Why I Oppose Tax Cuts In Economic Stimulas Bill

Months before the general election last year it was clear that a major fiscal boost would be needed to energize the national economy.  Members of Congress understood that a major stimulus bill would be need to be passed in the first weeks of 2009.  However no one last September could have predicted the economy would suffer such a collapse so quickly.   The stimulus bill that was discussed last fall took on an urgency following  the election, and the economic implosion.  Now an $825 billion bill is working its way through the Congressional bill-making process.  And it deserves our attention, and support.  But it must be the right type of bill that will do the most good for the country’s needs at this time.

While there are many positive parts to the stimulus measure that will be required for economic gain, there is a portion of the plan that seems to make no sense to me.  That is the portion concerning tax cuts, some $275 billion worth of them, that are not needed.  While tax cuts are sexy sounding, and great for politicians to talk about with constituents, the facts do not seem to warrant them at this time.

My suspicion is that a large percentage of fearful citizens who have been battered by the economy will take any tax cut and put it into savings.  That is not the way to spur the economy, and therefore the cuts will make good politics, but poor policy.  At a time when consumer spending is decreasing by $400 billion per year it is essential that we work to kick start the purchasing of goods and services rather than save money.

It is my belief that government spending on ‘shovel ready’ projects, and long term infrastructure needs such as green technologies, would do much more to rescue the economy than tax cuts.  I think it more important to put as much federal money into the portions of this bill that will do quick positive things, than in politically expedient tax cuts.  It should also be noted that many economists with long resumes also understand the benefits of stimulus spending vs. tax cutting fever.

As the bill stands now roughly 40% of the stimulus measure goes to tax cuts, and I think that is a wrong policy decision, especially given the size of the deficit.  While I agree that deficit spending  should not be a deterrent to making sure that the correct amount of stimulus is provided to do the work required, I still think the money should be used intelligently, and applied where it will produce the biggest bang.

Finally, I think that many Americans understand that this is a time to accept a responsible role in solving the national economic problem.  If that means not having a tax cut to insure that our long-term economic foundation is more stable, then that is what needs to happen.

I suspect James and I  are like many other Americans.  We now own our home, and as a result of modest living have no debts other than a car loan.  Like every other American that is invested we took some hits over the past months.  If you hear the tax cutters talk we would be the ones to benefit from the stimulus bill.  But we do not need a tax cut.   We know that things will get better if all the citizens work together for the larger goals of putting stimulus funding where it will do the most good.  And I hope that our elected officials know that we are supportive of them if they can find the political courage to undo, or limit, the tax cuts in the stimulus bill.

Scott Jensen Still Making Headlines In Wisconsin State Journal

As Dee Hall, one of the great Wisconsin newspaper reporters in the business writes, some are talking about Scott Jensen’s long and winding legal road as  “the case highlights the difference between the type of defense poor and rich defendants receive. ”  Readers will note the Jensen mess has been a topic that has received its fair amount of space on Caffeinated Politics.

Scott Jensen is the disgraced former Wisconsin Republican Speaker of the Assembly who used state employees for campaign purposes, and was found guilty of three felonies by a jury.  His saga, as Dee Hall writes, is a long and frustrating one for everyone.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the fact that the defendants have avoided a final outcome for more than six years is “a miscarriage of justice.”

Another factor is Jensen’s access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money and taxpayer-funded legal help, which has allowed him to mount the type of no-holds-barred defense that most people could never afford.

“Part of the problem is the system is accommodating a very well-connected person with a lot of money who can afford to pay high-priced attorneys for years on end,” McCabe said. “Ordinary citizens are not treated this way. An ordinary citizen who is charged with a crime often has his case decided in weeks or months — not almost seven years.”

But Jensen’s attorney, Robert Friebert, was unapologetic for the lengthy litigation, saying his client is merely exercising the same rights all defendants share.

“Jensen did not get a fair trial due to a defective jury instruction which was requested by the state. Jensen objected to the instruction,” said Friebert, of Milwaukee. “Jensen cannot be blamed for the fact that this instruction was used.”

Kempinen agreed that Jensen had no more rights than anyone else to appeal.

“The only thing that was unique about the appeal (of his conviction) is that it was successful,” he said.

But Kempinen also agreed with McCabe that few people could afford the type of legal battle Jensen has waged — and that’s bad news for those who value a system that’s supposed to offer equal justice for all.

“It doesn’t mean that the day of reckoning won’t come if Mr. Jensen is found guilty,” Kempinen said. “But it will be delayed.”

Pope Benedict Has A Jewish Problem…9/11 Problem Too

I have always thought the most intriguing political place in the world is the Vatican.  Far more than Washington, D.C., the veiled power brokers and deal makers in the Vatican, led by the Pope, and aided by many motivated and manipulative men makes this place worthy of our attention.  How and why things are done, in the way they are, is a dark mystery.  Sometimes as is the case today, it is also just ridiculous.

Given the fact that Pope Benedict XVI has issues with Jews dating back to his time in Nazi Germany might lead one to assume that he would do no more to inflame the situation.  But no……..

The Pope revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian who has grappled with the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has sought to foster a more ardent, if smaller, church over one with looser faith.

But while the revocation may heal one internal rift, it may also open a broader wound, alienating the church’s more liberal adherents and jeopardizing 50 years of Vatican efforts to ease tensions with Jewish groups.

Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre made the men bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church’s relationship with the society. And as pope, he has made reinstating the Lefebvrists an important personal cause.

Indeed, even though the Society has given no public signs that it would reverse its rejection of Vatican II, one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday because talks were continuing, said that the Vatican was willing to discuss making the group a personal prelature. Pope John Paul II did the same with another conservative group, Opus Dei.

Opus Dei, of course is a most ultraconservative and strange group that is best known for propping up Francisco Franco’s Spanish dictatorship,  a truly ‘Christian’ operation directed from Rome.  Is is any wonder we are drawn to the Vatican to watch as the Catholic power brokers go about their machinations?