Tag Archives: Al Franken

Tax Dodges, Senate Race, Indecency, Oh My!

There are some interesting goings on these days in the courts, the halls of Congress, and the White House. We though we’d take a look at a few in this little posting. What, if anything, do they have in common? I’ll leave that for you to decide. On one level they speak to the absurdity of our times. On another, what do you expect from Beltway politics?

Issue the first is President Obama’s push to close certain tax loopholes says reward companies for shipping jobs overseas, and allow rich individuals to get even richer by not paying their fair share. This is most often accomplished by parking cash overseas. He says changes in tax laws, new reporting requirements, and a slew of new IRS agents can bring in $210 billion dollars over the next decade.

To hear big business and their friends in the conservative echo chamber tell it, making companies and individuals pay what they actually owe is a tax increase. They also say inhibiting their ability to duck taxes and ship jobs overseas will actually cost US jobs. Does anybody want to hold a tea party for these folks? If this is the best they can spin, lotsa luck! Trying to explain why changing tax laws to keep jobs here is a herculean task, at best.

Next up…the seemingly never ending race for a US Senate seat in Minnesota. When we last left Al Franken and Norm Coleman, Franken had won a major court victory, one which his supporters thought would finally gain him the seat for which he fought so hard. No such luck. Norm Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, where the issue will hopefully be resolved sometime during Barack Obama’s first term.

But will it be resolved there? Republicans in the Senate, stung by the defection of Arlen Specter, now want Coleman to hold on for dear life and fight to the bitter end. That end would be the federal courts. While they don’t want their fingerprints on it,  GOP senators are quietly promoting the federal option, perhaps all the way to the US Supreme Court. Coleman’s string of  court defeats until now seems to mean nothing compared to the possibility of a filibuster proof senate. And caught in the middle is Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Does he sign off on Franken’s victory is the Minnesota Supreme Court rules he won the race? Stay tuned.

The final front in our theater of the bizarre comes from both the Supreme Court and the FCC. The Supremes, in a couple of recent decisions, have upheld the right of the commission to fine broadcasters for obscenity and indecency, even if it happens during a live broadcast through no fault of theirs. These rulings dealt with a couple of “F” bombs at awards shows, and Janet Jackson’s now famous wardrobe malfunction. Some may see this as a waste of time, but if the appointed overseers of all media want to make the nation safe from cuss words, more power to them.

However, there’s a fly in the ointment. One Virginia Congressman (and, reportedly, one Supreme Court Justice) are questioning how the FCC can go full force after obscenity while looking the other way at the those all too frequent ads for erectile dysfunction. They air at all times of the day, and trust me, you haven’t lived until you have to explain what “a sackful of pride” or “an erection lasting more than four hours” means to a young child. 

Well, take heart. Rep. James Moran of Virginia feels your pain. He’s introduced HR 2175, the “Families for E.D. Advertising Decency Act”. The bill would deem such ads indecent, and therefore unable to air until after 10PM. Anybody want to wager the act won’t even get out of committee?

Yet such is the world in which we live. And all of the above are simple examples of your tax dollars at work.

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Specter Switches from Repub to Democrat – Principle or Self Preservation?

For a lot of Democrats, it doesn’t matter whether Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter became a Democrat for ideological or selfish reasons. Chances are… it was both anyway.

arlen_sp

The long serving Republican maverick has been alienated from his party for quite some time now. The deal breaker was his decision to support President Barack Obama on the stimulus bill. That prompted RNC boss Michael Steele to wonder aloud if such treachery should be followed by a stiff, well funded primary challenge when Specter runs for re-election next year.

No such worries now. Specter has already received assurances from Democratic bigwigs that the party will back him to the hilt next year. President Obama has pledged to campaign for him. And of course, Specter’s switch, the 21st among senators since 1890, now allows him to paint the likely Republican senate nominee, former Rep. Pat Toomey, as too conservative for Pennsylvania voters.

If you do the math, Democrats are now one final court case away from holding a veto proof majority in the Upper House. If, as expected, Al Franken is finally seated as Minnesota’s junior senator, there will be that magic 60 the Obama Administration has doubtless prayed for. There will still be work to be done to get major legislation passed, no doubt. Still, this makes the prospects easier.

It also has daunting implications for the GOP. It removes one of their major talking points, the possibility of using reconciliation to move past possible Republican filibusters. Yet there’s a deeper meaning here. It makes the GOP’s alleged “big tent” look small. It further marginalizes a party that’s already out of power.

There could well be increased calls for Michael Steele’s head, calls that glib, pseudo-hip sound bites won’t quiet. And it all could have been avoided if conservative blowhards in both Congress and the media hadn’t acted as if Specter’s vote on the stimulus bill amounted to some sort of high treason.

So let’s see now. We’re in midweek, and already a powerful Republican senator has jumped ship, and the Senate paid no attention to Sarah Palin fans who vowed to derail Kathleen Sebelius‘ nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.

sebelius

In baseball parlance, that’s oh for two. The GOP echo chamber will doubtless use today’s first 100 days hoopla to pound on Obama and all things Democrat. The real question is, will anyone be paying attention?

Somehow those tea parties seem like a long time ago.

You tell me. Post your comment …here: How important is Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democrats?

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