Politics / Economics

Louie Gohmert votes yes. Whether he actually can or not.

“Under House Bill 2187, by Rep. John Davis, a Houston Republican, the tax on sales of boats over $250,000 would be capped at $15,625. For a $20 million yacht, this would work out to a tax reduction of 99 percent. Those buying smaller, cheaper boats would continue to pay the current 6.25 percent sales tax.
“Representatives of the yacht industry argued that the tax break is needed because Florida passed a similar law last year. Many rich Texans are now docking their boats in Florida or elsewhere to avoid paying sales tax here, taking jobs and spending on services with them…”


Economics / Politics

John Cassidy is pragmatic about Paul Ryan’s big picture, but as skeptical as everyone else on Ryan’s details. An instructive comment below:

“…thinking that the Ryan notion of using vouchers without cost control will force prices down is based on delusion or willful ignorance. Does not our current system allow us to “shop” health plans annually? Has that worked? Have premiums dropped along with the price of flat screen tv’s and laptops? No, they only march upwards and that will not change until the market is controlled from the top down.”


Politics / Socioculture

I actually believe the ‘Pubs want to improve the economy, create jobs, and operate a far more efficient government. I just think they’re not very good at it – their proposals are far too short-term (cut now, invest later), and rely on methods (trickle-down, the Laffer Curve) that either flat-out don’t work (the former) or are wildly misinterpreted (that convergent point on the graph is important; what’s above or below not nearly so). And, of course, the ‘Pubs are completely inept at keeping the God-squad social moralists at bay. There are reports that the Planned Parenthood funding is the only thing standing between agreement or shutdown. Since none of those reports are actually attributed to anyone (it’s scary how used to that we’ve chosen to be), I choose not to believe it. But I understand why it’s an easy thing to beat the ‘Pubs up with, and it’s their own damn fault. Counterpunch’s David Rosen, however, is less charitable than I.

“Much of the current public debate about the Republican sexual-health agenda has focused on its effort to terminate funding to Planned Parenthood clinics. The 1977 Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funding support for abortion services. The current Republican initiative is to end federal support for Planned Parenthood as a provider of family planning and other sexual-related services. It expresses the politics of vengeance, both against the organization and those in need of its services.
“…the major assault is on public health services that benefit the poor and needy. These services include screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., STDs, HIV), breast and cervical cancer testing (i.e., Pap test or pelvic exam), prenatal care, sex education and vasectomies for men. It will eliminate all support for Title X family planning ($318 million) and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative ($110 million). In addition, there will be cuts to the Women Infants and Children program ($747 million) and the Maternal and Child Health Block Grants ($50 million).
“These cuts are intended to hurt and they will. Millions of Americans take advantage of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services and, if they are defunded, these people will bear the burden. The singling out of Planned Parenthood is, like the efforts by the Wisconsin governor to break the civil-service unions, a political agenda masquerading as a financial necessity.
“The Republican right’s program to destroy the sexual health of the nation is but one consequence of a vicious campaign of class war. It is an intended consequence of an interlocked “conspiracy,” a self-serving financial or economic agenda (i.e., the transfer of wealth) linked to a religiously-inspired moralistic or social agenda (i.e., the culture wars). The goal of this “conspiracy” is to secure ever-greater wealth and power for the ruling oligarchy and inflict pain and suffering on everyone else.”