Unspun Zone

Below are examples of the typical spin and ways to dismiss them and the pivot.  Please add your own!

Corporate “efficiency”

There are no corporate watchdogs when it comes to their “efficiency,” so there is no way to prove corporations are any more efficient than government.  If health care (including Medicare) waste, fraud and abuse is any example, corporations do a terrible job.

The Pivot:

There are corporate watchdog groups, however, that track how efficient corporations are at sharing their liabilities with the taxpayers.   See CorpWatch

Examples:  Enron, MCI, Tyco, GE, to name a few; and historically the savings & loans, and now Wall Street’s greedy bankers.  What do you think we should do with these corporations?

“Free Market/Free Enterprise”

Show ’em the tax code.   It’s “Corporate Welfare” at the expense of the taxpayers.

The Pivot:

2/3 of corporations paid no tax between 1998 through 2005  (http://thinkprogress.org/2010/04/06/exxon-tax/).  It seems the only way to end this is to end their contributions to political campaigns.  As a legislator, what actions are you taking to address this?

“The Government Don’t Create No Stinkin’ Jobs!”

Really?  How about all these PRIVATE contractors.  Select them by state, and filter them right down to your district, including the dollars they’ve been paid.  And while there are NO government bureaucrats handing the insurance claims between you and your doctor, there are indeed several federal, state, and local employees that perform services for us every day.  Just think about what you would do, if they weren’t there?  Hmmm…well maybe getting zero mail might be a good thing!  But who would deliver those lovely packages I order online?  Are you aware that both FedEx and UPS have some of their deliveries done by the good ole USPS?

The Pivot:

Clearly government does create jobs when they build roads, bridges, levees, damns, buildings, etc.  and these jobs are in the PRIVATE sector.  When the government under the Eisenhower administration invested in a Interstate Highway system, it changed not only the face of America, but changed our economy as well, by making it easier for people to travel and goods to be more easily transported.  Isn’t it time, particularly now, to invest in America again?  Jobs creating a new public transportation system (how about one – old HUD idea – designed around people, not schedules, especially since there are a great number of people who will not be able to afford a battery powered car) and a new energy grid that will hold up in a windstorm, not to mention the investment in clean energy.  Jobs that will be done here rebuilding America, not nation building overseas or outsourcing our jobs elsewhere.

GOP and Small Businesses

Just what is the definition of a “small business?”  The Democrats defined  a small business under America’s Affordable Health Choices Act as a business making under $250K annually.

The GOP, however, would have defined Dick Cheney as being a small business.

So before we can begin to have any discussion about “small business,” with any politician, we must first have them define what their definition is.

The Pivot:

The Small Business Jobs Act is lingering in the Senate.  This bill would help small businesses who make less than $250K.  Explain your reasoning based on your definition of “small business” why you do or do not support helping just small businesses making under $250K get needed loans who have been acknowledged by both parties as being the jobs creators and are in need of the most help?  Would you help these businesses only if larger ones get more tax breaks?

We Pay the Highest Income Tax in the World!

Wow!  We do?  Well, we are, after all, “the hardest working people in the world,” so it would make sense wouldn’t it that we pay the highest income tax, right?  Let’s look at this.  First of all which tax rate is being referenced?  The “marginal tax rate” (the statutory rate you’ll find in the middle of your tax return pamphlet) or the “effective tax rate” (the one you actually pay after you take all your deductions)?

Turns out it’s not so bad after all (at least in 2005) and with the Bush tax cuts, not much has changed or will until 2011.   Now when it comes to corporate taxes, The Tax Foundation has a lot to say about that.  But here’s the rebuttal to their argument…”The Greek Menace (and here’s another…”High Corporate Tax Rates Are Misleading“).   Here’s a CBO report written in 2005 by Dennis Holtz-Eakin reporting the EFFECTIVE (not statutory) rates 2003 ranked the US 6th behind Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.  This was before yet more tax breaks were provided during the Bush administration.

Summing Up. Compared with effective marginal corporate tax rates among the broad group of the 18 other
OECD countries, rates in the United States in 2003 were close to the group’s average for equity-financed investments in machinery, substantially above the average for equity-financed investments in industrial structures, and substantially below the average for debt-financed investments in machinery.”

As you’ll note, Linda Beale states, “the actual tax rates paid by US corporations are extraordinarily low, around 6%”  As we know,  two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.   And this GAO report was before Obama became President, so he had nothing to do with it.

So while they benefit from what the rest of the taxpayers provide – roads, bridges and other infrastructure, they get to use the legal loopholes that gives them excessive breaks.  We also know that while 50% of households do not pay federal taxes, they pay many other taxes.  6%, Linda says…much, much less than my tax rate last time I filed.  How about you?

The Pivot:

While corporations are paying an effective tax rate of 6%, if they are one of the 2/3 who actually pay taxes, why do real taxpayers, like me who pay a much higher rate than they do, get stuck with the bill?  They use the same infrastructure as we do – and probably much more often than we do?  Our wages have remained stagnant while they received these tax breaks, they created no jobs with these tax breaks (before or since the crash), and have, in fact, received tax breaks that benefit them from keeping their money and our jobs offshore.  Isn’t it time they pay their fair share and we return these dollars to this country where they can be used to not only create jobs, be used for research and development (rather than more tax payer dollars being used for R&D) and pay down the debt/deficit so many are concerned about?

What Is Meant by “Smaller Government?”

We constantly hear politicians demanding smaller government.  What do they mean?  Do they mean there should be fewer departments and agencies?  Some want to end the Department of Education, the Food & Drug Administration, the Consumer Protection Agency…and the list can go on and on.

Now I’ll be the first to admit government agencies are no more efficient than corporations (see my previous comments on this) — all have room for improvement; they are operated by humans after all.  I’d like to see some consolidation where possible.  But eliminating departments (particularly consumer protection) that people rely on.  Now that could be a problem.  That leaves us with the other alternatives — the real definition of “smaller government.”  Privatization and self-regulation.   We’ve seen the results of self-regulation.  Most recently 2 mega egg farms who failed to “self-regulate” and have sent contaminated eggs over a 12 state region of the country.  Add to that, the worst ecological disaster to hit the Gulf in its history.

The Pivot:

Ask your politician what they mean by “smaller government.”  Do they mean taking away those agencies that are designed (when properly funded to do so…lacking in year’s past) to protect consumers from lead painted toys, cars that don’t stop, etc. or do they mean letting corporations decide whether they can send out a half million eggs that will make you sick, if you happen to like them over easy?  Or do they simply want to privatize them – allowing for profit companies to take over the duties of a non-profit government agency?  Corporations that are really no more efficient than government – who may bid a low cost contract to do the job of government workers in the beginning, but who will raise the cost of those services once the government worker who knows how to do the job is no longer employed?  How cheap will it really be then?

Government Bureaucrats and Health Care

Where oh where are those government bureaucrats standing in the way of me and my doctor?  We’ve heard about them – you know those that get in the way in those Medicare claims?  I’m not quite ready for Medicare, but last time I checked (recently) Medicare contracts their claim handling out to the likes of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CIGNA, Aetna, etc.  Those contracts are part of the overhead fee you pay as part of your premium.  There are hundreds of contractors named in the Medicare Intermediary-Carrier Directory, depending on the type of claim being made.  Now there is the CMS Board who does make decisions on whether new medical devices are covered by Medicare, among other things mandated by Congress.

Having retired from the private insurance industry, and knowing a former Blue Cross employee who worked in the Medicare Fraud unit that was defunded during the Bush years, I can promise you there are NO government insurance adjusters handling Medicare claims.  They are, in fact, the same claim adjusters handling the claims for the carriers they also work for – Blue Cross, etc.

The Pivot:

When you mention “government bureaucrats” coming between me and my doctor, please tell me to whom you are referring?  If you mean the claim adjusters who work for Medicare, who are also employees of private carriers and handle their claims as well, aren’t these people, in fact, private carrier employees?  And when you talk about the waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, is it not these people employees of private insurance carriers who are, in fact, the ones paying these fraudulent claims and getting between me and my doctor, rather than a “government bureaucrat?”  If this is not correct, please tell me who it is I’m supposed to be angry with?

Tea Party “FREEDOM”

I’ve often wondered what the Tea Party types have meant by losing their “freedom.”  — Didn’t seem to me they were referring to the infringement on our rights under FISA – implemented by Bush (about which I complained loudly and was told by those on the right, “Don’t worry, as long as you’re not doing anything wrong,..”  Yeah, right.  My arguments about how easy it would be for a President to become a dictator by being able to ID his/her enemies fell on deaf ears.  So, I thought – well maybe now they get it – the worm as turned so to speak and perhaps they are now on board with the left’s complaint against FISA – since President Obama has continued the practice.  It must be that – I haven’t lost my free speech or right to carry or any other rights provided to me in the founding documents.

Sigh…guess not.  The Mount Vernon Statement issued on February 17, 2010 declares “Constitutional Conservatism:’

“encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.”

Will someone please tell me where in the Constitution there is a single reference to  “free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur and market solutions.”

The Pivot:

I keep hearing about how I’m losing my freedoms from various politicos – tell me which freedoms have I lost?  And if you mean my right to free enterprise, you’re going to have to show me where that’s spelled out in the Constitution.

Riddle Me This on Gay Marriage…

If gay marriage is already against the law…then why do conservatives want to ban it using a Constitutional Amendment?  Oops.



4 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Lew Merrick

    About 60% of our Gross Domestic Product is money changing hands in “futures” markets (i.e. stock markets, commodities markets, and other the like. These “markets” do not create anything, they merely allow bets to be placed on what production or pricing may be at some time in the future. Yet these casinos (sans showgirls and fancy carpets) are all we hear about when “business” is discussed in our “free press.” Why is that?

    If you go to sell shares in a company to raise the funds to start one, you can only sell those shares to three types of people: (1) Those who participate in the day-to-day operations of that business; (2) SEC certified investors of “high wealth or income;” or (3) A savvy investor with specific knowledge or experience in the business or market (and rules have been being made for the past decade making this class nearly impossible to prove as an investor). Shares of a company may only be sold to the public after the business has met criteria (that vary from industry to industry and funding class to funding class) of “success.”

    In point of fact, with the exception of new share issues by existing companies (a rare event), not one penny of the monies changing hands in “stock markets” go to the businesses in question! Yet “building or maintaining share value” is (by legal definition) the “primary requirement of management” — one that can be enforced by lawsuit against corporate management!

    Please, I am not being facetious, what business purpose is served by these “markets?”

  2. Lew Merrick

    It would be interesting, were it not so painful. A bit over a month ago, on 28 August, FUX news and their NAZI backers arranged for a TEA Party show in Washington, DC. They filled about 20% of the area around the monuments and reflecting pool known as the mall. Canadian and other foreign news broadcasts included overhead footage taken from helicopters showing how much space was left unfilled by this extravaganza. American “news” showed composite photographs cunningly edited that made it seem as if the entire mall was filled by TEA Party activists.

    Fast-forward to yesterday, 2 October. The One Nation rally has been ignored by America’s so-called free press. Canadian news showed overhead footage taken from helicopters. The mall was nearly filled with those opposing the right-wing corporate agenda. No mention about this is made by the network Sunday pontification shows – the same ones that could not mention the TEA Party event for weeks thereafter. Gee, I wonder if there is something to be learned here?

    Yesterday, Google’s news listing had two articles (including photos) about the One Nation rally. They do not appear in the headlines today. Just about any TEA Party event stays in Google news’ headlines for a week. Why is this? Mainstream media in America is promoting the message that the Democrats are going to be slaughtered in this November’s election and that the right-wing in general and the TEA Party in particular are going to be ascendant. This is clear whenever you turn on a TV or radio. As someone who has received calls from several of the polling groups this election, the inherent bias in these polls assure that the average recipient is going to give the types of answers those funding these polls want. Their questions pose unfounded right-wing assertions and outright lies as if they were proven fact – and then provide no check-box response to denounce these statements. The poll takers are taken aback when it is pointed out that their assertions, framed as questions, are lies!

    The most you can say is that you are strongly opposed to the view presented. This is the tool being used to sway voters!

    Santayana was right – and I am terribly afraid for my country.

  3. Lew Merrick

    The miners from the San Jose mine in Chile have been saved. Good job all. What’s next?

    Where is the call for an international conference on mine safety? I suggest that we have 33 co-chairs for such a committee with whom few could argue looking for something to do for the next few months. Why do we Americans not have a “rescue kit” set-up and waiting to go? Why are we still operating our mines with the Cheaty/Haliburton “no secondary escape tunnel” rules? It has only been two years since we entombed the miners in Utah.

    As Pete Seeger sings so well, “When will we ever learn?”

  4. Pingback: Mario Piperni and CNN | Seniors for a Democratic Society

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