Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Five Years after the 2008 Financial Crisis

Just a quick post to share this link and point out that a recovery is in process despite the Republicans in Congress.  Imagine how much farther along we'd be if there had been bipartisan cooperation and no Republican obsession with defunding the Affordable Care Act.  And imagine how a government shutdown will affect the recovery for those of us not in the top 1%.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Banks Need to Have More Skin in the Game

If you only contact your US Representative and Senators about one thing this year, it should be about putting in place sensible banking regulations.

Check out this New York Times opinion piece to find out why:


Here's a sample:
Prudent banks would not lend to borrowers like themselves unless the risks were borne by someone else. But insured depositors, and creditors who expect to be paid by authorities if not by the bank, agree to lend to banks at attractive terms, allowing them to enjoy the upside of risks while others — you, the taxpayer — share the downside.
Implicit guarantees of government support perversely encouraged banks to borrow, take risk and become “too big to fail.” Recent scandals — JPMorgan’s $6 billion London trading loss, an HSBC money laundering scandal that resulted in a $1.9 billion settlement, and inappropriate sales of credit-card protection insurance that resulted, on Thursday, in a $2 billion settlement by British banks — suggest that the largest banks are also too big to manage, control and regulate.
NOTHING suggests that banks couldn’t do what they do if they financed, for example, 30 percent of their assets with equity (unborrowed funds) — a level considered perfectly normal, or even low, for healthy corporations. Yet this simple idea is considered radical, even heretical, in the hermetic bubble of banking.
When we deposit money in a bank, we are lending it to the bank and they invest it.  If banks were risking more of their own money (equity) and that of their shareholders' (potential dividends), they would be inclined to take fewer risks with our money.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Calling out Republican "Insurgents"

It's not just ideology on steroids, it's a plan.  A plan to sabotage the Obama administration.  It involves taking hostages - and they are us.


After you read this, you might just want to let Republicans in Congress know what you think.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Republicans in Congress are taking US health care in the wrong direction

OK, I get that Tea Party Republicans hate President Obama and are automatically against whatever he tries to do.  They have done and are doing everything imaginable to get rid of the Affordable Care Act / ObamaCare.  Then they point to delays in implementation of a few provisions of the ACA (which they helped cause by moves like the sequester of funds that's degrading services to all of us) as proof that ObamaCare should be repealed.

If you want to get the big picture of why the Affordable Care Act is so important for all of us, I recommend this video: http://www.iihealthcare.org/iihealthcare-blog/2011/8/31/the-future-of-us-healthcare.html. It's one you'll want to share with your representatives in Congress, especially those who think the private sector (insurance companies) is going to put the health of people above profits. Tell your representatives to back off and give ObamaCare a fair chance.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Problem Republicans Refuse to Address

Here's an excellent video explaining how the current situation of inequality in America developed.

Inequality exists, but it doesn't have to.  Tell Congress to fix it.  We'll have to lean heavily on Republicans because they don't think it's a problem.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Senator Carl Levin promises to tackle "secret money" before leaving at the end of his term

Although I'm sad to hear that Senator Carl Levin (D - MI) will not be running again in 2014, I'm happy to know that one of his priorities during the next two years is doing something about the "secret dollars" flowing into political campaigns.  From Senator Levin's recent email:
A third item I want to tackle is a growing blight on our political system that I believe I can help address: the use of secret money to fund political campaigns. Our tax laws are supposed to prevent secret contributions to tax exempt organizations for political purposes. My Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations needs to look into the failure of the IRS to enforce our tax laws and stem the flood of hundreds of millions of secret dollars flowing into our elections, eroding public confidence in our democracy.
In my opinion, "secret money" as well as big, but not-so-secret money is the main reason the Republicans in Congress are refusing to consider increasing revenue through closing tax loopholes that are essentially welfare for the wealthy and corporations.  As a result, average citizens have to bear cuts like these:  32 of the most damaging Sequester cuts.

Many of the biggest donors to Republicans, for example, the Koch brothers oil & gas barons,  do not like government and have an "I've got mine, to heck with the rest of you" attitude.  Their political agenda includes issues like these:
Repealing health care reform
Dismantling collective bargaining rights*
Fighting Wall Street reform
Keeping corporate money in elections
* Michigan becomes a "Right to Work" state later this month in large part because big money from the Kochs and Michigan's own Dick DeVos was used to bludgeon the Republicans with threats of funding "righter" candidates to run against them.
As Involved Voters, we need to get the message out about what happens when we let our government go up for sale to the highest bidder.  One dollar, one vote is the opposite of democracy and is counter to our Constitution.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wealthy-fare: THE Republican Priority

There's a perfect storm brewing for Michigan's middle and low income folks.  The components are the Republican's changes in the Michigan Tax Code and the plans that Congressional Republican's have for protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.

Read about the Michigan situation here:

And for information about what Republicans in Congress have in mind, check out this article and accompanying graphic:

Let your representatives at the State and Federal level know how the changes are affecting you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Separate the Electoral College Even More from the Popular Vote

Plans are afoot in Michigan (and elsewhere) to change how the State awards its electoral votes in presidential elections by dropping the winner-take-all system for one based on the winner of each of the state's congressional districts.

According to the plan, for the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Michigan would award 14 of its 16 electoral votes according to the U.S. House district lines drawn by Republicans in 2011 to favor Republican candidates. (As evidenced by the fact that almost twice as many Michigan citizens voted for Democratic candidates as for Republicans, but the Republicans won more of the races.)

Governor Rick Snyder has signaled he is willing to consider this major change in how electoral votes are allocated in Presidential elections.  He told The Associated Press for a story looking at Republican efforts to drop the winner-take-all system in states that have reliably gone for the Democratic presidential nominee in recent elections that he "could go either way."

Here's an example of what the change could mean: According to an analysis by Daily Kos, in 2012, Republican Mitt Romney would have won nine of the districts and President Barack Obama the other five, so Mr. Romney would have pulled nine electoral votes to seven for Mr. Obama, who won the state by 9.5 percentage points.

So, it's clear that the proposal to allot electoral votes by congressional district would run counter to the popular vote in a significant way.

If Synder hopes to be a Governor for ALL the people of Michigan, he'll quash this blatantly Republican-serving plan to do away with the winner-take-all system.  But, unless he hears strong protests from Involved Voters, I think he's likely to go with the flow and support the plan of fellow Republicans.

Update: For a satirical look at this topic, watch Stephen Colbert here: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/423114/january-22-2013/the-word---win--lose--or-redraw

President Obama's Inaugural Address

I listened to the President's Second Inaugural Address live and then watched and listened with colleagues at a get-together to celebrate our success in the 2012 campaign.  If there ever was a 20 minute speech worth multiple listens this is it: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address/

For an analysis of where the majority of voters stand on some of the areas the President highlighted during the address - climate change, marriage equality, voting rights, immigration and gun violence, you can take a look at this blog post: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/what-does-public-support-in-obamas-second-inaugural-speech/

One thing I took away from the President's address is that "we, the people" need to get to work to make  our law-makers responsive to us, and to do what we can to ensure that everyone in America can realize the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ignore the "US government is spending too much" hype

Involved voters have reason to ignore Senator Mich McConnell, Alan Simpson and Ersine Bowles when they say the real problem is spending.

Check out these recent blog posts in which Kevin Drum at Mother Jones and Samuel Knight at the Washington Monthly's Political Animal expose them for the ideologues they are.

Drum provides the data and states:
The facts are pretty clear. Spending isn't our big problem. The recession spike of 2008 aside, it's about the same as it was 30 years ago. But instead of paying for that spending, we've repeatedly cut taxes, which are now at their lowest level in half a century. Tax revenue will go up as the economy improves, but even five years from now it will still be lower than it was when Reagan took office. 
So what's our real problem? That's simple: America is getting older and healthcare costs are rising. That means we'll need to spend more money in the future on Social Security and Medicare. There's simply no way around that unless we're willing to immiserate our elderly, and that's not going to happen.

According to Knight:
Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles - co-founders of the corporate lobby Campaign to Fix the Debt ... argue that the national debt is a reason to gut the welfare state. ... 
But they and their disciples couldn’t be more wrong. The U.S. government has no “spending problem” from a macroeconomist’s point of view. Of course, the country can’t indefinitely continue to borrow more than it earns, but the idea that we must somehow tackle debt by cutting spending — and do it right now — is voodoo economics of the highest order.
For spending to be an immediate problem, it would have to be problematic.
Yet interest rates are rock bottom and aren’t expected to rise anytime soon, and demand for U.S. Treasury bonds remains high.
Thus, government spending appears to be having no averse effect on financial markets, which, according to Treasury yields, actually seem to think that lending the U.S. government money is a wise idea. The debt “crisis” is only caused by a “spending problem” when one considers government spending to be an issue from an ideological standpoint.

Tell your friends and family how bogus the "spending problem/debt crisis" talk is.  Contact your US Senator and Representative.   Tell them that increasing revenue (especially through taxes on the super-rich) needs to continue to be on the table.  And back up the President when he goes to bat for the middle class and those who are in danger of falling out of it.