Friday, August 12, 2016

Should Presidential candidates be psychologically tested?

Donald Trump mocking handicapped
Maybe it goes without saying that Americans would prefer their President to be psychologically healthy.  But how do we know if our nominees are sane for sure?

One could postulate that anyone running for President is by definition psychologically healthy.  After all, being in front of the public exposes all of your abilities and frailties. It should be easy to spot someone who lives in a fantasy world or by their actions has other psychological problems deserving of a trip to the insane asylum.  How could a psychologically unfit candidate ever get by that scrutiny?

Perhaps there is a type of person who can pass that scrutiny even though they are not truly psychologically healthy.  If there is one such type of person in this election year, my guess is that is Donald Trump.  Now, I am not a psychologist or mental health worker, so my observations are based on my own bias on what I think normal is.

But it is also based on the findings of a group of seventy Republicans who have petitioned the RNC to discontinue funding for their Presidential nominee.  The members of this group have worked with Republicans throughout previous administrations and they enumerate a number of observations they have made about the statements of the candidate that seem to give credence to the questionable state of his psychological health.

Their letter includes the observations below:

  • Attacking Gold Star families of soldiers who died serving their country. 
  • Urging a hostile country to intervene in a U.S. election.
  • Suggesting that gun owners take action against his opponent if she is elected.
  • Repudiating our NATO treaty obligations to protect our allies.
  • Reportedly expressing interest in the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.
  • Exposing his total ignorance of basic foreign policy matters.
  • Stating his admiration for violent foreign autocrats.
  • Refusing to release any of his past income taxes including those not under audit.
  • Deliberately and repeatedly lying about scores of issues, large and small
  • His campaign is built on anger and exclusion where he has mocked and offended millions of voters including the disabled, women, Muslims, immigrants and minorities.
  • He has shown dangerous authoritative tendencies including threats to ban an entire religion from the country, ordering the military to break the law by torturing prisoners, killing families of suspected terrorists, tracking law abiding Muslim citizens in a database, and using executive orders to commit other illegal and unconstitutional acts.
  • Waging battle with other Republicans with his own super PAC and openly refusing to support Republican candidates.
It is also based on the opinion of 50 former Republican administration security experts that say Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of Americans.

If you believe that Donald Trump would be a good President, ask yourself why you are supporting him.  Could it be that he appeals to the skeletons in your own closet?  Perhaps he appeals to your secretly hidden worst nature.  Many of his supporters say he is just like one of them.  Does this mean that you are OK with the above list?  If not, then perhaps you are supporting the wrong candidate.

But I digress.  Perhaps it is time for Congress to enact legislation that requires all Presidential candidates to pass a psychological test before we allow them to run for office.  It appears that in this election, if we leave it up to the people to decide, it is quite possible that a person who should be in a mental hospital could wind up being President.

Then again, maybe we should just not vote for Republicans for any office.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Living in the past, Trump reincarnates Reagan trickle down plan as most forward looking policy for America

Trump speaking in Detroit
Today, Donald Trump gave some specifics about his Tax plan, among other subjects, if he were elected President.  I review here what the major features of his plan includes.

Trump believes that taxes are the biggest differentiation between him and Hillary.  He repeated his campaign's rhetoric and false claim that Hillary says she will increase taxes on the middle class.

Overall, his approach to taxes is to reduce them for most people, but especially for the wealthy and Corporate America.  Although he stated that he is the future thinking of American taxes, his tax plan is to reactivate the 1980's Reagan trickle down economic policy, which many argue does not increase the number of jobs, or give wage increases to workers.  What it does do is pad the bank accounts of the extremely rich.  He spoke nothing about minimum wage increases.

The "trickle down" policy is cited as one of the major reasons for the redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich which caused today's income inequality.  Most of his recommendations would reduce revenue to run the Federal government and likely increase the deficit unless severe cuts are made to the social safety net or other programs thought unworthy by a Republican Congress.

For example,  Donald Trump admits that the tax code is extremely complicated but does not mention how the tax code would change, other than by reducing the number of tax brackets from seven down to three.  The three brackets would be 12%, 25% and 33%.

Donald believes that taxes and regulation on Corporate America have had the most adverse impact on reducing the GDP.  Further, he believes that reducing the already highest business tax rate of all western countries from 35% to 15% will improve the economy and spur on business investments and job growth.  The problem with that statement is that 2/3 of all businesses pay no taxes and those that do, have their taxes reduced through exemptions, deductions and off-shore tax havens to about 12.6%.  If reduction in Corporate taxes had any long term impact on increasing jobs or increasing wages, we should have already seen it.  We have not.

Not stopping there to improve the lives of the wealthy, Mr. Trump also advocates elimination of estate taxes.  This was received by a large round of applause from the audience, who apparently either are very rich themselves or do not understand that estate taxes are not paid by any family having less than a $10.8 million estate.

Mr. Trump indicates that the rich will pay their fair share of taxes, but this is very subjective.  Mr. Trump did not get into details on what constitutes a fair share.  For example, if a Corporate CEO who enjoys a $15 million annual income shelters $14 million of it in offshore tax shelters, does he pay tax on the $15 million or $1 million?  Even if he finds legal ways to protect most of that income, what constitutes a fair share?

One tax advantage offered that could favor working women is elimination of all child care expenses from taxes.  Again no specifics but on the surface, it appears that provided you have a job and a child in day care, your child care costs might be deductible from your gross income and not be subject to a tax.  The average cost of child care for working women is about $200 per week, so this has the potential to save over $10,000 from being taxed.  We'll have to see how a Republican Congress would find this proposal, but if history is any indicator, Republicans are not very generous appropriating money for such social reasons.

For example, on the subject of equal pay, if Republicans in Congress passed equal pay legislation, women's wages would be increased by about 30%, potentially increasing the take home pay by much more than $10,000.  That has been rejected by Republicans more than once.  My guess is that Trump's child care deduction will be solidly rejected if Republicans stay in control of Congress.

Donald indicates that more about his tax policies can be found on his website.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The economy is why don't I feel it?

Led by Donald Trump, a familiar claim of the Republican party is that Obama has made the economy far worse than ever. However, the economy has actually improved, especially after the Bush financial crisis was resolved by the Obama administration. But this fact does not ring true with many workers in the middle class.  

And therein lies the strength of the Republican strategy to convince people of their false statements about the economy.  As a whole, the middle class has truly not participated in the economic improvements and large cash in-flows enjoyed by the financially top 1% of society.

The reason for this is simple to explain and has nothing to do with the Obama Administration or the new Democratic platform.

If you are a middle class worker, you have a job.  The salary you got when you took that job was between you and your boss.  The government currently has no control over the wages that you are paid by your employer, except if you are a minimum wage worker.  State legislatures set the minimum wage that your employer cannot legally go below.  But there is no governmental requirement for an employer to increase your pay at any time.  Whether you get a pay increase at all, depends on the policies of the executives running your employer's company.  In the distant past, employers used to treat employees to annual raises, the amount of which depended on how well you met your job objectives.  Today however, regardless of how well you do your job, your employer may still not increase your pay.

Prior to the Reagan administration, some middle class workers enjoyed protections on living wages by their union membership.  Labor unions were started under a Democratic administration at a time when business executives put profits before people in the worst way.  

Before labor unions, many company executives treated workers with contempt and disrespect.  Hours were long.  Safe working conditions were not a consideration.  Weekend work was expected. If you got a vacation it was not paid.  Children were put to work in factories as executives of manufacturing companies took advantage of families that could not afford to eat during the depression unless their children worked. Some workers were killed during strikes against unfair labor practices.

As soon as they gained back the Presidency, the Republicans worked hard to reverse workers gains received from labor unions.  This effort continues even today and has resulted in the demise of union membership.  Today, less than 25% of workers belong to unions and the Republicans are still trying to get rid of unions altogether.  Their "Right to Work" legislation is being promoted as a positive measure to help workers, but in reality it is just another Republican lie to reduce current Union membership and reduce workers rights and wages.   Republican legislators have argued that the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that is the only help workers have with grievances against their boss, be dissolved from the federal government.  Republican legislators have refused to increase the federally mandated minimum wage.  They have legislated for increased work visas for lower paid foreigners to take American jobs.  Working for their true constituents, the Republican party has assisted the wealthy by devaluing workers and ensuring that workers wages do not impact the corporate bottom line.

Labor to an executive is an expense.  It costs the company money and reduces the profits.  The profits are for the executives and the owners and not something shared with workers in most companies.  A large part of business management's responsibility is to reduce costs so there is always downward pressure on wages. In a society that found slavery as a viable alternative to more expensive labor, it is fairly apparent that in a capitalistic society the powerful value profits over people.

Your employer has enjoyed the benefits of the economic progress made by the Obama administration, but has not shared the profits with you.  Your wages could be increased since there is plenty of cash in the coffers of Corporate America, but your employers have decided against it.  That is why you have not been feeling the benefits of economic gains being realized by the rich.  

For the last thirty years, the share of the economic gains received by the top 1% of society have exceeded those that most workers have received by nearly 300 times.  If you have been employed for more than 20 years, you may remember a time when annual raises were a thing.  Today, most corporations have eliminated annual raises and increased the competition between fellow workers in order to keep their workers more productive and content with having a job with no increase in wages.  With foreign workers visas being increased yearly, American workers today are always fearful that their company may have another lay-off, in which they might lose their job to lesser paid foreigners unless they out-work their fellow employees and don't complain about their wages.

Ultimately, you are not feeling the improvement in the economy because of the greed of your bosses.  They have received the benefits, which one could say are the result of your labor, since no company is made profitable by its non-human elements.   

Nearly 75% of the economy is from consumer purchases.  The other 25% is from government spending. The Republicans want to keep your wages low and reduce the federal government.  Both tactics will reduce the economy for all socio-economic classes.  The Republicans are married to the "trickle-down" theory where you give the economic benefits to the rich and they will create more jobs.  This is a total farce that has hurt the middle class for over the last 35 years.  The only thing their economic theory has caused is a redistribution of wealth to the top 1%.  Jobs don't get created if demand does not warrant it and simply giving tax breaks and exemptions to the rich does not increase demand.

The Democrats want to improve the economy from the middle class out, which will improve the economy from the consumer side.  This will ultimately benefit the rich as well since consumers with more money can buy more things.

When you vote this November, remember that Donald Trump is not an island to himself, but rather the culmination of historic Republican obstruction and erroneous economic policies that contributes to your inability to make gains from the improvement in the economy.  If you are middle class, you should not want Republicans in state or federal office.

Vote for Democrats for all political offices to eliminate the obstruction in Washington and give America back to the middle class.  Only then will workers make progress against the powers that otherwise would hold them down.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Hillary, Paul and Donald and the Further Decline of American Democracy

The GOP has led the attack on Democracy in so many ways, it is surprising that their voting base has not noticed.  Perhaps they are too ignorant to notice or maybe in their deepest, darkest thoughts, they knowingly go along with it.

A few of the many examples of GOP actions against Democracy exist such as legislating unnecessary voting rights restrictions,  eliminating discussion of gun control legislation, preventing the staffing of the Supreme Court and other judge appointments, legislating against the civil rights act, violating citizen protections of the constitution, preventing certain minorities from getting health insurance and the obstruction of the normal functioning of the federal government.  The GOP fight with the government has been a fight against the rights of ordinary American citizens and against Democracy.

Hillary Clinton
Some may think that Hillary Clinton is not an ordinary citizen, and in many ways she is not, but she is also protected by those same rights found in our constitution as any other American.  Today, after a long and controversial investigation regarding her handling of a private server and classified emails, the FBI has found that there was no "intent" to commit a crime.  In such cases, the FBI considers not only the act that occurred, but also the element of "intent.  Without both of these clearly identified, there is no possibility of charges being brought against her.

Paul Ryan
In a statement he presented after the announcement by the FBI Director James Comey, Paul Ryan advocated for prosecution of citizens without just cause.  Ryan stated that not prosecuting Clinton would set a "terrible precedent."  In reality, what Ryan calls for would set the terrible precedent.  Imagine a government official calling for the prosecution of a person based on Republican suspicion.  This eliminates the rule of law which Comey describes and instead institutes a lynch mob mentality based on suspicion.

Donald Drumpf
Someone else in the Republican party has previously mentioned a similar thing when it comes to capturing and killing the family of ISIS terrorists.  That person is the presumptive Presidential nominee and leader of the Republican party, Donald Trump.  Needless to say, Republican leaders everywhere agree with Paul Ryan, and although many secretly also agree with Donald Trump, are not so stupid as to show their true colors to the American people as Donald Trump seems to be.  I don't have to tell you how Donald Trump reacted to Comey's statement, but it was just as self-serving as Ryan's, albeit with more third grade words and aggression.

No one in the Republican leadership has called out Paul Ryan for encouraging a lynch mob mentality because his attitude towards Hillary Clinton is shared by them.  This should give us concern since it shows that the current Republican leadership is willing to turn against our constitution and bend law to their own view of it.  This likely means that they will be willing to support a President Trump's view of Democracy and may set us up for the re-incarnation of an American Hitler President.

It's time for the Republican citizenry to begin to see their leaders for who they really are.  They are no longer the Republicans of the past.  They are no longer reasonable.  They are no longer trustworthy.  Only the base of the Republican party can bring Republicanism back to reality since the leadership and Donald Trump has failed you.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This time Obama-Care may be toast

The essence of the Affordable Care act was introduced as a proposal by the Republican policy making group, the Heritage Foundation in 2003.  See the web page on the Heritage Foundation site for one such article by Dr. Robert E. Moffitt of the Heritage Foundation.

Dr. Moffitt gives guidance to the states that seems based on his humanitarian ideals to cover more people who cannot afford healthcare insurance.  Some of that concern for humanity seems to have left Republican Congressmen of late.

Since the Affordable Care Act was introduced as law, Republicans in Congress have been fighting to find ways to stop its implementation.  They have wasted their time attempting to repeal the law over fifty times, only to be met with a Presidential veto. They have researched the weakest parts of the law and attempted on a few occasions to get the Supreme Court to denounce it as unconstitutional; usually to no avail.

Republican leaders in GOP led states refused to open up their own state healthcare marketplace sites to try to make the Federal government's role more complex.  They were happy when the Supreme Court left it up to the states to implement the medicaid expansion part of the Affordable Care Act law.  Most Republican led states refused to accept medicaid expansion and denied millions of the most defenseless Americans the opportunity for healthcare.  This was not just a typical Republican heartless act, but was also intended to help the law fail. Any additional profit for insurance companies from medicaid expansion payments by the federal government could not happen as a result.  This would likely push premium prices higher.  Additionally, people who could not get medicaid assistance would increase lost revenue by hospitals and doctors when they could not afford to pay for their medical care.  Some who could not afford it, would die without medical care.

Republicans have used their power in Congress to appropriate funds, or in this case to fail to approve appropriation of healthcare funds in attempts to make the law fail.  They have contributed to the potential failure of the Affordable Care law however they could.  Without their destructive acts,  the law may have been successful.  Now closed medical facilities and hospitals may have stayed in business.  Insurance companies could have profited more.  The act would have lived up to its title and really been affordable without increases in premiums as are now proposed.

But now, this latest tactic of Republicans has been to attack Obama's funding of subsidies which they claim has been done without their consent.  Congress does have the authority to approve the appropriation of money used by the Federal government and they claim the money was not approved by Congress.  The lawsuit brought against the Obama Administration has been judged in favor of Republicans by the lower court.  The judge in that case has found the subsidy funding of insurance companies by the Obama Administration was illegal since the money was not appropriated by Congress.

Of course, the case is not final and will be allowed to have appeals proceedings.  If brought to the Supreme Court, where the Court is now equally divided between Democratic sympathizers and Republican Sympathizers, the lower court ruling may stand if it ends in a tie and the Affordable Care law will die.

What type of party is the GOP to have fought against its own citizens to defeat an administration who is an advocate of the people?  Hopefully you will think hard and long about this as you ponder your choices for the party that should be elected to Congress in the upcoming elections.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Trump: Ironic outcome of establishment Republican obstruction

Donald J. Drumpf
Throughout the Obama Presidency, establishment Republicans in Congress did their very best to obstruct the normal functioning of the Federal Government.  They were convinced that obstruction was a winning strategy to ensure that the GOP would become victorious in the 2012 Presidential election.  Although they were somewhat victorious in the mid-term elections, the GOP lost the  2012 Presidency to a second Obama term.  They continued their obstruction of government with even more intensity in preparing for the 2016 Presidential election, all the while ignoring the impact of their obstruction on the American people and especially on the voting base of their own party.

Republican leaders ignored the data that their own post Romney party "autopsy" showed them.  That they were losing their constituents to old age.  That they were not appealing to the diverse ethnicity of America.  That they were on the wrong side of women's issues.  That they were being seen as a party of the rich and not a party of the ordinary person.  Yet they did nothing positive to improve their image.

Instead they took to underhanded and un-American actions to cheat American Democracy such as voter suppression actions, reducing voting precincts and changing voting privileges for students so they could not vote at their own campuses.  All attempts to reduce the number of Democrats who might vote.

They used their power in government committees to create artificial controversies around the Obama administration and the future most-likely to be nominee for President, Hillary Clinton.  They openly disrespected the Office of the President, calling President Obama names and falsely accusing him of not being a leader.  According to many of them in office, Russian President Putin is a better leader than our American President.  Their intentions were to make Democrats seem ineffective as leaders or untrustworthy by using insults, insinuation and disrespect.  To them, it was just another tactic to win votes in future elections.  This tactic worked on their own constituents.  It also served as a lesson to Donald Trump.  Appealing to Republican's worst nature wins their support.  If we were paying attention, we would see how closely Trump would follow this tactic in the Republican Primaries.

In this 2016 Presidential nomination process we are now seeing the decaying fruits of those actions for the GOP as a party.  Republican voters now see vitriolic rhetoric like their party's leaders used on the Obama Administration as a characteristic of a good leader.  Republican leaders led them down this path.  Voters are voting by overwhelming margins in primary elections for a narcissistic sociopathic con-man.

Donald Drumpf is riding the tides of victory in primary elections, not because he is the best person for the job.  Not because his policies ring clearly as the correct approach to governing.  Not because he will make America great again.  He is not the best person to be President and nothing good would come of his winning the Presidency.  He is simply winning because of the anger that Republican voters have.  He is now the Republican nominee for President.

Republicans are angry because they see themselves as ordinary citizens who have not benefitted from the improvement in the economy.  They believe current government policies will make them fall further.  They know things are better for some people, but not for them.  They do not understand why and need to blame someone for their situation. The confusing explanations they get from their Republican leaders are intentionally meant to mislead them.  They know Republicans in Congress are not getting anything accomplished to benefit society and are beginning to doubt them.

There is now a state of utter confusion in GOP politics.  Establishment Republicans agree that Donald Trump is not a true Republican.  But that is not the worst of his characteristics.  Secretly they believe he is not a stable individual either.  Not someone you would want in control of the nuclear codes.  How should they react to Trump's overwhelming win margins?  The GOP base obviously wants him as their new President.  Did the establishment create a monster?  If they get behind this monster, will GOP policies be advocated?

At this point, Donald is the Presidential nominee.  Republicans now must decide whether they will support him or not.  They do have some things to gain if he becomes President, such as Supreme Court appointments.  He will carry out his threats to eliminate "Obama-care," which Republican leadership has stated is the worst thing since Obama himself.

The dilemma they are faced with is whether they will give up more than they gain.  We will see in the upcoming months whether Republicans will stand behind Trump and save their party or do the right thing and save the country instead.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Florida plans to eliminate the undeserving from healthcare

Florida State Flag
Florida, like most other Republican run states, has decided that the poor do not deserve healthcare.  Their rejection of Medicaid Expansion is based on their distrust of President Obama and their acceptance that reimbursing hospitals with Low Income Pool money is better than giving health insurance to the undeserving poor.

The public distrust of President Obama and his Democratic administration has been a Republican party strategy.  All Republicans are expected to continue this public display of criticism of the President so that they can use it as their main reason to obstruct any Democratic policy and by so doing, help the Democrats fail.  This is partisan politics which shows that Republicans have no problem taking actions that hurt Americans and hurt their state's economic condition without so much as an ounce of guilt.

Psychologists often say that a person's view of others is influenced by the subconscious guilt that they feel about their own actions.  Psychological projection is a theory that explains why some people shift their own faults onto someone else and deny that it occurs in themselves.  Neurotic or psychotic liars think all people lie.  Every narcissistic untrustworthy person thinks everyone else is untrustworthy.  Maybe that is the thinking that has entered into the Republican party.  The fact that many in the right wing of politics are commonly referred to as "nut jobs" may have a real basis in fact.

Someone who really does not deserve trust is Florida's governor, Rick Scott.  He was the former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare.  In that position, Scott and his executives illegally charged Medicare billions in fake charges.  Scott quit that position just four months after the government's case became public.  His company was fined $1.7 billion as a result and Scott narrowly escaped getting jail time.  Now he's Florida's governor.

And now Florida finds itself with a House in conflict with its Senate regarding budget money for low income healthcare provisions.  With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, Florida Senate lawmakers have passed a budget for $80.4 billion which includes low income healthcare spending, while lawmakers in the Florida House have passed a $76.2 billion budget which eliminates healthcare spending for low income people.

Governor Scott has had a flip, flop, flip attitude when it comes to low income health insurance.  First he was against expanding medicaid to toe the Republican line to attempt to repeal the ACA in its entirety.  Then he was for it, but could not persuade stalwart Republicans to support it.  Now, after the Federal government has rejected his demands to continue to fund the Florida Low Income Pool, he is against it again.

Governor Scott and the Republican Florida House would much prefer to allow big tax breaks for business and a few dollars in savings for cable bill taxes for it's citizens than provide life saving health care for Florida's "undeserving."

Scott's demands to continue the Low Income Pool (LIP) were rejected by the federal government as it warned it would over a year ago, if Florida could not provide evidence about how the money was being used.  Also, the LIP fund was never supposed to be a permanent program.  Florida did nothing to convince the Federal Government that the LIP fund should be continued, outside of Rick Scott demanding that it should and the government refused to extend LIP.  But there would be plenty of federal money available for healthcare if the state would just expand medicaid.

With the Federal government offering to pay for 100% of the costs of expanded medicaid for the first three years of its implementation,  and 90% thereafter, Florida did nothing and let that money pass by.

The benefits of accepting expanded medicaid far outweigh the benefits of the LIP fund.  Medicaid expansion provides individuals with medical insurance; while the LIP fund provides hospitals with payment if they should care for someone who cannot afford to pay for services.  If an individual does not have medical insurance, they are more likely to not get healthcare when they need it.  This can lead to unnecessary complications and even death in some cases.  When they do need it, it is usually urgently needed and may be a life or death situation, so they are more likely to go to an emergency room where prices are much higher.  Expanded medicaid would save lives.  The LIP fund merely save some costs for hospitals.

There is a reason why hospitals, the Chamber of Commerce, medical device manufacturers  and others in the medical profession have favored expanding medicaid.  Not only does it mean more money for business, it also means a healthier state population and a healthier state economy.  Denying expanded medicaid makes Republicans in Florida seem very ignorant.

It is beyond time for the Florida House to stop their war against the poor in Florida.  It is time for Republican leadership to show that they are not right wing nut jobs.  It is time to accept medicaid expansion and get back to the business of serving all people of the state.  It is the correct thing to do.  It is the economical thing to do.  It is the moral thing to do.

And there is little time left to do it.