Today Is The Day!

Hold your breathe for today is going to be interesting….or even comical….either way the theater will be massive…..

Today’s a milestone day for the Treasury Department, though it’s one it had hoped wouldn’t arrive. Thursday marks when the United States is expected to hit its $31.4 trillion debt cap, a borrowing limit set by Congress that means Treasury will now have to get creative with other ways to pay the nation’s bills. Per the New York Times, the development is expected to set off a contentious debt-ceiling fight between Democrats, who want to lift the cap, and Republicans, who say no way unless President Biden OKs significant spending cuts. “At a moment of heightened partisanship and divided government, it is … a warning of the entrenched partisan battles that are set to dominate Washington in the months to come, and that could end in economic shock,” the paper notes. More on what’s ahead:

  • A feud that may ‘cross the Rubicon’: That’s how Axios paints the “fraught and perilous” debate, in which it anticipates neither side will do much negotiating. That’s not good news when the US is perched on the precipice of a recession. The outlet notes it could also be “an avatar of what some have argued is a US democracy that’s become increasingly polarized, ungovernable, incapable of tackling major challenges—and could be on the verge of outright destabilization.”
  • What it means for Americans: CNN notes that “every American could feel the pain” of what’s to come, and USA Today delves further into the ways the debt-ceiling fight could impact our finances, from how it will affect tax refunds and 401(k) accounts to what it means for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  • What it means for investors: The New York Times offers its take on where to put your money during such turbulent times. One takeaway: Sticking with stocks and bonds over the long haul will probably serve you well.
  • Looking to the past for precedent: CNN takes a look back at other debt standoffs, including in 1995, when the debt was a mere $4.9 trillion. NPR, meanwhile, talks to two key players during the 2011 debt-ceiling impasse—Jason Furman, an economic adviser to then-President Obama, and Rohit Kumar, an adviser to Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican that year—to see if there are lessons to be gleaned.
  • But this isn’t 2011: Participants in a roundtable discussion at the Times note that things are very different than they were a decade ago—including “a worrying trend of edging closer and closer to red lines because lawmakers think there’s political benefit and that there won’t actually be consequences.” In other words, it’s become a high-stakes game of chicken that could have far-reaching repercussions.

Let the games begin!

House GOP will inflict as much pain as they can on Americans…..

Thursday, January 19, 2023 as the day the United States is likely to reach its debt limit, although she has also said that she can keep the federal government open through June by resorting to “extraordinary measures.” Yellen has stressed that the sooner Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Republicans can reach some type of agreement on the debt ceiling, the better. But the two major parties appear to be at a stalemate in the House, where Freedom Caucus and Tea Party Republicans are demanding major spending cuts and Democrats are maintaining that vital programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should not be on the chopping block.

Meanwhile, countless economists are warning that if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations, the results would be disastrous economically and trigger a painful recession. Liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column, has warned that House Republicans are happy to risk a financial calamity in the hope of butchering Social Security and Medicare. And Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes has argued that House Republicans aren’t being “fiscally conservative” when they play “chicken” with the U.S. economy and risk a default on the United States’ debt obligations — they’re being reckless and irresponsible.

https://www.alternet.org/debt-ceiling-2659280721/

May I suggest that you invest in some Vaseline and just bend over….for the Repubs are coming.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

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Government Will Be Up And Running

As the year comes to an end the Congress did what it was suppose to do….and the president signed the spending bill in a flourish….

President Biden on Thursday signed a $1.7 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government operating through the end of the budget year in September 2023. Biden had a late Friday deadline to sign the bill to avert a partial government shutdown, the AP reports. The White House said the bill was sent to the president on a commercial flight to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, where Biden is vacationing, per CNN. The bill will “invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, (Violence Against Women Act) funding—and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted, adding, “Looking forward to more in 2023.”

A $1.7 trillion spending bill financing federal agencies through September and providing more aid to a devastated Ukraine cleared the House on Friday as lawmakers race to finish their work for the year and avoid a partial government shutdown. The bill passed mostly along party lines, 225-201. It now goes to President Biden to be signed into law, per the AP. Passage of the bill represented a closing act for Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s second stint as House speaker, and for the Democratic majority she led back to power in the 2018 election. Republicans will take control of the House next year and Rep. Kevin McCarthy is campaigning to replace her.

He is appealing for support from staunch conservatives in his caucus who have largely trashed the size of the bill and many of the priorities it contains. He spoke with a raised voice for about 25 minutes, assailing the bill for spending too much and doing too little to curb illegal immigration and the flow of fentanyl across the US-Mexico border. “This is a monstrosity that is one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen in this body,” McCarthy said of the legislation. The speech prompted a quick quip from Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who said “after listening to that, it’s clear he doesn’t have the votes yet,” a reference to McCarthy’s campaign to become speaker.

The bill runs for 4,155 pages, not including amendments the Senate added. It contains about a 6% percent increase in spending for domestic initiatives, to $772.5 billion. Spending on defense programs will increase by about 10% to $858 billion. The massive bill wraps together 12 appropriations bills, aid to Ukraine, and disaster relief for communities recovering from hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. Lawmakers provided roughly $45 billion for Ukraine and NATO allies, more than even Biden requested, an acknowledgment that future rounds of funding are not guaranteed with a new GOP-led House.

It is such good news….we can have a government for another few months…..

Let me ask…..what part of massive cash for Ukraine will keep our government working?

I hear a lot of guff about how there is too much pork in these types of bills….and yet they say nothing about this bit of pork belly.  Why?

One last question that never gets asked and when it is there is never an answer.

Just what does the US expect in return for our ‘investment’ in Ukraine?

(Pause here for the sound of crickets)

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Christmas Eve–2022

First I am recovering from my massive head cold and since it is Christmas Eve I will post only one today so that I can catch up on my holiday prep….

The 06 January Committee has just finished their investigation and the findings are sent to the publishers (and I await the day)….but for those that actually care there are a few of the most glaring findings that can be shared before the publication…..

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack released its final report Thursday, saying the main cause of the attack was “one man.” They wrote that former President Donald Trump “put the lives of American lawmakers at risk” and threatened American democracy by trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and encouraging his most extreme supporters to march on the Capitol. Some key takeaways:

  • Trump spread claims he had been told were untrue. The report found that Trump’s false declaration of victory on election night was “premeditated” and in the months afterward, he continued to spread fraud claims that his top advisers had told him were untrue, the BBC reports. Former aide Hope Hicks testified that Trump himself mocked some of the “crazy” claims made by lawyer Sidney Powell, reports the New York Times. The committee found that Trump’s claims and his Dec. 19 “Be there, will be wild” tweet brought extremists to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6.
  • Far-right groups led the attack. The report found that the first wave of rioters to enter the Capitol was “disproportionately comprised of members of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, QAnon fanatics and so-called ‘Groypers’ loyal to Nick Fuentes” per Politico. The report said that calling the attack a riot was “partly true.” “Some of those who trespassed on the Capitol’s grounds or entered the building did not plan to do so beforehand” the report said. “But it is also true that extremists, conspiracy theorists and others were prepared to fight. That is an insurrection.”
  • Trump failed to act and seemed to approve of riot. The report documented how Trump watched the attack unfold on television, resisting calls to urge his supporters to stop the violence and failing to instruct federal law enforcement agencies to assist besieged officers from the Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police. “Potus im sure is loving this,” Trump aide Robert Gabriel said in a text message during the attack, per the Washington Post.
  • Trump corruptly sought to overturn election. The panel set out details of Trump’s plot to overturn the election results, including how he pressured then-Vice President Pence to refuse to count electoral results and sought to corrupt the Department of Justice by trying to goad DOJ officials into making false statements in support of his effort, the Guardian reports.
  • “Should we just deploy now and resign tomorrow?” The report details how law enforcement failed to share or act on warnings of potential violence ahead of the riot and describes the frustration of the DC National Guard as the riot unfolded and they were not called in. It said the guard’s commander, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, said at one point, “Shall we just deploy now and resign tomorrow?” per the New York Times.
  • Key recommendations. Beyond criminal charges for Trump, the panel recommended banning the former president from holding public office in the future, the Hill reports. It also called for tougher oversight of the Capitol Police, greater subpoena powers for Congress, and for the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes to be declared a national security special event. The report said Congress should investigate the “policies of media companies that have had the effect of radicalizing their consumers, including by provoking people to attack their own country.”

Now you know…..

Watch this blog for more information.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Merry Christmas

Battling Crazies

It is not much of a secret that I have little use for babbling buffoons in our Congress…..and 2 of the biggest and loudest babblers are MTG of Georgia and Boebert of Colorado….

They are two high-profile congresswomen on the right who might be mistaken for what Politico calls “MAGA twins” from a distance. But friction between Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado has spilled into public in a big way in recent days. It began when Boebert was asked whether she is on board with Greene’s support of Kevin McCarthy to be the next House speaker. “I’ve been aligned with Marjorie and accused of believing a lot of the things that she believes in,” Boebert said. “I don’t believe in this just like I don’t believe in … Jewish space lasers.” The latter is a shot at a widely ridiculed conspiracy theory (the lasers were supposedly causing California wildfires) that Greene once floated on Facebook, per Insider.

Greene quickly fired back in a heated Twitter thread. “I’ve supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. President Trump has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. Kevin McCarthy has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. She just barely came through by 500 votes,” Greene wrote, referring to her colleague’s close reelection victory. “She gladly takes our $$$ but when she’s been asked: Lauren refuses to endorse President Trump, she refuses to support Kevin McCarthy, and she childishly threw me under the bus for a cheap sound bite.” Greene also accused Boebert of taking part in “high school drama.”

The Politico story adds that such friction goes back to at least April, when the pair got into an argument at a House Freedom Caucus forum over Greene’s attendance at a white nationalist rally. “Their confrontation grew so heated that at least one onlooker feared the Greene-Boebert back-and-forth might escalate beyond the verbal cage match had another board member not stepped in to de-escalate,” per the story, which adds that Boebert “detests” being linked to Greene. The Colorado congresswoman has not responded to the Greene criticism. The Daily Beast notes that both women, seated near other, famously heckled President Biden during his State of the Union speech earlier this year

Could this be a set-up for a truly disturbing Congress in 2023?

To me it will be nothing more than theatrics and a disruption in the proceedings.

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Ever Had One Of Those Days?

This week is not a couple of days that Trump would not envision for himself.

The closing down of the investigation into 06 January, his taxes and one of his major supporters…..

Former President Trump will very much be in the headlines again this week, in ways he probably won’t like. “Taken together, this week will point a spotlight on both Mr. Trump’s refusal to cede power and the issue that he has most acutely guarded for decades, the actual size of his personal wealth and his sources of income,” writes Maggie Haberman in the New York Times.

Jan. 6 panel: The House panel investigating the Capitol riot has what is expected to be its final public meeting at 1pm Monday. The panel is poised to recommend criminal charges against Trump, per the AP, though the final decision rests with the Justice Department. “I think the president has violated multiple criminal laws and I think you have to be treated like any other American who breaks the law,” panel member Adam Schiff, a Democrat, said on CNN. And on Wednesday, the panel is expected to release its final report before dissolving.

  • Taxes: On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will debate behind closed doors whether to publicly release the six years of Trump’s tax returns it obtained after years of legal wrangling, per the New York Times. Any such release would likely happen before the end of the year, while Democrats still control the House.
  • Proud Boys: Members of the pro-Trump group the Proud Boys, including founder Enrique Tarrio, go on trial Monday for their role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, per CBS News. The men are accused of seditious conspiracy for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election results in favor of Trump.

Not good news for Trump…..but with that said I do not expect much to stick to our teflon don…..

By now all have heard of those trading cards and all the accusations swirling around them…..

Surely, this will come as a huge surprise, but the new NFT trading cards unveiled by former president Donald Trump this week to immediate ridicule also just happens to have a dubious provenance. And although the company behind the cards is still shrouded in mystery, it traces back to another third-party company known for registering shell companies.

Neither Trump himself nor the Trump Organization has anything to do with the cards. Instead, his likeness is being licensed through a company called NFT International LLC from another mysterious venture called CIC Ventures. And as New York Times reporter Ken Bensinger points out, the mailing address for CIC Ventures just so happens to be that of the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

“The company that licensed Trump’s image and likeness for the $99 NFT trading cards appears to be one founded in 2021 by former Trump advisor Nick Luna and current Trump lawyer John Marion,” Bensinger tweeted on Thursday, noting the suspicious mailing address.

The company behind Donald Trump’s NFT trading cards shockingly has mysterious and shady roots

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Nothing For Child Poverty

I go and on about the amount of taxpayer dollars being thrown at Ukraine when that cash is needed here and now.

The Congress has authorized almost a trillion dollars (that is a “T”) for the Pentagon but when a bill to help fight child poverty….and it failed.

Congressional Republicans happily teamed up with Democrats this month to authorize $858 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year, but the GOP is refusing to even consider proposals to revive the Child Tax Credit expansion that lifted millions of kids out of poverty last year—even though bringing the program back would cost a fraction of the Pentagon outlay.

A spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told HuffPost earlier this week that Republicans have thus far been unwilling to negotiate over the Child Tax Credit (CTC) boost, which they unanimously opposed when it was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan last year.

“Republicans have refused to engage at all on the Child Tax Credit,” said Ashley Schapitl. “In fact they made clear they would not negotiate on any deal that includes the child tax credit.”

Leading Republicans readily confirmed their refusal to consider the CTC boost as part of an end-of-year tax package. With the 60-vote Senate filibuster intact, Democrats need the support of at least 10 Republicans to revive the expanded CTC in some form.

“As of right now there’s no support for that on the Republican side,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told HuffPost.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), one of the 176 House Republicans who voted in favor of the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act last week, declared that “the country frankly doesn’t have the time or the money for the partisan, expensive provisions such as [the] Child Tax Credit.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/12/17/congress-just-passed-858-billion-military-budget-gop-blocking-12-billion-fight-child

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of just 11 senators to vote against the NDAA, lamented that the bill provides the military with “many billions more than Congress has invested in addressing many of the biggest security concerns facing the American people—such as climate change, the opioid epidemic, poverty, hunger, and disease.”

“Instead, it doubles down on the failed approach of pouring money into a bloated, inefficient, and sometimes counterproductive national security machine underwritten by an army of lobbyists and gold-plated contractors that fails to deliver on the needs of the American people,” Markey added. “I simply cannot support it.”

I just wish that the American people cared more about their neighbors than some made up BS that needs our money thrown at it…..while that cheer for military victories they allow children to go hungry…..very disturbing at the lack of empathy.

This is so sad.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Medicare Advantage Plans

I know you have seen those Medicare Advantage plans on TV…..I have written what I think about these plans…in short a con job to separate seniors from their money….

Those MediCare Advantage Plans

It appears that Congress will attempt to investigate these scams….

The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed a ban on misleading ads for Medicare Advantage plans that have targeted older Americans and, in some cases, persuaded them to sign up for plans that don’t cover their doctors or prescriptions. The rule, proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would prohibit ads that market Medicare Advantage plans with confusing words, imagery, or logos. The rule also would ban ads that don’t specifically mention a health insurance plan by name, the AP reports.

It’s an aggressive step to tackle a growing problem in the Medicare Advantage marketplace, a booming business that offers privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for people who are 65 and older or have disabilities. Nearly half of all Medicare enrollees—about 28 million—are now turning to Medicare Advantage plans. And some have been deceived by television commercials, online ads, and mailers put out by the marketing agencies and brokers that some insurers have hired to win over customers. The proposed rule “takes important steps to hold Medicare Advantage plans accountable for providing high quality coverage and care to enrollees,” said agency Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement.

The problem has become so pervasive that CMS agents have been secretly shopping for plans by calling the phone numbers in advertisements, finding in some cases that brokers have overstated the benefits that enrollees would get and the money they would save in the new plans. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee released an investigative report last month showing that several states also reported an increase in complaints about deceptive marketing schemes in 2021. “These proposals are an important step towards protecting seniors in Medicare from scammers and unscrupulous insurance companies and brokers,” the committee’s chairman, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Will this put a stop to these types of scams or is it just going through the motions to look like the government actually cares?

Whatcha think?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What Can We Expect From The New Congress?

To begin a cartoon by Pat Bagley….

Let the Games Begin | Pat Bagley

2023 will give this country a new Congress and a divided Congress….but what can we expect from this division?

With Republicans gaining control of the House by the narrowest of majorities and Democrats retaining control of the Senate, the midterm elections have sent the United States back to a divided Congress.

This may put pressure on obstinate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to compromise so Congress can get a few things passed before the end of the year — namely abortion protections and voting rights, as they’ve been supportive of efforts to codify same-sex marriage protections — while Democrats still lead both houses, says Sunshine Hillygus, political science professor at Duke University.

Come January, Hillygus predicts that not many bills will get passed. “I don’t see a lot of room for forward progress.”

“It’s not just a matter of a stalemate,” she says, explaining that the presidential campaigns of 2024 are starting, and she expects that lawmakers in Congress will be focused on helping their party win favor. “This is why you’re likely to see a Republican House focus on investigating the Biden administration. It’s why you might see a lot of bills get proposed that actually have no shot of actually ever being passed — it becomes an issue of signaling and trying to keep particular issues on the agenda.”

https://people.com/politics/divided-congress-performative-gridlock/

In other words we can expect nothing of substance coming out of the Congress in 2023…headline grabbing bullsh*t….more theater….more antics…..more drama with no basis.

Many of us have many things to be thankful for during this season….but a new Congress will not be one of those things.

Whatcha think?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Foreign Policy And The Mid-Terms

The 2022 mid-terms is almost complete and the House will switch to the GOP and the Senate remains in Dem hands….with the results it may bring change in our foreign policy….

Mid-term elections rarely deal with foreign policy, and this year’s mid-terms were no exception.  However, the elections will have consequences for U.S. foreign policy, and the Biden administration could exploit various openings if it acted “outside the box.”  There is room for President Joe Biden to take new initiatives in the field of national security, even as Republicans are poised to take over the House of Representatives.  Biden’s domestic and legislative agendas are essentially dead on arrival with Rep. Kevin McCarthy or any of his troglodyte colleagues as Speaker of the House.  Biden knows, moreover, that forward movement on foreign policy is less difficult than advancing a liberal domestic agenda.

First of all, the mid-terms will affect Biden’s agenda for Ukraine, particularly the ability to continue the current pace of military assistance to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Since the war began nearly nine months ago, the Biden administration has authorized and the Congress has approved more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine. McCarthy has already stated that a Republican-led House would be unwilling to approve “blank check” assistance to Ukraine.  Three of the leading Republican supporters of military assistance to Ukraine—Rob Portman (OH), Richard Burr (NC), and Ben Sasse (NE)—are leaving the Senate, and the Republican leadership in 2023 will be far more concerned with beating up the Biden administration over the withdrawal from Afghanistan than with challenging the Russian occupation of Ukraine.

The mainstream media as well as the British Economist believe that Russia needs to suffer a decisive defeat in Ukraine so that Vladimir Putin’s failure is unambiguous, but it is already obvious—even to some Russian politicians and oligarchs—that Moscow has failed miserably.  Continuing the war could lead to an expanded conflict that involves the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), particularly the United States, and could lead to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.  If Ukraine suffers greater economic losses, then there is great risk to the kind of democracy that Zelensky and his colleagues say they want to create.  Greater conflict will also test the patience of West and East European states that will have to get through the winter with limited access to Russian oil and natural gas.

It is time to talk.  Ironically, it is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, who has been the most outspoken about getting to the negotiating table.  It is wrong for the military adviser to the president to go public with policy advocacy, but in this case his ideas deserve a sounding within the National Security Council.

The Mid-Term Elections And American Foreign Policy

Personally I would like to see a major change in our foreign policy but I am not very optimistic basically because the defense people have lobbyists with buckets of money to throw at our members of Congress…so change, in my opinion, will e very little and as usual too late.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–28Sep22

Since 06 January there have been many attempts to try and make sure that the insurrection could never happen again…..and at every turn the GOP has blocked all attempts…..

Recently…..The Presidential Election Reform Act, written by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), seeks to prevent presidents from manipulating the Electoral Count Act like former President Donald Trump attempted to do as part of his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

The measure passed by a vote of 229-203, with every House Democrat present voting in favor. Only nine House Republicans joined them. All nine are leaving Congress after this term, either because they lost primary challenges or are retiring.

In addition to Cheney, they are Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jamie Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Peter Meijer (Mich.), Tom Rice (S.C.), and Fred Upton (Mich.).

“To all those who oppose this legislation, I ask you, how could anyone vote against free and fair elections—the cornerstone of our constitution?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—who leads a party that has repeatedly fought to keep more progressive challengers off ballots and out of debates across the country—said Wednesday on the House floor.

“How could anyone vote against our founders’ vision: placing power in the hands of the people?” she added. “How could anyone vote against their own constituents, allowing radical politicians to rip away their say in our democracy?”

In a swipe at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rep. Marc Pocan (D-Wis.) tweeted that the newly passed bill “eliminates loopholes insurrectionists tried to exploit on January 6th—even for those who only spent ‘a couple seconds’ trying to overthrow democracy.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/09/21/siding-insurrectionists-203-house-republicans-vote-no-coup-prevention-bill

How many so-called “Leftists” have been jailed for a “few seconds” of dissension?

Can we really quantify the attempt to overthrow democracy?

I weep for this country and its representation.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”