americans about whether the federal government should enact heavy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth in the U.S.

The Gallup poll found that 47 % believe the government should redistribute wealth in this way, while 49% disagree.

Not surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats have sharply different reactions to the government’s taking such an active role in equalizing economic outcomes. Seven in 10 Democrats believe the government should levy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth, while an equal proportion of Republicans believe it should not. The slight majority of independents oppose this policy.

The issue also provokes different reactions from men compared with women, whites vs. nonwhites, and upper-income vs. lower-income Americans. Consistent with their more Democratic political orientation, women, nonwhites, and lower-income adults are all more supportive than their counterparts of government redistribution of wealth via taxes.

Among Democrats 71% believe the government should redistribute the wealth while 26% do not. 42% of men (Republican or Democrat) favor redistribution but 54% think not. On the other hand 52% of women (Republican or Democrat) agree with redistribution but 44% do not. 41% of whites think wealth should be redistributed, however 56% do not. 64% of non-whites believe in redistribution while 33% do not.

Differing income brackets of people are also divergent in their views. Of those who have income of $75,000 and over 31% support redistribution; 67% do not. As to those with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999–51% say the wealth should be redistributed but 47% don’t. The lower income bracket of less than $30,000 the split is 63% in favor, 32% is not.

“While a solid majority of Americans, 57%, believe money and wealth in the U.S. should be more evenly distributed among the people, fewer than half favor using the federal tax code to do so. The fault line in these views is distinctly partisan, with most Democrats championing redistribution and most Republicans opposing it,” reports Gallup.

Last February CNN Money reported “Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it’s not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed.”

CNN continued, “…the richest 1% of Americans — those making $380,000 or more — have seen their incomes grow 33% over the last 20 years, leaving average Americans in the dust.”

How come?

Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist for the Labor Department, and currently a professor at Rutgers University, attributes a major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other labor protections. Union membership has declined over the past 30 years from 20% of the work force in 1983 to less than 12% in 2010.

Another factor is globalization. International competition has lifted millions out of poverty in developing nations, but has not exactly been a win for middle class workers in the U.S. Factory workers have seen many of their jobs shipped to other countries where labor is cheaper, putting more downward pressure on American wages. While average people were losing ground in the economy, the wealthiest were capitalizing on some of those same factors, and driving an even bigger wedge between themselves and the rest of America. Globalization has been a major win for corporations who have used new global channels to reduce costs and boost profits. In addition, new markets around the world have created even greater demand for their products.

The gap between high school graduates and college graduates has widened. In 1980, workers with a high school diploma earned about 71% of what college-educated workers made. In 2010, that number fell to 55%.

Then there is the stock market. The S&P 500 has gained more than 1,300% since 1970. While that has helped the American economy grow, the benefits have been disproportionately reaped by the wealthy. The 1980s was a period of anti-regulation, presided over by President Ronald Reagan, who loosened rules governing banks and thrifts. Then came the Clinton era, when barriers between commercial and investment banks, enacted during the post-Depression era, were removed.

And the tax cuts added to the problem. Tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration and extended under Obama were also a major windfall for the nation’s richest. Then it all came tumbling down resulting in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression.

Alan Johnson, a Wall Street compensation consultant, said "I think it’s a terrible dilemma, because what we’re obviously heading toward is some kind of class warfare."

Really, do you think so?

You are welcome to read more about this and other matters on the Nye-Gateway to Nevada’s Rurals blog at http://nyegateway.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Featheriver.

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Growing wealth of members of Congress

I extracted the following from today’s issue of The Hill.

Nevada Democratic Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid:

Harry ReidSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reported at least $3.4 million in wealth, an almost 10 percent rise over the prior year. Reid had a minimum net worth of close to $3.1 million in 2009.

Much of Reid’s wealth is wrapped up in land holdings in his home state of Nevada and in Arizona. Those holdings include 160 acres in Bullhead City, Ariz., worth at least $1 million. He also reported a loan to his campaign valued at at least $50,000.

As in 2009, Reid caught a Christmastime jet ride to Reno thanks to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year. Reported as a gift, its value was $14,500, as determined by Senate Ethics Committee staff.

Kentucky Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

McConnellSenate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reported a minimum net worth of $9.8 million and remains one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill, according to his disclosure form. His minimum net worth grew close to 29 percent from a minimum of $7.6 million in 2009.

McConnell’s wealth likewise rose in part to some smart plays in the stock market with his wife, former Bush administration Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. They exchanged some of their stock holdings for Vanguard 500 Index Admiral shares, with a value of at least $500,000.

Chao also gave several paid speeches, for which she was paid more than $1,000 per appearance, according to McConnell’s financial disclosure report. She spoke to the University of Illinois-Champaign, Corning Inc. and the American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, among other groups.

Texas Republican Representative Ron Paul

Ron Paul[Paul is] a 2012 presidential candidate, sold at least $50,000 worth of stock in a gold mining company last year.

According to his disclosure report, Paul, who favors returning to the gold standard, signed off on a partial sale of his investment in Goldcorp Inc. but still owns at least $500,000 in assets tied up in the Vancouver-headquartered mining company.

The congressman has hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in several gold mining companies, including Barrick Gold Corp., Eldorado Gold Corp. and Iamgold Corp.

Paul reported a minimum net worth of $2.2 million in 2010.

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U.S. missing $6.6 billion in Iraq War money

Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times reported on June 13, 2011 that “after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born.”

How did the Bush administration flood Iraq with all that cash? “They sent an initial full planeload (using a C-130 Hercules cargo plane) of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time. The money was contained in shrink-wrapped bricks (kind of like the way drug cartels package money.)

I have previously read that they stuffed the cash in duffel bags and tossed it in the plane somewhere on the East Coast and flew it into Iraq.

Where did all that money come from? The cash, which belonged to Iraq, was intended to pay for reconstruction. The money came from a special fund set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with Iraq’s own money, which was previously withheld from the country under harsh economic sanctions imposed against Saddam Hussein’s regime. [BBC].

Apparently the Bush administration neglected to account for the money. Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, blamed the system that existed at that time for the missing money. [BBC]

"The system was too loose and unregulated in 2003 and 2004," Bowen said.

The missing funds are separate from the $53bn allocated by the US Congress for rebuilding Iraq.

“But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash,” speculating that “all of the cash may have been stolen” and the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history."

Whether the money got “mislaid” or “stolen” demonstrates how reckless our government can be about money.

The last known holder of the funds, before they mysteriously disappeared into the dusty oblivion of post-war Iraq, was the U.S. government. [CBS News]

Iraq is threatening to sue the U.S. for the money. That should help the debt crisis of the U.S.

Initially corrupt Iraqi officials were blamed for the missing money. But, the Los Angeles Times points out in its report Tuesday, "some U.S. contractors were accused of siphoning off tens of millions in kickbacks and graft during the post-invasion period." [CBS]

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Education in Nevada

Brian SandovalIn trying to balance the budget of Nevada it appears to me that cutting spending costs in education is the wrong road to travel. Untrained and under educated people find it almost impossible to find employment, except, perhaps careers at fast food establishments at minimum wage.

When I was a teenager in the 1940s finding a job was rather easy, if you were willing to do farm labor. Back then manufacturing jobs were plentiful spurred by World War II. Times were changing. Women could even find jobs outside the home in defense plants. The fairer sex additionally were entering into a new world which permitted them to pursue traditional professional employment in medicine, law, engineering and the like.

When World War II ended a new concept emerged allowing GIs access to higher education by means of the GI bill. Millions of us, otherwise unable to afford a college education, were suddenly enabled to pursue and achieve college degrees in all kinds of disciplines. The employment doors opened up to a wider range of Americans equipped to compete in the job markets.

It was a sociological evolution on many fronts in American life. Adaptation of nuclear power to peaceful energy uses were pursued. Computer technology became common place in the home with the advent of the desktop computer and useful software for the ordinary person’s use in school, business and the home. Man traveled into space, walking on the moon. The Internet came into ordinary life allowing anyone to communicate with anyone else on the planet.

All those innovations came about as a product of a better educated citizenry in the United States. Finally, the United States became the undisputed super power of the globe. America was leaning forward.

Education played a significant role in all those innovations. But now, Nevada, is on a path to reverse that progress. The world has become global. Competition has become more intense. As the Boy Scouts have said, “The world belongs to those who prepare for it.” It does not appear that Nevada wants to prepare for it.

John Kao, an innovation expert, says, "The United States is in danger of becoming a nation of innovation haves and have-nots."

Nevada clearly would fall into the category of an “innovation have-not.”

Kao also said:

“We’ve learned that innovation has been the key to our dramatic economic growth and rising standards of living, as Steven Johnson showed us earlier. There’s no question of its importance.”

“…innovation comes in many varieties – from the private sector and the public sector, from businesses and universities.”

“…innovation isn’t just about science and technology… it’s about inventions in business and business processes. And these kinds of innovation really come out of a fertile private sector. We saw the perfect example of that in Google.”

“…the fastest growing economies in the world today – China, South Korea – are using government to promote innovation. In industry after industry, they’re establishing commanding leads because of the government policy.”

“…we need both government and the private sector to foster innovation.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 Nevada spent 6.7 percent of its total state expenditures on higher education. This ranked far below the national average of 10.1 percent. In comparison, Colorado spent 8.3 percent of total expenditures on higher education; neighboring Utah spent 10.1 percent.

In 2007, Nevada ranked 48th in per capita state and local government expenditures on higher education at $490 per resident. Wyoming spent nearly twice as much at $973 per resident and Utah spent $896. Every other Western state ranked above Nevada.

“Retraining our workforce for the jobs of the future depends on a strong system of higher education. Governor Sandoval is eliminating that option, and cutting off the possibility of a robust economic recovery or long-term economic diversification as a result,” wrote Mike Trask in U.S. News Las Vegas.

Other Republican Governors see education differently than Governor Brian Sandoval. Republican governors of Virginia, Kansas, New Jersey, and Nebraska view higher education as the key to turning their state’s lagging economies around. They are resisting cuts to higher education, and some are even proposing to increase funds, despite budget shortfalls.

Conservative Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell recently announced a $50 million investment in higher education, aimed at increasing the percentage of Virginians with higher education credentials from 42 to 55 percent in the next 15 years. McDonnell cites:

· For every $1 the state spends on higher education, it generates $13 in GDP

· For every $1 the state spends on higher education it generates $1.39 in state revenue

· Higher education accounts for more than 144,000 jobs and $9.5 billion in spending

Sadly, we are stuck with Governor Sandoval, thanks to Nevada’s voters. One lesson to learn is to avoid electing any politician who promises not to raise taxes. Those who make that promise cuts-off that potential avenue of fulfilling their obligation to their constituents, even when it is necessary. Remember, we get what we vote for.

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Nevada is 6th most free state in the union

nevadaNevada is the sixth most “free” state in the nation, according to a state-by-state analysis of personal, social and economic liberties by George Mason University.

The analysis ranks states on the amount of government intervention on economic, regulatory and personal freedoms.

The term “freedom” was broadly defined as an individual’s right to “dispose of their lives, liberties and properties as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.”

The report recommended three policy changes to improve Nevada’s score in 2013: repeal health-insurance coverage mandates, deregulate private schools and revert the minimum wage pay rate to the federal standard.

New Hampshire is the most “free” state in the union. South Dakota, Indiana, Idaho and Missouri rounded out the top five states ahead of Nevada.

New York was “by far the least free state in the union,” according to the report. The Empire State has “by far the highest taxes in the country,” the strictest health insurance regulations and some of the most restrictive tobacco and gun laws, the study said.

New Jersey, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts rounded out the bottom five states in the rankings.

Source: Las Vegas Sun

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Republican Joe Heck employs Sharron Angle’s dodge of media


Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck

Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck

The Nevada State Democratic Party took on Nevada’s Republican Representative Joe Heck’s June 8, 2011 appearance at the American Legion Post 40, in Henderson, Nevada. Calling the event a “trainwreck” the Democratic Party wrote:

Less than 24 hours after calling Social Security a “pyramid scheme” again, Heck held a trainwreck townhall last night where he and his staff said multiple times that the only questions allowed to be asked were those pertaining to veterans issues.

It was reported that Heck used Republican Sharron Angle’s technique of dodging reporters. The Nevada Dems continued:

In fact, it was so bad that in a scene reminiscent of last year’s Senate race in Nevada, Heck actually “ran into a private room when approached by reporters at the end of the town hall,” despite telling the audience he would stay to address additional questions according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Describing how “bad” the trainwreck was, The Democrat site quoted from the Las Vegas Sun explained:

Because the forum was held at an American Legion hall, Heck said he would answer only questions related to veterans’ issues. Social Security arguably falls into that category, but Heck wouldn’t budge, even though an announcement advertising the event, posted Monday on Facebook, listed Social Security, Medicare and Veterans Affairs as the main topics for discussion.

It is understandable that Heck, having called Social Security a “pyramid scheme” wouldn’t want to talk about it. Even his Republican supporters who receive Social Security doesn’t want to hear him characterize the Social Security program in that manner. Social Security is something that Democrats and Republicans (and independents as well) seem to agree on. They all want it left alone because it is a government program that works, Heck and Paul Ryan notwithstanding.

For more see:

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