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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama looked to revive his second term in a sweeping speech to the nation Tuesday, outlining an agenda that calls for creating jobs and addressing the widening gap between rich and poor.

In his annual State of the Union address, Obama called for a “Year of Action,” saying that he wants to work with Congress but will act on his own when he can, if necessary.

In one example, he said he’d sign an executive order forcing federal contractors to raise the minimum wage for their low-paid workers — and he challenged Congress to do the same for all workers.

He offered a mix of new and old ideas, and after five years of being routinely thwarted by Congress, Obama made it clear he plans to go it alone when he can’t get congressional buy-in, using the power of his office.

“I’m eager to work with all of you,” Obama said in the speech to a nationally televised joint session of Congress. “But America does not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Entering his sixth year in office, Obama worked to tie economic complaints to a long tide of history rather than his own record. He said that although the U.S. has largely pulled out of the economic recession, the middle class has lost jobs and income from three decades of blows, including shifts in technology and global competition.

“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better,” he said. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

Obama said he would introduce new retirement savings plans with a guaranteed return for those whose employers do not offer such plans. White House officials said about half of workers don’t have a work-based retirement plan.

He said he would host a summit to highlight policies that help working families, instruct Vice President Joe Biden to review the federal job training system and work with companies to increase apprenticeships. He said he cut bureaucratic red tape by improving the efficiency of the federal permitting process and pushing for more timely decisions on permits and reviews.

Obama said he will continue to push Congress to extend jobless benefits and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all Americans — a move some Democrats are eager to use to contrast with Republicans on the campaign trail in November.

The executive order would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour for employees who work for companies involved in future government contracts. White House officials said they hoped it would spark other employers to follow suit.

Obama said he also wants lawmakers to expand the earned income tax credit, remove retirement tax breaks for the wealthiest while expanding them for the middle class, give women more tools to fight discrimination and protect gay workers.

He again pushed lawmakers to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws — which he said could grow the economy $1 trillion over two decades and create thousands of jobs.

The Democratic-controlled Senate last year passed the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation. The Republican-led House of Representatives won’t consider the bill, which provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, until the borders are secure.

161 Responses to Obama Tells Congress: Help The Poor, Or I Will

  1. As usual, President Obama’s State of the Union address last night was a clear contrast between the vision of a man focused on the future and the need to ensure that every American benefits from our rebounding economy and a Republican party whose retort ranged from a compelling personal story and references to a vision that never materialized, to an assertion by Ted Cruz that the President’s speech painted a rosy scenario, and Rand Paul’s rant about Obamacare and promising to oppose the extension of unemployment benefits to those who cannot find work for a variety of reasons.

    The GOP response was a nice personal story, that repeated the examples of determination and personal success cited by the President – which almost brought Speaker Boehner to tears once again. Ted Cruz’s assertion suggest he was napping throughout the speech. Consider this statement by the President:: “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward
    mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of
    recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by —
    let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

    The President talked about income inequality, about the need to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10, about giving tax breaks to corporations that invest and create jobs at home, about extending unemployment benefits, investment in education and retraining, he talked about the need to pursue diplomatic solutions to international problems without abandoning the security measures that have kept us safe since he became President, and he talked about the sacrifices made by young men and women in uniform. All in all, his speech deserves an A+.

    As for imperial presidencies because he promised to use the powers of the presidency to get things moving if the Republican controlled House continues to do nothing, let’s not forget which Presidents have a record on the number of Executive Orders issued. Hint, it isn’t President Obama and it isn’t a Democrat. .

    • I was stunned by the lack of reaction from Boehner. The only time he stood and applauded (that I saw) was when President Obama praised America’s diplomats and members of the armed forces. Things like equality and fairness, making a decent wage, keeping people healthy and out of medical bankruptcy, and helping people to plan for retirement didn’t elicit even a shrug from Boehner. I was also amazed at how the TV coverage generally failed to pan over to the Republican side. I guess there was nothing to see–no applause, no standing ovations, no nothing. I think the American people (probably most of whom were not Duck Dynasty) deserve to see just how little the GOP thinks of fairness and equality, how the things that made America great mean nothing to Republican Senators and Reps whose main concern is not for the American people but rather for the possibility of a primary challenge from the far right.

      Going it alone in the face of Republican obstructionism seems to be the only way for President Obama to get anything done. Let’s be prepared for more calls for his impeachment as his executive orders make life better for America’s poor and middle class.

      • There certainly is no lack of negative republicans these days but I was absolutely astounded yesterday to learn that my own New York State Democratic congressman,Representative Bill Owens has voted in favor of the farm bill that includes a further cut to Food Stamp benefits. He tried to play it off as being “only a small 1% reduction” but consider,A food stamp recipient whose monthly benefit was $50 dollars,saw a reduction down to $36 as the result of sequestration.Should that person have gotten the $11 dollar COLA at the start of the year their food stamps were reduced to $24 per month.A further cut would have to put them in the bread line or the soup kitchen.They certainly would not be able to purchase both items at the grocery.

        • Here we are again in agreement. I heard one Democrat explain his support for a roughly $8 billion decrease over the five-year extent of this farm bill this way. #1. Republicans in the House want to cut $40 billion. #2. The $8 billion cut is extended over five years. #3. Some states will see no cuts whatsoever in SNAP benefits, as the cuts do not fall on all Americans equally. Furthermore, some states are able to make up for the loss of federal food stamp funds with state funds. I’m not satisfied with the $8 billion cut under even these three circumstances, but SNAP recipients stand to get nothing at all if no bill can get through this despicable Congress. Then there would be a cut-off to all but state funded food assistance with milk prices rising to $8 a gallon. The union of farm subsidies for the wealthiest Americans and food assistance for the neediest seems particularly unjust, since there are farm owners in Congress, with a conflict of interest, who are allowed to vote against food assistance while seeing that their subsidies keep up with inflation.

          • I usually don’t oppose the programs that aid the average farmer,especially since they are under no requirement to raise food for anyone but themselves.But $8 bucks per gallon of milk is out of the question unless it provides the stimulus to congress to raise food stamp levels instead of constantly cutting them.I would favor a large fuel discount for farmers since that is so much of their overhead.

          • What programs do they have that benefit the “average farmer,” unless you include in that “average” multimillion-dollar agribusiness corporations? I agree we should help real farmers, but are any of them getting anything from our “farm” programs?

          • I would never consider an agribusiness average.Here in northern New York there exists the remains of a once thriving dairy industry.Whenever there has been a proposal in Albany to help the farmer with an increase in price per pound of milk[long standing at .80 cents],it has been met with stiff opposition from residents that milk costs too much already.I just purchased a half gallon of 2% today for $2.09. Personally,I don’t think that is a bad price but then I’m not raising a family either.The drugstore always sells out when they offer it for sale at $1.29.
            I don’t stay up on farm issues too much any more but there has been a long controversy about the abuse of federal farm subsidies.Some of the complaints are valid citing times when a major farm will receive large sums and or tax credits for taking so much acreage out of production.This gets all very complicated with attempts to control market prices,so on and so forth.Very often,the smaller family type farms do not make out as well as the federal farm programs tend not to favor them greatly.Though even the small farmer must run things as a business,in the long run they usually wind up looking for deductions on their tax bill like everyone else.Meanwhile,the local price of a gallon of regular gas is $3.69.Everything on a dairy farm that concerns the feeding and milking of cows requires gas or electricity.It is an absolutely phenomenal expense.
            That’s why I say that I seldom take issue with farm legislation as long as it helps the “average family farmer”.Any federal government farm bill that raises the price of milk to$8 bucks a gallon is designed to do one thing and that is to drive smaller farms out of business.People will simply refuse to buy milk at that price.In fact,the grocery stores could very well refuse to sell it.Bad for your local family run dairy farm but the mega agribusiness could care less whether they sell any milk at all.This bill sucks and I hope the Senate sends it back to the house with a note attached instructing them to put it back on the dung heap where they got it.

          • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the farm bill with only $8 billion cut from food assistance is the Senate’s. What make me furious is that some members of Congress get farm subsidies–and vote to increase them while decreasing or eliminating food assistance. It’s a conflict of interest beside being a moral outrage. I wonder if a presidential order could cover some of these costs/inequities for a short time in order for the Ethics Committee to decide whether members of Congress getting subsidies have a conflict of interest. On the other hand, these same millionaires probably all have several mortgages and still vote on bank regulation laws. I love your idea of giving family farms fuel subsidies to lower costs, especially if these subsidies could be tied to eliminating antibiotics and additives to milk and feed for their livestock. Wouldn’t it be great if the entire food assistance decision could be detached from the farm bill, with its inconsistencies and need for updating and reform?

          • Now you have me wondering.Owens was on the local news last night talking about his vote in favor of the farm bill..He is a Dem.Rep.I had the impression that the bill originated and passed in the House and now was to go to the Senate for a vote,but I could be wrong.
            Sigrid,there is so much chicanery and dark money and corruption in government these days that the foxes are not just in but they are running the hen house.We are definitely in need of some voter/consumer protection.
            Fortunately the milk I buy is labeled saying that the farmers who sell to UPSTATE FARMS pledge that the milk is from cows not treated with rBST groth hormone.That gives me the impression that it is a choice whether or not to use that stuff.One benefit of not having Food Stamps tied to the farm bill is that it would possibly be funded from some other source and not cause so much delay giving the farmers a new bill.The flip side is that Food Stamps,obviously deals with food and the need to get food to those with less purchasing power.Not only does that help those folks but it also is a benefit to the farmer as it helps maintain the market for the farmers goods and motivates him to produce and stay in business.Given all that,it seems unlikely that the farm bill and funding for food stamps would ever not be connected but you never know.

          • Mark:

            You’re calling for “voter protection” when barely 50% of the eligible population bothers to vote in presidential elections.

            Add to this testament to apathy the tendency of many older middle class people to vote Republican and you have a voting population that is almost beyond help.

          • That is your opinion and I do not give a good Goddamn who says it’s true.Why don’t you go to the other side and join those who are actively engaged in the disenfranchisement of voters!

          • You talk like an idiot! What has my comment about voter apathy got to do with voter

            I wrote about apathy and the inability of middle class voters to vote their financial self interest and all you can do is sputter about disenfranchisement.

            I don’t think that you understood my post, but something in it aroused your self righteous instincts, so you wrote your silly outburst.

          • Voting for duopoly candidates vetted by the economic/political elite? Maybe more Americans would vote if there was any real, meaningful difference between the two military-industrial-intelligence-corporate-Wall Street serving political parties and third-party candidates were on every ballot as well as included in all presidential debates.

          • The Republican Party has re-issued Paul Ryan’s “budget”, which deprives the middle class and the poor of many of the meager benefits that they presently have and still there’s evidence of widespread voter apathy.

            I don’t think that putting small third-party candidates on the ballot will accomplish anything. Nor do I think that including them in televised debates will accomplish anything. Apathy is apathy. If the middle class and poor aren’t stimulated by a budget devised by a total SOB to screw them, then adding names to the ballot and faces to a debate won’t get them involved.

          • Sigrid,I just received an email asking me to denounce the House for cutting foodstamps and to sign a petition to the Senate to hold the line on cuts to the program.

          • They are not antithetical.It is your failure to understand that it is not desireable for the Senate to sign off on the bill that includes cuts to the Food Stamp Program.Thus:Hold The Line On Cuts!

          • Thus: Don’t make any cuts? Is that what you’re trying to say? You could have expressed yourself better. “Hold the line” is subject to interpretation, while something like this is easily understood: “…sign a petition to the Senate to refuse any cuts to the foodstamps program.”

          • Perhaps you should not blindly repeat someone else’s verbiage. You’re responsible for expressing your thoughts clearly when you do a posting.

          • You are supposed to be able to follow a thread of comments but yet you make inane and meaningless statements that you don’t bother to back and so they signify nothing more than a trolls blatherings

          • You seem to be the only one here that has a problem with my expressions.It is becoming increasingly clear that your exposure to the wide variety of expressing complex or compound thoughts in the English language is limited and if you were better able to follow the thread and comprehend,then perhaps your understanding would increase and you would have less confusion.

          • I live in farm country. I grew up on an 80 acre farm, when it could support a family. We had 2 cars, horses, (along with a dozen or so Beef Cows, we would sell the feeder calves, Sows, and Sheep) hell we could even take a vacation every year or two. Now a small farmer around here runs about 5K acres.
            The small towns have been decimated, 75% or more of local business’ are gone.

          • I know,it’s sad and seems like it has been going on for a long time and that the advent of the corporate farms has had a lot to do with it.Fortunately there is a movement of small farmers and organic farmers who are joining co-ops and finding niche markets for their goods.They sell directly to stores and restaurants and are thus creating a local market and resurrecting the old dynamic of growing and selling locally which keeps the products and the money in the community instead of being sent to a distributor which also distributes the money elsewhere.This has taken off in the northeast and hopefulyspreads and helps to reinvigorate some of those old and tired communities.Fingers Crossed.

          • Just as an aside: Ancient Rome experienced the same thing when it started its decline. The small Roman farmer was increasingly pushed out by the giant farms, called “latifundia.” That development pushed people into the cities, where unemployment soared and there emerged a huge welfare class.

        • You have to wonder about the ability of politicians to do basic math. I hope some of these people were listening to President Obama last night. The focus was on doing the right thing–which is helping people to succeed. Republicans and some Democrats just don’t have a clue about what real life is like these days. Don’t they want Americans to succeed?

          • Money is a wonderful insulation material.Not only does it insulate them from reality but it also helps them to not give a damn.

          • If things continue to go in the direction that I think they are than money may not be useful for anything but insulation. Money will be useless when those in control have all of it.

          • I don’t think that they care. I read quite a bit about the Founding Fathers and am amazed at the vast difference between those high -principled, self sacrificing men and the sorry crap that we presently have in Washington.

          • And the sad thing is that the Founding Fathers knew more about science than most of the current Republican member of Congress know.

        • As Obama seeks corporate tax rate cuts to 28% from 35%, however, according to the CBO, corporations pay 13% effective federal tax rate on global income from profits.

      • I agree with you, but if the poor and middle class continue to vote for the GOP, doesn’t that mean they approve of what the GOP is doing or are so lethargic that they don’t care?

        It’s sad but true. In an interesting election year, the most that we can expect to vote is fifty percent of those eigible ro vite,.

      • I love your comment, you’re spot on about everything you have stated. Although I admit that I didn’t watch the debate, I’m no less surprised by the lack of interest shown by the GOP contingent. You will never see them react any other way than that of which you observed, it’s not in their nature nor is it in the nature of Capitalism. Capitalism, at least the way we practice it, is inherently dependent upon exploitation.

        Personally speaking, I don’t favor it as our economic model what-so-ever but until people wake up and realize that it is a
        system designed on unfairness and inequality, we’re stuck with it. I hope President Obama does use an Executive Order
        but it may be to his detriment. As you say, depending on how far he goes and what’s involved in the order itself, he most assuredly will face much louder and more aggressive calls for his impeachment, so what’s new?

          • Sorry about any confusion. In England’s rural past, if a poor man poached a lamb to feed his family and he was caught, he might be hung. His family would have been better off had he poached a sheep for the same punishment. So, the president might as well make sweeping changes rather than taking baby steps, if the right will attack him no matter what he does.

          • I knew exactly what you meant.I guess some folks are exposed to good literature and cultures more than others.

          • Fun fact: One famous work of literature where this adage may be found is “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (1928), a novel by D. H. Lawrence. Lawrence employs the old adage when comparing the various degrees of behavior considered scandalous by the standards of polite society in his day. Fans of the BBC television series “Downton Abbey” on PBS are well-equipped to appreciate this rather old-fashioned novel.

          • Though I have never read any D.H. Lawrence works,I did see some films that were based on them back in my early twenties.I may need to amend that circumstance.I am a dedicated fan of Downton Abbey and a supporter of PBS.One of the best things we’ve got in this country that serves the people.

          • Don’t get me started on the great Downton Abbey! Since Pete Seeger died on January 27th, PBS has run a one-and-a-half hour biography that includes good segments on his union activities and terrific segments with full performances. IMO not to be missed.

          • Oh Lord,We have lost a truly great American Social icon.How much Pete Seeger did to advance our consciousness and teach us through song. I used to have his album God Bless The Grass.
            Coyoteeeee,Where Haaaaave You Gooooooone!
            It loses something when you try to write it down.It’s something one has to hear.

          • Now I know why I’ve never heard that one before. When I read your post, my initial reaction was ?????. I had to read your response to CPAinNewYork to understand it. I concur. President Obama may as well give up on trying to appease those who are only interested in destroying him and his legacy.

    • It was mentioned last night that one would need to go as far back in time to the administration of Grover Cleveland to find a President who has used executive priviledge as little as Obama has.

      • NOt really….I saw a list of the presidents and who’s used the Executive privilege the most… stated that President Obama has used it over 900 times. I hate to say it, but I found that extremely hard to believe since the Republicans would be totally UP IN ARMS had this happened. So, I don’t put much credence in the list (can’t remember where I found it either….darn it). It was probably a Faux News article or something.

        • Quick,contact Bob Schieffer at CBS since he was the one last night who provided the info.You hate to say it? Whaaa—–

        • Don’t confuse Executive privileges, which include a host of issues, with Executive Orders. Here is a record of EO’s issued by past presidents and the incumbent
          as of 12/29/2013:

          Total Orders

          George Washington – 8

          John Adams – 1

          Thomas Jefferson – 4

          James Madison – 1

          James Monroe – 1

          John Quincy Adams – 3

          Andrew Jackson – 12

          Martin van Buren – 10

          William Henry Harrison – 0

          John Tyler – 17

          James K. Polk – 18

          Zachary Taylor – 5

          Millard Fillmore – 12

          Franklin Pierce – 35

          James Buchanan – 16

          Abraham Lincoln – 48

          Andrew Johnson – 79

          Ulysses S. Grant – 217

          Rutherford B. Hayes – 92

          James Garfield – 6

          Chester Arthur – 96

          Grover Cleveland – I – 113

          Benjamin Harrison – 143

          Grover Cleveland – II – 140

          William McKinley – 185

          Theodore Roosevelt – 1,081

          William Howard Taft – 724

          Woodrow Wilson – 1,803

          Warren G. Harding – 522

          Calvin Coolidge – 1,203

          Herbert Hoover – 968

          Franklin D. Roosevelt – 3,522

          Harry S. Truman – 907

          Dwight D. Eisenhower – 484

          John F. Kennedy – 214

          Lyndon B. Johnson – 325

          Richard Nixon – 346

          Gerald R. Ford – 169

          Jimmy Carter – 320

          Ronald Reagan – 381

          George Bush – 166

          William J. Clinton – 364

          George W. Bush – 291

          Barack Obama – 167


          • I find it extremely interesting to find that FDR who used Executive Orders 3,522 times was dealing with closed minded,tight fisted,often fascist opponents who refused to spend money when they should have,much like Mr.Obama is dealing with now.

          • Indeed. It is also important to remember that former President Bush had a GOP controlled Congress during his first 6 years in office, and that the Democratic minority was too intimidated to oppose anything he proposed or did.

          • He can use Executive Orders to help programs that benefit the working class, policies that mitigate the likelihood of terrorist attacks against the USA, and policies needed to help returning veterans, for example. W did it successfully to fund crusades with Monopoly money, and got away with it. The question is, will President Obama’s use of Executive Orders, particularly if those order involve diverting funds targeted for other programs or purposes, get away with it? Count on legal challenges, regardless of precedent. Just because others did it, does not mean our first Black President will be allowed to do the same.

          • Working class? What has Obama done for the working class? Offshores jobs through free trade deals. Imports low-wage foreign workers (H-1B). No jobs program. No EFCA. No public option healthcare. Trillions of dollars in bailouts for corporations, banks, defense contractors. Terrorist attacks? Are you kidding? A foreign army hasn’t attacked the mainland since 1848 from the south, 1812 from the north.

      • I think it is more important what executive orders were used for, than the amount of times used. Obama uses the executive orders to break or ignore laws. He orders insurance companies to give illegal policies out, and he will turn the other way. He exempts his friends from obamacare. If he doesn’t like a law enforcing illegal immigration, he orders people not to carry out the laws. When he doesn’t like a law, he doesn’t allow it to be enforced. What happens when the next president (no matter what party) decides he doesn’t like the EPA and says just ignore them? He openly says he will just ignore congress and go around them. Our form of government is based on checks and balances, it is designed to make it hard to pass laws and regulations. Obama doesn’t like checks and balances, so he has stated he will just ignore them.

      • I think maybe you need to look at some actual “inconvenient truths”; you’d likely find the inconvenience is mostly on your side of the argument.

        • Seems the cat litter makes your brain incapable to comprehend real facts. Or did you really look at them? Go back to your denial role my little Puddy Tat.

          • On average, Obama ahead of Bush, slightly behind Clinton for executive orders. Obama totally ignored them for the first 2 years got his butt kicked in 2010 and has tried to use the Bully Pulpit calling them names and then expecting them to roll over. Poor leadership on his part, he has never been serious to negotiate but only to politicize.

            Read it and recognized the same crap that has come from your limited mind. Not worth my time.

    • And, as I’ve said before, if you read the Dean book, “Broken Government” that I’ve mentioned before, it clearly states that the main goal of the Republican party is an “imperial presidency,” which came very close when Bush/Cheney were in power. Now they complain because President Obama wants to actually get something done! It’s hypocritical to say the least!

    • What executive orders are issued for, means much more than how many are issued. How come if the economy is going so good, now, why do we have so many people looking for work? If he is creating so many jobs, why do we need more federal programs for job training? If he believes so much in equal pay for men and women, why are the women working in the white house making less than the men doing the same job? He is actually admiting he is a failure. We have the same and more problems we had 5 years ago. His reasoning is find someone else to blame for his complete failure. Whenever a president tells us he will by pass our elected congress, to get his own way, it is no longer a form of representative government, but a dictatorship. Should we just get rid of the House of Representative and the Senate if the President is just going to ignore them? Why should we be paying the 535 and their staffs if they are going to be doing nothing? Our form of government makes it hard to pass laws as it should be. Our form of government is designed for compromise, not my way or the highway.

      • Of course, you and your friends in Congress would NEVER NEVER EVER even THINK of “my way or the highway.”
        Your crap about dictatorship is just that. Obama’s executive orders – regardless of number – can’t match those of Bush, Reagan, and your other friends for “dictatorship,” if that’s the term you’re going to stand by.
        Yes, Obama and the Dems have failed to overcome the anti-democratic (small “d”) obstruction of the minority, and for that they are culpable and failures. But looking at who was opposing them and how, you have to be a complete idiot to condemn Obama for anti-democratic actions: the real dictatorship is by a bunch of lunatics from gerrymandered districts who actually represent a minority of the people in their states that run the House and a lot of similarly-inclined senators allowed to rule the Senate by a weak, naive, and ultimately cowardly majority that could have put a stop to their abuses long ago, but kept hoping they would wake up and be reasonable. Obama has been trying mightily to deal fairly with the wingnuts, wasting most of his term to date in that fool’s errand, and now you hypocrites have the unmitigated gall to call him a “dictator.” Just more desperate projection from a bunch of thugs who want to try to make your opposition look even half as bad as you are is all your rant is about.

        • Obama has never tried to work with anyone except Harry Reid. Even then, he is just using old Harry to do his bidding. You can deny Obama being a Socialist all you want, but it isn’t working. Your hero is a proven liar, a incompetent President who has become irrevelent. The whold world is laughing at him as he tries to compete with Putin. He even said he will ignore congress, what more proof do you need? He wants to be a dictator not a president. Just keep calling people names and using your old race card standby. No one is buying your BS anymore.

          • Once again, when will you morons get the point that I don’t choose my heroes from the political classes as you apparently do? All the rest of your idiotic rant is demonstrably false and just more desperate projection. And since you brought it up, racism almost certainly did and does have a great deal to do with the hysteria your lies represent, whether you are personally racist or not. The “race card” is used, and is effective, because in the majority of cases it’s on the mark, and all your faux rage and injured “innocence” won’t change that fact, nor does it excuse the fact that your party has repeatedly refused all opportunities to reform its racist policies, instead offering token self-hating blacks and imaginary “reverse racism” in the apparent delusion that most people are really as stupid as you appear to be.
            And yes, I shall continue to call you and all the other malicious lunatics what you are, whether it offends you or not. Speaking of which, you’ve called Obama a “dictator” in this post, and he and his supporters plenty of other names in other posts, yet you lack the perception and self-awareness to realize that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” If you don’t like what you are, you could try to change, or – barring that – go to the right-wing sites, where I’m sure you’ll find lots of deranged individuals likely to comment “Amen brother” to your ravings and name calling.

          • While you’re right in asserting that the “race card” is being used by the Republicans, you should be aware that the practice isn’t going to stop. This is especially true when the issue is being addressed by Southern rednecks.

          • Yep; same ole President ignoring the Constitution and the US Congress. Keep ignoring what he does and then see how much you like a one party socialist government. We are heading that way now.

          • I realize you make a valid point, but you should notice that I rarely “feed” the real trolls much besides the insults they deserve; I agree it’s depressing to see 90% of a comment thread consisting of otherwise intelligent people attempting to use actual facts and rationality to answer ignorance, insanity, and malice. An exchange of insults rarely takes over a thread.
            I do get a bit carried away with this guy, though.
            Point taken.

          • It would seem that you enjoy the challenge of trying to put the opposition in it’s place. I get it, sometimes it’s more gratifying than just making a comment in an echo chamber but I for one find it exhausting and a great waste of time always being put on the defensive.

          • It’s true that one can get a good deal of satisfaction from dressing someone down who deserves it but if one is going to fight fire with fire they must count on getting a little psychologically singed from time to time and it helps to have a thick skin.

          • Thick skin and a short memory. Mark, that’s the story of my life, I have been on both sides of that spectrum. There were times when I hit the ball out of the park with some great comment, got a bunch of positive replies and thumbs up (my ego swelled about 10 times over) only to come crashing back down to earth with a gut check from someone handing my ass to me in a comment. I take my lumps and keep going and with any luck, I come out of it a better person.

          • I know what you mean.I did battle for most of this past year.I even was able to diffuse things a couple of times. Eventually I learned that it was easier to ignore them but sometimes one just has to vent.Might as well pour it on someone who deserves it for being willfully ignorant.

          • Willful ignorance! Ahh, now there’s a dangerous combo. They are the people usually most determined to keep an argument going for no other purpose but to frustrate you. Some of them are pretty good at it too. I’ve been coming here for 2 years intermittently and your one of the posters that I took a keen interest in because of your style, you definitely do diplomacy well. I respect that, I also try. If I’m wrong, I’ll gladly admit it to the poster who calls me out. I’m not too proud. As long as someone is respectful and thoughtful they can expect no less from me in return.

          • I am humbled by your compliment regarding my diplomacy.I can’t help thinking that you have read more than one of my comments that would strain your opinion I find that I am caught off guard when someone whose comments “seem” to line up with your thinking and out of nowhere they take a shot at you or fire a comment off in response to you that after some reflection,you know that they either don’t understand what you’re saying or made the comment just to have something to say.You are spot on with your take on the W.I. they often remind me of a Mark Twain quote “Never argue with an idiot,they will wear you down and beat you with experience.” When I consider that,it makes perfect sense not to feed the trolls.

          • I’ve read many of your posts just as I have read many of the others. I click on the profiles so I can read comments that I missed. It’s always easier for me to know someone’s beliefs before I comment to them. You had an exchange much earlier in the day with CPAinNewYork that describes the very situation that you’re speaking of. I thought about interjecting on behalf of the both of you but I decided to bud out. But neither of you were really hearing each other and it
            was a little awkward to witness it unraveling right before my eyes. It’s too bad because you two were actually very close in your comments but one mis- perceived instant made the entire conversation turn south.

            It was great talking with you but it’s a bit late. I look forward to the next time.

          • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me Fred.Between the two of us I suspect that it is you who is the diplomat. I come from the warrior class.

          • I appreciate the practice of not feeding the trolls however,like yourself there are occasions when one just has to fight fire with fire and I commend you on your efforts to give them hell.By the way,whatever happened to our favorite troll burner Fern Woodfork? She was a regular head hunter.

          • Thanks for the info.I’m no longer on facebook but if you are and you intercept her,please give her my best and to you as well.

          • Thanks Sandy,Yes I think I noticed Fern on Facebook when the Memo was using its older format and displaying those comments.I’ve been gone from F.B. a few years now.

          • I couldn’t find out how to get off FB, so I’ve just stopped responding.
            Sometimes Fern was a bit over the top, but I have to say I’m so frustrated with the state of the world that I could do her a couple better if I really let go, but I’d probably just get banned.

          • As I remember,it was quite a process to remove myself from F.B..It seems that there were some extra steps that were needed to close out my account completely.I used to have the directions written down,if I find them I’ll let you know.
            I think that Disqus has tightened down on the comment guidelines in the past year and so we are not nearly as bothered with trolls as we once were here on the Memo. As strident as Fern was with her methods of troll handling,I would not be surprised if she was also blocked from commenting but I rather enjoyed her presence while it lasted.She was pretty good at having the last word no matter how harsh it was.

          • Will your opinion of that relationship change now that Reid has scuttled Obama’s free trade treaty initiatives?

            I’m glad Reid did what he did. I’m fed up with these agreements that just put the American worker at a disadvantage and line the pockets of the rich who constantly ship jobs overseas. Next step: disavow NAFTA.

    • Right on target as usual….ignore itsfun please….dont respond…Obama tells the Congress to eliminate poverty once and for alll…and the uminimum minimum wage is ot a liveable wage but is good politics to want to raise it…. but in reality $10.10 is still poverty….it does not solve the problem…

      To eallyhelp the poor…we need a guannteed annual income.

      • Everyone should earn an equal pay of $26.04 an hour no matter their education and that would solve poverty. No one earns more or less. That would give me a raise of $13.04 an hour.

  2. Let’s look at some numbers, certain to be denied by the right. $10.10/hour looks pretty good on the surface, doesn’t it? Here are some facts. In a 40 hour workweek, that comes to $404.00. Now, deduct say $40 for health care (always off pre-tax), and now you have $364/week. Now deduct about 22% for Federal, SS and FICA and you are left with $291/week. Still not bad you say? Here are some more hard numbers. That roughly amounts to $1164/month or $15,142.40/year. The federal poverty level for a family of three is $19,790! That means a federal contractor earning $10.10 per hour will still be eligible for Food Stamps, probably a grant for health care, and his kids will be eligible for nutrition assistance at school. Still sounds like too much money? We haven’t even looked at rent (no one at this salary level will be eligible for a mortgage in today’s market), utilities, nutrition, clothes, transportation, etc. So, this guy will have to try for whatever overtime he can get, as well as probably work a second job, and have his spouse work, too. So much for what it was like back in the ’50s when my dad was able to support us on just his job alone.

    • I remember what a big deal it was in the early 70’s when minimum wage rose to $2.50 per hour.I was 19 in ’71 and worked as a first mate on a tug boat out of Norfolk,Va. I was bringing home $200 a week after taxes.That was damn good money back then.Times sure do change but they need to change for the better so working people can live and get ahead.

      • I love your post! While you were first mate on a tug boat, I was a lowly production assistant at a network television station in Chicago (maybe $15,000/year), living in a studio apartment: rent $125/month. I’m guessing that the same internship/apprentice-level position still pays about $15,000/year but the current rent on that studio apartment is no less than $800/month in 1970. When we worked such jobs, the idea of job promotion was a given. Fast food jobs and other low-wage work these days, which pay about the same, are viewed as a dead end jobs or a stepping stone to a career in some other field that no longer exists. I hope the term “minimum wage” evolves into the term “living wage indexed to the cost of living” and never looks back.

      • agree…and we have to stra with a guarnteed liveable annual wage….to do what Obama tells Congeess ie eliminate poverty….

    • I just watched Paul Ryan declare that he is adamantly opposed to raising the minimum wage, as it is “bad economics.” For business, that is. He says they will reduce hiring. I guess those millionaires at the top don’t want to cut their salary if they have to raise the price of a hamburger or Pizza by 3 cents. You have to feel sorry for the rich guys.

      • The last time Republicans looked analytically at anything was when the Laffer Curve was supposed to raise revenues by cutting taxes–and we know how well that worked. These Neolitihic thinkers (and I’m being unkind to those who made stone tools) just don’t get how paying more money to workers will raise their buying power, fuel American prosperity, and lessen the need poverty programs (cutting spending on “welfare”). All they see is Higher Wages Mean Less Profit. They can’t think beyond the moment.

        • Yeah, they don’t want to look at the Costco model that President Obama mentioned last night…..Costco is doing better than both Sam’s Club AND Wal-Mart!! Their stock is higher, etc. But, they won’t believe that! It’s sad how close-minded they all are!

        • Interestingly, the min wage in Europe is $12/hr, yet the McDonald’s in Europe are more profitable than the ones in the US. Why maybe? Because even the McDonald’s employees who eat there can afford to order the more profitable items like combo meals, instead of having to settle for eating the dollar menu items which are less profitable. Raising the minimum wage would lift all boats – although many businesses would see their payrolls rise, they should also see their revenues rise as customers would have more money to buy and patronize businesses thye can’t even afford to enter today.

      • Interestingly enough, they’ll raise those food prices anyhow while they cut back on the portions without any raise in the minimum wage what-so-ever. Besides that, fast food prices
        fluctuate from region to region. A Big Mac meal in my town cost around $8.00 and change, hardly a cheap meal any longer for families on a fixed income.

          • You may as well ask me to cut off my right arm. I do get bored with meat from time to time but I’m afraid to go all in. My comment though, wasn’t based on me personally, it has everything to do with the fact that the cost of living keeps going up regardless of whether operating costs rise. Big business likes to create a scapegoat to justify their rising prices and now they might have found one with talk of a minimum wage hike. This is going to be a long fight isn’t it?

          • Minimum wage needs to be increased so that the economy can stabilize. The more people make the more they buy, McDonalds is not going to hurt. They may cry, but corporate can cut down on the amount of yachts they purchase.

          • A diseased mind will never comprehend the logic of your statement. Have you noticed that Trickle Down economics that the GOP has defended vigorously since Reagan doesn’t seem to apply with them when they are called on to spend more money on fair wages? Their excuse is that we can’t predict human nature so why should we raise wages. But they are more than happy to raise costs for any reason at all
            ergo pricing you and me out of the ability to buy their products any longer. So we play the game, you and I go to a competitor but now the competitor raises their prices too and the cycle continues on and on with no end in sight. Who gets the blame for all this you ask, the employees who dare to ask for a raise of course.
            We try to use the markets the way we have been taught but the rich keep raising the stakes. I don’t want to play their game anymore!

    • Obama wants us to eliminate poverty at all levels….as it realtes to your post….

      We need to eliminate the minimum wage altogether and replace it, using the trillions of dollars spent in other social programs to create a guaranteed yearly income. This was prosed by both GOP and Democrats back in 1967…

      Let me outline before you have a heart attack…

      Lets take a $15/hour livable wage scenario:

      $15/hour is $420 a week 28 hours part time. $21840 yearly . Still poverty level.

      $15/hour full time is $600 a week/ $31200 yearly. Still near or at poverty if you consider family size.

      Federal poverty guidelines here:

      Therefore….the “minimum wage or livable wage” should be replaced with a guaranteed yearly income based upon Federal poverty statistics by state.

      Back in 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King and highly respected economists both Democrat and Repiublican proposed this a s a way to eliminate poverty once and for all.

      Concept is outlined here:

      From the article:

      “Rev. Dr. King viewed the guaranteed income as the way to abolish poverty. It does have that effect, but when prRev. Dr. King viewed the guaranteed income as the way to abolish poverty. It does have that effect, but when properly funded (not touching earned income) and properly distributed (to all people), it becomes more than that — it can be a fundamental instrument of economic justice.operly funded (not touching earned income) and properly distributed (to all people), it becomes more than that — it can be a fundamental instrument of economic justice.”

      A guaranteed annual out of poverty level annual income would eliminate all antiquated social programs and nearly all entitlements. It would make this country the leader in eliminating poverty once and for all. In addition, We need livable affordable housing, and a justice system free from big money.

      The article link contains a dollar figure in 1967 as needing 20 billion to do this. In 1967 1 million dollars is now $6,978,113.77.

      7 times factoring inflation:

      A 1000 million is a billion.

      Therefore—we would need only 140 billion. Easily obtainable by transfering that out of existing trillion dollar social programs.

      The poor are not poor. They pay taxes. have housing and the middle class is resurgent again.

  3. Joe * single * earns $22,000 a year and gets back a measly $400.00. Joe’s brother earns the same, but he has four children, so he gets back $8,000. Yes, it’s time to something for every Joe in this country that’s single

    • It’s time to do something for everyone in this country who struggles to have the basics of food,clothing,shelter,education,healthcare,and a job with a living wage.

    • I must congratulate Joe and his brother for demonstrating their patriotism by loaning the Feds an interest free loan of $8.4K. I would suggest that they check to make sure that they have filled out their W-4 s correctly.

      • Joe is under 25 years of age and single with no children, so he has to be over the age of 25 to qualify for the EIC, if I am correct.

        • OK, Robert, solved a puzzlement I had as to how on earth someone making $22K would have $8K withheld for taxes. It has always been amazing to me when people in my crew would answer, “Oh, I didn’t pay any taxes.” because they had gotten a refund of a minuscule amount of what had been withheld from their pay. Since I remember having to pay Federal & State income taxes when I was making less than $1,800 a year I must admit that E.I.C. never occurs to me.

          • That’s the money they get for qualifying for the EIC and it wasn’t taken from their checks weekly.

          • He wants to help those that pay too much taxes because they are single with no children. These people too deserve a break. Poverty won’t be eliminated in this country in five to ten years.

      • Congress can try, but the votes have to be there and we all know that it’s impossible to think the Democrats, and Republicans will come to an agreement.

  4. The President has been doing (Critical Thinking) and I think if the Congress and the Senate get aboard the Country will find its’ way out of this mess that the republicans put the Country in. What? the hell is going on and Why? are the Plutocracts getting away with taking over Small Town USA, and Who? are these people and Where? did they come from, these are some of the questions that the People should be asking Our Government and How Come? our Justice Department have not looked into this matter. I am eighty-four years old and I never knew that their were People in our mix Who? were using MONIES to destroy Our Democracy , as I have said before ” The only thing that can beat Monies is Your VOTE that is why I never give MONEY to a policital Party, the Vote has the real Power and that is WHY? we must protect our Democracy the VOTE is the best equalizier. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Check-out Webster’s Dict. Plutocracy VS DEMOCRACY. Mr. C. E. KING

    • It seems that our elected officials have become at least slightly more like the working man and woman in that they are bought and sold in the market place as is the worker.The crime of it is not only that our Supreme Court caused it to happen but also that our elected officials allowed it to happen,Large sums of money are very coercive even to the point of causing blindness.

      • yes—-and Hence…the President clearly indicates that economic equality is his priority….and eradication of poverty…

    • I have had some trouble understanding your posts because of the misplaced punctuation. A question mark is never placed after one of the individual words in a sentence that happens to be a question; it is placed at the END of the sentence, the same as its alternatives, the period and exclamation point, would be.

      For example, the first few questions in your post, starting in the third line, should be written either as one compound sentence ending in a question mark, or better, a series of questions, like this:

      What the hell is going on? And why are the plutocrats getting away with taking over Small Town USA? And who are these people? And where did they come from? These are some of the questions … our government.

      I agree with your philosophy, by the way, but not with your strategy of never giving money to a political party. I give as much as I can (which is not a great deal) and volunteer as much of my time as I can. But not giving money AT ALL to help defeat “their” candidate is like refusing to fight gun carrying enemies with guns. The old saying “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” usually applies.

      Of course, if you are WILLING to be injured or killed, you can try non-violence, but that only helps if the ultimate authority (e.g. the British population, for Gandhi, and the white majority of the US, for King) has SOME bit of moral compassion, AND finds out about the abuse you and your people are suffering at their hands. If not, as in the Holocaust or the Roman persecution of the early Christians, it may take CENTURIES for non-violence to work,

      But fortunately, we do not YET have to bring LITERAL guns to the “gun fight” of politics. Using guns as an analogy, we do have to bring at least some MONEY.

      “The only thing that stops a bad man with money is a lot of good men and women with money.”

      • Allan….in my opinion, Charles has a bit of difficulty with his “stream of conscious” opinion structuring…yes….it is a bit cumbersome to get through the posts…it takes al lot of filtering and that is far more preferable than some of the bumper sticker troll one liners we get here eh? 🙂

        i like this from Charles

        “The President has been doing (Critical Thinking) and I think if the Congress and the Senate get aboard the Country will find its’ way out of this mess that the republicans put the Country in. What? the hell is going on and Why? are the Plutocracts getting away with taking over Small Town USA”

        In relationship to the article topic…Obama tells the PLUTOCRACY congress and its supporters to help the poor..

        The rest of his post we can deal with in thought disorder artistic impressionism…

        Charles is like a jazz ensemble riffing on a theme and going off in other directions from that theme….the connections take a bit to get use to…

        Patience actually…it is an interesting journey that his mind takes…

    • They are coming from the religious sector. The pulpit is all about lying and preaching for republicans if you want to reduce taxes; vote for republicans to help create jobs; vote for republicans to bring schools back to education; vote for republicans to defeat terrorism; vote for republicans to defend families; This is how they are brain washing people, if the preacher says it must be true. It makes me sick that the average person that believes in God cannot see for themselves that the teaparty is destroying America. They think if they oppose abortion they are going to heaven. They don’t realize that God loves the women that is going through this struggle as much as he loves the ones that are being blind by ideology.

  5. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” ……Nelson Mandela

    America and its elected “leaders” simply must step up and Eradicate poverty once and for all. I

    It is the moral and ethical imperative of our time.

    The GOP has waged a war on those living in poverty, rather than wage a war on poverty by eliminating it… The GOP has made poverty worse.

    Obama does have the executive authority to accomplish this…..But he has also taken the moral and ethical high ground to remind all politicians that we need to do more to get the poor up and out of poverty…the SOTU address outlined this..

    The article clearly states:

    “Obama said he also wants lawmakers to expand the earned income tax credit, remove retirement tax breaks for the wealthiest while expanding them for the middle class, give women more tools to fight discrimination and protect gay workers….He again pushed lawmakers to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws — which he said could grow the economy $1 trillion over two decades and create thousands of jobs.”

    But it really is the job of ALL Americans to exercise moral and ethically based Citizenship on demanding the end of poverty as well..

    • Good luck with that, Polyanna. The GOP isn’t going to do anything to help the poor and the middle class. The poor and the middle class are going to have to take from the rich if anything is to be accomplished.

      De Blasio is right on that one: just increase the taxes on the rich so that the poor and middle class can be helped, except that I don’t think that he’s too interested in helping the middle class. The black poor seem to be his priority.

      • Not to fault the middle class, and not to say I necessarily agree with De Blasio’s policies, but aren’t the black poor as a group really the ones who need the help the most?

      • I think that the 2014 elections will change a lot.

        Especially when the poor and midle class rise up and vote out the GOP obstructionists…

        And WTF does this mean? : ” The black poor seem to be his priority.”

        What race card is this?

        • It’s not a race card. It’s fact. De Blasio is an extreme liberal who is staffing his administration with blacks.

          My saying that may offend your ultra liberal sensibilities, but that’s tough.

  6. Sure, the GOP is focused on jobs, jobs, jobs, just like after the 2010 elections. Wait, they do pay those demonstrators outside women’s health clinics, don’t they? And the guys who deliver notifications to Planned Parenthood and others that they have to close their clinics? And the guys who deliver foreclosure notices, and who physically evict stubborn homeowners? And the printers of pink slips, and extra people to help cut checks for the unemployed? The inspectors who enter your bedroom and verify you’re using only the approved sexual positions, and extra detectives to investigate alleged miscarriages, and extra censors to make sure America’s adults and children are not subjected to “indecent” literature, art, and entertainment? How about extra undertakers to handle the additional deaths if the GOP succeeds in repealing or crippling the ACA? And more snoops for the NSA, more surplus weapons for the “Defense” Department, while reducing taxes on the “job creators and cutting the deficit, right?
    And if they succeed, we’ll certainly need more people to clean up superfund and other polluted sites. I foresee plenty of job opportunities if the GOP gets its way!

    • Obama promised great things in his previous State of the Union speeches, but didn’t do anything except enact ACA. His biggest failure is his inability to get his Attorney General to move off his ass and prosecute the bankers for screwing up the economy. That Attorney General, Eric Holder, isn’t going to do anything to the bankers because when his time as Attorney General is over, he’s going right back to the law firms that service the very bankers that he’s supposed to be prosecuting.

      Obama and Holder are full of crap.

      • Obama and Holder are both basically moderate conservatives; by now you should have realized that is all you’re going to get. You and I appear to agree on most of your post, but – for all his faults and then some – Obama is still probably the best president in my lifetime, and I’m pretty old. Despite right-wing hysteria, he’s done almost nothing to embarrass the US, and certainly nothing to make us the alternating complete laughingstock and irrational bully almost all GOP and all too many Democratic presidents have. Over completely irrational and uncompromising obstruction by what may be the worst bunch of zealots and know-nothings since before the Civil War, he has managed to get the imperfect ACA and a surprising number of other reforms and at least minor improvements through in almost all of the federal government, and he has dramatically changed the tone of at least one side of the political divide, perhaps too much.
        By the way, you forgot about not prosecuting the war criminals from the previous administration, but face it: doing so might well have resulted in a real civil war, and certainly would have prevented even the relatively modest accomplishments for which we fault him.

        • OBAMA TELLS CONGRESS TO HELP THOSE IN POVERTY….the President clearly indicates that economic equality is his priority.

          (nicely meant)

      • You fail to realize that the obstructionist GOP/Teaparty are the cause of this entire mess.

        Nothing to do with Holder or Obama…

        The article is about admonitions to help the poor…

        • It has everything to do with Holder. He told Obama and anyone who would listen that he couldn’t get a conviction if he sued the banking giants, so Obama did nothing. The fact that Holder comes from the legal industry that services Wall Street and the big banks and will undoubtedly return there when his term ends shows me that he has no interest in fulfilling Obama’s promise to prosecute Wall Street and the big banks for the mess they created.

  7. … so does this mean that the President won’t be pushing for economic assistance for the Middle Class? Didn’t watch the speech, but the new markets & innovative products in the Green Energy arena, are begging for either Executive or Citizen leadership. We, the citizenry have waited 5 years too long. Isn’t it time people?!?! (Pssst – as in this being an election year & that we haven’t had, in living memory, a true Liberal/Progressive policy agenda – as in, this being an election year… BTW!!!)…

  8. Finally Obama came out swinging and landed a number of body blows to a stunned republican party. Now we have a clear alternative between the parties and a cry to rally the masses.

  9. The State of the Union speech and the Republican reaction to it show me that there is no prospect of compromise or cooperation until the Democrats get control of both houses of Congress.

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