March 8 – International Women’s Day

Today I am in the United States. For 30 years in this country I was ignoring March 8th, sometimes even forgetting it, sometimes being reminded about the Holiday by old friends and family. This year is different. The election campaign for the President of the United States turned everything upside-down. Listening to rhetoric of Republican candidates, I cannot help but feel the necessity to fight for women’s rights, the necessity to remind everybody that we, the women, will not go back to times of being told what, when and how. I feel the necessity of March 8th.

Anna
Anna

Back in the Soviet Union, March 8 was a Holiday.  We celebrated International Woman’s Day.  The majority of people, including me, were happy to have a day off from work without even thinking what this day was all about.  In a country where women legally had the same rights as men, there were very few women representatives in the Government, practically no women were heads of big companies or educational and cultural institutions.  So, women got their flowers, chocolate and were happy.  Men ruled at work, at home and in government.

Today I am in the United States.  For 30 years in this country I was ignoring March 8th, sometimes even forgetting it, sometimes being reminded about the Holiday by old friends and family.  This year is different.  The election campaign for the President of the United States turned everything upside-down.  Listening to the rhetoric of Republican candidates, I cannot help but feel the necessity to fight for women’s rights, the necessity to remind everybody that we, the women, will not go back to times of being told what, when and how.  I feel the necessity of March 8th.

So, this year I want to celebrate this Day, to remind everybody and especially women that we will stand for our rights, we will not ignore the slogans and rhetoric of this campaign, we will not be taken back to the 50’s of the last century.

 

We are the power!

ObamaCare for Senator Kirk

I could not help but think about how lucky the Senator is to have health insurance that covers all these expenses, that he and his family do not have to think about the bill after his hospital stay and subsequent rehabilitation expenses. I also understand that our representatives are covered not just when they are serving in the US Congress but also after they retire from public service. They are, after all, very important people.

A spokesperson for Sen. Kirk released the following statement on Monday (January 23, 2012) regarding the senator’s medical condition:

True Conservative
ObamaCare for Congress

“On Saturday, Senator Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital, where doctors discovered a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck.  He was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where further tests revealed that he had suffered an ischemic stroke.  Early this morning the Senator underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain stemming from the stroke. The surgery was successful.  Due to his young age, good health and the nature of the stroke, doctors are very confident in the Senator’s recovery over the weeks ahead.”

I wish Senator Kirk a fast recovery and to stay healthy for a long time, as we (Jews) say – till 120 years old.

I could not help but think about how lucky the Senator is to have health insurance that covers all these expenses, that he and his family do not have to think about the bill after his hospital stay and subsequent rehabilitation expenses.  I also understand that our representatives are covered not just when they are serving in the US Congress but also after they retire from public service.  They are, after all, very important people.

Tea baggers got Government health care.
You can't have what I have!

I can’t help but ask, and who am I, why I cannot have such a basic human right – not to worry about how to pay if a family member or I get sick?

So, dear Senator Kirk, maybe after you get back to work, you will reconsider your statement:  “Romney will cut spending, repeal the health care law and restore private sector economic growth.  He is a foreign policy hawk who will stand up to Iran,” Kirk said in a statement prepared in advance of his endorsement and provided by his political operation.

Why democrats are not selling their budget reduction plan?

So, my question is, if we know what has to be done to reduce the deficit and majority of Americans understand and support measures and policies to achieve deficit reduction, why Democrats are not talking about it on every corner? Why they do not talk to American public? What is so difficult to sell if there is a support?

What created this huge deficit in US?

1. Bush tax cut, and extended by Obama.  It is estimated that this tax cut cost our country

For top 1% –                $714,787,400,000

For the next 4% –      $329,697,930,000

Total – since 2002 – over 1 trillion dollars.

2. Two unpaid wars – Conservatively it is estimated so far at 3-4 trillion dollars.

3. Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cost a year – almost $900,000,000,000.

So, those programs are the biggest price tags in the budget.

Americans support for each of the programs:

  1. Bush tax cut, extended by Obama – 60% of Americans support tax increase on those making more then $250,000
  2. End wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (part of overseas military commitment in Federal budget)  – 65% of Americans support reduction of overseas military commitments.
  3. Social Programs – although cutting social programs are not popular among Americans, everybody understands that something has to be done to Medicare and Medicaid.
Cannot handle the load?
Democrats right now.

Democrats support all three programs: military reduction, Medicare reduction, and tax increase.

Republicans support only 1 program: Medicare and Medicaid reduction. But no tax increase and no military cuts.

So, my question is, if we know what has to be done to reduce the deficit and majority of Americans understand and support measures and policies to achieve deficit reduction, why  are Democrats not talking about it on every corner? Why do they not inform the American public?  If  there is strong public  support,  what is so difficult to sell?

Response from Senator Mark Kirk

I oppose defaulting on any debt and will fight to protect the AAA credit rating of the United States. To protect our economy, we should cut spending and raise the debt limit, putting our nation on a sustainable financial foundation.

Dear Mrs Kagan

Thank you for contacting me regarding the ongoing debt limit negotiations.

I oppose defaulting on any debt and will fight to protect the AAA credit rating of the United States. To protect our economy, we should cut spending and raise the debt limit, putting our nation on a sustainable financial foundation.

Until we enact a final bill, I am also working to ensure the federal government pays all interest owed, Social Security, Medicare and salaries for the troops.

Regarding a final bill, I support the “Gang of Six” bipartisan plan put forward by three Republican and three Democratic senators to reduce our borrowing by over $3.7 trillion over the next ten years. This plan has three major parts:

1) A cap on spending, including a freeze on all salaries for Congress;

2) Entitlement reforms, protecting Americans aged 55 and up while strengthening the long-term finances of Medicare and Social Security for younger Americans; and

3) Tax reform, ending tax expenditures (while protecting the mortgage interest and charitable deductions), in return for lowering the top tax rate from 39% to 29%.

This plan will defend our credit, protect our economy and strengthen the long-term future of Social Security and Medicare.

We need to make these changes now. We are spending money we do not have – upward of 40 cents of every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed from China and elsewhere. This year, we will pay over $225 billion of taxpayer funds to people who lent us money for interest payments alone.

In return for cutting over $3.7 trillion from projected borrowing, we should raise the debt limit of the United States. On August 2, we will pass the legal debt limit of $14.3 trillion. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve and nearly all major economists agree that a plan of spending reductions, entitlement reforms and tax code modernization will reassure the American people, financial markets and our allies that America can live within its means.

Our country has faced tough times before. During Washington’s second administration, he tamed hyperinflation. President Lincoln had credit woes. President Roosevelt eventually faced down the Great Depression and President Reagan defeated high inflation. To honor the achievements of our parents, we should make hard choices again to stop spending money we do not have. When we do, the energy and innovation of the American people will catapult us into economic leadership again, as happened in the 1950s and 1980s.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this issue. Please feel free to contact me at (312) 886-3506 or online at http://kirk.senate.gov if you have any questions or concerns before Congress or the federal government. It is an honor to serve you in the Senate.

Very truly yours,

Mark Kirk

U.S. Senate

To Senator Kirk from Illinois

Senator Kirk,
Our country is in a very difficult situation right now. We are in two wars and dealing with the situation in Libya. We are in a time of economic distress – too many are unemployed and under-employed. The majority of Americans are experiencing these difficulties. I supported the government bailout of banks and automobile companies; I supported the stimulus package as a means of temporary support for working Americans until the economy improved; I support government investments in education and re-training in order for us, as a nation, to achieve new technical goals and to, again, be the leader in science and technology.
While the middle class is shrinking and income is going down for the majority of Americans, the rich are getting richer and corporations are collecting record profits. I am not seeing big corporations create jobs, even though they have record cash on-hand (why do they need additional tax breaks if they already have more than enough cash?).
I do support cutting spending; I do support getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan; I do support cutting military spending (we are becoming a military-industrial complex). But since the Federal revenue is at its lowest and the tax rates are at their lowest (compared with good economic times), I support the 1 trillion dollar tax hike in the next 10 years.
I urge you to be reasonable and realistic, and support President Obama in the debt debate.
I know you signed The Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As a representative of the Illinois population, that was very irresponsible on your part. But President Obama offers 3 trillion dollars in cuts which satisfies the “dollar-for-dollar” portion of the Pledge. Please reconsider and do the right thing.
Sincerely,
Anna Kagan

Insanity Taxes and Jobs

Republicans are saying that cutting taxes will create more jobs, more jobs will bring more taxes into Government coffers. But, if so far tax cuts did not create jobs, then we will not get more taxes to the Government coffers.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

I listen to to those advocating lower taxes for the purpose of  jobs creation. One can argue that lower corporate taxes can create more jobs or that this policy would just create more wealth for those who are already wealthy. But how do lower personal taxes affect job growth?

I decided to analyze some statistics of George W. Bush’s Presidency.

1. Jobs created during George W. Bush’ term of office.

The table below from WSJBlog  compares job growth during the presidencies of our last five Presidents. One can easily see from this  table that not that many jobs were created during the G.W. Bush years.

President   

Jobs created   

Jobs at end of term   

Jobs at start of term   

Payroll expansion   

Jobs created per year in office   

Population growth   

Percent change in population   

George W. Bush,8 years 3.0 million 135.5 million 132.5 million 2.3% 375,000 22.0 million 7.7%
Bill Clinton,8 years 23.1 million 132.5 million 109.4 million 21.1% 2,900,000 25.2 million 8.9%
George H.W. Bush, 4 years 2.5 million 109.4 million 106.9 million 2.3% 625,000 12.5 million 4.8%
Ronald Reagan,8 years 16.0 million 106.9 million 90.9 million 17.6% 2,000,000 17.3 million 7%
Jimmy Carter,4 years 10.5 million 90.9 million 80.4 million 13.1% 2,600,000 9.8 million 4.3%

2. Tax cuts during George W. Bush’s Presidency.

From  Wikipedia re:  G.W. Bush tax cuts:

Tax cuts for the rich
Insanity

“During his first term (2001–2005), he sought and obtained Congressional approval for tax cuts: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts decreased all tax rates, reduced the capital gains tax, increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called “marriage penalty”, and are set to expire in 2011.”

The question – do tax cuts help job creation?

I add one more pertinent statistic

3.  Corporations cash on hand.

From the WSJ“Rather than pouring their money into building plants or hiring workers, non-financial companies in the U.S. were sitting on $1.93 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of September, 2010 up from $1.8 trillion at the end of June, 2010 the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Cash accounted for 7.4% of the companies’ total assets — the largest share since 1959.”

Why are we trying to cut more taxes?  Why are we trying to do the same ineffectual thing again and again?

Republicans continually state that cutting taxes will create more jobs, and more jobs will bring more dollars into government coffers. But recent history says tax cuts do not create jobs, and thus we will not get more monies into our government’s  treasury.

Wouldn’t it be better to raise personal taxes on those making $250,000.00 (taxable income) and invest this revenue on the education and specializatiom of our workers so that they may fill those jobs that clearly require technical education, knowledge and training ?  If we did this, then we would have additional dollars coming to the Government coffers.

Honorable Age.

On April 15, 2011 The House voted on a new Medicare which eliminates Medicare as we know it and substitutes it with a privatized form of health care for seniors.

privatized medicare
Paul Ryan's Medicare

On April 15, 2011 The House voted on a new Medicare which eliminates Medicare as we know it and substitutes it with a privatized form of health care for seniors.

Right away couple things came to my mind:

First – how does a person 65 and over find and understand the appropriate health insurance? I am not 65 yet. My husband and I own a business. There are just two of us in the business. We have to find and buy health insurance ourselves. When we switch from one provider to another one (which we have to do pretty often – every 2 years), it takes us 4-6 months to understand the major (major, not all) differences, we have to meet with brokers and negotiate. How can our elders shop for the medical insurance, understand it, negotiate?

Second – Who will give our seniors health insurance?

If you ever had to buy health insurance, you know how many questions you have to answer. I would guess that 90% of people over 65 have some kind of preexisting condition. If insurance companies will have to provide insurance to people 65 and over, how expensive will it be? What if the Government voucher will not be enough? What if the insurance coverage will not be enough? Are we going to see people 65 and over getting into a hospital with one condition and getting heart attack right there when they will find out that they do not have enough coverage?

Third – If we are the most advanced, richest country in the world why are we going backwards? Aren’t we the best country in the world? What kind of society are we if we are not able to take care of our parents and grandparents?

There is a great place for the older generation in our society. Their wisdom, their kindness, their knowledge are here to assist us, to help us, to guide us, to remind us, to help us raise the next generation. President L. Johnson signed Medicare program into law in 1965 so that seniors would have their health care covered without big headaches, so that seniors will not die in their homes because they do not have medical insurance. We decided as a nation to be right for our seniors, to reduce the poverty of people over 65, to allow them to have happy retirement.

I understand that we have a big financial problem in our country. I am sure that we as a nation are smart enough to solve this puzzle. If we found money to finance 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we found a way to give tax break at the end of 2010, we should be able to find a way to support our seniors.