Fortunately, I listen to NPR (National Public Radio), so unlike CNN viewers, I was not subject to having to view the GOP ad which aired immediately prior to the address, although I missed out on the video and what I’m sure were quite a few looks from some members of Congress. I did get to hear the full text of the address, and I figured I would share some of my thoughts on what was said.
Obama opened with thanks to Armed Forces members, which was nice, but I was appalled by his statement that he thinks war makes us safer and more respected around the world. We know for a fact that it does not. Our supposed “war on terrorism” (you cannot make war on a tactic) is known to be used as a recruiting tool to enlist more members in Al-Qaeda, and only creates more resentment worldwide. Claiming otherwise, at first pass which might seem naive, is not so, but is simply a move to create more taxpayer-funded business for the defense industry, and to extend our false imperialism in a battle with China for oil and other energy resources.
Speaking of energy and by extension jobs and the economy, we were asked by Obama to imagine our situation having a more positive outlook. This is essentially the method employed by Family Guy’s Brian Griffin’s fictitious book, “Wish It, Want It, Do It” and is completely ridiculous. I can imagine it, but why won’t Obama address the situation in any meaningful ways? Programs can be instituted in various departments which will help things and which do not require congressional approval, but it seems to be more politically expedient to do nothing and blame the other party for lack of progress. No wonder approval ratings for both parties are at an all-time low.
We could bring more manufacturing back if there were limits (taxes, tariffs and other fees) imposed on corporations which practice outsourcing to other nations, rather than having us all just wait for the Chinese wage to go up. With corporate taxes, we need more sticks and fewer carrots. We already have the biggest corporations paying next to nothing on record annual profits. These loopholes need to be closed immediately. Job training needs to work in conjunction with a reduction of military manufacturing and conversion of those defense industry plants and technologies to green energy production and sources.
I do agree that we should offer states something like a 3 to 1 match on state university and college funding increases, and incentivize universities to reduce or not increase tuition. We also need to increase Pell Grants to twice higher than 2000 levels, and use the Treasury and not banking institutions to handle Student Loan repayments.
Some other thoughts on energy production:
- We cannot afford more oil production, furthermore, we will need to keep the oil we have, and keep it in the ground. We need to use only carbon-negative or -neutral energy sources.
- We cannot afford to ruin all the water and create hundreds or thousands of earthquakes by further developing hydrologic fracturing (fracking).
- We cannot afford to susidize oil production any longer. We need to tax it, along with fracking, completely out of existence.
- We can afford to develop wave energy generation, where strings of hinged booms and buoys float on ocean waves and where the hinges turn generators based on the wave movement.
- We can afford to harness underwater tidal forces which can turn propellers like wind turning a windmill as the tides go in and out.
- We can afford to make wind energy more efficient and more plentiful, including offshore. Paint them to blend in if you are so concerned with your scenic view of the offshore oil rigs.
- We can afford to make solar more efficient and more varied, and use the massive acreage located within the Nevada DOE site to make enough solar energy for all the homes in the US.
- We can afford to place solar and wind installations on all manufacturing plants, with all new homes getting active and passive solar on the rooftops.
- We can afford to make better batteries, so I agree with Obama on that one.
- We can even develop (it has been done) GM bacteria which take greenhouse gases out of the air, and then which use the sequestered molecules to thrive and excrete oil which we can use. I suspect the same method could be used to create natural gas.
Any idea to help alleviate the mortgage crisis is a good one. What about getting peoples’ foreclosed and unpurchased houses back to them?
How about getting mercury out of vaccines? Well, getting it out of the water is great also. Strengthening the FDA and preventing mercury, dioxins and arsenic from entering fish and other seafood chains via stream runoff is wonderful.
Here’s a better idea, we can increase the taxes on corporate gains, etc. (Romney’s and Buffet’s incomes) and let the added 10-20% increase be earmarked by those taxpayers individually toward their choice of investments for R&D to colleges, universities and green energy businesses.
As for fixing the tax code, there are various numbers which could be used, but we should employ a progressive taxation system similar to the following, where individual incomes of:
- >$1M should pay 40% on amounts at or above $1M,
- >$500K should pay 25% on amounts between $500K and $1M,
- <$50K should pay zero, and
- incomes between $50K and $500K should pay 15% on amounts between $50K and $500K.
In addition, FICA & Medicare (at whatever percents, usually 2%-6% each depending on the national mood) are taxed on all incomes over $50K, with no upper limit. There should be a 50% estate tax for liquidity over $1M, though not for real estate and investments. The total tax levied on all corporate gains and investment incomes should be about 30%, and would be excluded from the calculation of the individual incomes above. Married couples filing jointly would double the income requirements above, and dependants claimed would allow for a $25K deduction per dependant. All income amounts would be COLA adjusted for successive years. Therefore, if your household consisted of a married couple with two children filing jointly, and your combined annual income did not exceed $150K with no investment income, you would pay no taxes. If you were single making $100K/yr, with $50K in investment income, you would pay $22.5K plus FICA & Medicare on $50K (somewhere around $2K to $6K), for an effective tax rate of about 18%. This would increase current revenues compared to the current tax code (it would generate somewhere around $2.5T in income taxes, plus perhaps $2T in capital gains / investment taxes), and would create massive spending from the middle class, which would in turn create the largest economic expansion since the 1950s and 1990s, thereby generating even more tax revenue, particularly for states and localities. Taxing corporations at a reasonable rate (20-25%) on incomes exceeding $500K with no loopholes would generate another $2T or so. We would have a $2T surplus and the debt would be paid off in a record 8 years. It only takes political will or better members of congress to accomplish this.
You can feel cynical about nothing getting done, but you could also just institute massive political reform. Mandate shortened campaign seasons to a couple or a few months. Ban all stock and commodities trading by congress people. Limit lobbyists to genuinely interested parties, with no payouts. Limit campaign contributions to individuals only. Have no more filibusters in the Senate unless you actually take the floor and read something into the congressional record which pertains to the topic at hand. Limit supermajorities in normal voting where a 50% majority is required. End the Bush Cycle between lobbyists, regulators, other oversight positions, congress, and other federal positions. Once someone takes one position within an industry, they cannot switch (from private to public sectors or vice versa) until having not been employed in that industry for at least five years. The SEC needs more teeth.
The way you end the source of attacks against US is to get our bases out of Mecca & Medina, stop state funding Israel & Pakistan, get out of Afghanistan, and end the “war on terrorism”.
Finally, we can give better, free, jobs training to veterans, and really to everyone, and not just incentives for companies who hire them.
That would be my response to the 2012 SOTU address, but it was not the response given by Mitch Daniels, the GOP Governor of Indiana.
Instead, Daniels simply regurgitated the same old talking points from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. How does such an uncaring racist blowhard drug addict (Rush) get to be the non-titular head of the Republican Party anyway? Perhaps that was too rhetorical.
Daniels talked about there being roughly a 20% unemployment rate, which was really odd, since Republicans never count those not actively job seeking as being unemployed, I suppose unless it suits them.
Republicans do not even want more employment. Rather, they want higher profits for their corporate donors. How exactly do you suppose we got into this mess in the first place?
Neither do Republicans want equality. They want rich white land-owning males to have everything and for everyone else to be slaves, leave or die.
If a Republican cannot route a pipeline through a poor neighborhood, he (and not she) will route it through a wetland. Daniels said that the XL pipeline deal is, and I quote, “pro-poverty”. Now, I do not know if Daniels knows yes from no, good from bad, left from right, for from against, but he obviously does not know pro- from con-. XL is pro-poverty alright. It is also pro-environmental-destruction. Tar sands are about the most inefficient and carbon-positive producers of oil known on the planet, and routing a pipeline through an aquifer, particularly the largest in the Midwest, is about as dumb an idea as not using hardened cement on a blowout preventer. Between XL, drill-baby-drilling in the oceans, fracking, and trying to end the Clean Water Act and EPA, one would guess by their actions alone, that Republicans wanted all the potable water in the country to simply disappear.
Why do Republicans constantly state that raising their tax rates on largely investment earnings will somehow hurt jobs? It will not. People will continue to invest (unless the tax on investment earnings was 100%), and the higher the tax levied, the less risky the investments will be. Graphically plotting gross tax revenue versus tax rate levied looks like a bell curve, and we are way down on the left side low end.
If Daniels wants growth, then his Senate and House compatriots ought to approve the jobs bills introduced this year. If Daniels wants Obama to fail just like Rush and McConnell stated, he will not want growth.
If Republicans like saving money, they will use the goddamn energy saving light bulbs. What a ruse! I replaced 100% of the light bulbs in my apartment (even in the fridge and under the range hood) with the new energy saving kind (for a total cost of $25), and my monthly electric bill dropped by $20 overnight. I’ll save $215 in the first year of using them. They even now come encased in a coated glass bulb which acts to diffuse the light, so they shine light just like a normal incandescent, and they warm up to full brightness in about a minute. You no longer need to get blinded by the compact fluorescent coil. What a deal! Buy them in packs of 5 or 10 to save money.
And finally, contrary to what Daniels said, to have national bankruptcy, our GDP (FY2011 was $15.0T — T is trillion) needs to be smaller than our annual interest on the federal debt ($15.23T total, and $0.457T of that is interest). We are not even close, well, yet. Our annual federal budget is about one quarter of our GDP, and is over seven times the annual interest on the debt. If Daniels is concerned that the debt as a percentage of GDP is just over 100%, he should feel better to know that following WWII, the debt was just over 120% of GDP and in 35 years, under Jimmy Carter, we managed to get that percent down to just over 30%. Reagan/Bush proceeded to bring that figure back up to nearly 70%. Clinton brought it down to about 55%, and Dubya brought it back to 70%. Obama did the rest. However, the debt needs to be $500T (over 30 times the current amount) to get to where interest payments (at 3% interest) exceed the GDP, at which point the US would become insolvent. Even if we run a $2T defecit every year (the largest defecit ever in 2009 was $1.9T), it would still take 242 years to reach that point (the United States will be 236 years old on 4 July 2012). Now, we absolutely do need to pay down the debt, but we do not need to make such draconian austerity measures like the EU is doing, and by doing so, shoot ourselves in the foot by preventing our economic recovery. Apparently Daniels does not know how to use a calculator, either.
So, that response got four Pinocchios. Neither Republicans nor Democrats know what they are doing, and if they do, then they know that all they do is make the already rich richer, and be damned with the rest of the populace. Here’s not quite a joke: What’s the difference between a neo-conservative (Republican) and a globalist (Democrat)? Well, the neo-conservative wants the corporation which controls everything to come from this country, while the globalist cares not from which country that corporation comes. Or, alternatively, the Democrat charges too much for the meal, but the Republican leaves the restaurant before the check arrives and sticks you with the bill.
So what’s the better way? It is to not elect either to office again.
Vote Green!!! Vote Oatman!!!