Closing Thought–21Feb19

More Economic Bad news.

Remember that tax cut thing a year or so ago?

You should! Thanx to that piece of political theater will see most of us with smaller tax refunds.

Remember refunds?

That cash that you get back from the IRS because unlike the rich you paid your taxes…..well yours may well be lower than you anticipated…..

The IRS is out with early numbers on tax refunds in 2019, and people hoping for a bump under the new tax changes are being unpleasantly surprised. In the first week of the filing season, the average refund was $1,865, down about 8% from last year’s average of $2,035, reports Politico. That has left many wondering what happened to the “$4,000 raise” the White House promised families would receive under the tax overhaul. Short answer: People are confusing their refunds with their tax burden. Details:

  • An example: The Washington Post highlights the example of a middle-class New Jersey couple whose income didn’t change but who received $3,000 less this year. “It totally feels like a scam,” says John Prugh. “I did still get a small refund, but compared to what I was expecting from previous years, it was shock.”
  • Feeling the same: NBC News notes that the hashtag #GOPTaxScam has surfaced, with people who have gotten decent refunds for years unhappy to discover that they’re getting far less or are even required to pay.

  • The Issue: Financial experts explain that what these people are overlooking is that their overall tax burden went down; they likely got bigger paychecks during the year, even if they didn’t notice. “There’s a difference between taxes and your refund,” a senior research associate at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute tells the Post. “People generally got a piece of their tax cut last year gradually in the form of lower withholding on their paychecks.”
    Lost deductions: The tax law may have lowered tax rates and increased the standard deduction, but it also limited deductions for state and local taxes, per Yahoo Finance. In fact, the new tax code eliminates or modifies many long-used deductions, including those related to mortgage interest, student-loan interest, and moving expenses.
    It’s early: Tax-filing season runs through April 15, and it’s possible trends could change. In fact, people seem to be delaying filing, perhaps because of all the changes: The IRS received 16 million returns in the first week, which is down 12.4% from last year.
    They’re doing it wrong: Those who have traditionally gotten fat refund checks from the IRS may think it’s great, but it’s more likely a sign that they need to examine their withholdings. “A large refund from the IRS may seem like an advantage, but it isn’t the best or most effective use of your cash flow,” a rep from Robert W. Baird & Co. tells CNBC. “You’re basically giving the IRS an interest-free loan.”

Not to worry this is just another way of Making America Great Again.

Some things seldom change…..especially the lies about tax cuts……

Peace Out!

 

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That “Green New Deal”

I think I have found what the GOP wants to run against in 2020……The “Green New Deal”………

The new progressive representatives in the House are pushing for a “Green New Deal”…..I wrote about it when it first rose to the discussion point……https://lobotero.com/2018/12/06/the-green-new-deal/

The Dem “old guard” is warming to the deal but I am not so sure that they can be trusted…….

Environmental activists received a reality check when newly empowered Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed aside demands for an environmental economic transition program— a Green New Deal, in favor of reviving a toothless committee to ‘study’ the problem. A transition program is needed to mitigate the economic dislocations that will result from resolving the multiple environmental crises currently underway.

The move by Democrats virtually guarantees that the political support needed to move such a transition forward will be undermined by the day-to-day needs of the economically precarious majority. Recent evidence in this direction comes from the French gilets jaunes (yellow vests) whose rebellion allegedly began in response to an environmental gasoline tax. The rebellion was opportunistically framed as against environmental resolution rather than who pays for it.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/01/democrats-killed-the-green-new-deal/

I read that the Senate Repubs wants a vote on the plan because they want the Dems on record before the 2020 elections so it can be used against the Dems…….the House Repubs are following suit……will the Dem leadership back away from any deal to protect their candidates and keep their donors?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/02/17/green-new-deal-gop-opposes-climate-plan/2860047002/

Once again politics trumps the good of the country….political games and political cowardice will rule the day.

Now is the time for these brave freshman reps to build a coalition in favor of the “Green New Deal” to counter the games the Repubs are playing…….

“The only solution that matches the scale of our multiple crises, including global warming, corporate control of our food system, income inequality, and the general decline of our environment and our democracy”

Progressive organizers are mobilizing behind the Green New Deal resolution—unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocastio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—with renewed energy to build “an unprecedented political coalition” to radically transform the nation’s energy system and address the climate crisis while also facilitating a just transition to a new, greener economy.

Since initial backers hailed the introduction of the historic resolution as a huge accomplishment on Thursday, a growing number of labor, economic justice, racial justice, indigenous, environmental, and community organizations have lined up behind the bold proposal and vowed to pressure lawmakers to pass it. The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has spearheaded grassroots organizing in favor of the deal, is planning more than 600 congressional office visits this week to garner support.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/11/now-time-be-bold-and-unapologetic-progressives-building-unprecedented-political

There are five goals, which the resolution says should be accomplished in a 10-year mobilization effort:

  • Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers
  • Create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States
  • Invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century
  • Secure for all people of the United States for generations to come: clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment
  • Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (“frontline and vulnerable communities”)

Now is the time for action….I salute those that have signed on to this plan….it can only do good for the country and its people.

Further Reading for those interested in learning more about the “Green New Deal”……..https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/15/the-green-new-deal-capitalism-and-the-state/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/factcheck/the-facts-on-the-green-new-deal/ar-BBTDUMW

Listen for the attacks or socialism for that is all the GOP will have….an old diatribe that has NO bearing on society of today.

Those Empty Slogans

Since I started this blog I have been writing about just how much I hate a politician’s empty slogans and promises.

The GOP candidates have, in the past, been the worse at silly slogans….Make America Great Again is one such bizarre and silly slogan (America has always been a great country just not so much as a society).

But since the Dems won the House I have noticed that they are starting to sling a slogan or two…..(this quote is from the WaPo that will do what it can to sabotage any progressive agenda this op-ed is a prime example)…..

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post thinks Democrats are starting to look like the Republicans of 2016, and she doesn’t mean that as a compliment. They’re “emphasizing empty slogans instead of evidence-based policy, rejecting experts in favor of cranks, handwaving away questions about implementation, and promising that an expensive policy will magically ‘pay for itself’ through economic growth,” writes Rampell. And one of those she calls out is a fellow millennial, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, specifically over the Green New Deal championed by the new congresswoman. That policy promises to save the environment by achieving carbon-emission targets that far exceed anything on the table so far, but the plan skips over the details on how to get there, along with any sacrifices that Americans would have to make.

AOC dismisses this kind of criticism by saying the plan will pay for itself by creating jobs, but that’s not nearly good enough, writes Rampell. She finds the same kind of “lazy sloganeering” present in “Medicare-for-all,” and thinks it’s a mistake because it comes at the expense of “vibrant, nuanced debate” on health care, tax policy, and climate policy. As for the 2016 comparison, it’s true that President Trump won the White House with some “empty slogans” of his own, writes Rampell. But “right now, Democrats still retain a monopoly on expertise and evidence-based policy,” she writes. “They should not relinquish it easily.” Click for the full column, in which Rampell takes issue with the Modern Monetary Theory that’s been gaining in popularity

I agree with the main point….that with silly slogans the Dems are slowly becoming the GOP……(could it be that they also think the American people is easily swayed by moronic slogans as does the GOP?)

The with this op-ed is that to have a rigorous debate you need a willing opponent and the Dems do have have such an opponent…all they have is the GOP and their silly slogan and lies.

I suggest the WaPo needs to call out one then call out all.

Space: Where No One Hears You Scream

I am one of the few people posting on the possibility of the creation of a new branch of the military……a Space Force or Corps. I am watching because I want to know how it will be funded and what services will suffer to do so.

Trump will soon approve the creation of this “Force”……

President Donald Trump will sign a directive on Tuesday to establish a new branch of the military dedicated to space but instead of being a fully independent department it will remain part of the Air Force to assuage concerns in Congress, a senior administration official told POLITICO.

The presidential directive, formally called Space Policy Directive 4, will set the groundwork for a subsequent legislative proposal for Congress, which will have the final say over what has been a signature military objective since Trump announced his intentions nearly a year ago.

 
DoD to request funds for the Space Force HQ as a starting point……
 

The Defense Department is expected to request approximately $270 million in its fiscal year 2020 budget to stand up a Space Force headquarters, a Space Development Agency and U.S. Space Command, according to draft documents.

The amount is modest compared to multibillion-dollar estimates that have been floated in the past several months. The 2020 request would cover the cost of setting up the Space Development Agency, U.S. Space Command and the Space Force headquarters — if and when Congress authorizes the establishment of the new branch. The Pentagon projects that the Space Force budget will increase over the next several years due to mission demands.

https://spacenews.com/pentagon-budget-proposal-funds-space-force-headquarters-as-a-starting-point/

If we are to have this unneeded Space Force then why are experts silent?

The last time the United States considered the creation of a new military service, there was an extensive debate within the military departments, Congress and the public sphere. Airpower’s great advocates, with names like Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, and Tooey Spaatz became established in the collective zeitgeist long before war-time exploits or Air Force base names would inscribe them more permanently to history.

There was an expectation that military members, as public servants and the experts on various forms of warfare, would have a voice in informing the debate. However, the ultimate decision to create an independent air force would be a political one. All service members, constitutionally beholden to civilian control, would then be expected to unquestioningly comply.  

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/429665-in-the-space-force-debate-the-militarys-space-experts-are-missing

There is so much BS swirling around this issue…..it is difficult to see who wants it and who is against it…..the one thing for sure….it will cost money we do not have.

Finally!  We now know why we need a “Space Force”…..Gay aliens!

Making a major announcement at the Pentagon on Thursday, Vice-President Mike Pence said that the proposed United States Space Force was necessary to defend the U.S. from gay aliens.

“I stand before you today to say that this country is under attack from outer-space gays,” Pence told the military gathering. “Only Space Force can protect us from their unimaginable evil.”

Pence detailed a nightmare scenario in which “gay aliens by the thousands” land in the U.S. in “seemingly cute spacecraft” and “subvert life in America as we know it.”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/pence-calls-space-force-necessary-to-protect-us-from-gay-aliens

SERIOUSLY!  READ THAT FROM OUR MENTAL MIDGET VP!

I glad to know that Trump will protect us from those damn “gay aliens”……how about you?

What price stupid?

Peace For Afghanistan?

After close to 18 years of US involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan there is a rumble of a possible peace within the country.

Personally, I say about damn time….what took so long?

An op-ed that appeared in Truthdig…….

It has been more than nine years since I resigned in protest over the escalation of the Afghan War from my position as a Political Officer with the US State Department in Afghanistan. It had been my third time to war, along with several years of working in positions effecting war policy in Washington, DC with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department. My resignation in 2009 was not taken lightly by my superiors and my reasons for opposing President Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan found support amongst both military officers and civilian officials at senior levels in Kabul and Washington.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/15/time-for-peace-in-afghanistan-

and-an-end-to-the-lies/

Peace may be a pipe dream for Afghanistan….but with that said what would it take to get peace for Afghanistan?

Peace may be offering…the legislative body of Afghanistan, the Jirga, will be meeting to discuss peace talks….

Afghan politicians and tribal, ethnic, and religious leaders are set to meet for at least four days next month to discuss negotiations with the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani’s special peace envoy has said.

Daudzai said that the consultative Loya Jirga will discuss the government’s “values and red lines” and will aim to come up with a framework for the Western-backed government in Kabul to engage in peace negotiations with the militant group.

https://www.rferl.org/amp/afghan-loya-jirga-to-convene-next-month-to-discuss-peace-talks/29781362.html

Constant military surveillance of Afghans yields almost no real intelligence about the problems they face each day. An unusual group of volunteers uses a far different approach.

 

 

Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family home in Kabul. When they were discovered, one of the robbers stabbed Hossein.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/15/what-it-really-takes-to-secure-peace-in-afghanistan/

I have been calling for an end for this madness…of course I am just a small voice in the wilderness but at least now there are more people seeing the need for an end to the war in Afghanistan for now all we are doing is throwing people and cash into a hole that will NEVER fill.

Give peace a chance….you might like it!