Tag Archives: Clinton

Gas Tax Holiday In The Sun

9 May

In the last few weeks, John McCain proposed a Memorial Day to Labor Day suspension of the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon.   This would theoretically bring relief to the average citizen now paying $3.60 a gallon and up.  This is part of McCain’s economic plan, as well.  Theoretically, people will take the four bucks they’ll be saving on a “fill up” and pump those big dollars back into the economy.  Maybe he thinks there will be a direct response and the food industry will prosper by those savings being spent on the Twinkies, Funny Bones, and Ring Dings that stock the shelves of our local Quickie Marts and Gas Stations.  As the gas tax funds the maintenance and building of roads, perhaps McCain also hopes that saved consumer dollars might be spent in the rubber industry, when consumers replace tires blown out in unaddressed potholes. 

Democratic response to the proposal has been mixed.  The elitist Obama has the audacity to take a “big picture” view and call the proposal an “election year gimmick” that doesn’t address the real problem of oil dependency and gas usage.   He stands in the way of every American’s right to immediate junk food gratification.  No metaphor, there.

Hillary Clinton has taken the McCain Proposal one step further.  She would agree to the holiday if the lost revenues were regained through a windfall profits tax on the oil companies.  Now there’s an idea the Hangover can get behind:  Taxing those who are gauging consumers and enjoying record profits.  However, one would have to be quite naive to assume that this tax wouldn’t be passed right back to the consumer.  Exxon, Chevron, and the others probably have their creative staffs already fabricating an early summer crisis to blame for a can’t-be-helped 18.5 cent jump in gas prices on June 1st.

Brian Faler of Bloomberg reported that “more than 200 economists, including four Nobel prize winners signed a letter rejecting proposals”by Clinton and McCain.  Reasons include the possibility of raising oil and gas usage at a time when we should be trying to lessen it, and that the increased usage would benefit oil companies while increasing the federal budget deficit.  We’ve got big problems, and saving four dollars a fill up over three months isn’t going to make a dent. 

At least this is the first step, no matter how small, in a direction that this country is going to have to take: Strict Government Regulation of the Oil Industry.   Oil is a limited resource and we don’t have much of the world’s supply controlled domestically.  It’s clear that the American oil industry will act in their own best interest, which is not the same as the country’s best interest (Do voters yet regret not having pointed that out to Bush and Cheney?).  Exxon made 40.6 billion in 2007, Chevron 18.7.  Meanwhile, a greater percentage of people’s incomes are going to heat their homes and drive their cars; gas prices are raising costs in every sector of the economy, and supply is lessening.  These simple facts should make it obvious that the US cannot continue operating within its current oil industry model. 

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to oversee the civilian aspects of the nuclear power industry:

 This Act is the fundamental U.S. law on both the civilian and the military uses of nuclear materials. On the civilian side, it provides for both the development and the regulation of the uses of nuclear materials and facilities in the United States, declaring the policy that “the development, use, and control of atomic energy shall be directed so as to promote world peace, improve the general welfare, increase the standard of living, and strengthen free competition in private enterprise.” The Act requires that civilian uses of nuclear materials and facilities be licensed, and it empowers the NRC to establish by rule or order, and to enforce, such standards to govern these uses as “the Commission may deem necessary or desirable in order to protect health and safety and minimize danger to life or property.”

The red text highlights the reasoning behind the Act.  The US is now at the point where oil needs to be considered in the same light as nuclear power.  Conditions in America and around the world (Hello, Iraq) indictate that world peace, the general welfare, the standard of living, and free enterprise all feel Big Oil’s foot on their throat.  It’s time to act–and 18.4 cents a gallon for three months just isn’t going to get it done. 

(Hey, regulation isn’t so bad.  We could always skip it and go right to nationalization.  The 155 billion in profits these companies made last year would look pretty good in federal coffers right now.)

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John McCain’s Straight Talk Translated by The Hangover

5 Mar

Last night John McCain claimed his place as the Republican Party’s nominee for President.   His acceptance speech contained the bones of what will become his platform.  There was plenty of McCain’s vaunted “straight talk” in the address.  However, it is unwise to take any politician’s words at face value.  As yet another public service, The Hangover reveals the subtext buried in the language.

McCain:  “Presidential candidates are judged on their records, their character and the whole of their life experiences.”

Translation:  I am a veteran, a POW.  I’ve given a lot to my country.  Remember that.  But please forget my involvement with the Keating Five, where I peddled influence up to my ears.  Oh, and this current flap with  Vicki Iseman, it’s nothing.  And although I speak out against corporate lobbyists, it’s okay that I allow them to work on and for my campaign.  No future conflicts of interest could possibly come from that.  Honest.  Cross my heart.  

McCain:  “Our campaign must be, and will be more than another tired debate of false promises, empty sound-bites, or useless arguments from the past that address not a single American’s concerns for their family’s security.”

Translation:  Obama is a wimp.   All talk, no action.  I may be seventy-two but I could take him in a bar fight.  Clinton?  Don’t make me laugh.  She’s riding her husband’s coattails for all they’re worth.   

McCain:  “It is of little use to Americans for their candidates to avoid the many complex challenges of these struggles by re-litigating decisions of the past. I will defend the decision to destroy Saddam Hussein’s regime as I criticized the failed tactics that were employed for too long to establish the conditions that will allow us to leave that country with our country’s interests secure and our honor intact.”

Translation:  I’m a little confused myself.  I guess it’s okay to re-litigate by talking about the war now that the surge I supported is working (just don’t ask me to define “working”).  But if anyone else wants to talk about how and why we got in the war, no, I don’t think that’s a good idea.  At least I think that’s what I think. 

McCain:  “The next President must lead an effort to restructure our military, our intelligence, our diplomacy and all relevant branches of government to combat Islamic extremism, encourage the vast majority of moderates to win the battle for the soul of Islam, and meet the many other rising challenges in this changing world.”

Translation:  First, I’m going to have your tax dollars sent directly to the Pentagon.  Second, now that we’re getting good at determining how other people should govern themselves, why not dictate their religions?  Yeah, that’ll work. 

McCain:  “We will campaign in favor of seizing the opportunities presented by the growth of free markets throughout the world, helping displaced workers acquire new and lasting employment and educating our children to prepare them for the new economic realities by giving parents choices about their children’s education they do not have now.”

Translation:  Corporate profits will stay high as we ship our manufacturing jobs overseas where workers can be paid $10 a week instead of $10 an hour.  We will build more and more fast food restaurants here each year, providing jobs for those formerly employed in factories.  Education will reflect the global economy.  We will train our children to make Mexican food for Taco Bell, Italian food for The Olive Garden, and Canadian cooking for Bugaboo Creek.  Training courses for McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s will, of course, remain highly competitive.    

McCain:  “I will leave it to my opponent to claim that they can keep companies and jobs from going overseas by making it harder for them to do business here at home. We will campaign to strengthen job growth in America by helping businesses become more competitive with lower taxes and less regulation.”

Translation:  It’s just too complicated to give tax breaks to companies who keep jobs in America and tax those corporations who export them.  And we’ve seen how effective deregulation can be.  Remember the S and L successes from the Reagan years?  Enron?  The current mortgage boom?  What?  I got that backwards.  Shit.  Strike those last remarks, please.  

McCain:  “I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed, big government mandates of the sixties and seventies to address problems such as the lack of health care insurance for some Americans. I will campaign to make health care more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the health care industry down without ruining the quality of the world’s best medical care.”

Translation:  No one is going to get anything done with health care.  That lobby funnels too much money into Washington,  so I can just say this now and then forget about it.  And there’s no way I can ruin France’s health care system, which is actually rated the best by the World Health Organization.   

McCain:  “And I will campaign to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil with an energy policy that encourages American industry and technology to make our country safer, cleaner and more prosperous by leading the world in the use, development and discovery of alternative sources of energy.”

Translation:  I will campaign to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.  It’s a great way to stick it to Bush and his cronies for their cheap shots that scuttled my 2000 presidential bid.  Screw those oil guys.   

Unhealthy Debate

22 Feb

Last night’s Democratic presidential debate didn’t create much excitement.  But one exchange did bring The Hangover’s seatback to a full upright position.  It is excerpted below.  (The full transcript is available at CNN.com.  ) I have whittled down some of the exposition, but the lines remaining are unaffected and not taken out of context in any way:

CLINTON:   But then we’ve got to do the hard work of not just bringing the country together, but overcoming a lot of the entrenched opposition to the very ideas that both of us believe in, and for some of us have been fighting for, for a very long time. You know, when I took on…

When I took on universal health care back in ’93 and ’94, it was against a firestorm of special interest opposition. I was more than happy to do that, because I believe passionately in getting quality affordable health care to every American.

I don’t want to leave anybody out. I see the results of leaving people out. I am tired of health insurance companies deciding who will live or die in America.

(These are noble sentiments and the fact is true:  President and First Lady Clinton did try to reform health care in ’93 and ’94.  TH)

OBAMA then discusses aspects of his plan and then gets to this:

OBAMA:  One last point I want to make on the health care front. I admire the fact that Senator Clinton tried to bring about health care reform back in 1993. She deserves credit for that.

(APPLAUSE)

But I said before…

(Here is where The Hangover sat up straight, waiting for:  “when she took on health care fifteen years ago, she got her ass kicked and nothing got done, which is why we are still debating it today.” TH)   

….I think she did it in the wrong way, because it wasn’t just the fact that the insurance companies, the drug companies were battling here, and no doubt they were. It was also that Senator Clinton and the administration went behind closed doors, excluded the participation even of Democratic members of Congress who had slightly different ideas than the ones that Senator Clinton had put forward.

Hillary’s positing of herself as a champion health care refromer has been has been driving The Hangover to the Glenlivet.  She fell short.  Hillarycare did not even make it to the Senate floor for a vote.  (There are a variety of reasons for this, which are discussed substanatively and factually in this post at The Health Care Blog.)  While Hillary does deserve credit for the attempt, credit doesn’t provide coverage to those who need it.

One can only hope that Hillary learned from her first go-round.  In her husband’s second term she assisted Senators’ Kennedy and Hatch with the enacting of SCHIP, a program which provided health insurance to qualifying families through Medicaid.  Clinton’s current plan is also significantly different than her ’93 version and theoretically (hopefully, at least), her political approach would be modified when bringing it before Congress.  However, being an experienced  health care reformer does not make Hillary a successful  health care reformer.  The Hangover wishes she would note the difference. 

Democracy in Action Moves Slowly

11 Feb

Even though The Hangover’s preferred candidate had already been knocked out (or dropped out, take your pick) of the presidential race, I lived up to my responsibility as a citizen and took part today in the Maine Democratic Caucus.  It took approximately two hours and thirty-seven minutes for me to cast my vote for Barack Obama.  This was not the result of indecision on my part, but the cumbersome mechanics of this specific process.  The caucus system has to be the electoral equivalent of the pony express.

It happens like this:  Once a party member arrives, they are checked off on the registration list and herded into the meeting area.  Following the National Anthem the caucus is called to order and the group rubber-stamps some pre-written bylaws and, in Soviet style, nominates and accepts certain caucus officials (In regards to expediency, this is a good thing).  Speeches are made by either present candidates or their supporters (Neither Clinton or Obama chose to show up in Kennebunkport to speak on their own behalf.  Shocking, I know.)  The group then gets divided with the supporters of respective candidates literally going to their neutral corners.   Those who are undecided or wish to reconsider are given their own spot on the floor and can be subjected to more speeches soliciting their support.  Luckily, the fervor of the current election left no ambivalent voters and therefore no reason for more oration.  A count is taken.  After that, delegates to the state convention are chosen based on the proportions of the vote.  Only then are citizens free to resume their normal lives.   

While the caucus system at one time must have been useful (perhaps in the pre-industrial age) for keeping voters informed of candidates, platforms, and issues, today it is simply antiquated.  With the information bombardment one encounters with newspapers, radio, cable and satellite television, the Internet, and text messaging, it seems impossible that a citizen could walk into a presendential vote without knowing something of a candidate’s beliefs or stances.    This is the modern world:  There is no reason that what could be a one-second effort with a number two pencil needs to take three hours. 

Like many voters in 2008, I’m hoping for change.  And changing Maine’s preliminary election method from caucus to primary would be a good start. 

BTW:  Obama 177, Clinton 66, Edwards 1 (an absentee ballot, probably submitted before he dropped out).  As detailed in my Perfect Record post, that I supported Obama could mean real trouble for him down the road.