History’s telling me to not get excited about passage of the oil spill fine amendment…

Very excited about not only the amendment, but Congress too...

A recent editorial in the New Orleans Times-Picayune celebrated House Passage of an amendment to the transportation bill which mandated 80% of Clean Water Act fines levied against British Petroleum for their catastraphuk be earmarked to the Gulf States who suffered the damages. The editorial called this first step important. It noted how this was the House of Representatives making a public commitment to the Gulf Coast and never shall it be torn asunder.

I would love to be so optimistic.

I really would, but I can’t. History just won’t allow it.

Back in April of 2010, very soon after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, we were greeted with congressional slogans and promises by so many members giving impassioned speeches from the floor or telling any media outlet they could find just how they would take immediate action to ensure something like this oil spill would never happen again.

We’ll make drilling safer! We’ll make it clean! As your elected Congress, we will not rest until we fix the problems that led to this horrible, ongoing disaster…

blah…blah…blah…

And what laws were passed?

Essentially, none…in fact, what happened was quite the opposite as new laws were voted on which would accelerate the rate of drilling and open up newer, more sensitive areas to oil exploration all the while listing the same safety precautions that failed in the Gulf as their rock-solid protection against any future spills. So, with that recent history, you’ll have to pardon my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to passage of this amendment, because I just ain’t buying it this time. I want it to, but I have my doubts it’ll happen like they say, uh-uh, too easy. Congress is way too distracted with their endless pursuit of politically winning nothing at the expense of the other party.

But wait a minute, to be fair, it did pass and that’s something…right right?

Right, even though the amendment doesn’t actually authorize any payments, it only requires that the money be placed into a special fund. It is the RESTORE act, yet to be passed, which will do the dirty work of allocating these funds to the states. That’s when the politics will really come into play I fear – How much money does each state get? What can the money be used for, and how much? What do the states, and then the counties and then the towns have to do to get this money? And when do they get it?

Republicans will probably want to earmark as much money as possible for commercial development purposes at the expense of the overall environment, while the Democrats will be focused more on actual coastal restoration, and that’s when this whole thing will get so complicated, and so politicized and overwrought we get delays, name-calling and other assorted grandstanding bullshit on various news channels, so much so the whole process will take so much longer than it needs to, playing games with time the Gulf Coast is running out of.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the amendment itself was attached to a bullshit transportation bill which would not give enough money to maintain highways and roads, wind up cutting funds to public transportation all while it opens environmentally sensitive areas for more oil drilling, not to mention the bill also authorizes the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President has already come out against…

In other words, this bill is terrible and shouldn’t pass. This isn’t a first step, this is a political ploy and a dodge by the House of Representatives.

Can’t you just hear it?

Gosh golly gee, Louisiana, we wanted to give you guys all that money, but the Democrats and that damned White House…well, they said no way and voted us down…but we tried.

Right, though another way of putting this would be how hopefully, the Democrats refuse the GOP’s blackmail tactics, the same shit they’ve been running for the past year with the whole government shutdown, deficit reduction and ceiling, super committee give us everything we want or you get nothing…well, until the payroll tax extension blew up in their face.

Even the author of the amendment, Steve Scalise, isn’t making a whole lot of sense:

“Now that the House is on record supporting the dedication of these fines to the Gulf Coast states and to fully restoring the ecosystems and communities of the region, we will continue pressing forward with our colleagues in the Senate to pass the entire RESTORE Act into law.”

Again…so what if the House is on record? Who’ll call them onto the carpet if they change their minds, or water the amendment down, make it 60% or maybe 55% because you know, we have a deficit and those are federal funds…and Louisiana? You’re America’s sewer anyway so you’re used to getting screwed…oh, and on those same lines, I would appreciate if Mr. Scalise could explain to me just why the hell I’m supposed to suddenly believe the GOP House is committed to restoring ecosystems?

Since when?

These are the same guys who are pushing forward the wholesale destruction of mountains in Appalachia, not to mention the poisoning of our nation’s water supplies through natural gas fracking. The destruction of ecosystems is kind of a GOP trademark. The Democrats aren’t innocent either, but at least they pretend to care and pass half-measures. Hell, the House GOP wasted how much time bringing back incandescent light bulbs?

Restore ecosystems…right.

And at what point does Eric Cantor finally find himself a microphone and demand spending cuts to offset this money because even though the cash’ll be coming from BP, it would normally go to the Federal treasury so in not doing so this time around, isn’t that really additional Federal spending, albeit indirectly? So we better cut Medicare, Social Security and oh, why not food stamps this time if you want your money. Why wouldn’t he try it? This is the same high-strung yuppie villain who initially demanded offsets for disaster funding going to tornado victims in his own state, and he’s in the House GOP leadership.

You really think he cares about states he doesn’t live in?

So yeah, the editorial board at the Times-Picayune calls this amendment an important step forward, and I want to believe it but I have to disagree. I think right now, I can’t consider this more than wishful thinking…because if there’s one thing we know to watch out for when it comes to the first steps of politicians, it’s to dodge immediately left so you don’t get run over when they take their two steps back.

Read the articles:

Oil spill fine amendment through House but much work remains

Congress takes a step forward on BP fines: An editorial

Have a nice day.

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Say it with me GOP…

Oil companies? What? Now excuse me, I need to get to my church where I'm signed up to volunteer at the soup kitchen tonight...

So, when the House of Representatives proposes to cut guaranteed funds from public transportation which will cause city transportation systems to run in the red, thus requiring cities to raise bus/train/subway fares, fare increases which disproportionately affect poorer residents…

What do we call that?

It’s called a tax.

More specifically, it’s called a regressive tax on the poor, people otherwise known as those who can least afford a tax right now.

And, when the House of Representatives, also as part of their transportation bill, proposes to open nearly all coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, including those places which are environmentally fragile for the stated purpose of raising revenue to pay for the transportation bill, despite their continued, steadfast support of subsidies for oil companies which already are making money hand over fist…

What do we call that?

It’s called a giveaway, a non-starter.

More specifically, it’s called taking money from the poor to give to uber-wealthy corporate campaign donors for the benefit of nobody but GOP Congressman and the masters they bow to, all at the expense of America.

In other words, Boehner’s bullshit transportation bill is just one more piece of manufactured garbage intent on giving more breaks to those who don’t need it while breaking the backs of those who are struggling.

Read the article:

A Terrible Transportation Bill

Have a nice day.

Republican coincidence and payroll tax holidays…

"The finest day that I've ever had, was when I learned to cry on command..."

At the end of this month the payroll tax holiday will expire, and if allowed to lapse, it will come as a tax increase for working lower and middle class Americans. The Democrats, including Obama, are in favor of an extension while many Republicans are not. Many Republicans are demanding the extension be offset by spending cuts elsewhere or simply done away with altogether.

Why? Simple…

According to Macroeconomic Advisers, allowing it to lapse “would reduce GDP growth by 0.5 percent and cost the economy 400,000 jobs.” An analyst at Barclay’s estimated that letting the cut expire would knock 1.5 percent off of first quarter growth next year. Ameriprise Financial Services, meanwhile, estimated that extending the cut “is likely to add between 750,000 to 1 million jobs.” “Payroll tax cuts are very powerful,” added Allen Sinai, chief economist of Decision Economics. “They provide a boost to direct income and, in turn, spending, which is important to growth.”

Oh wait…forget that part…no, the reason some Republicans would be so willing to let it expire is our out of control deficit…fiscal prudence at its best, yes-sir, so fiscally responsible these Republicans, the cult of Norquist clan, they would allow a tax cut to expire. What an example of sacrifice? Imagine that, they finally agreed, not all tax cuts could be forever sacrosanct…oh, and the fact this party is oft accused of defending only the wealthy, and the fact this tax cut only benefits the working poor and middle class, not the wealthy…

I’m sure this is coincidence.

Has to be.

Just as I’m also sure it is only coincidence the Bush tax cuts, those gifts to the rich and a large part of our current deficit, weren’t required to be paid for while the payroll tax holiday, so many Republicans demand, must be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Yes, this Republican coincidence is but one of many these days…

Take a look at the job creators, for instance. Nick Hanauer, a successful venture capitalist recently wrote an op-ed, stating:

Consider, for example, that a puny 3 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million would be enough to maintain and expand the current payroll tax cut beyond December, preventing a $1,000 increase on the average worker’s taxes at the worst possible time for the economy. With a few more pennies on the dollar, we could invest in rebuilding schools and infrastructure. And even if we imposed a millionaires’ surtax and rolled back the Bush- era tax cuts for those at the top, the taxes on the richest Americans would still be historically low, and their incomes would still be astronomically high…Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Middle-class consumers do, and when they thrive, U.S. businesses grow and profit.

Yet, the Republicans would rather it be discovered they wet the bed than raise taxes on the wealthy, on those job creators…God save the job creators, even if they call bullshit on their actual ability to create jobs…and I suppose this only makes no sense at all, none…I mean, the Bush tax cuts have been in effect for what, 10 years or so, yet strangely enough we’ve had a recession, we’ve watched a looting of pension plans, a housing collapse and high sustained unemployment for years… And through it all, the fact those taxes on the wealthy, meant to create jobs have done everything but create jobs?

Coincidence.

But I digress, back to that tax break the Republicans are so sketchy about, the one that coincidentally doesn’t help the wealthiest of this country…when John Boehner was asked if letting the tax cut expire would hurt the economy, he replied, “I’m not an economist. I don’t know what kind of impact it’s going to have on the economy.”

Not an economist?

Yet he was sure the deficit didn’t matter when Bush was president, growing exponentially due to unfunded wars, tax breaks for the wealthy and that huge gift bag to pharmaceutical companies.

Just as he is now sure, that since Bush is no longer President, the deficit is destroying America as we know it, that if allowed to continue, not only will the deficit destroy our ability to manufacture American flags for the waving, but your mother’s apple pie? As a country, we will no longer be able to support the cost involved in using ovens, ever again. We will be one flag-less pie-less country, that much closer to gay marriage if we don’t do something about the deficit, like yesterday. He means…now. 

Oh, but that Boehner suddenly lost his economist credentials, that he devolved into financial confusion when it was time for this tax break that doesn’t expressly help the wealthy?

Another matter of simple coincidence.

However…to be fair…Boehner has come around the past day or so, the GOP is coming around and now say the payroll tax holiday should be passed. John himself has said, ““The fact is that Republicans are doing everything we can to allow American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn.”

Course, that was Public John Boehner. And what did Private John have to say about the payroll tax holiday?

Well, behind closed doors, he told his membership they were pushing a package that not only included the extension, but also more environmental deregulation, more sales of broadband spectrum and a change in policy to help pass the Keystone XL pipeline so, you know, he could  turn “chicken shit into chicken salad.”

The ingredients of chicken salad of course being heavier pollution, sick kids, global warming, monopolies on spectrum leading to a lack of diversity on our airwaves, and a big fucking pipe to take oil all the way across our country from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, oil from tar sands development which is about as environmentally friendly as, well, as most Republican policy.  

Oh, and that John Boehner didn’t refer to this tax break, which doesn’t help the wealthy, as “chicken shit” in public?

Coincidence…you know it.

Yes…coincidence…of course this is what it is, what all of this is.

Cutting taxes on job creators so they continue to not create jobs, unfunded tax breaks for the wealthy while tax breaks for the working poor and middle class must be offset by spending cuts, spectrum sales and pollution, and Boehners ability to be an arch-economist who sometimes, economically speaking, is dumb as a stump…

All of it coincidence…surely.

What other explanation is there?

Have a nice day.

So the GOP response to economic inequality is…

In his High School yearbook, Eric Cantor was voted most likely to soil his Armani underwear.

…running away?

…especially when they can’t control who will be in the audience?

…especially when many in that audience think Eric Cantor and the GOP response form a large part of the overall problem, championing many policies that cause much of the afore-mentioned economic inequality?

Okay then, glad we got that settled.

Eric Cantor and the GOP’s official response to issues raised by the Occupy Protests is as follows: gulp loudly, then don’t show up out of fear you won’t be able to control the crowd or the questions, with all of it on camera. Well played guys, and thanks for the update Eric…you complete and utter coward.

From the article in Firedoglake:

“Eric Cantor, staunch protector of the 1 percent and champion for that portion of the 99 percent duped into protecting the 1 Percent, but ever fearful of the mob, startled a disbelieving Beltway a few days ago by announcing that income and wealth inequality were real problems and that the GOP should do something about that.

In a moral universe, that epiphany should have been followed by lightning striking the man, as on the road to Damascus, but that didn’t happen.

Cantor promised to address those issues in a speech he planned to give today at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. What would an unrepentant representative of the 1 Percent possibly have to say? Would he explain why the Senate members of his party unanimously opposed taxing the rich at one half of one percent on annual income over a million dollars so we could have 400,000 more teachers and thousands more first responders?

Well, we may never know. It seems Mr. Cantor has bugged out, after learning from his hosts that his speech might become the occasion for a mic check.

To continue reading about the credibility issues of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va), please…just click below:

Eric Cantor Skips Wharton Inequality Speech Out of Mic Check Fear

Have a good day, a better day than the House GOP leadership when they meet tomorrow in Boehner’s office, to discuss how this fiasco played out for their side, across all forms of media…

Oops…

Headlines: Gulf Coast and Beyond…

BP declares BP innocent after BP's extensive investigaton of BP

Fish research vessel drafted for use at BP oil spill site – Times Picayune

Feds order more pressure tests before relief well drilling can restart – Times Picayune

WikiLeaks: We Won’t Be Threatened by Pentagon – AP

BP clears itself over oil spill disaster – Daily Mail Yes, a British Paper

Just How Badly Have We Screwed Up the Gulf Ecosystem?

Maddow on Vitter: Hooker, Line and Sinker – Daily Kingfish

Children Don’t Mean a Thing, If You Ain’t Got That Bling – American Zombie

Obama’s Ground Zero Mosque Comments: President Recalibrates (Video) – HuffingtonPost

No Shock: AT&T Backs Different Rules for Wireless in Net Neutrality – Wall Street Journal

Killing the BP well: An editorial – Times-Picayune