Congressman Leonard Lance was never a fan of the Iran nuclear agreement.
In July 2015, he inveighed against it. “Tough sanctions brought the Iranian leaders to the table, kept them there and will hold them accountable. Removing sanctions without lasting results achieves nothing.”
What, then, must he think of President Trump’s casual and offhand de-sanctioning of Chinese cell phone manufacturer ZTE? “Too many jobs in China lost”, he tweeted. This after the U.S. Department of Commerce banned American firms from selling to ZTE for seven years because of sanction-busting trade with BOTH North Korea AND Iran. Trump’s move to rescue ZTE from the brink of extinction comes just as the U.S. has reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, and is threatening European companies that continue to trade there.
This volte face by President Trump, typical of his erratic style of governance, is no trivial matter. Lawmakers in the President’s own party have expressed deep concerns.
As an avid proponent of “tough sanctions” against Iran, why has Congressman Lance remained silent on the issue? Is he afraid to poke this can of worms?
President Trump’s facile explanation for his decision is unlikely to bear much relationship to the truth, based on past performance. There are several more credible explanations.
But perhaps the most concerning is the temporal connection to Chinese state-owned company’s decision to invest massively (half a billion dollars) in a theme park development in Indonesia that also features a Trump hotel and condos. Any connection would indicate that foreign policy goals have been suborned to profiteering. There is a strong case to be made that this is a serious breach of the “emoluments clause”, the constitutional provision banning presidents from accepting gifts or other payments from foreign governments, a case made by the former ethics officers of both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.
As is usually the case when the ethics of the President are called into question, our Congressman has withdrawn into his shell.
Meanwhile, you are paying the price at the gas pump for a decision made for questionable ethical and political reasons. Happy motoring!
Congress Has it in for New Jersey
Let’s face it, Donald Trump and his friends in Congress have it in for the State of New Jersey and the other blue states. Let’s start with tax legislation. We have higher state income taxes and larger mortgages. Capping deductibility of both was a deliberate finger in the eye for Democratic states.
And we give at the office! The average NJ tax payer sends $2,659 more to Washington in taxes than he/she gets back in federal spending, more than any other state. As good American citizens, we know that we should help out states that aren’t faring as well as we are. But education accounts for more than half the state and local work force; protective services like police and fire departments account for much of the rest. So how come we get penalized for looking after our schools and our protective services while red states like Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia are rewarded for cutting education and services to the bone?
Then there is infrastructure. The #1 infrastructure project in the nation is the Gateway Project, which is vital for the entire Northeast Corridor region that runs from Boston to D.C. To hear Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C.--whose state received $1.41 for every dollar paid in federal taxes in 2015, compared to our 74 cents-- describe the Gateway Project as “pork” is unacceptable, while Trump opposes funding because he wants to stick it to Chuck Schumer. What a way to run a railroad!
And the ill-fated and ill-thought out attempts to repeal Obamacare would have involved a political redistribution of funds from mostly Democratic-controlled states to mostly Republican ones. Around 900,000 New Jersey residents, including those covered under Medicaid expansion, could have lost their health coverage.
It is no use Leonard Lance bleating that he cast his vote against these measures. We are not idiots; we know he was allowed to cast a vote against because Paul Ryan had the votes he needed.
The only solution is to turn the House upside down if we want New Jersey to get the recognition it needs. And we can start in New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District.
Congressman Lance likes to tout his bipartisan credentials. Well, it is time for him to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk, and to get out ahead of an issue for once.
It was only a matter of time before the drumbeats would mount for cuts to be made to the budget after the donor class got their big slice of pie through the Tax Cuts and Job Creation Act. And sure enough, President Trump is apparently preparing to send for Congressional approval $15 billion in cuts from the already-approved budget, through a process known as rescission. What is more, this is apparently the first of several such proposed rescissions, all designed to mollify conservatives who are wringing their hands over the size of the federal deficit. A deficit made worse by their own legislation.
No surprise, the cuts target health care, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program(SCHIP), which was the subject of much wrangling last year. Even some Republicans, notably Senator Susan Collins of Maine, appear to be a little taken aback. “One of the programs that reportedly is going to be cut is SCHIP, and that concerns me greatly,” she said. Of course, we are told the money saved is money that was not being spent. Are children not getting sick any more?
As Congressman Lance well knows, the budget deal was a bipartisan agreement, in which both sides gave to get. It can hardly be said to be a bipartisan agreement if one side starts taking back what it gave. And there is little merit in vaunting one’s bipartisan credentials without being prepared to demonstrate commitment to the process by speaking out against attempts to undermine it.
Congressman Lance’s modus operandi is to preserve his carefully curated moderate media image by saying as little as possible until as late as possible and to avoid as much trouble as possible. On this occasion, why does he not just stand up and publicly declare a deal is a deal? That would be a true act of bipartisanship.
Let’s think big for the American people! Let’s discard the cramped and narrow politics of avarice favored by Republicans such as our very own Leonard Lance. Let’s instead wake up to the fact that most Americans expect the government to play a BIGGER role in making the US economy work for all of us. Most voters want to RAISE taxes on the rich and corporations; they want INCREASED spending on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare; they want a HIGHER minimum wage; SUPPORT for college education.
We were told that the Tax Reduction and Job Creation Act would spur investment in jobs and workers. If you are a regular reader, you know that’s nonsense. Even Marco Rubio knows it: “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he said in an interview. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.” Thank you Marco! There is more joy in Heaven when one sinner repenteth…..
Let’s turn over Congress and roll back this giveaway; and let’s debate some of the big ideas in circulation to restore real prosperity to American workers.
- Open Medicare to people under 65.
- Provide free PreK education.
- Expand support for community colleges and job training.
- Expand the the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
- Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, especially for childless adults, to incentivize work.
- Put people to work on rebuilding American infrastructure.
- Support collective bargaining and wage boards.
Don’t say some or all of this can’t be done! The alternative is death by a thousand cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and a systematic enlargement of the gulf between the super rich and the rest of us. We can use progressive taxation policies to help lift all boats and restore the faith of all of us in the American dream - that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.
#RememberinNovember #NJ07 #Vote
Lance is No Bipartisan.
Congressman Lance touts his bipartisan credentials, but he represents a party that delivered a piece of financial engineering, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, designed to ensure a future focus on cutting benefits for the poor, the sick, and the elderly, as the only approach to bringing the budget into balance.
We will hear a drumbeat of misinformation before the midterm election to make us all believe we are better off because of the individual tax break we have been granted. The truth is that most people have not seen any effect that meaningfully impacts their purse.
We were assured that corporations, released from the yoke of an insupportable burden, would spend their newfound wealth on increasing wages for their employees, and enlarging the workforce. Predictably, neither has happened. Instead, increased dividends and stock buybacks have benefited shareholders.
Worse, since one-third of the U.S. stock market is owned by foreign investors, much of the benefit from the $238 billion increase in stock buyback authorizations since the tax law passed will flow overseas.
Most of the money released by the legislation will ultimately go to the Republican donor class whom this Act was designed to enrich. Those making $1 million or more will save more than $30 billion on the “pass-through” tax deduction alone by 2024. No wonder the Koch brothers immediately began writing checks.
And the long term damage to our economy is huge as the size of our deficit approaches the magnitude of the GDP.
Paul Krugman pointed out that the federal government is basically an insurance company with an army: nondefense spending is dominated by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Our President wants a bigger army. So what is left to cut?
Leonard Lance may have been given a pass on signing this pernicious measure, but he knows full well the consequences, as we saw in his support for a “balanced budget” amendment. We need to “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans” as House Chaplain Patrick Conroy prayed for — before Paul Ryan fired him.
It’s getting lonely for Leonard Lance. Another of his colleagues has chosen to retire, rather than face the wrath of the voters. And this time, it is the one-time wunderkind, Paul Ryan, whose “sterling integrity” was highlighted by our Congressman. Oh, please!
In 2010, President Obama introduced a bipartisan fiscal commission, co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Bowles and Simpson called for policymakers to set, as a basic principle, that the deficit should be reduced in a way that does not increase poverty and inequality; they called for protecting low-income and vulnerable Americans. Paul Ryan never believed in that approach. In December 2010, he proposed a budget that would have been the most regressive in our history. The first of many to follow.
Under Obama, we had eight years of Ryan’s handwringing about the Federal deficit and the need for entitlement reform. Under Trump, within a year, we saw Ryan oversee a massive tax cut for corporations and the super-rich, surrounded by fluff about the growth it would unleash. With a tax plan that was always about pleasing the big Republican Party donors, it was no surprise that the Koch brothers and their ilk immediately showered Ryan and the Republican Party with cash.
Now we see from the CBO that this tax “reform,” and the accompanying budget, will balloon The Federal deficit such that by 2028, the national debt will total 96% of GDP.
We KNOW that Ryan or no Ryan, the drum beat for “entitlement reform,” i.e., cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits and Social Security, will quickly intensify. Well, WE will not allow the sick, our veterans, and the elderly to bear the brunt of the consequences of a reckless and intellectually dishonest approach to policy making.
But Congressman Lance thinks differently. . . . On his Facebook page, he is pictured standing at a lectern which carries the slogan “Debt Reduction NOW.” And he voted on Thursday to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. Come on, Congressman! After a year of wholly and completely irresponsible votes, this doomed measure was just an exercise in sanctimonious claptrap.
What can be more important for the future of any country than the education of its children? But West Virginia cannot keep the teachers they have. The State ranks 48th in teachers’ pay by State, and the value of their health care coverage has been eroded by increasing premiums and deductibles. What to do? Take collective action.Read more
THE ECONOMY: Pennies for You?
Hey, did you see the billboard posted in Minnesota? It features a smug looking Trump, and the banner “Millions for Me, Pennies for You!”
Well, they’ve got that right…. Reducing corporate tax rates was going to boost incomes and stimulate investment, right? So far, we’ve seen about $6 billion in bonuses versus more than $170 billion in stock buybacks, money that isn’t being invested in plants and equipment, the supposed point of the tax cut. Who are the beneficiaries? The top 1% of course. Including the President’s new friends, the Koch brothers.Read more
THE ECONOMY: “When you lie down with dogs. . . .”
The Trump budget, capricious and unworkable though it may be, illustrates how economically dishonest and morally bankrupt this administration is, and tells us everything about its priorities.Read more