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Tag Archives: Congress

Obama (and GOP congressional leadership) -backed trade bill fails in the House

It’s not over (the House could move to reconsider the bill on Tuesday) but this was a real win and it happened largely because of a bizarre libertarian/conservative/liberal coalition we (and others) had identified as emerging a couple of weeks ago around the TPP.

Though this vote is only on a piece of the Trans-Pacific trade pact, basically a bone thrown to liberals which allocated money for the retraining of displaced workers, it is an important vote because it means that fast track authority will almost certainly not be granted by Congress. If Dems aren’t going to vote for fast track authority with such money for training, they are very very unlikely to vote for fast track authority without such funds.

And if there is no fast-track authority given, it is unlikely that after debate and amendments the TPP will make it through Congress.

A strange moment in American politics.

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CNBC: When it can be illegal to withdraw your own money

Capital controls are already a reality in some places on the western periphery. There is talk among some economists about abolishing cash. How long until the Federal Reserve notes in your account are there permanently or semi-permanently? You already can’t take out more that $10,000 without your bank alerting the Feds.

The question I have is, is it your money or not? (I know the answer, but I still ask the question.)

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Is the TPP like Obamacare, “Executive Amnesty,” and “Net neutrality”? The public can’t see. Only large vested interests.

A broad, sweeping, global treaty which will/may fundamentally shift how trade is done in the world and in the USA is still secret and thanks to Senate Republicans is halfway to getting “fast track” status. That is the treaty will be voted on for final approval by Congress with a simple “yes” or “no” vote, without debate or amendments. That doesn’t seem right to me.

Now I am all for free trade. I think goods and services should flow without friction across borders. I say make it easier for this to happen. This creates opportunity and better goods at better prices for nearly everyone.

An example.

When I was a kid I used to get Sears brand sneakers with my mom. (Fashion was not a priority for my parents when it came to the kids.) Every 6 months or so I’d get a new pair. The cost was $35-$40.

Fast forward to now. At Target kid sneakers of much higher quality than my Sears kicks can be purchased at about the same price or even lower. And this isn’t even in inflation adjusted terms. Adjusting for inflation, these higher quality sneakers are probably HALF the price of my old sneakers, or even less.

This is an example of free trade raising the quality of life generally.

The same can be said for t-shirts, technology, any number of things. Our lives are for the most part much better because of relatively free trade.

Of course there are losers in this equation. The people who used to make my Sears brand sneakers no longer have a job making Sears brand sneakers. That’s true. But generally life is better in America for all those Chinese made goods which are made for us at lower cost and with higher quality (often) than products made in the States.

But it concerns me that the Trans Pacific Partnership, a supposedly “free trade” agreement, is being handled with such secrecy. This giant agreement has been negotiated and is being voted on (at least fast track authority) by the Congress, without any public review at all. Is this how we do business in the USA now? Are our leaders so afraid that the people will rise up in opposition that government must now be done in the shadows?

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Congressman Grayson erupts after off-shore funds exposed by Florida newspaper

I have no problem with someone having a bank account in the Caymans or wherever. People are taxed a lot. Too much. This is nearly universally true. Folks have an obligation to reduce their tax exposure as much as legally possible. If an offshore account is legal, why not?

However, if one is a so called progressive congressman who has explicitly railed against such accounts it would seem hypocritical to have say $10,000,000 stashed away in one of these accounts.

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Just Say No to Congressional Slush Funds

Congress, Republican and Democrat, just can’t stop spending taxpayer money. Both the money of today’s taxpayers and that of tomorrow’s. And then a few generations after that too.

Republicans (and I mean everyday voting Republicans) need to break their addiction to defense spending. Despite the spin we hear all the time we have plenty of fat to cut in the military budget. Heck, the Pentagon recently admitted to just losing $45 BILLION because it checked the wrong box on some accounting forms. And this is what we know about.

Bases should be closed. Weapons systems should be cut. But this would mean annoying some congresspeople and the defense contractors which are cozy with the congresspeople.

And that’s what this is all about. Not “military readiness.”

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