Category Archives: Money

Duty and Honor

Posted by: BetsM

Op-ed by Gary Hart

Gary HartOf the many reasons for public discontent with government generally and Congress particularly, none is more obvious than the wholesale movement of former members of both Houses of Congress into the lobbying business. The massive lobbying industry is quick to remind us that lobbying is perfectly legal, or perhaps it is better to say not illegal, and that it has been going on from the beginning of parliaments. That may be technically true, but it neglects the critical point that, when conducted by former members of Congress, and now increasingly their wives and children, lobbying is a sophisticated way of trading titles provided by voters for substantial personal gain.

No one truly believes that John Doe is as valuable to his lobbying firm and its corporate clients as former Senator John Doe is. Senator John Doe adds prestige to the firm. More importantly, he can open doors in the offices of his former colleagues. In the lobbying business, that is pure gold. The core and centerpiece of the lobbying business is ACCESS. It is possible to count on the fingers of one hand the number of members of Congress who refuse to see a former colleague.

My relatively few years in elective office spanned a critical transition time. Very few of my Senate colleagues from the 1970s became lobbyists. For most of the great ones it was a matter of self-respect and personal honor. By the time I retired from office in the later 1980s, not only former Senators but also their wives and sons and daughters were joining or forming lobbying firms and making a very great deal of money. It would take more than blog space permits to analyze the reasons for this transformation. But much of it had to do with the triumph of money over that earlier sense of personal honor. No American has the right to trade an office and a title bestowed upon him or her by the people for personal gain.

Senators Michael Bennet and Jon Tester are sponsoring legislation to bar Senators from lobbying for life. I would find it amazing if there were even committee hearings on this proposal, let alone a vote on the floor of the Senate. But such a measure would do more to demonstrate that the current Senate is serious about recapturing its dignity, its respect, and its sense of honor than any other single step I can think of. And perhaps most of all, it would go a very long way to restoring the confidence of the people in their government.

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Vice-President Joe Biden: Recovery Act Tax Benefits

Posted by: Audiegrl

With the 2010 tax filing season underway, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman today announced that that average tax refunds are up nearly 10 percent this year, due in large part to the significant new tax benefits available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), and reminded taxpayers that they can collect on those benefits this year as they file their 2009 tax returns. To help taxpayers see for themselves exactly how they can benefit from Recovery Act tax credits and collect every dollar owed when they file this tax season, the White House today launched a new interactive Tax Savings Tool available at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Recovery.

Here is a quick run-down of some key tax benefits available thanks to the Recovery Act:

  • Making Work Pay: 95 percent of working families are receiving the Work Pay tax credit of $400 for an individual or $800 for married couples filing jointly in their paychecks in 2009.
  • College Expenses: Families and students are eligible for up to $2500 in tax savings under the American Opportunity Credit.
  • Purchase of First Home: Homebuyers can get a credit of up to $8000 for first homes purchased by April 30, 2010 under the First Time homebuyer tax credit.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Incentives: Taxpayers are eligible for up to $1500 in tax credits for making some energy-efficiency improvements to their homes.
  • New Vehicle Purchases: Taxpayers can deduct state and local sales taxes or fees for vehicle purchases under the vehicle sales tax deduction.
  • Expanded Family Credits: Moderate income families with children may be eligible for an increase under the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional Child Tax Credit.
  • Unemployment Benefits Tax Free in 2009: the Recovery Act made the first $2400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009 tax free.

The Recovery Act’s tax benefits of nearly $300 billion are not only providing some relief for middle class families, but also helping to jumpstart the economy and create more clean-energy, manufacturing, and construction jobs.

To learn more, visit Recovery.gov.

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/13/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.gov—The President, having just signed the “Pay As You Go” law, discusses the importance of this fundamental rule to getting budget deficits in check. Ensuring that new spending and tax cuts are offset was a important factor in creating the budget surplus of the late 1990’s.
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President Clueless? Not so fast…

Posted by: Betsm

Reports claim Obama kisses up to the bankers in an interview. Critics on the left erupt! Here’s why they shouldn’t

President Barack ObamaPretty clever, those Bloomberg folks! First they buy BusinessWeek. Then BusinessWeek gets an interview with President Obama. Then, one day before the interview is to run, Bloomberg scoops its sister publication by excerpting a couple of choice nuggets suggesting Obama is cuddling up to the banks.

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay…

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

Unsurprisingly, two of Obama’s harshest critics on banking policy — from the left — immediately went ballistic. Simon Johnson called it “a major public relations disaster” and Paul Krugman, in a post titled “Clueless,” said “you would think that Obama would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what’s happening” and declared that “we are doomed.”

Hmm. Maybe we should read the entire interview before rending our hair and screaming doom and disaster? If there’s one thing we know about the president, it’s that he is pretty good with nuance and capable of making complex, multifaceted arguments. His performance during his meeting with the House GOP two weeks ago should provide all the evidence we need for that.

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Read the entire article by Andrew Leonard @ Salon

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 01/30/10

white house gov logo
WhiteHouse.govReining in Budget Deficits~~The President pledges to rein the deficit, citing three specific steps to this end. He praises the Senate for restoring the pay-as-you-go law, discusses his proposal for a freeze in discretionary spending, and calls for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission to hammer out further concrete deficit reduction proposals.

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The First Lady Announces New Funding for Military Families

First Lady Michelle Obama attends the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Luncheon at Bolling Air Force Base January 26, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama announces that the President’s 2011 budget will include a record $8.8 billion for military family support programs in remarks to the Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Luncheon.

She discussed new support for military spouses and children to be included in the upcoming budget:

  • Increasing funds for military family support programs
  • Reducing shortages in military child care
  • Increasing funds for youth programs for military children
  • Increasing funds for spousal career development
  • New funding for quality Coast Guard housing

The First Lady called for Americans to support military families and thanked the spouses and children for their service to their communities. “You put your own priorities aside. You take care of one another. You take care of America. And as First Lady, I can’t thank you all enough and I promise you that I will use every ounce of my being to make sure that America always takes care of you.”

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The Rachel Maddow Show: White House Explains Spending Freeze

Rachel Maddow ShowRachel Maddow talks with White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein about the breaking news that President Barack Obama will announce a “non-security” spending freeze in his State of the Union address on Wednesday evening.
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