Monday, November 29, 2010

Rep. Kline Pleads For....Earmarks?

Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02) sent a letter to the Labor Secretary asking they use "all appropriate resources" in assisting Lockheed Martin employees that will soon be laid off when the Eagan plant closes. As Kline points out, a lost of this magnitude (1000 jobs) will threaten the overall economic well being of Eagan.

Most of the lost jobs are higher paying engineering level positions that will have a devastating domino affect on the local community. From the lost of homes, jobs and services, Eagan will have a difficult time recovering. The closing of the Eagan Lockheed Martin plant will see millions in lost revenue for the local community.

"I am deeply concerned by the implications of closing the Eagan facility. Job loss of this magnitude not only threatens the economic well-being of the workers currently employed at the facility, it also threatens the economic well-being of the broader Eagan community and the state of Minnesota."
Given Kline's anti-earmark stance, one wonders just what Kline is asking for from the Labor Secretary? It's no secret that Kline will be chairing the House Education and Labor committee starting January, so we will have an opportunity to see first hand how Kline's 'no earmarks' and 'no government involvement in business' will play out in private businesses like the Eagan Lockheed Martin plant closing that threaten the economic health of the community. Especially if that community is in Rep. John Kline's district!

Does John Kline's letter to the Labor Secretary signal a change of values for Kline, or just so much expected lip letter service when something of this magnitude happens locally? Perhaps Kline is willing to host another job fair to address his economic concern! (laugh out loud here) In the past, Kline has presented these low paying, entry level job fairs as part of his solution to the high unemployment rate.

Will Kline be mindful of his administrations ballooning budget deficit that gives tax breaks to the wealthy, but denies unemployment benefits to millions of Americans? In the last two years John Kline has repeatedly voted to deny extending unemployment benefits to millions of Americans but vows to support all of Bush's tax breaks including those for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
With Kline's strong stances against earmarks, it's hard to imagine that he would support any additional or 'special' incentives for a local community but his letter seems to imply just that by asking for immediate attention and special treatment from big brother government.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Will Rep. John Kline Continue To Cut Taxes For The Wealthiest 2%

Representative John Kline (R-MN-02), needs to make a decision... Will he be voting to continue to cut taxes on the wealthiest 2% while taxpayers pick up the tab, or will he allow them to pay their fair share like the rest of us?

The Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of this year if Congress does nothing. Some of those tax cuts allow the wealthiest two percent of Americans to not pay their fair share like the rest of us. The theory was what they didn't pay in taxes would 'trickle down' to the rest of us in the way of more jobs, less costs, and magical wands we could wave during parades...but it hasn't worked and it won't ever work...

We have lots of independent studies that show there is no trickle down, just bigger windfalls for the greedy and less Americans able to work. Over a decade plus of 'trickle down' has show that reality is: Large companies making large profits that benefited fewer and fewer Americans.

Take for example any oil company operating in the United States, the larger ones made billions ($000,000,000) in profits but most didn't pay taxes. Exxon/Mobil paid zero (0) taxes in the United States for 2009. In spite of record profits for Corporations and incredible CEO pay increases, rest of us Americans declined in wealth substantially in wealth.

The price tag ($700 billion) for extending the Bush cuts for the wealthy is more than 16 times the cost of Obama’s infrastructure proposal. That $700 billion is what the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates it would cost the Treasury to continue tax cuts for top earners over 10 years. That's a lot of taxpayers supporting the very wealthy and polls show a majority of Americans are against this.

Cutting the existing tax breaks for the wealthy (or letting them lapse back to pre-2001 level) would save billions of dollars and also pay for the middle class and poor to continue their tax breaks...

One of the most common objections to letting the cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets is that it would hurt small businesses. As Rep. John Kline likes to point out often because facts don't matter, allowing the cuts to lapse would amount to a job-killing tax hike on small business....

But this often repeated Kline claim is false and misleading at best. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets -- individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

According to the Washington Post: If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn't the way to go -- it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don't make most of their money off those businesses.

Voters will soon know if Rep. Kline represents them or just the wealthiest 2% of Americans by his vote on Bush's tax cuts as his 'hurt small business' argument is just more elitist manure.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rep. John Kline To The Unemployed, Bah Humbug

In an MPR interview this week, Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02), the incoming chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, announced he doesn't support an extension in unemployment:

"We simply don’t have the money to keep extending unemployment benefits indefinitely. We just don’t have the money."

But Kline does supports and is willing to pay for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. By budget standards, we have John Kline saying $830 billions to finance tax cuts for the wealthy is acceptable, but $12.5 billion to extend unemployment benefits 3 months when they are now due to end during the holidays is too expensive.

Is there any doubt who John Kline is working for during this financial crisis? The unemployment extension could be paid for by not allowing the tax credits to continue for the wealthy and as the majority of Americas don't approve of the wealthy tax breaks, shouldn't Kline also be supporting that?

Instead Kline wants to extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. In Kline's world, $830 billion to finance tax cuts for the wealthy is fine, but $12.5 billion to extend unemployment benefits for three months is too expensive. Pat Garofalo at ThinkProgressive sums this up perfectly by pointing out:

"In the last forty years, the U.S. has never allowed extended benefits to expire with the unemployment rate above 7.2 percent, far below today’s rate of 9.6 percent. Plus, there are currently five unemployed persons for every job opening in the country. In fact, there are so few job openings, that even if every open position in the country were filled, four out of five unemployed workers would still be out of work. But for Kline and the other House Republicans, extending tax cuts for the rich is much higher on the priority list then ensuring that these households have an adequate safety net"

Because Kline and Congress voted down a three month extension of unemployment yesterday, 2.5 million Americans will run out support during the holiday season. By Kline's insistance in supporting a renewal of the tax cut for those who absolutely don't need it, America loses $830 billion over ten years, or roughly $83 billion per year. That would easily pay for unemployment compensation until the jobs situation improves...

What's more important to Kline, 2.5 million unemployed Americans or a few rich friends? Which is better for America?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Will Rep. John Kline Give Our Social Security To The Pentgon?

Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02) has repeated often that 'in these tough economic times Americans need to tighten their belts'...and he also says 'everything is on the table' from taxes to social security, education to veterans benefits...but does that include the Department of Defense budget? In the past Kline has been totally rescind in considering the Pentagon budget when discussing budget cuts.

Take a look at the below graph of US discretionary spending and tell me again Rep. Kline, where should we be cutting? The nearly $1 trillion-a year bloated Pentagon budget needs to be reviewed and trimmed before we even consider looking at cutting currently self-sustaining programs (through 2039) like social security
The United States accounts for 46.5 percent of the world's total defense spending. The next-biggest spender is China, which has undertaken an immense buildup to become a military as well as economic superpower - yet accounts for just 6.6 percent of the world's total.

Additionally we pay for nearly half of all global defence expenditures, while our close allies Britain and France pay just 3.8 and 4.2 percent respectively. Somebody;s getting a free ride while the US taxpayers go belly up!

While John Kline talks about reeling 'out of control government spending', so why ignore the billions of dollars being lavished on the Pentagon annually? The two wars are currently costing approximately 1.1 trillion with no return on our 'war' investment.

The federal budget is expected to run a $1 trillion deficit this year. So while America is borrowing money from China and using it to wage war in Afghanistan, the Chinese are signing contracts and building infrastructure that will let them exploit Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth. Concurrently the Taliban remains powerful and grows in size, President Hamid Karzai and his administration is riddled with corruption, war profiteers still receive 'no bid' contracts and Americans are going broke.

Obama and Gates are calling for an increase in military spending for the next five years. So Rep Kline could have a win-win. One he would help decrease the deficit while cutting the Pentagon's run away spending and two, he could oppose the Obama administration at the same time.

The question is, will Kline recognize that there are no 'sacred cows' in the American budget and take for real the current economic crisis destroying our country or will John Kline take away our Social Security and give it to the Pentagon?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rep. John Kline Supports Religious School Vouchers

Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02) is expected to chair the House Education and Labor Committee when the new Congress convenes this January. One of the first changes he'll propose is bring back and perhaps expanding the five year experimental program for school vouchers that Obama let lapse last year.

The DC School Choice Incentive Act of 2003 established the first federally funded private school voucher program in the United States, providing scholarships of up to $7,500 for low-income residents of the District of Columbia to send their children to local participating private schools. While initially the programs was to see if educational attainment and student safety improved, over the five year period, neither happen.

While not boosting student academic achievement, it did serve to prop up financially shaky religious schools at taxpayer expense. Catholics especially have been lobbying for vouchers as it will help to stave off school closings — about 250 a year nationwide. Now that they have a friend in Rep. John Kline, religious groups are pressing hard for the House Education committee to once again approve vouchers.

Most private and religious schools gain with school vouchers, but public schools would be the biggest losers especially with funding. It’s a fallacy that every child in a private school saves the public schools money. There are certain set expenses of public schools that don't change like overhead for the buildings, liability insurance and janitorial needs. And while public schools have to meet certain standards, private and religious schools do not.

Moreover, where is the extra money going to come from to fund the vouchers? Either our taxes will rise, or the public school budgets will be reduced even further making them unable to provide adequate education basics. Most Americans understand the need for an educated workforce and don’t mind paying more taxes for the public schools but they would object to more taxes for subsidizing private, and especially religious school tuition.

While Kline supports removing funds from public schools and sending them largely to church-run parochial schools, at the same time he feels it's grossly unfair to hold those schools to the same standards as public schools.

Public schools are required to meet specific standards like curriculum, teacher certification, facilities, and standardized test scores; private/religious schools do not! Additionally there will be additional cost incurred in monitoring these schools. How will they be compared when public schools and private/religious schools are not on a level playing field?

The vast majority of students in voucher programs attend religious schools rather than secular private schools, which tend to be more expensive. Funneling public tax money into religious institutions violates the Constitutional principle of separation between church and state. Again, while most support public education, many do no want to pay for someone else's religious education. The voucher program subvert the constitutional principle of separation of church and state and threaten to undermine our system of public education.

Rep. John Kline won't let facts stand in the way of advocating for vouchers, or merit incentives, or parent triggers, or charter schools. Now that Kline will chair the House Education committee, look for the education system to be even more compromised and replaced with a less functional and more costly alternatives like vouchers.

I'll blog more on what to expect in the way of changes to education now that Kline will be leading the House Committee later this week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What Would John Kline Do?

Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02) has campaigned the last several years against excessive govenment spending including earmarks. His stance is to be totally against any earmarks... while letting a few slip in like promoting mega costly but unwanted and not needed F-22s fighter jets! And Kline's earmark ban has cost the people in CD2. They receive only 35 cents which is less than half in terms of returned federal dollars to their district compared with all other Minnesota districts.

Kline has repeatedly told us that earmarks are bad and the Republicans will change how business is done when they control the House, according to John 'it won't be business as usual!' only...oops...guess he was wrong...

His good buddy Rep. John Boehner who spearheaded the no-earmark principle during the Democratic controlled house has now said there will be a moratorium on banning earmarks. According to Boehner: "Only because some things that people call earmarks here, uh, wouldn't classify as an earmark to the American people,"

So it appears that voting for the GOP and John Kline is now back firing...there will be business as usual including earmarks. While it was acceptable to ban earmarks when Democrats ran the House, now that the GOP are in charge of the house, it's now important to bring home the bacon...

For 2 years Rep. John Kline has decried earmarks to hide his real voting record on fiscal issues. In other words, he votde for huge spending increases, bank and wall street bailouts, and to cut taxes for the wealthiest 1 -5% among us but then blasted earmarks. As a result of his incessant demagoguery, just the term “earmark” has become a dirty word for many voters.

It would serve us well to rememeber that when Republicans controlled Congress from 1994-2006, earmark spending went from under $8 billion to over $29 billion, according to watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

Rep. John Kline has a decision to make, still ban all earmarks while hurting the people in his district (as not all earmarks are pork and bad, noR does it save the government one cent)...or join the rest of his party and be part of the new GOP spending frenzy (same as the last one)! Looks like a lose - lose decision for John Kline.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thank You Rep. John Kline, Can I Have Another?

Congratulation are in order to Rep. John Kline (MN-R-02). It's now official, the Reagan Revolution is complete, the wealth of America has been transferred from the middle class to the top 1% and they couldn't have done it without John Kline's votes!

The top 1% of Americans, now make 24% of the income and own 34% of all American wealth. They (the top 5% of Americans) now own more than the entire bottom 95% of Americans combined! Roughly they own 60% of all of America's wealth!

So be sure to send a big 'thank you and can I have another?" to Rep. John 'we don't need no stinking regulations' Kline. By his votes while in office, he took a country that used to have a middle class and turned it into a nation where only the richest 1% have rights. His insistence on 'trickle down' has turned America into a third rate nation with only two class, rich (top 5%) and super rich (top 1%)!

For those left that even care, besides redistributing wealth, John Kline has also allowed the poor to have more debt... a whopping 73% of debt. For the vast majority of poor Americans, their homes are the most significant wealth they possess but also represents their largest debt:

Now that the middle class has been eliminated, look for Kline to squeeze the poor even harder to make more money/profit/returns for the wealthiest 1%...

Extending Bush Tax Cuts
Kline wants ALL the Bush tax cuts extended...

In other words, Kline wants the wealthiest 1% to continue to avoid their fair share of taxes.

Inheritance Tax
Rep. Kline is against any inheritance tax or as he calls it for PR reasons...a 'death tax'. Yet it's a tax only on 1% of Americans. According to a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance. Another 1.1% receive $50,000 to $100,000. On the other hand, 91.9% receive nothing, zero, zip, nada!

Thus, ultra-conservatives like John Kline in eliminating inheritance taxes takes a huge bite out of government revenues for the benefit of less than 1% of the population. Kline's stance can only be seen as anti-American government and only serves the wealthy 1%...but does not reflect the majority or those that are middle class or poor.

Social Security
Even though social security has enough funds to pay for itself though 2039, Kline wants to do away with social security. Yet Social Security has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit – it actually has a surplus of $2.6 trillion today. As it stands today, only the first $105,000 of a person's income is taxed for Social Security purposes, so it would clearly be a boon to the Social Security Fund if everyone -- not just those making less than $105,000 -- paid the Social Security tax on their full incomes.

Given Kline's position on protecting the top 1% of wealthy Americans, look for social security to end under his tutelage.

If you compare the actual rates of increase of the salaries of CEOs to ordinary workers from 1990 to 2005, CEOs pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained a scant 4.3%. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, when inflation is taken into account. Yet Kline voted against raising the minimum wage.

The bottom 80% of Americans receive only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s (Wolff, 2007). So while Kline goes after unions and collective bargaining units (can you say the shrinking middle class?) CEO's are reaping huge benefits and becoming the wealthiest of Americans. Kline's mantra of 'letting business determine it's own rules' has lead us to fewer jobs, lower pay, higher corporation profits, gross CEO pay and incentives, and lower industry standards of safety.

All in all, the voters decided last week to give up and let Rep. John Kline continue to vote against their best interests and continue down the path of being a third rate congratulations to Kline, and to all who voted for him. Expect more bridges to fall down, less road repairs, more fees and higher taxes, with less government regulations and rules protecting your community. In other words, expect more of the same since Kline has been in office.