Saturday, December 11, 2010

Obama's Republican Tax Deal & Cole Case


- Obama's Republican Tax Deal [Edited 12/12-13/10]
- Cole Case--Judge Reynold's orders dismissal "with prejudice." [Edited 12/12/10]


Obama's Republican Tax Deal

After having crumbled repeatedly to the desires of the morally bankrupt corporate Republican leadership (not the sme as the Republican rank and file), President Obama has apparently made the politically expedient choice to attack a softer target--members of his own party--particularly those in the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives. This is a dangerous and destructive version of Bill Clinton's run to the right and "triangulation" strategy during his two terms of "divided government." I would remind Obama that he still has a majority in Congress until the end of the year, but it looks like he has decided to ignore that. Obama even brought Clinton to the White House to help sell his tax cut deal. (People might want to remember that Clinton and his financial advisors, including current Obama advisor Larry Summers (a Clinton Secretary of the Treasury), helped set the stage for the economic collapse brought to fruition by George W. Bush.) In response to criticism about his having cut out Democratic input to his Republicanesque tax deal with the coldest stone in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, Obama has taken to implying his own party is irresponsible, and has called them "sanctimonious" "purists," and etc. Real Democrats, such as Oregon's Peter De Fazio, suggest that Obama has abandoned Democratic values. One wonders if the ever adaptable Obama's next move will be changing parties to run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2010. ;-)

Some Democrats and progressives think letting the tax cuts expire would put the responsibility for not extending unemployment benefits back where it belongs--with the Republicans. The revenue could be used for a targeted stimulus to put people back to work and to protect the security of those who have been economically displaced through no fault of their own, as well as for cutting the deficit. Unfortunately, Obama had made that much less likely.

Representative De Fazio was on NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" this morning. When asked by Simon if the Democrats in opposition were acting responsibly, he replied
"Absolutely! We're trying to save tens of hundreds of billions of dollars for the American people. . .[because many of Obama's] measures will not put a single American back to work and are not targeted toward families in need."

He stated he thought the Republicans were bluffing and asked the rhetorical question of whether the Republicans are:
". . . prepared to go home as the Grinch--the people who took away unemployment benefits from people who want to work, who are struggling to make ends meet, keep food on the table for their kids--just before Christmas. [just] because they are holding out for millionaires and billionaires? I don't think so. I really think the President . . . got taken to the cleaners on this. . . . . When have we buckled down to this kind of fight? We haven't. I mean the President negotiated these things away without any fight at all. . . . . I mean when he says all these people who supported the public option--their just "purists" and these people who are opposed to the breaks for the wealthiest among us on borrowed money . . . are "sanctimonious"--Wow . . . ."

Listen to De Fazio on NPR: Opposing The Tax Deal Is Oregon Rep's Bottom Line

Financial investment types, as well as Obama apologists and advisors, have been busy reframing the issue and distorting who gets what and which ideas can fairly be called Democratic. Remember that an Obama deal that cuts out the input of most Congressional Democrats is not a Democratic proposal--it's a Barak Obama, Larry Summers, Joe "lets make a deal--any deal" Biden proposal.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich puts the deal in its proper context in a recent article where he writes:

Apart from its extraordinary cost and regressive tilt, the tax deal negotiated between the President and the Republicans has another fatal flaw.

It confirms the Republican worldview.

Americans want to know what happened to the economy and how to fix it. At least Republicans have a story – the same one they’ve been flogging for thirty years. The bad economy is big government’s fault and the solution is to shrink government.

Here’s the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.

The entire article can be found here: Why the Tax Deal Confirms the Republican Worldview

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the Senate floor for 8 hours detailing even more of the economic and political history related to the tax deal.
"Mr. President, in 2007, the top one percent of all income earners in the United States made twenty-three and one half percent of all income. . . . . That is more than the bottom fifty percent . . . . . The percentage of income going to the top one percent nearly tripled since the 1970's. . . . . Eighty percent of all new income earned from 1980 to 5005 has gone to the top one percent. The top one percent now owns more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. . . . .

That is not the foundation for a democratic society, that's the foundation for an oligarchic society."

[Oligarchy: 1.
a. Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
b. Those making up such a government.
2. A state governed by a few persons.]

You can view and hear the Senator on C-SPAN: SEN. SANDERS HELD A TAX CUT FILIBUSTER

James Kwak discusses various aspects of the deal on The Baseline Scenario in his article: More on the Tax Deal

Here is a small sample:
Obama has said for years that he wants to preserve the tax cuts for the “middle class,” but not for the rich. For the purposes of this post, “middle class” means a household with less than $250,000 in annual income. Of course, this is ridiculous, since $250,000 lands you easily in the top five percent of the population by income, according to Census figures. Why Obama chose to draw the line to separate the extremely rich from the very rich is something I’ve never understood. And besides, households above that line still benefit from the tax cuts as well, because they pay less taxes on their incomes up to $250,000, just like everyone else. In dollar terms, someone making $500,000 benefits just as much as someone making $250,000, and much more than someone making $50,000.

He also writes about how the issues are being distorted and mis-framed in another article, Who Wanted What?, where he reviews disingenuous analysis by Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee and others.

And from Simon Johnson:

. . . . Cutting taxes for the very rich is an ineffective way to stimulate the economy in the short term (for a detailed discussion, see this post by my colleague James Kwak). On this there is widespread agreement, including from the pages of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert Frank, a careful student of the rich and famous (and editor of The Journal’s Wealth Report and author of “Richistan”), said: “When I ask wealthy business owners and entrepreneurs why they’re not hiring, they rarely mention taxes. They say consumer demand. And jobs.”

Three much more effective ways to support consumer demand and jobs would be:
Really extend unemployment benefits. There is nothing in the proposal on the table that will help people who have already been unemployed for 99 weeks – see this explanation from Nevada.

Don’t lay off teachers anywhere in the country. The broader goal, of course, is to increase teacher quality, which is not easy and takes time (see the film“Waiting for Superman”). But firing teachers at any level of K-12 education makes no sense in the short or medium run.

Immediately hire more people to teach in community colleges. The unemployed – and those at risk of being fired – need new skills, particularly around information technology and the ability to run businesses. Give the long-term unemployed the opportunity and incentive to attend these classes. Help them get jobs – or start their own businesses. Even if those companies fail, the entrepreneurial experience will keep them in the labor force and enable them to enhance their skills – and become more productive employees when larger companies decide to start hiring in earnest again.


Cole Case--Judge Reynold's orders dismissal "with prejudice."

On December 2, 2010, Judge Garry Reynolds issued a Judgement in State of Oregon v. Brian Cole, Case No. 09-725 (Baker County). I posted the Judgement Friday on

In the Judgement, Reynolds dissmissed the sex abuse charges "with prejudice."

"Under Oregon law, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the plaintiff from litigating his case again. See Joseph v. Cohen, 658 P.2d 544, 546 (Or.App.1983) (dismissal with prejudice is "terminal judgment on the merits"); see also Black's Law Dictionary 421 (West 5th ed. 1979) (dismissal with prejudice is 'An adjudication on the merits, and final disposition, barring the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim or cause.')."
Reference Citation: 101 F.3d 705

Apparently it is common practice in settlements like the Civil Compromise settlements as in this case, for the Judge to then dismiss the case "with predudice," which certainly benefits the defendant by protecting them from further litigation. But also, as best I understand it, dismissal with prejudice seems to be a dream come true for Judges. Conceivably, the presiding Judge could issue a dismissal with prejudice judgement so as to help insulate his own actions and decisions from further judicial review, at least any brought by the plaintiff. A friend just told me that it might not prevent the defendant from appealing some of the decisions made by the judge, although I am uncertain of that.

For information on this case see;
Cole Case (18 months probation) & County Court House Damage

Cole Case: Justice Delayed IS Justice Denied: Reynolds Dismisses Sex Abuse Charges Against Cole.

Billy Bragg and Wilco-- "The Unwelcome Guest"
By Woodie Guthrie

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