In rebuttal, H. Sirocki: 'Real' reasons to control spending

Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves recently attacked his Republican colleagues ("LePage says he won't issue supplemental budget," Sept. 22) for raising concerns about his proposal to implement the largest-ever expansion of MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program.

Republicans have been saying that Maine should take care of the 3,100 elderly and disabled Mainers who sit languishing on Medicaid waitlists before expanding Medicaid to 70,000 able-bodied young adults.

He said that our concerns are an “excuse” to oppose welfare expansion that only came when it was “convenient.”

Well I have news for Speaker Eves. I brought this issue up last year, when we were facing budget cuts, and it wasn’t convenient at all. I said then, I say now, “It is shameful.”

Democrats had eight years of legislative majorities and their own governor in office from 2003 to 2011. They must not have found it “convenient” to get Maine’s disabled and neediest individuals off waitlists during that decade, as they were too busy repeatedly and recklessly expanding medical welfare to tens of thousands of young, able-bodied adults, which continues to cannibalize our budget, runs up our debt, and crowds out basics such as road and bridge repairs.

Furthermore, it’s patronizing for him to label this issue as an “excuse.”

If ensuring that welfare serves the neediest first is an “excuse,” then perhaps he thinks my “real” reason for opposing welfare expansion is the fact that it will cost the state $75 million per year. Or perhaps it’s because Medicaid has a history of costing far more than expected while failing to deliver on promises such as reduced emergency room usage. Or maybe it’s because we just last week paid off the last of the state’s $738 million hospital debt that was created by past expansions.

While the state of Maine staggers under the already crushing weight of this program, it is unconscionable that he is pushing further expansion.

All of these are very good “excuses” not to increase Maine’s welfare spending. Perhaps we would find some common ground if the speaker stopped lobbing public insults at his colleagues across the aisle.

Rep. Heather Sirocki, Scarborough

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Response to Mark Gravel - Pt. 2

With that and in response to a few of your comments:

2. [A]llow the uninsured to die - by law, emergency rooms cannot deny service, so where are you coming up with this rubbish.

Response: “People without insurance are more likely to go without preventive care, to delay or forgo medical care, and to die prematurely. When sick, the uninsured may turn to emergency rooms for care, where oftentimes they are charged more for services than insured patients. And when uninsured patients can’t afford their medical bills, the cost of this care is passed on to the insured in the form of higher premiums.”

Many of us have encountered elderly and non-elderly who avoid medical attention in order to make ends meet or to use the money for a family member with a greater medical need.

As well consider that between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100; in Maine it was 398.

http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/Dying-for-Coverage.pdf

Further over the past decade the number of uninsured has increased from 36.1 million to 41.2 million with the number of companies offering health benefits decreased from 69.3% to 58.8%. With the recession unemployment rose, more people were living in families without a full-time worker, and real personal income fell.

So why would insurance companies and medical supply companies oppose the ACA? Why did the United States maintain tax breaks during the Iraq conflict, an unplanned outlay? Why would the United States maintain tax breaks during an economic downturn? Corporate influence.

3. [W]age useless wars - A corporation cannot wage war. However, your government can. Perhaps you should look to Washington DC on this one.

Response: See Sheldon Wolin comments above.

5. [S]lash social assistance programs - Again, your blame should be on Washington DC. Moreover, wouldn't your claim of "Plunder" contradict this assertion? Why would a corporation that wants to plunder the US treasury make tax dollars less available to plunder with slashing social programs? It does not make sense. I'm beginning to detect an emotional outburst here.

Response: Recently a group of 80 CEOs went before Congress stating the need to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations in America. See response to #8 below for further details.

6. [G]ut public education - Government issue. Again, contradicts the notion that corporations want to plunder.

Response: See Colin Woodward’s “Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine” which exposed how Maine’s digital education agenda is being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to profit on the changes. http://www.pressherald.com/news/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02.html

See also Lee Fang’s article “How Online Companies Bought America’s Schools http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bo...

And back in Maine we have http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/08/business/education-firm-chaired-by...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“Why am I telling you this

“Why am I telling you this story?”

Seems like you cannot stop yourself from telling the story, especially when we all heard it about 50 times before.

“I had a plan, Obama has a plan.”

The fact is that you did very well without Obama’s plan, so why change the status quo? Every aspect of your story is prior to ObummaCare, hmm!

Lack of Courage

What H. Sirocki clearly demonstrates in her quasi-rebuttal (similar to Ted Cruz’s quasi-filibuster) is a microcosm of what is lacking in Augusta. H. Sirocki as with many others who “support” LePage lacks the courage to challenge Paul LePage. Rather she would rather provide a lackluster rebuttal to gain favor.

With respect to the hospital debt, an article in the Bangor Daily News provided a historical analysis of how the debt came to its current amount of $484 million. However, the data was provided by DHHS whose inconsistent financial reporting over the last three years raises the following questions.

If the state struggles with understanding the area of their own financial house related to healthcare, why should I believe the state is correct in stating what is owed to the hospitals?

Has there been an audit of the $484 million hospital bill by a third-party?
When the bill comes at a restaurant, or to our home, it is normal to validate its accuracy before we pay it. We’ve all experienced inaccurate bills and had them corrected. What if an audit discovered $4.84 million (1% of $484 million) in erroneous hospital billing?

Further, has Maine been billed fairly by the hospitals? An extensive essay in Tim brings to light the significant markup in healthcare. Who benefits from these markups, the hospital, hospital executives, and/or middle-men? Paying 95 cents on the dollar would result in a payment of $460 million, a reduction of $24 million.

Would H. Sirocki have the courage to challenge LePage in his disregard of public health regarding the BPA exposure, his misogynist comments regarding beards on women? Would she have the courage to defend teachers from the bashing by LePage, who could not last one week as a teacher or has any sense what is involved in the teaching process? Have the courage to acknowledge that LePage’s comments comparing the IRS to the Gestapo were way over the top? Have the courage to admit that LePage’s comments are intended to be inflammatory, so to gain political points with those who look down upon Jews, African-Americans, minorities, women, and people with disabilities, LGBT, and union workers. Have the courage to call LePage to task for claiming that all state middle-management is corrupt without providing any evidence.

Would H. Sirocki have the courage to challenge LePage if the Vaseline comment was directed at her father or a son? Better yet since LePage said Jackson was giving it to the people of Maine would she challenge him if it was directed at her mother, a sister or a friend? Would she challenge LePage if her mother or a daughter started growing little beards and he merely dismissed her with a chuckle?

It is time we begin to demand courage from all of those appointed by and supporters of LePage, who have more concern for their jobs or future opportunities than for the people of Maine. Their lack of action, lack of character, and lack of courage is pathetic.

 's picture

How did racism get into this thread?

How did Mexico and Mexicans get here? Usually these side-steps are performed by the left when, after about 5 seconds, they lose any rational control and have to resort to lower roads.

Every demographic group you can name has racist elements, but none more than the Democrat party. 95% of its platform is based on telling minorities that they're too stupid and shiftless to make it without cradle-to-grave "help" from the party of tolerance and diversity.

Also, from way down below, and I mean really low, it appears that our amigo Riml gets yet another free pass on language. I wonder how his ancestors avoided capture after Nuremberg. Here's some sage advice from Speedy Gonzalez:

Cague en su sombrero y tire de él abajo sobre sus oídos.

RONALD RIML's picture

LeBlanc

I won't ask about your 'Professsional Surrenderer" Ancestors

 's picture

That's funny...

It would ruin the hat, but it would be funny to watch.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I would think.............

I would think, an elected official would be just a little more informed on what she refers to as welfare. I would further feel that an elected official would be more in tune with solving a problem as apposed to arguing about it.
What I see in Rep. Siroki's letter is us and them. I see apples and oranges. It's the same lame excuses for argument that's been going back and forth for years.
Now before I start my own sort of bitching and moaning, let me qualify myself. I'm totally disabled and somehow have been jumping through hoops for years. Just to make some bureaucrat or other, happy. Maybe I have a different twist on the ACA.
Everybody can agree, the system isn't working well. We can all agree sick people need medical treatment, and they need access to a variety of treatments, not just the emergency room. There are many people on waiting lists because the system is overwhelmed, the whole program of treating those less fortunate has grown enormously, with little room to grow in the first place. What happens when you put to much air in a balloon? exactly.
The way I see the ACA is from two directions. I see it as a chance to save lives by allowing lifesaving tests to be performed without cost to the patients. Patients who now have primary care physicians, they never had before. I also see a chance to do something not many people have talked about. I see an opportunity to fix the system.
I see this as a whole new approach to health care. A system that treats everyone. It will no longer be a case of the haves, and the have not's.
I've been totally disabled for about nine tears, since I was 45. About five or six years ago I had a simple procedure done, at the request of my doctor. Something I never would have even thought of, had I not already had a PCP. (primary care physician). To make a long story short, I would be dead now, simple as that. They found something and fixed it. If that hadn't occurred I would be dead right now. Isn't that proof positive that everyone needs access to healthcare?
Try not to think of the expansion of Medicaid a burden on the already over stressed system. Try thinking of it as a long needed fix to a somewhat dysfunctional system. To me thats what the ACA is, a chance to fix all the things wrong with healthcare in this country. Just think how many people like myself who could be alive ten years from now. Who otherwise won't be. I'm not being over dramatic with this. I speak from experience.......................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“I see it as a chance to save

“I see it as a chance to save lives by allowing lifesaving tests to be performed without cost to the patients.”

Let’s see:
Currently there are people on waiting lists because there is not enough financial resources to cover them.

So, what magic dust to you spread around to pay for medical expansion? Think before you provide a simplistic answer like, the Federal Government.

Forbes Magazine reports: “Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four”
The Washington Post gave Obama two Pinocchios on his campaign promise to lower healthcare costs by $2500.00 per year for the average family.

Lastly, all those states who expanded Medicaid will have to realize the total costs on its taxpayers when the Federal Government can no longer afford to fund these state programs. That is a matter of when, not if.
All that I can say is the “needy” will get hit worse in the end when the US cannot manage to fund this immediate and unprecedented expansion in welfare. Yes, welfare, let’s call it what it is. Let's just hope Frank is around to see the errors of his ways, your kids and grand kids will surely have to live with the debt your generation created.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I haven't don anything wrong.........

I'm trying to get the same word out that you are, It's not free never has been free nor will healthcare ever likely be free. My daughter by the way, will live in a time of debt, but she will never suffer as a result of it. Unlike a lot of guys my age, when I was forty three years old I officially retired from one industry. I went back to school and received another degree to allow me to fulfill my dream of a comfy nine to five job that actually paid something.
Having grown up in a household led by a CPA, I was constantly reminded of what I needed to do to plan for the future. Naturally I tried like hell to avoid doing the right thing but I got caught up in it anyway. Having been hounded for years I guess I eventually caved in and started planning at a young age for the future. That also included having sufficient Disability insurance, both long term and short term. I used to collect free stocks from companies I worked for. If they offered I accepted. As a result of that, now I own stock. I did all this long before I got sick, Getting sick, caused me to change a lot. I started doing things I would ridicule people for doing before. When I lost my ability to work, I was better prepared than most 44 or 45 year olds. That was nine years ago, and by following my instincts instilled in me by my financial wizard of a father, I'm still doing pretty good. And my daughter will benefit from this planning as well.
Why am I telling you this story? It's kind of similar to the ACA. If you saw the position I was in in 2003, you never would have bet, that I would be any where's near successful today. What happened to me was the result of years planning and a ton or confidence in my planning. I went through some lean times, I had to make a lot of changes on the fly. Nothing ever works the way it's supposed to, thats some unwritten law.
The only common denominator in all this is, I had a plan, Obama has a plan. If I had never put my plan into action, if I hadn't fought off all the doubters I ran into along the way, I would be one sorry ass SOB right about now. Without giving the plan a chance to work, it won't. You'll never know for sure that Obama care doesn't work, unless you give it a chance to fail on it's own. Then we'll all know it's time to move on...........................

FRANK EARLEY's picture

If it's done right.................

If it's done right, everyone would pay a percentage of their annual income. That's what I do now on Medicare. I pay as much per month as I did ten years ago with private insurance. They decide what I pay, based on my total income. Lets see, last month alone, I spent two or three hundred bucks for Medicare, supplemental and prescriptions. I don't have dental insurance, so there was another hit out of my pocket. I had some major work done.
Now what I pay may be more than others pay, I may earn more per month. The trick here is, if everyone pays what they can afford it helps pay for the program. Much the same as Medicare works.
We can argue about this till we're all blue in the face, the bottom line is we need a working system in this country. Maybe the ACA will work maybe not. Not even trying isn't the answer. Get the system running, make the fixes needed along the way. It may take a long time to get it close to affective. If it doesn't work, we try something else. Hopefully having learned from previous mistakes, we will eventually have a functioning system in place that will benefit everyone. Arguing about this isn't helping anyone. While we argue, people are dying. It's time to take all that energy used to argue and bicker back and forth, and use it to accomplishing something, anything ..............

FRANK EARLEY's picture

If it's done right.................

If it's done right, everyone would pay a percentage of their annual income. That's what I do now on Medicare. I pay as much per month as I did ten years ago with private insurance. They decide what I pay, based on my total income. Lets see, last month alone, I spent two or three hundred bucks for Medicare, supplemental and prescriptions. I don't have dental insurance, so there was another hit out of my pocket. I had some major work done.
Now what I pay may be more than others pay, I may earn more per month. The trick here is, if everyone pays what they can afford it helps pay for the program. Much the same as Medicare works.
We can argue about this till we're all blue in the face, the bottom line is we need a working system in this country. Maybe the ACA will work maybe not. Not even trying isn't the answer. Get the system running, make the fixes needed along the way. It may take a long time to get it close to affective. If it doesn't work, we try something else. Hopefully having learned from previous mistakes, we will eventually have a functioning system in place that will benefit everyone. Arguing about this isn't helping anyone. While we argue, people are dying. It's time to take all that energy used to argue and bicker back and forth, and use it to accomplishing something, anything ..............

FRANK EARLEY's picture

My keyboard is possessed......

My keyboard is starting to react to no agree or disagree buttons, I didn't click the save button twice on this post, My keyboard is taking on a life of it's own. Please restore the agree and disagree buttons before I need an exorcism, or a new keyboard. ........

Ed posts an intelligent

Ed posts an intelligent response and Riml responds with a not so intelligent rebuttal.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Really Robert

Really Robert what else would you have expected?

 's picture

priorities

What a shameless, hurtful ideology. $400 million in tax cuts for those who don't need it, $400 million budget hole. Comfort the comfortable, punish those in need.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Who the hell are you to

Who the hell are you to determine what people need and do not need. Why should someone trade their time, time away from their family, and labor to earn money just to give it away.

The government has a moral duty to keep taxes minimal, which indirectly keeps people free to make choices on their own with the money they earned.

How about we mount a poise to enter Mark's home and confiscate all those items we feel he does not need and donate it to the needy?

This sounds nonsensical so should robbing one's earnings to the same effect.

Morality and Character

Morality refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it; morality should never be overridden, that is, no one should ever violate a moral prohibition or requirement for non-moral considerations.

Economic debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money; a simple, cold, and impersonal transaction and transferable. Human effects are not calculated, only principle and interest.

How is our sense of morality and justice reduced to the language of a business deal; a moral obligation becomes an economic debt? Money. It is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic, justifying what would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene.

Consider in 2010 voters approved the Oxford Casino under the promise that 46 percent of the profits would help fund public education in Maine. However, unless something has changed, the governor intends to use those funds ($14 million) to address a gap in the state’s budget.

In doing so the governor broke a promise between the state and its citizens on where the $14 million was to be spent. A debt obligation involving a budget gap took precedence over a moral obligation in the education of children; as the governor stated “good character is you live by what you say you are going to do.”

MARK GRAVEL's picture

It is not as difficult as you

It is not as difficult as you make it out to be.

Is it or is it not moral to honor a contract that a government or individual willfully enters?
Do you have a moral obligation to pay for the car you financed? Most people say yes. It is more than a mere economic transaction. It is a contract.

Contracts can be written, such as in the case of remitting cash for healthcare services. Or contracts can be verbal, such as in the case a promise of more education funding.

Now from a legal perspective, a written contract is actionable in the courts, a verbal contract is not in most cases.
Governor LePage properly prioritized the state’s legal and moral obligations of past administrations over non-enforceable verbal obligations.

I’m a bit surprised that people still buy into politician’s promises – I guess there are still suckers in this world. Promises from public officials and $2.95 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Next time get your promise in writing (i.e. a law).

Mark Gravel has no Freedom

In Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, he opens with the following.

“First, the scope of government must be limited. Its major function must be to protect our freedom both from enemies outside our gates and from our fellow citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets…by relying primarily on voluntary co-operation and private enterprise, in both economic and other activities, we can insure that the private sector is a check on the powers of the government sector….”[1]

Thomas Paine also discusses the role of government in his essay Common Sense[2] written in 1776.
“Society is produced by our wants and, government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.”

Thomas Paine provides as example that a society begins when a small number of persons settle in an area separated from congenial surroundings. In this state of natural liberty, necessity due to differences in age, skills, intellect, and health would soon form the persons into a society. The reciprocal benefits would
“supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other…but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, …the necessity arises of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.”

Milton Friedman specifically describes the government’s role in terms of military, legal, and economic responsibilities; he speaks specifically that voluntary cooperation with the private sector insures a check on the government sector; and with that the forces in play were stronger than and would overcome any self-interest considered detrimental to the market.

Thomas Paine is also specific, that government is a necessary evil; the size of government “evil”, the bureaucracy, must be of such strength and flexibility as to continually defend society from its own individual and collective vices.

Greed is easily argued to be society’s greatest vice; and where there is money, there is greed.
Collective greed is demonstrated when in the interest of profit through financial gain we throw destitute families out of homes, allow the uninsured to die, wage useless wars, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women.

Individual greed is demonstrated when in the interest of satisfying physical and emotional desires, financial gain is sought without providing an equitable contribution of service in return; assuming the individual is physically capable and effectively educated.

Bringing Thomas Paine’s thoughts to present day, Nico Vorster in his 2010 essay, An Ethical Critique of Milton Friedman’s Doctrine on Economics and Freedom[3] states that many analysts “attribute the 2008 financial crisis directly to Milton Friedman’s Neo-liberalism economic policies adopted since the 1980?s by Western Countries… free trade and open markets, privatization, deregulation, and decreasing the size of the public sector while increasing the role of the private sector in modern society … that these deregulatory measures lead to irresponsible lending by banks, unethical practices in stock markets and a perpetual gross misconduct in the market place.”

Milton Friedman’s long life was spent promoting his economic theories, successfully and persuasively. The results will be debated for many years, by individuals at all levels of academic, economic, and political experience; as well as the everyday citizen.

The harm resulted from Milton Friedman’s idealistic view that human behavior, their self-interests, would be molded and controlled by forces of the market. The harm resulted from those industries and companies of the private sector who hijacked and manipulated Milton Friedman’s political theories to their own advantage.

Milton Friedman decried Socialism, but through the hijacking of his political theories, provided the base for Corporate Fascism. A governmental system led by a dictator (Big Banks, Oil, Koch Brothers) having complete power (purchased through Citizens United), forcibly suppressing opposition (unions) and criticism (media, Rupert Murdoch), regimenting all industry (right to work), commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism (anti-immigration) and often racism.

With all due respect to Milton Friedman, I wonder if Thomas Paine were to meet Milton Friedman in the next world he might say
“Mr. Friedman you are a bit naïve regarding human nature”
________________________________________
[1] Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, The University of Chicago Press, 1962, 1982, 2002; P. 2-3
[2] http://www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Government is force. The

Government is force. The government can justifiably kill me, a corporation cannot.

That is a big piece of freedom in of itself.

Corporate Terrorism

Corporations cannot justifiably kill, but through various laws written to their benefit they have the ability to torture when in the interest of profit through financial gain they throw destitute families out of homes, allow the uninsured to die, wage useless wars, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. I would call that terrorism

MARK GRAVEL's picture

One last question: Where did

One last question:
Where did you get the idea anyway that all corporations are evil? That frame of mind does not sound reasonable, especially when your quality of life has benefited so greatly from the products corporations provide - like heat for your home, the phone, TV, appliances, etc, etc...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let's look at a few of your

Let's look at a few of your examples:

1. [T]hrow destitute families out of homes - If you cannot pay you mortgage, what is the bank to do? Give you the house for free? During the recent down turn in the housing market, some individuals lived in the home for close to a year free before they had to move. Ostensibly, you cannot keep a home that you have "contracted" to purchase, but failed to execute on that contract.

2. [A]llow the uninsured to die - by law, emergency rooms cannot deny service, so where are you coming up with this rubbish.

3. [W]age useless wars - A corporation cannot wage war. However, your government can. Perhaps you should look to Washington DC on this one.

4. [P]oison and pollute the ecosystem - For the most part, the ecosystem is the cleanest it has been in decades. Yes, there have been some bad corporations and individuals, but the EPA, your government again, is responsible for keeping them in line and hold them accountable.

5. [S]lash social assistance programs - Again, your blame should be on Washington DC. Moreover, wouldn't your claim of "Plunder" contradict this assertion. Why would a corporation that wants to plunder the US treasury make tax dollars less available to plunder with slashing social programs? It does not make sense. I'm beginning to detect an emotional out burst here.

6. [G]ut public education - Government issue. Again, contradicts the notion that corporations want to plunder.

7. [T]rash the global economy - see government policy.

8 [P]lunder the U.S. - Please give examples. Plunder is a pretty harsh word.

Lastly, there are more individuals, small businesses, and medium businesses in the US that out number corporations. Yet, you focus solely on corporations. Perhaps corporations are the dragons in your fantasy. Yet, your partake in the those tangible things the corporations produce. Confusing!

Mark Gravel - Three Part Response

Note there are three parts to my response, parts one and three follow. However part two was submitted mistakenly as a new entry.

Response to Mark Gravel - Pt. 3

8 [P]lunder the U.S. - Please give examples. Plunder is a pretty harsh word.
Lastly, there are more individuals, small businesses, and medium businesses in the US that outnumber corporations. Yet, you focus solely on corporations. Perhaps corporations are the dragons in your fantasy. Yet, you partake in those tangible things the corporations produce. Confusing!

Response: Recently a group of 80 CEOs went before Congress stating the need to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations in America. These are some of the same CEOs who head corporations that:

• Received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department and nearly caused the economy to collapse just four years ago.
• Avoided at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens since 2008.
• A dozen of these companies paid no corporate income taxes in at least one year since 2008, while receiving more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS, after making billions in profits.

In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.
• Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.
• During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.
• Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.
• In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens, more than any other financial institution in the United States. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.
• In 2010, Bank of America would have owed $2.6 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

2. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.
• In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.
• During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.
• Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.
• In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.
• Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.7 billion. In 2010, Goldman Sachs would have owed $2.7 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

3. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion
• During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie Dimon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.
• Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.
• In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.
• Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion
• In 2011, JP Morgan Chase stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.

4. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $3.3 billion tax refund.
• In 2010, not only did General Electric pay no federal income taxes, it received a $3.3 billion tax refund from the IRS, even though it earned over $5 billion in U.S. profits.
• Number of offshore tax havens? At least 14.
• GE has at least 14 tax haven subsidiaries in Bermuda, Singapore, and Luxembourg for the purpose of avoiding U.S. income taxes.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve? $16 billion.
• During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided GE with $16 billion in financial assistance, at a time when Jeffrey Immelt was a director of the New York Federal Reserve.
• Jobs Shipped Overseas? At least 25,000 since 2001.
• Since 2001, General Electric has closed more than 30 manufacturing plants in the United States, cut 34,000 American jobs, and added 25,000 jobs overseas. General Electric now has more workers abroad than it does in the United States.
• On December 6, 2002, Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, said at an investor's meeting: ``When I am talking to GE managers, I talk China, China, China, China, China. You need to be there. You need to change the way people talk about it and how they get there. I am a nut on China. Outsourcing from China is going to grow to $5 billion. We are building a tech center in China. Every discussion today has to center on China. The cost basis is extremely attractive. You can take an 18 cubic foot refrigerator, make it in China, land it in the United States, and land it for less than we can make an 18 cubic foot refrigerator today, ourselves.'' Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman, CEO of General Electric, quoted at an investor meeting on December 6, 2002.

There are an additional 13 examples in the report at the link below.

http://www.sanders.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/102512%20-%20JobDestroyers3.pdf

For future discussion if desired.

1. [T]hrow destitute families out of homes - If you cannot pay you mortgage, what is the bank to do? Give you the house for free? During the recent down turn in the housing market, some individuals lived in the home for close to a year free before they had to move. Ostensibly, you cannot keep a home that you have "contracted" to purchase, but failed to execute on that contract.

4. [P]oison and pollute the ecosystem - For the most part, the ecosystem is the cleanest it has been in decades. Yes, there have been some bad corporations and individuals, but the EPA, your government again, is responsible for keeping them in line and holds them accountable.

7. [T]rash the global economy - see government policy.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Nearly every thing you cite

Nearly every thing you cite requires the complicit behavior of government; hence, that is way I said to blame the government in most cases.

It is kind of like a wife blaming the prostitute for her husband's indiscretions.

Corporations cannot get tax breaks without the complicit nature of government (i.e. blame the husband, not the prostitute.).

Smaller Government.

My sense is you support smaller government as it cannot be trusted.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is correct. Government

That is correct. Government is comprised of men (and women) who are subject to human vices, such as greed and corruption.

Now don't confuse NO government with small government like many do. The less money that goes from your pockets to Washington DC means the less opportunity politicians have to misappropriate those dollars.

Government should be downsized to provide the basic function outlined at the birth of the country.

Government; Checks and Balances

“Government is comprised of men (and women) who are subject to human vices, such as greed and corruption.”

Response: Greed is easily argued to be society’s greatest vice; and where there is money, there is greed.

Greed unchecked in the private sector results in the removal of all services, greed unchecked in the public sector results in excessive waste, and greed unchecked in the individual results in an over use of services; entitlement becomes the norm.
“Government should be downsized to provide the basic function outlined at the birth of the country.”

Questions: From your perspective what are “the basic function outlined at the birth of the country?” And where do checks and balances exist, if any, to address greed and corruption?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The basic functions are

The basic functions are enumerated in the constitution. If not, then power is granted to the state. Checks and balances are no more nor less than we have today under the constitution.

Moreover, all the examples of corporate greed that you cited required a complicit government. The government makes the tax laws, regulations, and policies. It is not working.

Let the people decide and influence with their spending habits to temper corporate greed. That what is already happening today. Since individual consumers have more resolve than the government, that is why corporations lobby the government of tax favors. After all, the problems you have cited would not be possible of the federal government controlled fewer dollars, at least they would have less money to misappropriate.

Blame the husband, not the prostitute.

Response to "The basic functions are"

“The basic functions are enumerated in the constitution.”

Response: There has been much interpretation of the constitution; therefore your understanding and definition of basic functions may be different from mine. So let me ask the question again, what are “the basic function(s) outlined at the birth of the country"? Please provide current day examples.

“Checks and balances are no more nor less than we have today under the constitution.”
“The government makes the tax laws, regulations, and policies. It is not working.”

Response: Are you implying checks and balances would work today if the government was not complicit as you indicate? If so, what changes would you recommend to address complicity? Would it be reversal of Citizens United? Would it be term limits in the House and Senate, and/or Supreme Court? Please provide include data.

“Since individual consumers have more resolve than the government”
“Let the people decide and influence with their spending habits to temper
corporate greed. That what is already happening today.”

Response: Please provide current day examples with supporting data where spending habits have tempered corporate greed. Also, what differences if any do you see between the consumer’s ability to temper corporate greed in a small town versus a large city?

“the problems you have cited would not be possible of the federal government controlled fewer dollars, at least they would have less money to misappropriate.”

Response: Which revenue sources currently received by the government would you pull back into the population? Please quantify at a high level or percentage.

“Blame the Husband, not the prostitute”

Response: How would you rehabilitate the husband? Can the husband be rehabilitated? Should the wife seek divorce, separation? Extending your metaphor, who gets custody of the children and who are the children?

Thanks - Tom

Response to Mark Gravel - Pt. 1

Before reading, note I've left a few of your comments / questions unanswered at the end. Happy to respond as part of a continuing dialogue.

Fascism: A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism, and often racism.
In 2003 Sheldon Wolin opens his article “Inverted Totalitarianism” http://www.thenation.com/article/inverted-totalitarianism with:

“The war on Iraq has so monopolized public attention as to obscure the regime change taking place in the Homeland. We may have invaded Iraq to bring in democracy and bring down a totalitarian regime, but in the process our own system may be moving closer to the latter and further weakening the former.

Totalitarianism is the centralized control of an autocratic authority, the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority.”

Sheldon Wolin further makes the following observations in his article:

“Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans.

The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security.

Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media.

Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media’s reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment.

What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.”

These observations, Mr. Wolin notes are of a “political system he calls inverted totalitarianism. Under Nazi rule “big business” was subordinated to the political regime. In the United States, however, “corporate power” has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party, and so dominant in its influence over policy, as to suggest a role inversion the exact opposite of the Nazis’”. Returning to the definition of Fascism and filling in the blanks we have

Corporate Fascism: A governmental system led by a dictator (Big Banks, Big Oil); having complete power (purchased through Citizens United, lobbyists); forcibly suppressing opposition (anti-union); and criticism (controlled media, Rupert Murdoch); regimenting all industry (right to work); commerce (Wal-Mart, Koch Bothers); and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism (anti-immigration, NRA, military spending); and often racism.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"Representative institutions

"Representative institutions no longer represent voters."

Again, who do you blame ... the GOVERNMENT. That is, the husband, not the prostitute.

Lastly, these things are not black and white. For example, in your text on Corporate Fascism.

1. There are times to oppose unions. Opposing unions does not mean you are a product of Corporate Fascism. Unions are organizes by humans who are subject to the same vices, such as greed and abuses, as individuals who run corporations. One is not more righteous than the other.

2. Wal-Mart does offer products that people otherwise could not afford; hence, that is way Wal-Mart is so popular. If it were not, people would not shop there. Hence, wal-mart does add value to the community.

3. Anti-immigration - you are not confusing legal vs. illegal immigration are you? Americans are generally support law and order, so they tend to oppose that later, not the former. One must have protected borders to even have a nation, are you proposing the US not enforce our borders?

4. The NRA is comprised of businesses and individuals that support gun rights. On the one hand, you carp about losing constitutional protections, but isn't that what the NRA supports? One of many contradictions in your philosophy.

In summary, you seem to be all over the map with your complaints. Well, I need to run. I have a date at Wal-Mart to stock up on guns and ammo...

 's picture

Walmart welfare

Walmart does not add value to communities:
"Wal-Mart workers earn 31 percent less than the average for workers at large retail companies (more than 1,000 employees), the study found, and require 39 percent more in public assistance." http://goo.gl/qRA48v
"those employers with the largest number of workers on MaineCare (the state's version of Medicaid), food stamps and TANF (temporary assistance to needy families). At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, with 1,100 employees" http://goo.gl/YIGNT

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Before Wal*Mart invested in

Before Wal*Mart invested in Maine, there were how many other large retail companies?

So what you are saying is that getting paid 100% less is better than getting paid 31% less according to you?

Wal*Mart also has prices lower than other large retail companies. For example, I can buy more clothing at wal*mart than I can at L.L. Bean or Macy's. The takeaway is the Wal*mart fills a niche for customers in Maine who cannot afford to shop at L.L. Bean or Macy's.

I would tell Wal*Mart employees to go apply at all those other large retail companies in Maine if they don't like the wages. From my Wal*mart customer service experiences, I would say those Wal*mart employees don't have the interpersonal skills to work at L.L. Bean or Macy's, so we can say they are "right-sized" for the Wal*mart experience.

 's picture

Priorities wasted.

What a shameful ideology that punishes hard work and responsibility with high taxes so the proponents of said shameful ideology can reward indolence and greed to buy the votes of those who have shamefully chosen welfare as a life-style, leaving those truly in need to beg for table scraps.

 's picture

priorities

And gop ideology would even take away the scraps, and maybe kick a few unfortunates while they're down.

 's picture

Those tax cuts affected everyone...

70,000 Mainers were removed from the tax roll completely when the 2% bracket was taken out. Those people were the ones who could have most used a tax break and were given one. The top tax rate for individuals dropped from 8.5% to 7.95% and affected around 6000 people. Pretty much everyone who pays income taxes saw a reduction of some sort. I know I did.
Where does that money go? Back into the economy, which generates more in sales taxes for the state and will help homeowners pay for increased property taxes that the local govt will drop on them because towns can't seem to figure out how to cut budgets either (you can't blame Lepage for property tax increases, that's all local).

Nobody offered me free anything 30 years ago and even if they had I would have been too ashamed to take it. That's the difference between then and now, we're giving people things that should be earned and self respect is becoming extinct.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Another difference that we

Another difference that we see today is that people think they are entitled to food, housing, medical care, transportation, communication, energy .... I exist, therefore, I'm entitled.

That is why you see no shame.

 's picture

raises taxes

Elimination of the property tax rebate is a direct tax increase on those that can least afford it. LePage increased property taxes.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Kudos to LePage of making

Kudos to LePage of making those who use more services contribute more instead of contributing little to nothing. I hope that serves as a governor (a regulator) to out of control spending.

RONALD RIML's picture

Ed - one gets 'Tax Free' pay when they serve in a Combat Zone

So were you too ashamed to enlist???

 's picture

Don't even go there...(expletive deleted)

That's not what I was talking about and you know it. I served my time in the Navy. Besides, military pay is earned, it's not given to you for sitting on your ass, which was the point of my statement...I may not have much, but all of it I work for, including my insurance.
honestly, given your background, I don't know how you can be so blase' about people who are capable of earning a living but wont, getting by on the backs of people like you and I who have always worked for what we have. I hear people crying all the time about how "I'ts not fair" that somebody has more than they do. Nobody ever said life was fair, at least nobody ever said it to me...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"I'ts not fair" that somebody

"I'ts not fair" that somebody has more than they do."

As we witness on this forum, Ronald does support raiding people's wallets by force to redistribute money. Perhaps, someone should raid Ronald's should with force to redistribute his Birkenstocks to someone more needy.

While that sounds silly, how does taking someone's home possessions differ from taking someone's savings? With this message, no wonder American's save very little - spend it before it is taken.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps, someone should raid

Perhaps, someone should raid Ronald's [home] with force to redistribute his Birkenstocks to someone more needy.

RONALD RIML's picture

How odd

When you so often accuse me of being a jackbooted thug.

You can't have it both ways - though you dream you shall.......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. Here is a hit to

P.S.

Here is a hit to address my comments without calling me a racist:
"In my opinion, I consider that comment racist."

This is legally different than saying that I am.

RONALD RIML's picture

OK

I retract calling you a racist.

Though based upon what you write - and my knowledge and relationships with Mexicans, I sincerely believe you are.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is your opinion. By the

That is your opinion. By the way, can you defined for the readers what race is "Mexican"?

RONALD RIML's picture

When you define that part of the Mexican culture which you

find so abhorant - bearing in mind that so much of our South-West HAD been Mexico until we conquered it.

*BTW - You're not occupying what had been Mexican land, are you??


MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. "*BTW - You're not

P.S. "*BTW - You're not occupying what had been Mexican land, are you??"

Damn right I am, so what are you going to do about it? Call me more names because that is the only thing you can do about it.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go again. If you want

Here we go again. If you want to play that game, what Native American land are you now occupying?

Moreover, who did the native American peoples take the land from?

In addition, who are the Mexican people? Perhaps an amalgamation of Spanish and Native Central American Indians?

Who owned that land prior to Mexico?

See Ronald, if you want to play that game, we just cannot stop at discussing the Mexican Cession now can we?

My suggestion to you, Ron..nald, is to paint the whole picture, not just the parts you favor.

RONALD RIML's picture

Go ahead - paint your picture. You stated:

"Ask yourself why Mexico is such a miserable place to live. Perhaps that is a function of their culture."

Tell us what you meant by that. You didn't state you were playing a game.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Corruption being the main

Corruption being the main cultural issue.

Transparency International Corruption Index - corruption has cultural aspects.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let's try posting the image

Let's try posting the image again:

RONALD RIML's picture

Is there some 'Link' you have in mind?

Or a point you're trying to make??

Are you trying to say that Mexico is importing it's Corruption to the U.S. through cheap, undocumented workers as though our Politicians and Corporations haven't been possibly been corrupt enough on our own??

Bwa-hhaaa-haaa-haaa!!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go again with evil

Here we go again with evil corporations - will he ever give it a rest...

RONALD RIML's picture

When the Corporations do.

.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Me thinks you'll be resting

Me thinks you'll be resting in peace first.

Just think where your government will be if you woke up tomorrow and all private sector jobs disappeared.

All those evil corporations gone, who will pay the bills then?

You see all those private sector jobs fund your dysfunctional government. Now think before you reply that public workers pay taxes too. The money to pay public workers originated in the private sector in the first place.

Go ponder that my friend, go ponder that.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I draw the line at calling me

I draw the line at calling me a racist. I have no problem with all of your other personal attacks or name calling - fair game.

It is really that simple.

RONALD RIML's picture

If you were in the Navy - you sat on your Ass.....

Don't try to bullshit this old Navy Retiree.......

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