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Day 188. 

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that they have ordered a Special Counsel to oversea the Russian Hacking and any possible collusion between them and any member of the trump campaign.  That announcement was met with hails of praise about the decision.

I agree that we do need a special counsel or special prosecutor because it is time we actually find out what happened, who may have been involved, and how we are going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  And, quite frankly, the Congressional investigations are running at a snail’s pace with no sign they will pick up anytime soon.

We also had a report that Mike Flynn told the trump transition team that he was under investigation by the FBI before he took the position of National Security Advisor.  According to the report, Flynn told the now White House Counsel about the investigation on January 4.  Before the inauguration.

Which begs the question of how could trump still name him as National Security Advisor when he knew Flynn was under investigation for his time as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey?

We also had a report that Kevin McCarthy, the second in command in the House Republican Caucus told a group of Republicans in 2016 that he thought trump was on Putin’s payroll.

On June 15, 2016 McCarthy said:  “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”   Some of the Republicans laughed but McCarthy quickly added “swear to God”.  These comments were actually taped by someone, and the tape was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

When the story first broke both Ryan and McCarthy claimed the conversation “never happened”.  But, when the Post told them they had the tape, they changed their story.  Instead of it never happening, they said it was a “bad attempt at humor”.

This took place exactly one day after the news broke about the hacking of the DNC.  And, right after Ryan and McCarthy came out of a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Getting back to yesterday, when the news of the special counsel was first announced, trump seemed to be happy and claimed it would end in total clearance for him and then he could move on with his agenda.  In a written statement he said “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.  I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

That story changed big time today.  In his usual Cowardly Lion manner, he tweeted this morning:  “it is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”  Then just to make sure he threw red meat to his base he tweeted:  “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!”

Naturally he gave no indication of any of the so-called “illegal acts” by either Clinton or Obama.  The one thing you can say about the Obama administration is that they were not involved in anything “illegal”.  You may not like the man.  You may even hate his guts.  But, he was never at the center of any scandal nor did he get involved in any illegal acts.  Even Republicans called him “no drama Obama”.

But trump can’t stand the fact that his “team” appears to be neck-deep in Russian scandals.  His former Campaign Manager had dealings with “Russian backed Ukrainian government that was ousted by the people.  There are reports of his money laundering for Russians.  And then we learned that somehow he received a $3 Million mortgage that was mysteriously paid off for him.

Mike Flynn went to Moscow to sit next to Putin at a dinner for RT and was paid
$35,000 for his speech without reporting it.  He was a paid foreign agent for the Turkish government during the campaign and did not register as one.  He reportedly told trump team that he was under investigation before the inauguration.  Then he took the position of National Security Advisor and sat in on highly classified briefings that could have affected his client, and Russia.

As reported, there have been at least 18 undisclosed meeting between the trump transition team and Russian officials including ones involving Kushner, Sessions, and that infamous “phone call” about sanctions Flynn made.  Beloved leader call this a witch-hunt.  He calls this a hoax.  He calls this “fake news”.

To add insult to injury, beloved leader was as the Coast Guard Academy’s graduation ceremony yesterday.  During his speech he complained about how the media was out to get him.  He then bragged, again, about his victory.  He tried to tell the graduates to “fight, fight even when thing are against them”.

That is good advice since his administration wants to slash the Coast Guard’s budget.  They want to cut about $25 billion form the Coast Guard.  Including cutting all of the funding for new equipment the Coast Guard desperately needs.  Yet he had the audacity to claim that the Coast Guard was “necessary to help him fight to keep America Safe”.  Hard to do when you cannot afford the very operations that do that now.

And, all the while, we don’t hear anything of consequence from the Republicans.  Both Ryan and McConnell are fuming over the special counsel appointment because they didn’t want one named.  They both said so many times so they cannot be happy right now.  Still we hear the usual silence from them and their party.

Then we come to the final point.  Mike Pence.  As I wrote the other day, I believe Mike Pence is a co-conspirator in all of this.  I do not believe that Pence was lied to by Flynn but Pence was trying to cover for Flynn.  I believe he knew all along about Flynn’s actions and his not being registered as a foreign agent all the while working for trump and Pence’s campaign.

I further believe that in terms of domestic policy Mike Pence is far more dangerous than trump.  With the way trump behaves, we cannot be sure that he will rubber-stamp anything that Republicans in Congress put in front of him.  We know for certain that Pence will.

During his term as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was atrocious.  His poll numbers were at rock bottom which is why most people believe he even took the position as the running mate for trump.  He was the driving force behind the anti-LGBT laws passed in the state.  His track record of voter restriction, anti-LGBT laws and anti-civil rights are well-known.

He is a strong believer that rich people should pay less in taxes than you do.  He believes that health care is a privilege not a right and is in full support of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  If we wind up with a president pence after all of this, we can be sure that our country, domestically at least, will be far worse off than it is now.

As Grover Norquist once said, Mike Pence would be that President with “enough digits to hold a pen and sign everything Republicans put in front of him”.  Some are hoping that Pence will get caught up in all of this as well, and will be forced out.  But, that isn’t all that great either.  Remember the next one in line is none other than that unintelligent wank Paul Ryan.

When Richard Nixon was forced out over the Watergate Scandal, our country had one hope.  We had Gerald Ford sitting as the Vice President.  Ford was a moderate and there was hope that the nation would survive the scandal and get back to normal.  With Pence the sitting Vice President, I  don’t have that same hope for the country.

In the year 2017 we face a real problem.  We have an administration that has tried to “run things” like a dictatorship.  We have a political party, the Republicans, who want to dismantle our democracy.  We have another political party, the Democrats, that react to events rather than planning a real resistance that could put a stop to all of this.

What we really need is some people with cool heads and a plan to fight back.  What we need to have is people who love this country more than they love their party and power.  There are some Democrats who are remaining cool-headed and wanting to get to all of the facts no matter where they lead.  There are beginning to be cracks in the Republican side who want the same thing.

The problem is that there aren’t enough of them yet.  The leadership of the Republican Congress is still hiding their heads in the sand.  Or, should I say they have their heads up their asses.  As a result, we won’t know the extent of this problem for months if not years.

Only, it really doesn’t matter how this all plays out.  If trump is exonerated, he will remain in power and continue his authoritarian form of government.  He will be able to pass laws to “jail” journalists that write things against him, which is what he wants.  He will be able to destroy the country we all love.

If he is found to be involved in this mess, he will be forced out of office, if Republicans have the guts to impeach him and hold a trial in the Senate, and we will end up with president pence.  Which would be no better than having president trump.

Because the 2016 presidential election was a disgusting soap opera instead of a real campaign, we wound up with president trump and vice president mike pence.  As a result, we find ourselves in totally uncharted waters.  There is a major scandal hanging over the White House, and there are no heroes who will ride to our salvation.

To put it very bluntly, no matter what happens from here, we the American People are fucked.  We lose no matter how this plays out.  All of this played out in full during the campaign.  The very fact that trump refused to agree with out intelligence community that is was the Russians who hacked the DNC showed just where his loyalties lay.  His comment about hoping the “Russians would hack Clinton’s emails” showed that he liked the idea Russia was involved.  So, this was all foretold.

The best lesson to take from all of this is how important it is to actually participate in our election process.  Maybe if Americans took their responsibility to get out and vote seriously, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  If you didn’t vote last year and are looking for the real blame, look in the mirror.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 171. 

The first 100 days of beloved leader’s presidency are finally over.  In those 100 days about the only thing we learned about beloved leader is that he is a total clown with no idea of what the hell he is doing.

The three main items about trump we have learned are Bluster, Incompetence, and Complete Ignorance.  If those are his three main traits, we are all in deep shit.  Included in those three traits is one more.  He is an absolute lousy negotiator.  He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a men’s room.

But, don’t just take my word for it, look at each trait individually.  The day after his inauguration, he complained that no one was giving him credit for “having the largest crowd in history at my inauguration”.  Photographs of his inauguration proved otherwise, but what the hell, he believed it so we should.

Just last night at a rally in Harrisburg, PA he bragged that the crowd set an “all-time record for the arena and that there are thousands of people standing outside who couldn’t get in”.  Only photographs showed the arena was not at capacity.  It holds about 7,000 people, and photographs from the event show about 15 percent of the seats were empty.

Look, there was a large crowd there.  They were even loud and supportive of beloved leader.  But, his bluster couldn’t allow that to come out, he had to openly lie to the people in the arena who could see it was not full.  Yet, they still cheered him and agreed with him.  I guess the arena was never full for any event in its history.  If that is true, then he was right when he said it was an all-time record setter.  If that is not true, then neither is his comment.

He loudly tells us that he is for the “little people”.  But, his first executive order was to increase the cost of mortgage insurance for first-time home buyers making it harder for them to get the mortgage they need.  I am sure all first-time home buyers are thanking him for his support every time they write their mortgage checks out costing them $500 per year more than if he had not signed that stupid order.

Then he allows his EPA chief to let Dow Chemical’s pesticide that affects the development of brains in children and fetus’ to be used on food crops.  This pesticide was banned from food crops under the last administration, but who cares if you child’s brain developes like it should.  Dow Chemical’s profits are far more important than your children’s development.

The EPA has also taken down all of the information about climate change from its website.  It thinks that there is no such thing as climate change so why bother with putting up all of that scientific information that shows they are wrong.

Then under his incompetence, we only need to look at all of the vacancies in the Federal Government.  Of the roughly 459 positions he is required to fill, less than 60 of them have been filled.  There aren’t even any nominations announced for the remaining vacancies.

Additionally, his empty suit Rex Tillerson said that he expects to lay off over 2,000 state department employees.  Beloved leader apparently doesn’t believe that an active state department with real professionals can stop wars.  Which is exactly what their job is.  As whimpering dog Mattis over at Defense actually said “if we don’t have an active State Department, I will need a lot more bullets”.  Even whimpering dog knows we need a State Department that engages with the world.

During his time in office, our beloved leader has managed to piss off our allies like Germany, England, France, Canada, and even Australia.  All the while he is praising the murderer Putin for being a “great leader” as trump likes to call him.

He and his administration told the American People that “we are sending a great armada to the South China sea to show North Korea we mean business”.  Only, that “great armada” was actually heading for exercises with the Australian Navy thousands of miles south of the South China Sea.  The Commander-in-Chief and his whimpering dog Mattis didn’t even know where his fleet was or what they were doing.

Mattis even told us that they made the announcement because the exercise was cancelled so they had to give a reason for cancelling it.  Only, it wasn’t cancelled, and the Vinson and her fleet didn’t head towards Korea until it was over.  How incompetent can you be?

In Syria, his administration said they didn’t mind that Bashaad was in power and that it was up to the Syrian people to decide if they should get rid of him.  Then, Bashaad used chemical weapons on his own people.  So, trump launched a handful of missiles at one of Bashaad’s air bases with very limited results and bragged about being “presidential” over the incident.  He claimed that he had to send the missiles because of the pictures of all of those “beautiful babies” he saw being gassed.  Yet, he won’t let any of those “beautiful babies” to come here to get away from the war.

Then we get to his total ignorance.  We have been staring down North Korea for about 70 years.  Beloved leader seems to want to draw another “red line” in the sand over North Korea.

North Korea has artillery aimed at and in range of Seoul where about half of South Korea’s population lives.  So, in order to show we mean business again, he ordered that a missile defense system be installed in South Korea.  Sounds reasonable especially considering we have over 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Then, he fell back on his gangster mode and claimed that he told South Korea that they should really pay for the missile defense system.  He seems to have left out the part where he would pull it out if they didn’t pay, but the possibility remains loudly in the minds of the South Korean people.

Then, to make matters even worse, he said he would tear up the trade agreement we have with South Korea.  This ignoramus doesn’t understand just how bad he is making relations with one of our best allies.  Does he really think that the South Koreans will be so “strong” in supporting our moves against North Korea if he is going to “tear up” our trade agreements with the South?

Additionally, there are Presidential elections going on in South Korea since their last President was removed from office over corruption charges.  Does he really believe that the winner will be the one who calls out the name trump as a “great leader”?  Rather, it would appear that the winner will be the one who defies and distances themselves from trump the most.  Boy, isn’t that a smart way to win friends.

But, let’s be fair.  He has accomplished a lot in his first 100 days.  He failed to get his Americans Without Health Insurance Act passed because he is a lousy negotiator.  That is a positive for the country.

He was able to get his nomination to the Supreme Court approved.  Of course, his patsy Mitch McConnell had to change Senate rules to achieve that, so it really doesn’t count as a “victory” to me.

He has made “town hall meetings” for his party members almost unbearable.  As a matter of fact, many of his party’s members won’t even hold town halls anymore because they are afraid to face angry crowds.

He has placed a gag order on the employees at EPA so you can never find out about the real effects of climate change or the “sweetheart deals” that Pruitt is making with the fossil fuel companies.

He has removed worker protections from companies who do business with the government.  So if a contractor is guilty of sexual harassment, unequal pay for women, or has a horrible safety record, we won’t know about them and they will get to keep their contracts.

He hired, and then was forced to fire, an unregistered foreign agent to be his National Security Advisor.  Before he was fired, Flynn sat in on highly classified briefings even on briefings that were about the countries for which he was an unregistered foreign agent.

A total of 15 people of his administration have either been fired, resigned, or withdrew their names from consideration for high level posts.  That surely is a record for a president in his first 100 days.  And, we all know how much he loves records.

He has signed more executive orders in his first 100 days than any other president since World War II.  Remember when Republicans claimed that executive orders were nothing more than “a political overreach that flew against the Constitution”?  Funny, we don’t hear the same thing from them now that beloved leader is using executive orders instead of actual legislation.

Finally, he has managed to become the first president who is the subject of a counter espionage investigation concerning his campaign’s collusion with Russia in hacking our national elections.  He managed that in his first 100 days.

All of this shows that we probably have the biggest asshole sitting in the White House in our nation’s history.  The only thing he hasn’t done, yet, is follow his hero Andrew Jackson’s lead who tried make the east coast all white by shipping out all of the Native Americans who lived there.  Only, trump will ship out all Mexicans and Muslims instead of Native Americans.

He has named a fossil fuel company puppet as the head of the EPA.  He has named a public education hater to head up the Department of Education.  He has named an openly proud racist as our Attorney General.  He has placed former Goldman Sachs heads in positions to run our budgets and finances.  You know the company that was the lead in destroying the economy in 2008.

He named a person to head up the Department of Energy who doesn’t even know what the department does, and wants to “get rid of it” anyway.  He fired every District Attorney and has yet to fill one of those vacancies.

He gave a speech about not “tolerating anti-Semitism” in our country, but won’t name one White Supremacist or Neo-Nazi group as domestic terrorists.  Of course these groups all say they are acting as real Christians.  As he liked to say during the campaign, “our president won’t even say the term domestic Christian terrorist”.

The first 100 days of beloved leaders’ administration are finally over.  I won’t blame you if you think it has felt more like 100 years instead of days.  We are saddled with a do-nothing blusterous, incompetent, ignorant idiot in the White House.  Every time he gives a speech using his tele-prompter, I get the feeling I am listening to a first grader reading “see   spot   run”.

That is what we have learned about trump during the first 100 days.   The only question left is will we even have a country left by the 2018 elections?  Considering the first 100 days, that is a reasonable question to ask.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 169. 

We are almost at the end of the first 100 days of beloved leader’s presidency.  And, in typical trumpian ways, he has done nothing of any good for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich.  Oh, his administration and especially himself, are touting the first 100 days as being the busiest and best 100 days ever in the history of the presidency.  But, bluster and lies don’t count, and they have accomplished nothing, as Sean Spicer would say, PERIOD.

Yet, they do continue to show just what they think of Americans.  Especially those who are not part of the elite 1 percent of the wealthiest in the country.  They hate us with a complete passion that even Paul Ryan has been smart enough to not display openly.

The latest example came from his “wonderful” tax reform plan.  Well, it was a one page list of wishes complete with absolute lies to make it sound wonderful.  It is really wonderful if you are part of the 1 percenters or if you are a company.  Then, you are overjoyed with what you saw.  If you are not part of one of those two groups, then maybe you shouldn’t be to excited over his wish list.

Oh, his is going to tell you that he isn’t helping the 1 percent too much because he is only bringing down the highest tax rate from 39 percent to 35 percent instead of the 33 percent he promised during the campaign.  But, there are two items in his wish list that will only affect those 1 percenters and bring their taxes down even more and not yours.

The first thing he wants to do is eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.  That is a tax level that is currently at about 28 percent that was created to keep people, especially the super rich, from getting so many deductions from other loopholes, that they would be required to pay something.  The Alternative Minimum Tax cost trump himself one year $31 million dollars.  No wonder he wants to see it go.

This Alternative Minimum Tax only affects people who earn over $250,000 per year.  So, the 99 percent of the population that does not earn $250,000 per year are not affected by this tax.  It is estimated that eliminating this tax will slash revenues over 600 billion dollars over 10 years.

The second thing is the Estate Tax.  The Estate Tax was implemented because our country was so worried about “inherited” wealth creating an aristocracy that is so prevalent in places like England.  It was intended so people could inherit estates but not become so über rich that they never need contribute to society.

Today, families do not pay any Estate Tax on estates up to $11 million.  Meaning, only the super rich will be faced with estate taxes over that amount.  Again, the 99 percent of Americans do not gain anything from the elimination of the Estate Tax.  But, Republicans and the rich hate it so much they call it the “death tax” and say that you will lose your inheritance if it isn’t repealed.  That is a blatant lie as you can see.

If the Estate Tax were to be repealed, a whopping 5,300 people would be affected, and all of them with estates over $11 million.  Additionally, it is estimated that revenue losses would be about $174 billion.

There are some other little tidbits they don’t want you to know about.  They want to reduce the rate on capital gains and non-corporate business taxes all of which mainly benefit the rich.

Additionally, they want to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent surtax on the investment income of high earners, put in place to subsidize health coverage for low-income Americans.  That not only means a nice tax cut for the wealthy, but it would also mean low-income Americans would probably lose their health insurance.

There was one small crumb for the rest of us.  This plan says that the first $25,000 of income would be considered “tax-free”.  But, it doesn’t guarantee the standard deductions would remain in place.  If that is eliminated, for us, this plan would be a wash at best.

Then we have the corporate tax rate being cut down to 15 percent.  The one big item in this phase is that some owner-operated industries would now be allowed to pay the 15 percent corporate rate and not the 35 percent proposed rate for the highest earners.

What does that mean?  Well, for one thing, it means that trump himself would not be subjected to the 35 percent bracket.  He would be able to claim the corporate rate instead.  That goes for a lot of others in the Real Estate business, or even doctors, lawyers, etc.

The plan calls for three tax brackets for individuals.  Those brackets would be 10, 25, and 35 percent.  So, if you now make between $19,000 and $76,000 you currently fall in the 15 percent bracket.  However, there will be no 15 percent bracket.  So, where they draw the lines between brackets could have a positive or negative affect on your taxes.

For example, if they draw the line between 10 percent and 25 percent at $50,000 and you earn more than that, you will pay more taxes.  If you earn $50,000 or less, you may pay less taxes.  The problem is we don’t know where these lines will be drawn.

Yet, experts seem to agree that if this “wish list” of tax cuts goes through, the government will lose over $5 Trillion over the next 10 years.  Beloved Leader’s military build-up plan will cost about half of that total.  Meaning, the deficit will literally explode.

Of course this administration is claiming that these tax cuts will cause the economy to grow about 4 percent.  Their argument is the same as Reagan’s that once rich people have more money, they will invest in creating jobs.  Once companies have more money they will expand production meaning more jobs.  It is simply another example of “voodoo economics” that did not work under Reagan.

As for production ands jobs, let me explain it this way.  Production at our manufacturing plants has doubled since 1984.  That is right, production has doubled since 1984.  However, this production rise is being accomplished with one-third of the workforce that was needed before 1984.

See, free trade agreements are not the only thing killing manufacturing jobs.  The major culprit in killing manufacturing jobs is automation.  By using robots, companies can increase production, and reduce the workforce at the same time.  So all of the talk you keep hearing from Republicans about raising the minimum wage and “regulations” taking your jobs away is complete bullshit.  You are losing your jobs because companies can make more product using robots than using workers.  It is purely a bottom line position.

Beloved leader is no more going to “bring back jobs” than he is going to put coal miners back to work.  It is a fable they are selling, and too many people are buying it.  The real solution is to retrain our workforce to fill positions that cannot automate.  Or, by retraining them to properly handle, maintain, and program the automated assembly line.

That will not happen under trump and Republicans in Congress because that takes money, and since you are not part of the 1 percenters, you don’t deserve to have money spent on you.  As a matter of fact, it might mean no huge tax cuts for the rich, and that is totally unacceptable to Republicans.

In its first 100 days in office, this administration has shown its total disdain for the Average American.  They do not care about you.  They do not care if you have health insurance.  They do not care if you have the proper training to get a good paying job in today’s automated world.  The do not care if you only make minimum wage.  As a matter of fact, the lower your wage the better for them.

None of this is new.  Republicans have been singing this tune ever since Ronald Reagan.  The only thing new about it is we have an administration that doesn’t care if you now know the tune as well.  They are openly daring you to do something about it.  They know the only thing you can do is vote them out of office, and they are counting on you not to care enough to even show up to the polls.

And, that is why 2018 will be so important for the direction of this country and your welfare.  Only voters can stop the madness.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 137. 

Well, a new week and new issues.  The trump administration is fresh off of getting its clock cleaned by his own party, so he plans to move on.  The first thing he did was name his son-in-law to head up a new thing to remake the government with a “business view”.  Bad idea from the get go.  Don’t forget, trump’s business savvy resulted in six bankruptcies.

Before conservatives start to howl, think about it.  Every state that elected a “business man” to be their governor, the state’s economy crashed.  Look at states like the Soviet Socialist State of Kansas.  It was supposed to be the Tea Party Utopia.  It has failed miserably,  The massive tax cuts only raised the debt so much that basic essential government operations have been cut to the bone and are basically ineffective.

The State of Kansas is struggling so bad that the Republican controlled legislature even passed a tax hike bill to save the state from bankruptcy.  Only Chairman Brownbeck vetoed the bill and the Republicans couldn’t overturn the veto.

It was said that there would be some “privatization” of some government services.  That is also a bad idea.  Everything that Republicans have “privatized” in government services has wound up costing us more money than it did when the government ran it.  There is a basic reason for that.  Companies need to make money, the government doesn’t.  We already know what will be the first thing to be “privatized”.  The Veterans Administration.

It is trump’s view that after serving our country, we veterans should be handed a voucher for our benefits.  Forget that those vouchers won’t cover the cost of our care, that is what they will try to do.  The administrations’ view towards veterans is simple.  “Risk you life to serve our country, and get your voucher.  Then just go away”.

Then trump and his crooks are going to “reform the tax code”.  Reforming the tax code may be necessary in the long run, but the attention to detail that trump showed the Americans Without Health Care Act, or rather the lack of attention, doesn’t speak well that we will really get tax reform instead of a huge tax cut for the rich.

As usual, we will need to look and watch what the wacko fringe groups in the House do.  Already, the so-called deficit hawks are backing away from their idea that we need pay for the tax cuts to avoid raising the deficit.

“I think there’s been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told ABC News on Sunday on “This Week,” arguing that tax cuts would provide financial relief for ordinary American families.

“Does it have to be fully offset?” Meadows asked. “My personal response is no.”

As usual, the Republicans do not have a plan ready to talk about.  Again, they have only had like 30 years to put one together, but they didn’t bother until now.

Some of things that Ryan and trump want are huge cuts in tax rates.  Ryan want to eliminate all personal deductions with the possible exception of mortgage deductions and charitable giving.  That might not go far enough for some in congress.  There are still those who are looking for a flat tax with no deductions at all.

As discussed several times in the past, a flat tax would hugely help the rich pay even less taxes and the middle class and poor working class would pay on average $2000 more in taxes.  Which is exactly why conservatives love it so much.

Then there is the big kicker.  Under what Ryan has been talking about, these tax cuts would explode the deficit.  Even taking into consideration economic growth, it is estimated that Ryan’s plan would add $2.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

One way Ryan figures he can offset some of these losses is by implementing a “border tax” on imports.  He has talked often about a 20 percent tax on all products coming into the country.  But, in typical Republican fashion, Ryan has never considered exactly what that would mean.

Ryan claims that with the border tax, we would see more growth in American industry.  But he also forgets to mention that prices would explode as well.   There are a host of business interests that are against the border tax.  But, Ryan, as usual, doesn’t care about that.

Nor does Ryan consider that his border tax could result in an import tax war.  If we are going to raise import taxes at our borders what makes you think other countries won’t do the same thing to us.  Meaning our exports would be severely cut due to higher prices for our products overseas.  How is that making American Products competitive in the export business?

You can also bet that this massive tax cut for the rich will result in Ryan and Republicans going after the social safety net.  You can bet that we will see them try to “privatize” Social Security.  You will see them try to make Medicare a voucher program.  These two actions would have a severe adverse impact on our senior citizens.

But, Ryan and the Republicans don’t care about that.  They only care about the tax cuts for the rich.  If poor people and the elderly must suffer for that end, so be it.  And don’t feign surprise at that thought.  Ryan and the Republicans have pushed this for about 40 years now.  And, since they have an incompetent president now, they are licking their chops to get it done.

Republicans also tell us that corporate taxes need to be massively cut.  They say that our corporate taxes are too high.  Only, about half of the corporations in America do not pay a single dollar in taxes now.  Are they going to make it so corporations will have to pay taxes who don’t now?  Are they going to ensure that all of the loopholes that favor corporations are eliminated?  Yeah, like that will happen.

If there is one thing you would think would bring the Republicans together, you would have thought it would have been the repeal of the ACA.  It didn’t happen.  There are a lot more, and bigger, differences between Republicans on tax reform.

Like repealing the ACA there is only one goal they share on taxes.  Cutting taxes for the richest and corporations.  How they cut those taxes and how much they hurt the rest of the people and how big they are willing to let the deficit grow to achieve these cuts is where these differences lie.

As I wrote yesterday, Democrats in Congress is not the opposition to Republicans getting anything done.  Their main opposition is their own party.  The other thing to consider is that we are at the end of March.  The Republicans do not have anything firm in writing as to what they see tax cuts would look like.  Yet, they plan to have it done by August.

It took them seventeen days to fumble the ACA repeal bill.  It took them less than three months to totally screw up their health bill.  Now, they plan to put together a “tax reform” bill in four months.  Really?  Does anyone in the Republican Party even think about what they are saying?

The tax code has not seen a major reform in 30 years.  What makes them think they can do a “reform” in four months?  Are they planning to write their bill in a closet like they did the ACA repeal bill?  Are they going to try to ram through a bill like this without holding any real hearings complete with witnesses from both sides of the argument?  That is about the only way they can do this in four months.

And, what about their dear leader?  Are they going to allow him to have any input in the bill?  It is already known that trump is “cool to the idea” of the border tax.  Of course he would be cool to that idea, it would affect his family’s businesses directly since they don’t make anything in America and don’t have any plans to do so.

The resistance cannot take a rest because the ACA repeal failed.  There are issues that are just as dangerous to the American people on the horizon.  The “businification” of our government will kill our people.  And, the tax cuts they are looking to impose will allow the rich to save hundreds of millions in taxes while the rest of us pay the price.

If you think this is all a bad idea, don’t forget that trump still wants some kind of infrastructure bill that will cost about $1 trillion dollars.  He still wants to build the Berlin Wall on the southern border that will cost about $21 billion.  Those numbers are not included in the deficit explosion that Ryan’s tax cuts will already cause.

Trump promised his base that he would not touch Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.  The ACA repeal bill proved he was lying on Medicaid, so what makes you think he will keep his promise when it comes to Medicare and Social Security?

Nothing trump or the Republicans have done so far was done to benefit the average American.  Everything has been done to benefit the wealthy.  The Americans Without Health Care Act was nothing but a tax cut for the rich masquerading as a health care bill.

The proposed budget from our beloved leader shows us just what he thinks is important.  It isn’t the people.  He wants to cut Public Broadcasting, Education, Environmental Protection, Science Research, Health Research, the State Department, and other areas that you depend upon.

Republicans and trump have brought the knives out, and we the average people are the ones who are going to bleed to death.  The class war to eliminate the middle-class and make this a two class society is in full swing.

Watch what they are doing very carefully.  When the “facts” start coming out about theses bills on the horizon, be ready to resist just as much as you did against the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Our resistance and actions is all that stands between what is right and wrong for average Americans.  Republicans have proven time and again they are on the wrong side.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 131. 

There is an awful lot to watch this week.  There was the open session of the House Intelligence Committee on the Russia Hack and we got some news that everyone kind of knew but didn’t expect to hear.  Neil Gorsuch began his hearing to become part of the Supreme Court.  And, the Republicans are pushing very hard to remove tens of millions of people from their health care coverage.

As I watched the hearing yesterday, I began to wonder if I was watching two different hearings.  The Democrats were hammering away at the real purpose of the hacking by Russia while a lot of Republicans were hammering away at the leaks that basically led to these investigations.  That is somewhat understandable.  Republicans have wanted to deflect away from trump’s administration’s behavior so going after the leakers is their plan.

However, when Comey said that there was an active investigation not only into the Russian hacks, but also about whether or not trump campaign team members actually helped in that hacking scheme, the air seemed to go out of the room.  When he said also there was no information to back-up trump’s claim of wire tapping of his tower, there was a moment of relief in the room.  Everyone in the room had already expressed that was not true for a couple of weeks now.

The one thing I believe this hearing did prove is that we really do need an independent commission, complete with a special prosecutor, to investigate this matter.  I don’t say that easily either.  But, this matter is way too important for any appearance of politics interfering with the investigations.  And, holding the investigation in Congress allows that to take place too easily.

An independent commission, with a special prosecutor, would be able to get to the real truth, regardless of what that truth is.  The circumstantial evidence does not look good for trump, but it is circumstantial and I am not making any decisions on the guilt or innocence of him or his team.  I want the truth.

Hopefully, the investigation at the FBI will go along smoothly, but since it is part of the executive branch, there is no guaranty of that either.  Watergate proved that point very well in the past.

Just as importantly, the White House started distancing itself from some of the players in this investigation.  Spicer even went so far as to say the Paul Manafort “played a very minor role for a very short period of time”.  He also said that Mike Flynn “was just a campaign volunteer”.

Does the White House really believe the American People are that stupid?  Paul Manafort ran the campaign from March through August.  He was brought into the campaign to have a professional actually run it for them.  He did not play a “very minor role”.

Mike Flynn was not just “a campaign volunteer”.  He was the security advisor to the campaign.  He even went onto become the National Security Advisor in the administration.  That is quite a leap from just being a “campaign volunteer”.

Sometimes when I watch this administration I am dumbfounded by their ease in lying to the American People.  On the other hand, that has been their way of doing business ever since trump began his campaign.  But, now when it appears they just might have gotten caught with the whopper, they are hunkering down even more.

The problem is that I believe they are actually circling the wagons in a minefield.  How many times have you heard that if the moron would just come out and say he made a mistake, even with a flimsy excuse, about the wiretapping claim he could get around it.  But, trump never admits he is wrong about anything.  And, this is no different.

Then, out of the blue, it was reported last night that our empty suit of a Secretary of State is going to skip the NATO meeting in April.  They claim he is skipping the meeting to stay around for the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington.  However, later in the month, he is going to visit Moscow.

That is a very bad message to send to our allies.  Instead of trying to change either the NATO meeting date or the Chinese visit date, they are just going to skip NATO but still visit Russia.  If trump had not been hammering away at NATO and trying to make it appear as a protection racket, maybe NATO members wouldn’t get nervous about this situation.  But, since trump cannot stop calling NATO “obsolete”, I am guessing they are very nervous about this situation.  And, I don’t blame them.

The Gorsuch hearings are ongoing and I will have more as this week goes on.  But, this hearing is very important.  I already pointed out one case that I believe should exclude him from serving on the Court.  I want to hear what he says, and I really want to hear what questions the Democrats are going to ask.  I already know the Republicans will just showcase their ideology rather than vet this candidate.

Now we come to the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Republicans are trying very hard to placate other Republicans to get them to vote for this bill.  They announced some changes to the bill and are touting that it will help older Americans better.  That is nice, but it is also gutting more parts that will hurt many more Americans.

Some of the amendments geared towards conservatives include Medicaid and what is being called the Buffalo Bailout.  One thing they want to add is a “work requirement” to receive Medicaid.  That may sound nice, but it will hurt a whole lot of poor people and people with disabilities.  There has been no clear definition of just who must follow this “work requirement”.  They want to take a program that is intended to assist out-of-work people and poor people to have health care and put “requirements” on them.

About one-third of people on Medicaid are in nursing homes.  Are they supposed to follow the “work requirement”?  That may sound like a crazy question, but it is a very real possibility if there aren’t any definitions about who must obey this requirement.

This is just another example of the conservative viewpoint that anyone who needs help only needs help because they are lazy slugs who don’t want to work and support their families.

They are also going to “speed up” the tax cuts from the ACA, the repeal of expanded Medicaid and “block grants” to states for Medicaid.  And, this small government party wants to dictate just how states do their Medicaid.  Hence the Buffalo Bailout.

In New York State, and many others, the state requires counties to contribute to Medicaid costs.  The Upstate counties complain that it means they must charge higher property taxes.  So, conservatives in Congress have decided that they will step into each state’s operation and state that counties no longer need to contribute to Medicaid costs.

To show they mean business, they have even said that this applies to any county that has a population of less that 5 million people.  They are not only interfering with a state’s operations, they are saying which counties are involved.  So much for “small government” actions.

As far as the Americans Without Health Care Act goes, in order to help older Americans purchase insurance they have decided to include 75 billion dollars to increase tax credits for people between 50 and 64.  Only, the cowardly House won’t say how that money should be used, they are leaving it to the Senate.  In other words, they want the House to pass a bill that gives 75 billion dollars to it, but won’t say how it should be spent.

Additionally, they won’t say how they were going to pay for that 75 billion dollars.  This is the party that says everything must be paid for before it is passed.  Yet, here is 75 billion dollars that isn’t being paid for and still is expected to be passed.

None of these changes are going to do anything to lower health care costs.  None of these changes are going to do anything to keep people from losing their health car coverage.  The only thing this bill will do is give the rich massive tax cuts.

We don’t know if it will even get out of the House.  The so-called Freedom Caucus is still against it, but there are serious cracks in their front.  They need 21 votes to kill the bill in the House.  If it gets to the Senate, it only needs 3 votes to kill the bill.  So far, there are a lot more than 3 Republicans who are against it.  So, this may not reach the president’s desk.

But, that is nothing to cheer about.  If this bill does not pass, you can bet the next one, if there is a next one, will be far more conservative than this one is and many more people will lose their health care coverage.  Or, Republicans will do nothing except cut the ACA even more through executive actions, and hurt even more people just for ideology’s sake and tax cuts.

Then there is the budget that trump wants to pass that will hurt the poor even more.  It will gut the EPA and destroy our State Department.  We have heard some really stupid things to justify this draconian budget like Meals On Wheels isn’t effective.  Then over the weekend, one GOP congressman in Pennsylvania said that “god was guilty in helping pollute the Chesapeake Bay”.  He came up with this brilliant answer when it was demanded in his town hall that he vote against gutting the EPA.

There are a lot of things to watch this week in Washington.  But, with an FBI investigation hanging over the White House, things could get very interesting in the coming months.  What was it that trump said during the campaign?  Oh yeah, “you cannot elect someone who is being investigated by the FBI”.

I wonder if that means you cannot pass an agenda by an administration that is “being investigated by the FBI”?  I guess you have to answer that question for yourself.

We keep hearing from Republicans to look at “what the president has done in such a short time”.  Only, when you look at what he has done you discover he really hasn’t done a damn thing.  Except for business owners.  He has done nothing for the people who voted for him.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 128. 

Republicans claim they want “school choice” which is really a way for the government to subsidize private schools of their choice.  However, there is a case before the Supreme Court that shows just how limited they really want “school choice” to be in the case of disabled children.  And, believe it or not, Gorsuch is at the heart of that case.

The case is Endrew F v. Douglas County School District.  This case will determine the standards under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).  According to what took place during the hearing, Gorsuch’s potential colleagues are mystified about a term that was used in a lower court ruling against the plaintiff.  That term is “minimally more than de minimis”.

Judge Ruth Ginsberg asked “who invented it”?  Well the answer is Neil Gorsuch.  Here s a little breakdown of the case.

The family of an autistic child (Luke) sued the school district about 10 years ago.  The case came about because the school district refused to reimburse the family due to their having to send their child to a specialized residential school for autistic children.  Such private school placements, paid for by the public school district, are allowable under the IDEA in limited circumstances.

It’s not that the school district wasn’t doing what it could to meet Luke’s educational needs. As Gorsuch put it, his “life away from school during the same time paints a much different picture.” Berthoud Elementary, where Luke attended second grade, didn’t seem equipped to prepare him for home life.

“Luke was unevenly tempered, often displaying inappropriate and sometimes violent behavior at home and in public places such as grocery stores and restaurants,” Gorsuch wrote. “He developed various sleep problems ― going to bed at odd hours, waking up frequently at night, and refusing to sleep in a bed. Luke also developed a habit of intentionally spreading his nighttime bowel movements around his bedroom. In addition, although Luke became toilet trained at school by the time he was in first grade, he was not able to transfer this skill to the home and other settings away from school.”

Based on this record, a hearing officer, an administrative judge and a federal district judge agreed in three separate decisions that the school district needed to reimburse Luke’s parents for a private school placement ― which the family’s lawyer Robinson and the family Perkins both said made a world of difference for Luke.

This is all in line with IDEA so disabled children get the specialized education they need.  In most cases, the school district just pays the fees.  But in this case, the school district in Colorado decided it needn’t pay the parents for their expenses.

The case wound up with a three judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and Gorsuch was one of those judges.  Despite the rulings of the three different hearings that said the a school district must pay the parents, Gorsuch didn’t see it that way.

The fact is that in a very short period of time, this specialized residential school made a world of difference to Luke and his life.  Despite this, Gorsuch led the court in overturning the three previous decisions by claiming that the IDEA benefits available to children like Luke were “limited in scope.”

“We sympathize with Luke’s family and do not question the enormous burdens they face,” he wrote in the decision, which effectively forced the Perkins family to pay for their son’s education out-of-pocket. “Our job, however, is to apply the law as Congress has written it and the Supreme Court has interpreted it.”

Gorsuch added that the statute only requires schools to create an individual educational plan that allows a student to achieve “some progress” toward the goals identified in that plan. Or in the judge’s more telling phrase, “merely more than de minimis” progress.

This is an example of just how Gorsuch looks at people with disabilities.  How could any law passed by Congress would have such a trivial standard?  That is the question that faces the Supreme Court.  The case from 1982 Board of Education v. Rowley, there is no mention of the term “merely more than de minimis”.  The word “merely” was pulled out of thin air by Gorsuch in his ruling in this case.

As a matter of fact, it was the same court that embraced the term “more than de minimis in a case in 1996.  It was Gorsuch that added the word “merely” in 2008.

This case goes way beyond just this one case.  We have a Secretary of Education that has no idea what the IDEA law entails.  Now, we have a nominee to the Supreme Court that doesn’t think the school district should help disabled children beyond “merely more than de minimis”.

You can also see that all of the fight over “school choice” does not include children with disabilities.  It only covers those who want to destroy public schools and have the government pay for their tuition at private schools.

Luke is now doing very well.  He is currently 22 and had aged out of the IDEA program.  He still lives in Massachusetts. He participates in a work program, goes shopping, eats at restaurants and engages in other activities that likely wouldn’t have been possible without the special school.  Basically, he has a good life that would not have been available without proper education.

What would have happened to him if his parents did not have the means to send him to this specialized school?  What if he had been born to poor people?  He would not have gotten this education and would not have developed.  Gorsuch thinks that the dollars are more important than this education and wants to deny people like Luke a chance.

Before I say this, I must confess that I am a grandfather of an autistic grandson.  However, this goes beyond just that.  So, to me, it is a great example of why Neil Gorsuch is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.  I have very easy standard for the Supreme Court.  The Constitution is designed to protect people.  So, any Judge who puts dollars ahead of people does not deserve to be on the court.  Gorsuch’s ruling in this case clearly puts dollars ahead of this person.

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Day 126. 

As a nation we need to ask one question.  What type of country are we willing to become?  Ever since trump won the election, that question has been at the top of everything he has proposed.  And, in my opinion, he is looking for something that has not been America.

He has pitted race against race, religion against religion, and rich against poor.  We have always had problems in these areas, but he has ramped them up to a point where your race, your religion, and your wealth is the determining factor of whether you are a winner or a loser in his America.

He has tried to place a limited Muslim Ban on travel to the U.S. twice now, and he was rejected by the courts twice.  He claims that is all in the name of “keeping Americans safe” but he always runs his mouth and shows that it is really based on religion, which is unconstitutional.  His administration doesn’t help either with their rants about how Muslims are the root of all of our problems.

Then we have the so-called “Obamacare Repeal and Replace” legislation trying to get out of the house.  The CBO scored it and there are some good things and some bad thing for both sides.  The good for Republicans is it says that it will reduce the budget by $337 billion over ten years.  The bad for everybody is that 24 million people will lose their health care over the same 10 years.  The White House memo says that 26 million people will lose their health care over that 10 year period.

It is also becoming apparent even to Paul Ryan that the bill as written cannot get out of the House.  His problem is that in order to get out of the house he needs to take it even further right.  But, in order to get it through the Senate it needs to go further left.  It would seem that he has painted himself into a corner, and trump seems willing to let him blow in the wind over it as well.

Now we are seeing trump’s first budget.  This budget shows us just what kind of country trump wants us to have.  A country with no culture, no heritage, no sympathy, no decency, just more military and more bullets.

Naturally, there is the huge increase in defense spending and a huge increase in DHS budget for mass deportations and his Berlin Wall.  But there are still huge cuts for the Coast Guard, the TSA, and FEMA.

The Coast Guard is really our front line defense for our borders in terms of drug trafficking and people trafficking, as well as our port security.  The TSA is supposed to make us safe while flying  FEMA is the agency that responds to natural disasters, and in case you didn’t know, they are responsible to coordinate relief work in case of a wide-scale terrorist attack.  Who needs these agencies?  Apparently not trump.

But it gets even worse.  HUD will lose $3 Billion in its budget.  Number one on the hit parade from HUD will be a small program called “Meals on Wheels”.  All funding will go away to help old and disabled people get food delivered to them.  There will also be the elimination of the heating help funding for poor and older Americans.

The State Department will lose 28 percent of its budget.  The EPA will be hit hardest with a 31.4 percent cut to its budget.  What will be taken away is 3200 jobs and eliminate a new plan for tighter regulations on power plants, and “zero out” programs to clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.

Health and Human Services is facing a 16.2 percent cut.  These include cuts of $5.8 billion from the nearly $32 billion National Institutes of Health, the nation’s premier medical research agency.  The NIH’s budget has not kept up with inflation as it is, and now trump wants to cut it even more.  This is the agency the does research on diseases to help us defeat things like cancer or stop pandemics before they get going too bad.  But then, since fewer people will have health insurance, who needs research?

The Department of Labor is facing a 20 percent cut.  These cuts include eliminating a federal program designed to help people 55 and older get new jobs.  The Labor Department is also supposed to protect your safety at work.  OSHA will see a huge cut in its budge meaning fewer inspections of workplace safety.

The Commerce Department is facing a 12 percent cut.  One of the biggest will be at NOAA.  These cuts would eliminate more than $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants, including a program that helps coastal communities adapt to climate change, deal with invasive species and maintain healthy water and fisheries. Also on the chopping block: the Economic Development Administration, which provides federal dollars to foster job creation and attract private investment; and the Minority Business Development Agency, which is dedicated to helping minority-owned business get off the ground and grow.

Other independent agencies will be cut off completely and be forced to shut down.  These include the Public Broadcasting Corporation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Chemical Safety Board, the United States Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for National Community Service and the African Development Foundation. That foundation was established by Congress and provides seed money and other support to enterprises in some 20 countries on that continent.

I guess Big Bird is on the chopping block, again.  We really need to do away with things like education for young children and eliminating the arts for everyone else.  What kind of country needs those things?  And, chemical safety is definitely not needed since we can trust the Koch Brothers to protect us from harmful chemicals.

These are just some of the cuts that trump wants to make to the budget.  Of course, Republicans will tell you how much this budget will save money, but they will leave out their upcoming massive cut taxes, especially on the rich.  That means, even with these cuts, the deficit will grow even more than it is.

However, this also brings us back to the question I asked at the beginning.  What type of country are we willing to become?  All of these cuts affect the average person.  All of these cuts will have a negative impact on just about every American who is not in the top 2 percent of income brackets.

The Department of Education is also facing cuts and the biggest target is support for before and after school programs.  How is that helping the middle-class and the working poor?  It doesn’t and it will affect you directly.

There has always been a kind of pride in Americans and their willingness to help those in need.  Are we going to let that one trait of ours go away?  Are we going to stand by and let the unfortunate become poorer while the rich get richer?

Just how are the poor, the working poor, and the middle-class going to get ahead if they need to spend more income on things like expensive child care that will only keep them back?  As silly as some of you think, the Public Broadcasting Corporation helps educate children before they start school.  Are we going to handicap poor people’s children just to save a few dollars?

Before and after school programs allow parents to keep working to support their families and help keep kids off of the streets thus getting into trouble.  Should we really eliminate that funding as well?

The same people who want these cuts to take effect are the same people who claim that America was founded on “Christian Principles”.  Really?  These cuts to the social fabric of our nation are examples of “Christian Principles”?  If it is I am glad I am not Christian.

The health insurance argument really sums it up best.  The real question isn’t about liberalism v. conservatism.  It isn’t about right v. left.  It is about one simple question.  Is health care a right or a privilege?  If you believe it is a right that everyone deserves health care, then you must support universal health care because that is the only way people will actually have affordable health care coverage.

If you believe that it is a privilege then you fully support the Republican plan.  You are saying openly and defiantly that health care only belongs to those who can pay for it out-of-pocket.  If you cannot afford it out-of-pocket, you don’t deserve it.

If you believe that health care is a privilege, then you are surely in favor of all of these social cuts to the budget as well.  If health care is a privilege then so is clean air and water.  So is workplace safety.  So is being warned about weather events that may hurt or kill us.  So is medical research.

Those are some areas where these cuts are most felt.  The disadvantaged are being targeted so trump can have a massive military buildup.  They are being targeted so the rich can get more massive tax cuts.  Trump is telling his supporters who will be hardest hit, “screw you, I won”.

Of course it still needs to get through Congress.  We know that Democrats will be against most of these cuts, if not all of them.  We can only hope they are able to kill this budget before it kills too many of us.

If you believe that the disadvantaged should be abandoned and left to die, then trump is your president and the Republicans are your party.  But, I would suggest you stop your “Christian Principles” argument because you are not only lying to us, you are lying to yourself.  “What you do unto the least of you, you also do unto me”.

So far, I believe that this administration and Republican Controlled Congress want to abandon the disadvantaged.  They are only interested in the wealthy.  To me, that lacks all decency.  This budget is a snap shot of that lack of decency and moral fiber.  It is a perfect example of greed and a “me first” attitude.

So much for Christian Principles.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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