Open Thread Plus Bites & Pieces

I’m still catching up from last week’s news and propaganda but I did read a couple of pieces that I thought were pretty interesting.

This was from the AP Friday.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Abortion is still legal but getting one in many states will be difficult if laws passed this year are upheld by the courts. In a march through conservative legislatures, anti-abortion Republicans passed a wave of new restrictions that would sharply limit when a woman could terminate a pregnancy and where she could go to do so.

The push brought the anti-abortion movement closer to a key milestone, in which the procedure would become largely inaccessible in the three-fifths of the country controlled by Republicans even if still technically legal under Roe vs. Wade.

But rather than continuing to roll across the GOP heartland in synch with the pro-life movement’s plan, the effort may now be hitting a wall. The obstacle comes not from opposing Democrats but from GOP leaders who believe pressing further is a mistake for a party trying to soften its harder edges after election losses last year.

The resisting Republicans include governors and top legislators in more than a half-dozen states, including some of the largest and most politically competitive in the party’s 30-state coalition. They are digging in to stop the barrage of abortion proposals, hoping to better cultivate voters not enamored with the GOP’s social agenda.

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This one’s a little long but a fascinating read on our 40 year war against marijuana.  I don’t indulge but it’s pretty clear, I think, that it’s time to change our policies.  I loved this Nixon quote.

President Nixon had already made up his mind. In May 1971 he told H.R. Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement about marijuana. Can I get that out of this sonofa-bitching, uh, domestic council? I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.” And Nixon told Shafer directly, “You’re enough of a pro to know that for you to come out with something that would run counter to what the Congress feels and what the country feels, and what we’re planning to do, would make your commission just look bad as hell.”

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I’m pretty sure this isn’t going anywhere but it’s the thing I’ve been talking about since 2009…………..jeeze.  Medicare for all.  Here’s the money quote that makes it dead on arrival.

“Paradoxically, by expanding Medicare to everyone we’d end up saving billions of dollars annually,” he said. “We’d be safeguarding Medicare’s fiscal integrity while enhancing the nation’s health for the long term.”

Friedman said the plan would be funded by maintaining current federal revenues for health care and imposing new, modest tax increases on very high income earners. It would also be funded by a small increase in payroll taxes on employers, who would no longer pay health insurance premiums, and a new, very small tax on stock and bond transactions.

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And since we have peppers coming out of our ears (garden) here I thought I’d post my Baked Jalapeno Poppers recipe.

I use a combination of whatever peppers we have in the garden.  I can usually get about 15 to 18 poppers from this recipe.

Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membrane.  I like to leave part of the stem on.

Combine:

8 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 cup mozarella, jack or pepper jack cheese

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp or less cayenne

Stuff peppers with cheese mixture.

Bowl one:  1/2 cup seasoned flour

Bowl two:  2 eggs

Bowl three:  1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use plain bread crumbs and season them myself)

Seasoning:  salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and Mexican oregano to taste.  I just wing it and add to both flour and bread crumbs.

Roll peppers in flour, then dip in egg and finally dredge with bread crumbs.  Refrigerate several hours and then bake in a 350 oven for about 1/2 hour……………..yummy

12 Responses

  1. An interesting piece by Bruce Bartlett about Republicans and tax reform.

    Although Republicans often talk about tax reform as if it is no big deal to abolish deductions, exclusions and credits sufficiently to slash tax rates, in fact it is a Herculean task. Just this week, Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that lowering the top individual income tax rate to 25 percent will reduce federal revenues by $3.8 trillion over 10 years. Additionally, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent will reduce revenues by $1.3 trillion.

    Although it is theoretically possible to eliminate enough tax expenditures in a revenue-neutral manner, as Republicans have promised, it will be impossible to do so without going after sacred cows such as the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction for state and local taxes, and the charitable contributions deduction, among others.

    Not only is this impossible to imagine, politically, it is, I think, mathematically impossible to do all this and maintain the existing progressivity of the tax code, which Republicans have also said they will do.

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2013/08/02/Musical-Chairs-in-the-Hous-Knocks-Out-Tax-Reform.aspx#page1

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  2. Here’s a bit of news on health care premiums and the ACA.

    5. Last, but certainly not least – premium changes are unlikely to affect you.
    The rates submitted to states and the federal government are for coverage sold to individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 workers that are not self-insured. Currently, the vast majority of Americans with insurance coverage get it through their jobs – and they generally work for companies with more than 50 workers. Large firms already offer coverage similar to what the health law will require insurers to offer individuals and small firms, so little change is expected. The new rates are most likely to affect people who buy their own coverage. About 15 million do so currently and an estimated 7 million more are expected to do so next year because of the health law.

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/08/02/The-Truth-About-Obamacare-Health-Insurance-Premiums.aspx#page1

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  3. lms (from Bartlett):

    Not only is this impossible to imagine, politically, it is, I think, mathematically impossible to do all this and maintain the existing progressivity of the tax code, which Republicans have also said they will do.

    It is a real shame that both parties have embraced the injustice of progressive income taxation.

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  4. I thought that the currently uninsured young males was the key to making Obamacare “work.” If so, then premiums on the individual market are indeed crucial.

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  5. “Additionally, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent will reduce revenues by $1.3 trillion.”

    Are they taking into account the fact that cutting our corporate tax rate would eliminate the incentive companies have to play transfer pricing games in order to minimize US profits and maximize overseas profits?

    The way the system is now, we subsidize foreign governments.

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  6. “Not only is this impossible to imagine, politically, it is, I think, mathematically impossible to do all this and maintain the existing progressivity of the tax code, which Republicans have also said they will do.”

    Then ditch the progressivity. They should totally disregard that when eliminating deductions and lowering rates. The 1986 reforms weren’t derailed because they changed the progessivitiy of the tax code, and regardless if they got the rates low enough so that they could tax capital gains and other unearned income at the same rate as earned income, that would go a long way towards addressing the progressivity arguments despite lowering the top rates on earned income.

    ““Paradoxically, by expanding Medicare to everyone we’d end up saving billions of dollars annually,”

    No you wouldn’t. It costs more to cover more people and as long as Medicare is a fee for service system you aren’t going to save money. If they want to turn it into Medicaid for all with full fledged rationing, then we can talk but that’s not “Medicare for all”.

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  7. Glad you’re back jnc.

    I don’t see why, even with eliminating deductions and taxing capital gains and other unearned income, we still can’t have a slightly progressive tax system. If we select 25 per cent for everyone, that seems punishing for the lower end of the income ladder.

    And wouldn’t medicare just become a single payer system if we opened it for everyone and everyone paid the tax from birth. I agree though that all medical services should be switched from fee for service.

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  8. Wow!

    Straus and his colleagues found that in minor violence, the incident rates were equal for men and women. In cases of severe violence, more men were victimized than women, with 1.8 million women victims of severe violence and 2 million male victims of severe violence a year.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/07/22/reverse-domestic-violence-when-men-are-the-victims.html

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  9. McWing, I have no doubt that domestic violence goes both ways, but if you measure deaths, unfortunately women come out ahead. If you look at lifetime statistics they also win…….so to speak. It’s definitely something to be aware of though.

    Physical

    1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2011).

    http://www.cdc.gov/violencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequences.html

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  10. “lmsinca, on August 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm said:

    Glad you’re back jnc.

    I don’t see why, even with eliminating deductions and taxing capital gains and other unearned income, we still can’t have a slightly progressive tax system. ”

    Sure you can, it just may be less progressive than the current system after the expiration of the upper bracket Bush tax cuts and the PPACA surtaxes. What’s being thrown around now is a top marginal rate of 25%, not a flat tax.

    Bartlett’s argument was that the Republicans promised it would be as progressive as the current system. I don’t see any reason to keep that as a goal.

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  11. Thanks for the poppers recipe, Imsinca. I’ll have to give it a go.

    With regards to the flat tax, let’s calculate a fair, flat tax. After all, it’s unfair to have somebody with a higher income pay more. Flat should be everyone pays the same. I pay the same price to get on the NJ Turnpike as the billionaire and the janitor. Let’s apply the same principle to the requirements of the federal budget (and balance it to boot!)

    The FY2013 federal budget was $3.8 trillion dollars (from the ever popular Wikipedia). The population of the US is 314 million people. The flat tax will therefore be $12,000 for every man, woman and child. Let’s let the kids accumulate the debt like a student loan and pay it off on 30 year basis at the inflation rate. Assuming an average of 2%, that’ll be $805 per month starting on your 18th birthday.

    Fair is fair, right?

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  12. FB, it’s a bit of work getting them ready but because they’re baked not fried the cooking is much easier and lower fat obviously. I used a light cream cheese as well. Thursday my husband sliced the left overs up and made a quesadilla with them. He said it was pretty good.

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