Tag Archives: Budget Cuts

Why are Bikes and Walking Trails Being Targeted by Congress?

I can tell you!  It’s because they don’t use gas or oil!

Our current Congress Trolls think it’s Un-American to go more than 5 feet unless you are driving a gas guzzling American made hummer type monstrosity.

Remember their motto:  “What’s good for Exxon Mobil is what’s good for America.”

If you aren’t going to be riding around in the car, they prefer you lay on your sofa and watch Fox News while eating Frankenfoods….

And please note, Rand Paul, the Libertarian darling who fooled so many people in the last election cycle, is doing his bit here…..I thought he wanted the government to stay out of everything?  I’m all for more infrastructure spending.  All for it.  But it should be in addition to these expenditures for walking and bike trails.

From Jay Walljasper at Shareable.net:


How in the the world can biking and walking be controversial?

They’re good exercise, fun to do and—as an alternative to driving everywhere—help us save money and the environment.  Both biking and walking are increasingly popular for transportation and recreation today, thanks in large part to a recent flowering of federally-funded trails, bikeways and pathways that make getting around on two wheels and two feet safer and more convenient.

But in these antagonistic political times, bikers and walkers are now targets of controversy for some members of Congress.  In September, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn proposed stripping all designated federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects from the pending Transportation Bill. After an outpouring of opposition from citizens coast-to-coast, Coburn withdrew his amendment.

Now bicyclists and pedestrians are under attack again, this time in an amendment from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. He wants to redirect every last penny of money dedicated to bicycling and walking to bridge repair instead.

via Shareable: Why are Bikes Being Targeted by Congress?.

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CBO: Income Of The Top 1 Percent Exploded Over The Last Three Decades

It will be interesting to see how the GOP handles this report from the non-partisan and highly respected Congressional Budget Office.

Well, not really.  They will just loudly spread lies and propaganda while impugning the reputation of the CBO.

At this point, their reaction to news and facts not supportive of their goals is really rather predictable.

From ThinkProgress.org:

The Congressional Budget Office today released a new report on the growth in income that’s occurred in the U.S. over the last three decades. CBO found that, “for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007,” while it grew by just 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent of the income scale. “As a result of that uneven income growth, the distribution of after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979,” CBO said.

via CBO: Income Of The Top 1 Percent Exploded Over The Last Three Decades | ThinkProgress.

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Georgia Considers Replacing Firefighters With Free Prison Laborers

Well, this is one of the dumbest, most outrageous ideas from the GOP yet.  I’m surprised it didn’t come from South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama as well…

I guess someone in Georgia got the idea from “Gone With the Wind” when Scarlett used prisoners to run her lumber mill.

They’ve never been real good at separating fiction from reality in Georgia….

Not only does this endanger the prisoners, it endangers professional firemen who have to work with them as well as the general public since they will have neither the training nor the enthusiasm of a professional.

Next, they’ll be trying to use prisoners to fill the gap in General Practice doctors.  Or as school teachers.  Or as policemen!

Dumb, dumb, dumb….

Almost as dumb as voting for these fools…..

From ThinkProgress.org:

A select group of inmates may be exchanging their prison jumpsuits for firefighting gear in Camden County.

The inmates-to-firefighters program is one of several money-saving options the Board of County Commissioners is looking into to stop residents’ fire insurance costs from more than doubling. […] The inmate firefighter program would be the most cost-effective choice, saving the county more than $500,000 a year by some estimates. But that option is already controversial, drawing criticism from the firefighters who would have to work alongside – and supervise – the prisoners.

The Camden program would put two inmates in each of three existing firehouses, and they would respond to all emergencies – including residential – alongside traditional firefighters. The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates.

The inmates would not be paid for their work, but upon release they would be eligible to work as firefighters five years after their conviction dates instead of the normal 10.

Naturally, many are questioning the wisdom of asking prisoners to put their own lives at risk in a dangerous job they don’t necessarily want to do. Not only would the program jeopardize inmates’ safety, but their potential lack of enthusiasm and training could jeopardize the lives of fire victims they are supposed to be saving. Firefighter Stuart Sullivan told the Florida Times-Union that firefighters choose the profession because they have a passion for serving the public and helping people, while the inmates would only be there as an alternate way to serve their sentences.

Many firefighters are speaking out against the idea, and don’t relish the additional responsibility of having to guard and worry about inmates as they are trying to put out fires and save lives. This distraction could be another life-threatening consequence of the measure. The program also runs the risk of inmates escaping — all in all a very dangerous proposition for public safety just to save money.

Georgia is not the first state to use prison slave labor to try to cut costs: in California there are more than 4,000 firefighting inmates stationed at 45 camps throughout the state. (HT: Gawker)

via Georgia Considers Replacing Firefighters With Free Prison Laborers | ThinkProgress.

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The Truth About Social Security

This is the best summation of the truth about Social Security and the Deficit that I’ve seen:



Hat Tip:  MoveOn.org

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FALLING OUT OF THE MIDDLE CLASS: A Statistical Look At The People Who Have Lost The Most

It’s becoming an accepted probability, for the first time in our history that, in financial terms, children will probably not do as well as their parents.

Thanks to Republican policy since Reagan-with notable assists from the Dems on many occasions, thanks to the decline of Unions, thanks to the loss of well paying manufacturing jobs, thanks to declining educational standards, thanks to our contaminated food supply, thanks to the redistribution of wealth to the top 1%, thanks to a lot of poor decisions by a lot of people….


This puts some numbers around who is most likely, demographically speaking, to have been pushed out of the Middle Class– so far.

From YahooNews.com.  Hat Tip to my friend Kirk for sending me the article:


The American Dream of upward social mobility has stalled for some people, according to a big new study from Pew.

The study checked in on a bunch of middle class teenagers from 1979 to see how they were doing 25 years later. Notably this survey was performed before the Great Recession, so most of these numbers would be worse today.

Pew found that 28% of the sample group had fallen out of the middle class. This number was significantly higher for certain demographic groups including divorced women and black men.

Divorced women are 35.8% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Divorced men are 13% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Unmarried women are 17.6% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Unmarried men are 10% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Black men are 17% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class (vs white men).

Black women are 5% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class (vs white women)

Women without a college degree are 16.3% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Men without a college degree are 7.5% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class.

Hispanic men are 8% more likely to have fallen out of the middle class (vs white men).

Hispanic women are actually 2% less likely to have fallen out of the middle class (vs white women).

via FALLING OUT OF THE MIDDLE CLASS: A Statistical Look At The People Who Have Lost The Most | Daily Ticker – Yahoo! Finance.

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Eric and Irene: Have you left no sense of decency?

Great article from Paul Krugman on Eric  Cantor and his evil ways.

In case you missed it, Cantor now wants to require all disaster aid for Hurricane Irene be off set by budget cuts…

As Krugman says, he’s holding Irene’s victims hostage.  The good news is that George Allen, the probable GOP Senate nominee supports him and his position.  I hope they go down together.

I just can’t quite figure out how my birth state can justify electing people like this….

Back in the day, people who showed such callousness and disregard for people in trouble would have been shunned…

It’s no longer the gracious, genteel Virginia I once knew.



“Have you left no sense of decency?” That’s the question Joseph Welch famously asked Joseph McCarthy, as the red-baiting demagogue tried to ruin yet another innocent citizen. And these days, it’s the question I find myself wanting to ask Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who has done more than anyone else to make policy blackmail — using innocent Americans as hostages — standard operating procedure for the G.O.P.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Cantor was the hard man in the confrontation over the debt ceiling; he was willing to endanger America’s financial credibility, putting our whole economy at risk, in order to extract budget concessions from President Obama. Now he’s doing it again, this time over disaster relief, making headlines by insisting that any federal aid to the victims of Hurricane Irene be offset by cuts in other spending. In effect, he is threatening to take Irene’s victims hostage.

Mr. Cantor’s critics have been quick to accuse him of hypocrisy, and with good reason. After all, he and his Republican colleagues showed no comparable interest in paying for the Bush administration’s huge unfunded initiatives. In particular, they did nothing to offset the cost of the Iraq war, which now stands at $800 billion and counting.

And it turns out that in 2004, when his home state of Virginia was struck by Tropical Storm Gaston, Mr. Cantor voted against a bill that would have required the same pay-as-you-go rule that he now advocates.

But, as I see it, hypocrisy is a secondary issue here. The primary issue should be the extraordinary nihilism now on display by Mr. Cantor and his colleagues — their willingness to flout all the usual conventions of fair play and, well, decency in order to get what they want.

via Eric and Irene – NYTimes.com.

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Mitt Romney Says Corporations ‘Are People, My Friend’

This is what’s wrong with the Republican Party- They not only think Corporations are people, they think they are VIP’s!

Much more important than Middle Class People….

How much longer are real people going to listen to this foolishness?

I encourage you to click the link to the full article and the video.  From The Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Speaking to an occasionally rowdy crowd two days before the Ames Straw poll, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made what seems likely to become a much-discussed flub, declaring to a group of Iowans that “corporations are people.”

Pressed by an attendee at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday as to why he was focusing on entitlement reforms as a means of deficit reduction over asking corporations to share part of the burden, the GOP frontrunner shot back:

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings my friend.”

The comment was immediately pounced on by Democrats, who saw it as another example of Romney being uncomfortable on the stump and inartful in his attempts to come off as an everyday pol.

“This is what Mitt Romney is going to run on? Corporations are people? Really?” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. “There’s a great message for people struggling to get by and trying to make ends meet. Don’t complain — corporations are people too!”

Speaking at the Des Moines Register soapbox, Romney was also interrupted by a heckler who asked if if he supported “scrapping the Social Security payroll cap so that rich people pay their fair share into the trust fund?”

Romney responded, “There was a time in this country where we didn’t celebrate attacking people based on their success. We didn’t go after people because they were successful. I’ve watched this president go across the country attacking people, and I… and I am… if you want to speak, you can speak. But right now it’s my turn, so let me continue.”

The presidential contender went on to underscore his bottom line. “If you don’t like my answer, you can vote for someone else,” he said.

via Mitt Romney Heckled, Says Corporations ‘Are People, My Friend’ (VIDEO).

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They, Too, Sing America

There really is a total disconnect between the people in Washington and the rest of the country.  I first got that impression when I volunteered on my first political campaign more than 20 years ago. That impression has been validated countless times over the years.  Now it seems it’s not just a gap, it’s a question of the Washington folks living in an alternate Universe….

They forget everyone else isn’t sitting in a DC restaurant drinking $350 bottles of wine.  Or they assume they aren’t doing so just because they are lazy.

These DC folks are totally out of touch with what is reality for most people….

Great article, below,  from Charles M Blow in the New York Times:

Last week I spent a few days in the Deep South — a thousand miles from the moneyed canyons of Manhattan and the prattle of Washington politics — talking to everyday people, blue-collar workers, people not trying to win the future so much as survive the present.

They do hard jobs and odd jobs — any work they can find to keep the lights on and the children fed.

No one mentioned the asinine argument about the debt ceiling. No one. Life is pressing down on them so hard that they can barely breathe. They just want Washington to work, the way they do.

They are honest people who do honest work — crack-the-bones work; lift-it, chop-it, empty-it, glide-it-in-smooth work; feel-the-flames-up-close work; crawl-down-in-there work — things that no one wants to do but that someone must.

They are women whose skin glistens from steam and sweat, whose hands stay damp from being dipped in buckets and dried on aprons. They are men who work in boots with steel toes, the kind that don’t take shining, the kind that lean over and tell stories when you take them off.

They are people whose bodies melt every night in a hot bath, then stiffen by sunrise, so much so that it takes pills for them to get out of bed without pain.

They, too, sing America. But they’re the ones less talked about — either not glamorous enough or rancorous enough. They are the ones without champions, waiting for Democrats to gather the gumption to defend the working poor with the same ferocity with which Republicans protect the filthy rich, waiting for a tomorrow that never comes.

via They, Too, Sing America – NYTimes.com.

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Cost of Air Conditioning for U.S. Troops in MidEast More Than Entire NASA Budget

This is amazing….

It’s time to end these wars and bring these folks home…

This is getting too ridiculous on too many levels…

From RawStory.com:

The United States spends $20.2 billion annually on air conditioning for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan — more than NASA’s entire budget, NPR reported.

In fact, the same amount of money that keeps soldiers cool is the amount the G-8 has committed to helping the fledgling democracies in Tunisia and Egypt.

The necessary cooling costs so much because of the remote locations and danger involved in delivery equipment and fuel, Steven Anderson, a retired logistician who served under Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Anderson told NPR. “You’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

And it’s a long way to move the fuel: 800 miles of “improved goat trails” separate Karachi, where the fuel is shipped in, to Afghanistan. The transport takes 18 days.

By embracing green practices, Anderson said, money and soldiers’ lives could be saved: more than 1,000 troops have died while transporting fuel. Their trucks are a popular target, and commanders have to stop their operations to leave and go on fuel runs. When they’re gone, he said, the insurgents know they’re gone, and the U.S. troops lose ground in their missions.

Experiments have been conducted using polyurethane foam insulation in the tents to shield soldiers from the 125-degree heat of the Middle East, cutting energy use by 92 percent. However, nobody is enthusiastic about taking initiative to green the military.

“A simple policy signed by the secretary of defense — a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan — would have a profound impact,” Anderson said.

via Cost of air conditioning for U.S. troops in MidEast more than NASA budget | The Raw Story.

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Back in the USSR?

Interesting article from AlterNet.com that compares U.S. expenditures to European expenditures.

The U.S. spending supports a vast military industrial complex with Military spending being by far the largest part of the budget.  European countries focus on spending money on health care, education, transportation and improving the quality of life for its citizens.

Remember, one of the reasons the USSR collapsed was pouring too large a portion of their budget into “defense” or military spending.  Are we back in the USSR?

I much prefer the European model.  Let’s spend our tax money making the U.S. the most modern country on earth with the highest quality of life for its citizens.

Russia still hasn’t recovered from the collapse of the USSR.

Have we in the USA learned anything from it?


For their tax dollars –or euros — they get universal health care, deeply subsidized education (including free university tuition in many countries), modern infrastructure, good mass transit and far less poverty than we have here at home. That may help explain why we have Tea Partiers screaming for cuts while Europe is ablaze with riots against its own “austerity” measures.

And while we outspend everyone on our military, among the 20 most developed countries in the world, the United States is now dead last in life expectancy at birth but leads the pack in infant mortality—40 percent higher than the runner-up. We also lead in the percentage of the population who will die before reaching age 60. Half of our kids need food stamps at some point during their childhoods. There’s certainly a modest difference in priorities dividing the Atlantic, but common sense suggests that we’re the ones who have it all wrong.

via Are We Giant Suckers? While the US Blows Money on the Military, Europe Spends Dough on Social Programs | | AlterNet.

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