Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Last Call For Dinosaur Steve Blowing It Again

Just another reminder that while my Gov. Steve Beshear is 100% right about Obamacare, he still would be a Republican in just about any other state on LGBTQ equality issues.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) announced Tuesday that his state will appeal a federal judge's ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Beshear's decision comes after state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) announced earlier in the day that he would not appeal the ruling, calling banning gay marriage "discrimination." Beshear will instead hire outside legal counsel to handle the appeal.

Conway and Beshear last week asked the judge for a delay in order to decide whether to appeal and/or to give themselves time to figure out how to implement the law.

The judge's decision was made official last week but was originally made two weeks prior -- the latest in a string of recent and significant legal rulings in several states on the subject of gay marriage.

And despite Jack Conway for once doing the right thing, Dinosaur Steve comes along to screw it up.  Because Kentucky Democrats are the most dysfunctional state Democratic party in the country.  Kentucky will still have to be dragged kicking and screaming into equality, more so than I think any other state.

The decision of Beshear and Conway garnered national headlines Tuesday but will likely fade when the statewide races begin in 2015, said Paul Whalen, Campbell County Democratic Chairman. Whalen thinks Conway’s decision is the right one, and that gay marriage will become accepted in the future.

“I guess we do have an interesting dichotomy here in the state,” Whalen said. “Once things get settled down in regards to same sex marriage, people won’t be too excited about it. They’ll just shrug. I don’t think it will be that much of a big deal in another 18 months.”

You keep telling yourself same-sex marriage won't be fought tooth and nail (and firearm) in Kentucky.  Meanwhile, Democratic party officials here in Kentucky wonder why Mitch McConnell keeps winning easily.  At least one person is clued in however:

Beshear said he chose to appeal because "legal chaos is real" if a delay is not issued in the case while it is appealed.

Others, such as former Covington City Commissioner Shawn Masters, see Beshear’s decision as designed to not taint the political future of Beshear’s son, Andy Beshear, who will run for attorney general in 2015. Masters is openly gay.

“It’s a case of political posturing as far as I’m concerned,” Masters said. “He wants to get his son elected and thinks this is the avenue to go. If he digs deep in his heart, he knows this is the wrong avenue to be taking. I’m very disappointed in the governor’s decision.”

Now we just need Alison Lundergan Grimes's eventual mealy-mouthed non-statement to complete the Profiles In Courage segment of the show tonight.

Forget it, Zandar.  It's Kentuckytown.

The Return Of The Granny Starver

If you have any doubt what GOP control of the Senate would mean in 2015, it would entail the GOP putting Paul Ryan's budget on President Obama's desk and saying "sign it or else".  Robert Costa pulls no punches:

Ryan and his aides are unsparing in how they take the hammer to current federal policies. On page after page, the report casts a critical eye on how the government administers money to the poor and related bureaucracies, using a bevy of academic literature and federal studies as evidence.

Ryan said the crux of the report is the conclusion that federal programs need to be entirely reimagined, with more than tweaks or axed appropriations, and that legislation this year should move toward broader solutions that solve what he thinks are structural weaknesses in how the government supports the poor.

“Because these programs are means-tested — meaning that benefits decline as recipients make more money — poor families face very high implicit marginal tax rates,” the report says. “The federal government effectively discourages them from making more money.”

During the Clinton years Republicans demanded that programs had to be means tested to make sure that Cadillac-driving welfare queens weren't magically buying T-bone steaks on Uncle Sugar's dime and getting rich.

Now in the Obama years, means-testing means the welfare queens are poor and staying poor because it "discourages them from working".  So now "reforming" these programs means scrapping them entirely.

According to the report, Head Start, a federal program for early-childhood education and nutrition, is “failing to prepare children for school,” and “a consolidated, well-funded system would be better.

Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income families, is the object of a sharply worded review. “Medicaid coverage has little effect on patients’ health,” the report says, adding that it imposes an “implicit tax on beneficiaries,” “crowds out private insurance” and “increases the likelihood of receiving welfare benefits.”

Head Start and Medicaid have to go.  Time for block grants, which means states can use the money however they want to, and that of course means "not for the poor".

Ryan also huddled with Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party. Smith is well known in the United Kingdom for his attempts to better connect conservatives with the poor.

“We’ve been paying very close attention to the Tories and their think tanks,” Ryan said. “They’ve done a lot of work already, and we can learn from their experience, both their mistakes and their successes, so we can rework our welfare system and get people out of poverty and onto lives of self-sufficiency and dignity.”

Remember, what Republicans mean by "self-sufficiency and dignity" is "working more than 40 hours a week, with no minimum wage, with overtime pay replaced by 'comp time' that your employer never has to actually let you have, for an employer who can fire you for any reason without recourse, for a rent payment that takes up the vast majority of your income."

And if the GOP wins control of the Senate, the Ryan Austerity plan becomes the budget.

Rand Paul, Constant Blockhead

It wouldn't be a week without my duly elected US Senator Rand Paul making an ass out of himself by pitching a tantrum and blocking President Obama from carrying out something Congress already approved.

When a bipartisan Senate panel last week lambasted Swiss bank Credit Suisse for helping rich Americans evade billions in taxes, some watching the high-profile hearing couldn’t help but notice an elephant in the room.

That is, Sen. Rand Paul.

The connection? Paul for years has single-handedly blocked an obscure U.S.-Swiss tax treaty that lawmakers, prosecutors, diplomats and banks say makes the difference between U.S. law enforcement rooting out the names of a few hundred fat-cat tax evaders — and many thousands more.

Kentucky’s tea party darling says the treaty infringes on privacy rights. But his critics say Paul’s hold just hamstrings the Justice Department’s tax evasion work.

“Credit Suisse is ready, at this moment, to provide the additional information about Swiss accounts requested by U.S. authorities but has been unable to do so because the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified the protocol,” said Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan at a hearing on the topic Wednesday — just after admitting his institution helped Americans evade taxes.

Just another reminder that Rand Paul has been blocking President Obama's ability to conduct foreign policy for years.  Harry Reid could force a vote to override Paul's block and hasn't.  But Republicans would have to block that override vote too, so what's the point?

“These are people that are alleged, not convicted of doing anything wrong,” Paul said a few weeks ago. “I don’t think you should have everybody’s information from their bank. There should be some process: accusations and proof that you’ve committed a crime.”

In other words, we can't go after tax evaders' financial information without definitive proof of tax evasion, which we would need financial information for.  The best part is that the Swiss want to help us because tax evasion is hurting them financially as well, but since Paul is blocking ratification of the agreement, they can't lift a finger.  Here's the real issue though:

Paul’s protest is also linked to his abhorrence of the soon-to-take-effect Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which will force foreign banks to disclose U.S. account information to the IRS, and domestic banks to reciprocate to other nations’ revenue departments.

And of course Rand Paul wants to repeal that legislation entirely because the "privacy rights" of criminals hiding billions of US taxpayer dollars is more important.


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