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The Myth of Democratic Super Majority.

One of the standard Republican talking points is that the Democrats had a filibuster-proof, super majority for two years between 2008 and 2010. This talking point is usually trotted out when liberals complain that the Republicans filibustered virtually every piece of legislation proposed by Obama or the Democrats during Obama’s presidency. The implication is that Democrats had ample opportunity to pass legislation and that the reason they didn’t pass more legislation doesn’t have anything to do with the Republicans.

It is also used to counter any argument that Republican legislation, (passed during the six years of total Republican control,) has anything to do with today’s problems. They claim that the Democrats had a super majority for two years and passed all kinds of legislation, (over Republican objection and filibuster,) that completely undid all Republican policies and legislation, and this absolves them from today’s problems.

The Truth is that the Democrats only had a filibuster-proof majority for 60 working days during that period, insufficient time to undo even a small portion of the legislation passed during six years of Republican control. Here are the details:

To define terms, a Filibuster-Proof Majority or Super Majority is the number of votes required to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. According to current Senate rules, 60 votes are required to overcome a filibuster.

Here is a time-line of the events  after the 2008 election:

1. BALANCE BEFORE THE ELECTION. In 2007 – 2008 the balance in the Senate was 51-49 in favor of the Democrats. On top of that, there was a Republican president who would likely veto any legislation the Republicans didn’t like. Not exactly a super majority.

2. BIG GAIN IN 2008, BUT STILL NO SUPER MAJORITY. Coming out the 2008 election, the Democrats made big gains, but they didn’t immediately get a Super Majority. The Minnesota Senate race required a recount and was not undecided for more than six months. During that time, Norm Coleman was still sitting in the Senate and the Balance 59-41, still not a Super Majority.

3. KENNEDY GRAVELY ILL. Teddy Kennedy casthis last vote in April and left Washington for good around the first of May. Technically he could come back to Washington vote on a pressing issue, but in actual fact, he never returned, even to vote on the Sotomayor confirmation. That left the balance in the Senate 58-41, two votes away from a super majority.

4. STILL NO SUPER MAJORITY. In July, Al Frankin was finally declared the winner and was sworn in on July 7th, 2009, so the Democrats finally had a Super Majority of 60-40 six and one-half months into the year. However, by this point, Kennedy was unable to return to Washington even to participate in the Health Care debate, so it was only a technical super majority because Kennedy could no longer vote and the Senate does not allow proxies. Now the actual actual balance of voting members was 59-40 not enough to overcome a Republican filibuster.

5. SENATE IS IN RECESS. Even if Kennedy were able to vote, the Senate went into summer recess three weeks later, from August 7th to September 8th.

6. KENNEDY DIES. Six weeks later, on Aug 26, 2009 Teddy Kennedy died, putting the balance at 59-40. Now the Democrats don’t even have technical super majority.

7. FINALLY, A SUPER MAJORITY! Kennedy’s replacement was sworn in on September 25, 2009, finally making the majority 60-40, just enough for a super majority.

8. SENATE ADJOURNS. However the Senate adjourned for the year on October 9th, only providing 11 working days of super majority, from September 25th to October 9th.

9. SPECIAL SESSIONS. During October, November and December, the Senate had several special sessions to deal with final passage of ACA and Budget appropriations.

October = 13th – 15th, 20th – 22nd, 27th, 29th = 8 days
November = 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th  16th, 17th, 19th, 21st = 8 days
December = 1st, 3rd  - 8th, 10th – 13th, 15th – 18th, 19th, 21st – 24th = 20 days

Total Special Session Days = 36.

8. SCOTT BROWN ELECTED. Scott Brown was elected on January 19th 2010. The Senate was in session for 10 days in January, but Scott Brown wasn’t sworn into office on February 4th, so the Democrats only had 13 days of super majority in 2010.

Summary:

Regular Session: 11 working days
Special Session: 36 working days
Lame Duck Session:  13 working days

The Democrats only had 60 days of Super Majority between 2008 and 2010.

Discussion: One of the central themes of the Republican argument is that the Democrats had a super majority for two full years and so they had plenty of time pass new legislation or undo any problems that were caused by six years of Republican control of all three branches of government. This is argument is used by the Republicans immunize themselves against any responsibility for ongoing problems that might have been caused by their policies.

However, the fact is that the Democrats had a super majority for a total of 60 days, which is no where near the two years that Republicans are always claiming.  On top of that, the period of Super Majority was split into short sessions, none of which was longer than five days. In addition, the special session time was entirely devoted to budget issues and Republican amendments to the ACA.

Given the glacial pace that business takes place in the Senate, this was way too little time for the Democrats pass any meaningful legislation, let alone get bills through committees and past all the obstructionistic tactics the Republicans were using to block legislation. No one can seriously expect that the Democrats could undo in 60 days all the damage that Republicans created in six years.

Further, these Super Majorities count Joe Lieberman as a Democrat even though he was by this time an Independent. Even though he was Liberal on some legislation, he was very conservative on other issues and opposed many of the key pieces of legislation the Democrats and Obama wanted to pass. For example, he was adamantly opposed to “Single Payer” health care and vowed to support a Republican Filibuster if it ever came to the floor. He even threatened to caucus with the Republicans if legislation came to the floor that he didn’t like.

Summary:

1. 1/07 – 12/08 –      51-49 – Ordinary Majority.
2. 1/09 – 7/14/09 – 59-41 – Ordinary Majority. (Coleman/Franklin Recount.)
3. 7/09 – 8/09 -      60-40 – Technical Super Majority, but since Kennedy is unable to vote, the Democrats can’t overcome a filibuster
4. 8/09 – 9/09 -      59-40 – Ordinary Majority. (Kennedy dies)
5. 9/09 – 12/24-   60-40 – Super Majority for 47 working days.
6. 1/10 – 2/10 –  60-40 – Super Majority for 13 working days

Total Time of the Democratic Super Majority: 60 Working days.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_111_1.htm
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/resources/pdf/2009_calendar.pdf
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/resources/pdf/2010_calendar.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Minnesota,_2008
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/111th_United_States_Congress

Tea Party Philosophy in Pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are 12,000 words from the Tea Party on the current president of the United States. Can anyone have any doubt about the true nature of the Tea Party after seeing these pictures?

The Demise of the American Middle Class In Numbers.

The Demise of the American Middle Class In Numbers.

Over the past 60 years the American dream has gradually disappeared. The process was slow, so most people didn’t notice. They just worked a few more hours, borrowed a little more and cut back on non-essentials. But looking at the numbers and comparing them over long time periods, it is obvious that things have changed drastically. Here are the details:

1. WORKERS PRODUCE MORE BUT THE GAINS GO TO BUSINESS.

Over the past 63 years worker productivity has grown by 2.0% per year.

But after 1980, workers received a smaller share every year. Labor’s share of income (1992 = 100%):

1950 = 101%
1960 = 105%
1970 = 105%
1980 = 105%  – Reagan
1990 = 100%
2000 =  96%
2007 =  92%

A 13% drop since 1980

2. THE TOP 10% GET A LARGER SHARE.

Share of National Income going to Top 10%:

1950 = 35%
1960 = 34%
1970 = 34%
1980 = 34% – Reagan
1990 = 40%
2000 = 47%
2007 = 50%

An increase of 16% since Reagan.

3. WORKERS COMPENSATED FOR THE LOSS OF INCOME BY SPENDING THEIR SAVINGS.

The savings Rose up to Reagan and fell during and after.

1950 = 6.0%
1960 = 7.0%
1970 = 8.5%
1980 = 10.0% – Reagan
1982 = 11.2% – Peak
1990 = 7.0%
2000 = 2.0%
2006 = -1.1% (Negative = withdrawing from savings)

A 12.3% drop after Reagan.

4. WORKERS ALSO BORROWED TO MAKE UP FOR THE LOSS.

Household Debt as percentage of GDP:

1965 = 46%
1970 = 45%
1980 = 50% – Reagan
1990 = 61%
2000 = 69%
2007 = 95%

A 45% increase after 1980.

5. SO THE GAP BETWEEN THE RICHEST AND THE POOREST HAS GROWN.

Gap Between the Share of Capital Income earned by the top 1%
and the bottom 80%:

1980 = 10%
2003 = 56%

A 5.6 times increase.

6. AND THE AMERICAN DREAM IS GONE.

The Probably of Moving Up from the Bottom 40% to the Top 40%:

1945 = 12%
1958 =  6%
1990 =  3%
2000 =  2%

A 10% Decrease.

Links:

1 = ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/pf/totalf1.txt
1 = https://www.clevelandfed.org/Research/PolicyDis/No7Nov04.pdf
1 = http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Zh1bveXc8rA/SuddUhLWUaI/AAAAAAAAA7M/iU2gefk317M/s1600-h/Clipboard01.jpg
2 – http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/blog/09/04/27/CongratulationstoEmmanuelSaez/
3 = http://www.demos.org/inequality/images/charts/uspersonalsaving_thumb.gif
3 = http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TableView.asp?SelectedTable=58&Freq=Qtr&FirstYear=2008&LastYear=2010
4 = http://www.prudentbear.com/index.php/household-sector-debt-of-gdp
4 = http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/current/
5/6 = http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?slop=1#slideshow-start

Overview = http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010062415/reagan-revolution-home-roost-charts

Why Corporations and the Rich Pay So Few Taxes?

The Republicans are always complaining that US tax rates are too high, but the facts don’t support this idea. They frequently quote the top “Marginal Tax Rates,” which is 35%. However, this tax is only paid if you make more than a certain amount, and it only applys to the last dollars made. If you actually look at the amount that people pay, the average is only 18%.

But even this doesn’t tell the whole story. Businesses have all sort of deductions and loopholes that help them bring the taxes even lower. So let’s look at some analysis. A good place to start would be comparing the precentage of GDP that is collected as taxes. The first chart shows individual tax rates:

Overall Tax Rates a percentage of GDP
1. Denmark – 48.9
2. Sweden – 48.2
3. Belgium – 44.4
4. France – 43.6
5. Norway – 43.4
6. Italy – 43.3
7. Finland – 43.0
8. Austria – 41.9
9, Iceland – 41.4
10. Hungary – 39.3
11. Netherlands – 38.0
12. Spain – 37.2
13. Luxembourg – 36.9
14. Portugal – 36.6
15. UK – 36.6
16. Czech – 36.4
17. Germany – 36.2
18. New Zealand – 36.0
19. Poland – 33.5
20. Canada – 33.3
21. Ireland – 32.2
22. Greece – 31.3
23. Australia – 30.6
24. Slovakia – 29.8
25. Switzerland – 29.7
26. Korea – 28.7
27. US – 28.3
28. Japan – 27.9
29. Turkey – 23.7
30. Mexico – 20.5
OECD

This chart shows comporate taxes rates:

Corporate Taxes paid as Percentage of GDP
1. Norway – 12.9
2. Australia – 6.6
3. New Zealand – 5.8
4. Luxembourg – 5.0
5. Czech – 4.8
6. Japan – 4.7
7. Denmark – 4.3
8. Spain – 4.2
9. UK – 4.0
10. Korea – 3.8
11. Ireland – 3.8
12. Belgium – 3.7
13. Canada – 3.7
14. Sweden – 3.7
15. Finland – 3.4
16. Italy – 3.4
17. Netherlands – 3.4
18. US – 3.3
19. France – 3.0
20. Portugal – 3.0
21. Switzerland – 3.0
1. OECD 2. Tax Policy Center

As you can see, the US 27th in individual taxes and 18th in corporate taxes; not very high at all.

But this only looks at one aspect of taxes. If you look at some of the details it more interesting:

Corporate Taxes Are Regressive. This means that big business pays less in taxes than small business. Looking at the tax rates for different business incomes:

$20,000 in income = 35% Tax Rate.
$100,000 in income = 39% Tax Rate.
$9-million in income = 34% Tax Rate.

In other words, a big business making $9-million pays less tax than a business making $20,000

Big Business Don’t Pay The Top Rate. Even if a corporation has a top rate of 34%, they rarely actually pay that rate because of loopholes, credits and deductions. In fact some corporations pay a negative rate.

For example, during 2005 1.3 million U.S companies and 39,000 foreign companies paid no income taxes inspite of having $2.5 trillion in revenue. This breaks down to 60% of all US Controlled Corporations 60% of all Foreign Controlled Corporations pay no taxes.

If you focus on large corporations, the number is a little lower; 54.9% of Large US Corporations paid no taxes for at least one year and 44.% paid no taxes for at least three or more years. These are corporations that have average gross recipts of $663-billion each.

Foreign Controlled corporations do even better with 71.7% of them paying no taxes for at least one year. Part of the reason is that Foreign Corporations can hide their profits overseas. For example, the parent can company sell the product to its US subsidary at an inflated price. That allows the US company to makes very little money, while the Foreign makes all the profit.

Real World Examples. To make it more real, let’s look at some real corporations and high rollers who paid little or no taxes:

1. Warren Buffet says he pays lower taxes than his secretary:

“Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the
$46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid
paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned
$60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent.”

That’s without using any tax avoidance techniques. If you use tax avoidance techniques, you can do much better.

2. In 2009 General Electic made $10.3 billion and paid zero taxes and got a $1.1-billion refund. Their 2008 tax effective rate: 5.3%.

3. In 2009, Exxon Mobile US = $0. Although they claim to pay US taxes, Forbes points out that their “financial statement’s don’t show any net income tax liability owed to Uncle Sam,”
In fact, most of their income was moved to “tax-Shelter” countries.

4. In 2008, Goldman Sachs had $2.3 billion profit. EffectiveTax rate = 1%.

5. In 2009 Wells Fargo made $8 billion, Taxes = $0.

6. The Dodgers Owners made $108 million between 2004 and 2008. Federal and State Taxes = $0.

7. Coor/Molson Brewing had a tax rate of -2%.

8. Liberty Media had a tax rate of -2.6%

How Did This Happen? Over the past 50 years, rich corporations have learned all the trick of buying influence and favors from the political system. If you compare tax rates of corporations, rich individuals and the middle class, more and more of the burden of supporting the countyr falls on the middle class:

Personal Income Tax as Percent of Income.

1945 – 11%  1950 -  8%  1955 – 10%  1960 – 10%  1965 – 10%
1970 – 11%  1975 -  9%  1980 – 10%  1985 -  9%  1990 -  9%
1995 -  9%  2000 – 10%  2005 -  8%  2009 -  9%

Percent Income taxes paid by corporations

1945 – 45%  1950 – 38%  1955 – 41%  1960 – 35%  1965 – 34%
1970 – 25%  1975 – 25%  1980 – 20%  1985 – 10%  1990 – 18%
1995 – 19%  2000 – 18%  2005 – 15%  2009 – 18%

As you can see, personal tax rates haven’t changed more than 2% over the last 65 years, but corporate taxes fallen from 45% to 18% so they pay less than half what they used to. That means that more and more of the burden of supporting country falls to the middle class.

As Warren Buffet said:

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08957.pdf
http://www.worldwide-tax.com/us/us_taxes.asp
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/69xx/doc6902/11-28-CorporateTax.pdf
http://www.taxhistory.org/www/features.nsf/Articles/FE9DCA58402875D7852573680064DA50?OpenDocument
http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/12/news/economy/corporate_taxes/
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/tax/article1996735.ece
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601110&sid=a6bQVsZS2_18
http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/01/ge-exxon-walmart-business-washington-corporate-taxes.html
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/03/26/1337021/billions-in-tax-benefits-for-banks.html#ixzz0jVmRHw1e
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik24-2010feb24,0,5865964.column
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_14870850
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Who-Pays-Taxes-by-PrMaine-081210-57.html

Iraq War – First In US History Not Paid For.

The Iraq War is second most expensive war in US history after World War II and the only war in US history not paid for by increased taxes. Rather than cutting spending or instituting a tax to pay for the war, Bush cut taxes and put the cost on the credit card. Here is how we used to pay for our wars:

Civil War: Increased tarrifs and instituted an Income Tax

Spanish American War: Instituted Telephone, Telegraph and Message Excise tax.

World War I: Instituted and increased Federal Income Tax, Re-instituted Telephone Excise tax.

Word War II: Increased all tax rates, reduced exemptions. Collections rose by 18 times between 1941 in 1945.

Korean War: 1950 and 1951, congress Increased taxes by 4% of GPD to pay for the war.

Viet Nam: 1968: Tax 10% Surcharge, Reduded to 5% in 1969

http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/ArtWeb/EED1A8D6B25EF9A8852576A80075F252?OpenDocument
http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/cf7c9c870b600b9585256df80075b9dd/6b24abb33fe1996c852570d200756a5d?OpenDocument
http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/25/shared-sacrifice-war-taxes-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_telephone_excise_tax#Spanish-American_War
http://www.taxanalysts.com/Museum/1861-1865.htm
http://www.taxanalysts.com/Museum/1901-1932.htm

Tort Reform Won’t Help

The Republicans keep touting Tort Reform as a way to save money. For example, some of them say it would save $124-billion by reducing defensive medicine. This number has been debunked by the CBO. They found under the best-case scenario, it would save at most $11-billion.

At the same time, the CBO found that in states that had Tort Reform, medical errors and injuries increased. Finally, the report says that the cost of malpractice insurance is going up because of poor investments by Insurance Companies and low stock prices due to the economic crisis.

http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=4968&type=0

But even if the $124-billion were accurate, it wouldn’t help. $124-billion out 2.24-trillion spent on health care only equals a one-time improvement of 5% of the costs. That’s only $15 on a $300 plan. Since the costs are currently going up at a rate of 6.9% per year, a 5% savings would be wiped out in the first year.

http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/malpractice-savings-reconsidered/

Medical Malpractice Insurance and court cases are also not causing medical cost to rise. The actual cost of medical malpractice suits to the medical system is less than 1%. Several different studies show this. First, a 2006 American College of Surgeons report puts the cost at 0.45%. Second, according a study by the Des Moines Register Editorial Board (07/11/03) “The total [malpractice] premiums paid in 2000 added up to 0.56 of the nation’s total health-care bill. Finally, a 1999 study in the Journal of Health Economics found only tiny savings – less than three-tenths of one percent – when studying the cost of Caesarian sections in states with limits on lawsuits, compared to states without limits.”

Even if you take the highest number, that’s only $1.50
on a $300 policy.

http://www.factcheck.org/president_uses_dubious_statistics_on_costs_of.html
http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat/2009/09/medical-malpractice-and-access-to-care/
http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat/2009/09/medical-malpractice-and-access-to-care/
http://makethemaccountable.com/myth/RisingCostOfMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.htm

The Failure Of Republicanism.

I keep wondering why I see so many rabid spewing hatred on television and the internet. But then you listen to their arguments and the answer is obvious. They trying desperately to compensate for the fact that their party and ideology is simply in a death spiral.

They cannot govern because they don’t believe in government. They cannot lead because they are owned, lock-stock­and-barrel, by big business and right wing idealogues. The only thing they can do is lob insults from behind the gates of their locked communities and the pulpits of their fanatical churches.

All their ideas have been tried and have failed: tax cuts brought us deficits, deregulation brought us financial and environmental disaster, and militarism brought us needless war and endless paranoia. Their high moral standards always disintegrate into hypocrisy and scandal. The only thing they do well is hire consultants and come up with catchy slogans to scare the people into looking the other way as they sell the country to the highest bidder. They have taken the country that we inherited from the “Greatest Generation” and turned it into a grade school soap opera. I think most people see through their deceptions and with young people voting more and more liberal, the Hispanics feeling their hatred, I think the demographics are going to condemn the GOP to a long winter in the wilderness.

Declining Republican Favorabilty

Republican favorability has declined 29% of the last 16 years, while Democratic favorability has improved by 10%.

Republican decline in net favorability over the past 16 years:

1993  19%
1997  11%
2001   7%
2005  -7%
2009 -10%

Democratic Favorability over the same period:

1993 +24%  Delta = +5
1997 +12%  Delta = +1
2001 +24%  Delta = +14
2005 +13%  Delta = +20
2009  +5%  Delta = +15

(Taken from Roper poll archive of polling done one year before midterm elections.)

http://www.pollster.com/blogs/assessing_the_gop_brand.php

More Fox News Demographics

Republicans like to hype how good Fox News’ rating are, but that only works if you leave out the Mainstream Media. CBS 60 Minutes has nearly FOUR TIMES the viewers as the O’Reilly Factor, Faux’s best rate show. Even programs like “Date Line,” and “20/20″ do better than every Fox News program:

CBS 60 Minutes = 13.1-million
NBC News = 7.9-million
ABC News = 7.1-million
NBC Date Line = 6.6-million
CBS News = 5.1-million
ABC 20/20 = 4.9-million

O’Reily Factor = 3.4-million
Fox News Prime Time = 2.5-million
Glenn Beck = 2.0-million
Greta = 2.0-million
Palin = 2.0-million

http://tvbythenumbers.com/category/ratings/cable-news
http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/04/01/cable-news-ratings-for-wednesday-march-31-2010/47048#more-47048
http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/evening_news_ratings/evening_news_ratings_week_of_june_1_118500.asp
http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2010/03/tv-ratings-cbs-is-amazing-sunday-thin-ice-cracks-for-abc.html

Evaluating The Demographics of Fox News

Republicans like to brag about the popularity of Conservative Media outlets such as Fox News, however, Fox News is only popular in the oldest demographic:

Average Viewer Age:

Fox News: 65
Rush: 67
O’Reilly: 71

The problem is that young people don’t watch cable news or even regular TV for that matter. They get all their news from the Internet.

According to Alexa, the top internet news/political sites are all LIBERAL. The New York times on line is the highest. Huffington Post second highest, tied with Fox News. All the rest of the conservative sights are much lower:

1. New York Times 127
2. HP 156
3. Fox News 182
4. Wall Street Journal 512
5. Drudge Report 707
6. New York Post 1,663
7. World Net Daily 2,011
8. NewsMax 4,505
9. National Review 6,272
10. Rush Limbaugh 6,517
11. Human Events 19,235
12. Weekly Standard 21,035
13. Bill O’Reily 37,329
14. Sean Hannity 22,524
15. American Enterprise Inst. 99,791
16. Micheal Savage 3,793,061
http://www.pensitoreview.com/2009/05/05/average-age-of-fox-news-viewer-is-65/
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/arts/television/11keit.html?ex=1310270400&en=4ccc4d43ec65612e&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

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