Saturday, September 19, 2009
According to Laura Turnbull's article in the Seattle Times ("Ref 71: Heterosexual Partners Lost in the Debate") September 6, 2009, the legislature, in crafting the 2007 Domestic Partnership Law, included heterosexual couples, aged 62 and over. Coincidentally, a large number of this segment of our population is eligible for social security benefits and also includes, according to Turnbull's article, those who are receiving monthly social security support checks based on a former spouse's income.
Registered heterosexual Domestic Partners get to have it all. They receive legal benefits traditionally acquired through marriage, and probably enjoy improved financial situations that generally come from the pooling of two incomes. AND, by reporting themselves to Social Security as "unmarried," they can also keep that check from the ex-spouse coming.
This is probably one of these "certain benefits," that couples quoted in Turnbull's article stand to lose by remarrying.
But not by registering as Domestic Partners.
It is my understanding that initially, assistance based on a former spouse's income was intended for divorced persons who were starting over, trying to make it on their own, possibly inadequate, income and therefore needed temporary additional financial help.
The unmarried stipulation in social security law reflects the assumption that if divorced persons entered into new committed relationships (the only legal term for which at the time was "marriage") this would, in most cases, result in additional income for them and would then negate the need for on-going assistance.
Social security income based on a former spouse's income comes from YOU and ME. It comes from taxes we pay into a system that is about to go broke.
Domestic Partnerships aside, couples who live together and enjoy the benefits of pooling their incomes, and purposely decide not to marry to keep that check from an ex-spouse coming in, are adding to their income with YOUR TAXES and mine.
From this perspective, perhaps we have the right to ask the Social Security Administration to be more prudent in its distribution of tax dollars. Perhaps by cross-checking registered Domestic Partners with a list of those who are receiving social security checks based on a former spouse's income, perhaps by noting individual tax returns with addresses in common.
Perhaps it is time to update Social Security Law. Especially where it reads, "Recipients must be unmarried" by adding, "and not registered as state recognized Domestic Partners."
Printed the the Everett Herald, September, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Consider the "impossible." Imagine that potential law enforcement officers, weighing their dedication to career against the possibility of financial and emotional devastation from lawsuits alleging racial bias or unnecessary force on out-of-control persons, decide it's not worth it. They'll pass.
Then, ask yourself how you might feel living in a community where a 911 call is not an option, where no one is available to come to your assistance, to protect you against a possible burglary, an abusive neighbor, a drug deal going down next door. You would be on your own, and you would have brought it on yourself.
We need law enforcement in our commmunities. It is one aspect of our society that elevates us as a civilized nation. Despite the reality of abuses of power on the part of some law enforcement officers across America, we need to show respect for those who do not abuse their authority. Any one of us, at some time in our lives, may need their help.
Published Monday, Auguest 3, 2009 in the Everett, Wa Herald
Friday, May 22, 2009
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R. Texas, 5th District) addressed the Budget Committee Chairman, Senator Kent Conrad (D. North Dakota) and said, "The President says he wants to reform entitlement spending, but it never happens. Don't say that you're being bi-partisan; you're not being bi-partisan."
Conrad replied, "You, Representative Hensarling, tripled the national debt, so who are you to talk? Bush did the same thing, things you're blaming us for. Not you, but your party. It was a disaster."
What, I asked myself, was his point ?
that two wrongs make a right?
that you Republicans had your turn to create a disaster, so now we're taking ours?
A more professional reply from Conrad might have been to defend his committee's crafted formulas for resolution, to point out some informative details for the benefit and support of the viewing public. Instead, he acted like just another bratty kid in the sandbox.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The verbage I was taught to use when a prospective buyer was reluctant, say, to purchase a bedroom painted red, went something like: I understand how you feel and many people have felt the same way." Followed by, "Let's look at that gorgeous diningroom--wouldn't your friends be impressed by your entertaining amid such ambience !"
The trick is to deliver with confidence, what appears to be a direct answer to the question, while, on analysis, creating a subtle diversion, a side stepping, with a response that makes sense but doesn't constitute an answer.
Consider President Obama's response to a question during his March 24th briefing to the public. Question: "On Cap and Trade Policy--will you vote against it?
Obama: "I've emphasized I expect Health Care Reform to come out of this budget and also free our dependence on foreign oil."
Secretary Geithner is also skilled at this. One of his stock responses is,"I share your frustration. I feel stronger than you do." And here are his answers to some recent questions from members of Congress:
Question: On Collateralized Debt Obligations-- don't you have to deal with them"
Geithner: (no answer)
Question: You don't have to deal with CDs?
Geithner: Well, yes we do, I just don't call them CDs."
Question: There are now three Trustees to oversee voting interests in the US Treasury. One Trustee comes from the New York Fed. Did you work with one of those new trustees when you were with the New York Fed?
Geithner: I believe these individuals were selected before I left the New York Fed. I look forward to working with them."
Congress returns today. Tune in for more displays of this fascinating skill.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Bicchieri: "Public trust is a cultural phenomenon that takes a long time to emerge and as we're seeing now, it can be very fragile.
In response to a question asked by interviewer Stengel, Bicchieri said, "I have done several computer simulations of the evolution of impersonal trust and what they show is that impersonal trust can only survive in a society of punishers; that is, if a society includes a majority of people who punish those who do not reciprocate, than trust and reciprocation will be quite common. In terms of that's happening now in the United States, the lesson may be that people must be sure that somebody will be punished. Americans who are facing foreclosures or shrinking 401 k (s) feel very bad when they hear their government saying that they don't really know what happened, that they are bailing everybody out and so, I think in cases like this a good way to rebuild confidence is through a big show of punishment of those individuals who violated public trust."
In my opinion, Bicchieri's credentials and credibility lend support to the growing public pressure to see indictments of the handfull of AIG executives who facilitated innumerable risky loans, of buyers who lied about higher incomes, of mortgage representatives who encouraged them or looked the other way, of appraisers who caved under pressure to produce inflated property appraisals and of escrow agents who packaged and sold loans without confirming buyers' stated credit profiles.
Public trust and the waning of it, may only seem like some issue for philosophical debate, not directly relevant to the specifics of what our legislators are doing (or not doing) for us. Not so. Public trust or the loss of it, can be seen on a regular basis currently, in peoples' frowns, worry lines, cynical scoffs, crabby negative attitudes, and refusals to part with their money.
Until there is some show of punishment of those who violated the public trust the malaise will continue.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
What Exactly Was That That Happened at the First time in 50 years Televised Meeting of the House-Senate Appropriations Committee?
Senator Inouye chaired the meeting, at some point announcing, "There will be no amendments presented in this meeting." I thought this was curious, because I had understood that the purpose of the meeting was for selected Republicans and Democrats to "tweak" the bill that had just been passed by the House. This tweaking, I thought, was to be accomplished through debate and amendments to the House bill, so that the resulting bill out of Appropriations could be a compromise one.
What struck me as odd was that most of the attendees were Republicans Where was an equal number of of Democrats? And why were amendments not allowed? Don't those who show up get to sway the vote?
A few days later, a FOX news reporter mentioned that on Wednesday, while Republicans showed up to debate and amend, the Democrats never showed. They were "holed up" behind closed doors.
So apparently a House-Senate Appropriations Committee meeting never was, dispite the fact that something loosely described as one was televised.
So much for transparency.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Senator Ensign Requests Key Lawmakers Debate on House/Senate Compromise Stimulus Bill Be Open to the Public
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Here is what stood out to me as notable from the week's hearings:
The Coburn Amendment to strike tax breaks for the film industry -- approved.
The Coburn Amendment to allow bonus depreciation for the film industry -- approved.
Did I get this right ? Seems as if bonus depreciation would be a tax break.
The McCain Amendment giving the Stimulus Package a chance to work, but after two full quarters of demonstrated growth in the GNP, some new Bill provisions would sunset, and Congress would begin working toward a balanced budget-- defeated.
The Ensign-Boxer bi-partisan amendment on "repatriated funds," which would have offered a tax rate lower than the going US business based rate of 35% to get off shore US company profits back in US banks and working to back more US jobs -- defeated. Apparently defeated on the basis that it was just not fair to offer a tax rate lower than what US companies currently pay, even if it meant instant "found money" for the US economy.
But the Dorgan "Buy America" amendment which McCain opposed, quoting President Obama as having said it would undermine international trade agreements and should be voted down, was passed.
The Vitter amendment referred to a "laundry list" of specifics I did not find in reading the website version of the House Bill:
--$20 million for removal of small and medium size fish barriers (where? in a specific state?)
--$150 million for honeybee insurance
--$400 million to prevent STDs
--$100 million for the 2010 census taking
--$13 million for Amtrak subsidies (which I think is already a yearly regular budget item)
--$75 million for state department training
--Homeland consolidation and streamlining at a cost of $248 million (is this an oxymoron ?)
The Coburn amendment highlighted some additional items, saying that the prohibitions on these, which were in the House bill, were not in the Senate version:
--funding for renovations of museums, swimming pools, aquariums, golf courses, theaters, highway beautification and art projects
-- a Rhode Island tree planting project
--a Chula Vista, CA dog park
-- $100,000. for an Alameda, CA skate park
-- Rhode Island zoo renovation
--$6.1 million for corporate jet hanger renovations for Arkansas
--$ 500,000 for a Dayton, Ohio golf course
--$50 million for a Las Vegas Museum
Would these be called "earmarks" ?
The website version of the House bill states: "There are no earmarks in this package."
Coburn's amendment to prohibit the above -- tabled as of today (Thursday, February 5)
Coburn's amendment requiring competitive bidding on ALL governmental projects -- defeated.
Brasso's amendment to require new projects to begin within 9 months rather than taking months, years to get permitted-- defeated.
The Martinez amendment to provide insurance to protect loan servicers currently stalled in their reworking of toxic loans by the fear of law suits against them (by lenders they serve?) -- withdrawn.
The Bunning amendment to suspend tax increases on social security benefits -- defeated.
The Harkins amendment to give a $10,000. subsidy (ie mandatory trade-in credit on your old auto) for buyers of new, cleaner, more efficient cars assembled in the USA-- withdrawn.
--$15,000 tax credits for home buyers
--$2 Billion additional aid for state housing finance for affordble housing, which is now stalled because credit is stalled.
--an increase from $2 million to $5 million for loans to small businesses
And the bulk of the House bill remains in tact.
The purpose of my blog is essentially to clarify and understand for myself, events I consider important to understand as a voter. If it informs you in some way, if I have got something wrong, or if you wish to have a friendly debate, feel free to comment.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
warm, high-spirited jubilance of this day. A putting aside of politics as usual, a sense of "let's lighten up," for today and savor the celebration of America, its reverence for the will of the people and the rule of law, its tolerance of diverse religions and ethnicities ; and,today, its arms-open-wide joining together of all Americans.
I want the celebration to last for weeks, to last forever. I want the promises for positive change, especially universal health care, made by then president- elect Obama, to begin tomorrow
I applaud all the members of the U.S. security organizations who protected our outgoing and incoming leaders from harm on this day and who will continue to do so from this day forward.
You are my personal heroes.
Friday, January 2, 2009
So called "scapegoating" may be a smart way for prosecutors to get to the big timers guilty of mortgage fraud
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think, not too many years back, the higher ups at Enron were ultimately sacked, not as a result of prosecutors calling before Congress, Enron corporate level officials (who testified so as to protect themselves and each other--remember Jeff Schilling, who was "out of the conference room" when crucial decisions were put on paper and signed off on?), but by the prosecutors who started with lower level employees, who might have witnessed improprieties of their bosses and had more to gain by coughing up information that would get them out from under the fire. It is my understanding that this kind of information solidified the cases against the higher ups.
So Mr. Cardoza can cry no fair picking on my client, that's his job; but in rebuttal, I would point out that, based on the Enron process, starting with "scapegoats,' and working up to corporate level S.O.B.s would appear to have merit.