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> 2010 "Poison Pill" Omnibus Bill, What would you propose if the two party system collapses?
Curmudgeon
post Dec 11 2009, 02:20 PM
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In an effort to redefine our Federal Government without a revolution...

What would you add to or subtract from a Lame Duck "Poison Pill" 2010 Omnibus Bill?

I will try to explain this question better, in a response, but I am not thinking in concise terms at the moment. I don't need to post a 5,000 word question to be included at the top of each page of the topic.

This post has been edited by Curmudgeon: Dec 11 2009, 02:23 PM
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Gray Seal
post Dec 11 2009, 05:03 PM
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I do not think you can redefine the Federal Government via legislation. Solutions such as term limits, control of compensation of elected officials by populous vote, ending the ability to present ominibus bills as legal, ending the legal status of special interest within the government, and following the Constitution can not be accomplished via legislation. It will take a constitutional convention and a voter revolution to redefine our Federal Government without violence. The current eroding condition of the country is igniting the people to ask important questions such as how to define the Federal Government. The answer is: "through elections." The question of how and why we the people have been putting into office the sort of folks present in Washington D.C. needs reflection. Until that question is addressed by a majority of the voters, the chance for a revolution in 30 to 50 years is possible. Once Washington is replaced by a different type of representative, the redefinition process which will strength our protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will begin; the reinforcement of protection of the minority and the individual from democratic oppression.

At least, that is my hope for the direction of a redefining.

As to what marginally can be done via the Omnibus bill, I would say nothing should be in it which increases federal spending but anything which ends federal spending would be good.
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Curmudgeon
post Dec 12 2009, 12:53 AM
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I didn't really want this rant at the top of every page of the topic, but I had been missing caffeine and I drank a couple pots of coffee last night. (Normally, a single cup is enough to put me to sleep.) I fell asleep on the couch, listening to the talking heads discuss whether or not Tiger Woods' moral failures would lead to his collapse as the apparent head of the Tee Party... I thought, of course not, they'll simply make room for him at The Family on C Street so they can hear his confessions...

We have digital cable now, and I am only slowly learning to use the remote control. The installer handed me the remote and said, "Play with it. You'll learn to love it." I watched 5 hours of a baseball game rerun on Fox Sports before I managed to hit the "Pay per View" option, at which point I manually pulled the plugs.

Decades ago, I sat in on a seminar conducted by David Hollister, who was at the time a Michigan State Legislator representing the Lansing District. He began by telling us that he had taught High School Civics in a local High School. He had been explaining to his students that all it takes to be a successful politician is the ability to count. "If I can count one more vote than my opponent, I will be elected." Some of his students challenged his theory by circulating petitions, organizing phone banks, etc. and he became an elected official. (The first race, as I recall, was for Mayor.) He also told of a State Congressman who had made a long career of never introducing a single bill or voting for one. "Voters," that politician's theory went, "never write to complain about the law that I failed to pass. They write to complain about new laws, new restrictions, new taxes, etc. I can always honestly say without a moment's pause, that I voted against it." (Was he a Republican? I didn't ask when I was in my 20's.)

At the time, I was working with an early tea-bagger, who always complained that taxation with representation was far worse than taxation without representation had ever been. If I asked him to expound on that, he would reply, "Every time that I open a new box of tea, I mail a tea bag to one of our congressional representatives." (I never saw him drink tea, only coffee.) I asked what reply he got to his message, and he always replied that he never provided a return address, and he never voted. "They know what the message means, so I don't need a reply. One vote never makes a difference anyway, so why bother?"

These thoughts were coming to mind as I woke to hear someone, most likely a filibustering Senator, read into the Congressional Record, the complete wording of every drug company advertisement that is currently being aired on television. I thought to myself, "Well, I know who funds his campaigns..."

The commentators on my television are reporting that Republicans, happy to be identified as the "Party of No," are hoping to stall the passage of any Health Care reform Bill into the next Congress. The Drug Companies and the Insurance Companies, I am hearing, are declaring a victory whether or not this current bill passes.

Next year, I began thinking, a third of the Senate and all the members of the House will be up for election. Those who are defeated, the so called Lame Duck legislators, will likely introduce at the end of that session, a well thought out piece of poison pill legislation to make it difficult for their successors to govern.

I sat down to write to my Senators. (Pete Hoekstra isn't worth the cost of the postage or paper necessary to send him an e-mail.) What did I want to say? I wasn't certain, so I thought I would kick my thoughts around here first...

I was once told by a fellow night school student, "I recognize your name. My husband says that when we sit down with a problem to solve, <Curmudgeon> comes up with the idea that seems to be the craziest. We try everything else first, and a year or two later, we look at his idea and it seems the best solution. We try it, and it works." My reply was likely, "Unfortunately, I do my best problem solving before breakfast and by the next day; my idea is at the bottom of their list."

If we fail to pass Single Payer Health Care, and it appears that won't even be on the table, I would like my Senators to vote no and put Health Care reform off until next year. (If we can't do it right, let's not do it at all!)

I am suggesting that this may be the last two party Congress for a while to come. The Republicans have shown that they do indeed intend to put the brakes on any proposals... The Democrats can't seem to pass legislation with the majority they have... The TEA (Take Everything Away?) Party and other independent parties may well elect enough new people to Congress next year to force the construction of a coalition government until a third party becomes strong enough to shut out one of the two existing major parties.

What then, should we propose for next year's Poison Pill Bill? I would like to see introduced, an Omnibus Bill that helps to:

1) Redefine the limits of corporate influence. It is my understanding that it was a Supreme Court decision, and not an actual law that was passed by Congress, that allowed corporations to function as individuals or citizens in the American economy. If a corporation is a citizen, I would argue, it should be limited in its influence on Congress by imposing the same limit on campaign contributions from corporations as Congress has imposed on individuals. That corporation would need to prove that it had been created in the United States, and had their corporate headquarters in the United States for the past 18 years.

2) No, "qualified as a citizen," corporation would be allowed to contribute cash or in kind services to an individual campaign that exceeded $2300. (Or the actual limits placed on human citizens, I'm working from memory.)

3) It would provide for Universal Health Care, modeled after the rest of the industrialized nations. If we import a car from Korea, Japan, Germany, etc.; the cost of Health Care for their factory workers is an expense shared by their taxpayers, and not built into the cost of the automobile. Why should American manufacturers be penalized?

4) Our drug costs and health care, I am hearing on the television, are among the highest in the world. Let's allow our government to negotiate the prices we pay. "But then, the drug companies can't afford to do the research!" Okay, let's delegate the research for new drugs to Universities and Government labs. That way, the manufacturers could compete solely on their ability to manufacture a given drug at a competitive price.

5) Force a declaration of war to be voted up or down before we continue to finance our current invasions.

I wasn't necessarily wanting to put any of my suggestions up for debate. I was fishing for more ideas, so that I can put together a well reasoned rant and write to my Senators.

If I sent this message to Pete Hoekstra, I would get a letter next year, thanking me for my support, and assuring me that he never intends to vote for Health Care Reform... He has already announced his plans to run for Governor next year, and I plan to volunteer at the campaign offices for his opponents.

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Ted
post Dec 14 2009, 12:29 AM
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Curmudgeon

QUOTE
1) Redefine the limits of corporate influence. It is my understanding that it was a Supreme Court decision, and not an actual law that was passed by Congress, that allowed corporations to function as individuals or citizens in the American economy.



You feel the same way about labor Unions? Same situlation.

QUOTE
3) It would provide for Universal Health Care, modeled after the rest of the industrialized nations. If we import a car from Korea, Japan, Germany, etc.; the cost of Health Care for their factory workers is an expense shared by their taxpayers, and not built into the cost of the automobile. Why should American manufacturers be penalized?


Why do we have to have the government run the system? Let the government pay for it but let’s not have a bunch of bureaucrats run it – please.
QUOTE
4) Our drug costs and health care, I am hearing on the television, are among the highest in the world. Let's allow our government to negotiate the prices we pay. "But then, the drug companies can't afford to do the research!" Okay, let's delegate the research for new drugs to Universities and Government labs. That way, the manufacturers could compete solely on their ability to manufacture a given drug at a competitive price.



Got a model for this idea in the world that works?

Didn’t think so. Same as above – let’s not trust the government to invent drugs. It would be imo more expensive and slower.

Lets let the government bargain for the best prices though.

And for god sake lets kill the current Health Care Bill which is no so far out in left field it will bankrupt us all within 20 years.

Lets have a bill that covers more people but keeps the government out of the business of running it. Lets shoot Medicare and Medicaid in the head and privatize it.
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Curmudgeon
post Dec 14 2009, 08:32 AM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 13 2009, 07:29 PM) *
Curmudgeon
1) Redefine the limits of corporate influence. It is my understanding that it was a Supreme Court decision, and not an actual law that was passed by Congress, that allowed corporations to function as individuals or citizens in the American economy.


You feel the same way about labor Unions? Same situlation.

No argument. A union is a business, and is incorporated as such; probably as a non-profit corporation, but nonetheless incorporated. The union's function is to find work for its members, bargain for wages, working conditions, and benefits.

When the "night manager" at my local Seven-Eleven had to work in excess of forty hours, he was paid a flat salary. "Take it or find another job, you agreed to be a manager." With unemployment in the 20% range, and 8 applicants applying for every job opening, the laws of Supply and Demand apply. If you are not self employed, you are represented either by a union or by the government. The corporation is governed by the bottom line.

When the unions have managed to negotiate with the U.S. government to provide such benefits as legal holidays, minimum wages, and the length of a work week; it has largely served to level the playing field rather than create an uncompetetive environment. In today's world however, American corporations are competing with foreign corporations that use child and prison laor, have government paid health care, and who knows what other benefits. American corporations, rather than turning to our government and asking for an equal footing in America, have simply moved their factories (and the associated jobs) to other nations.

I spent over three decades paying union dues. At this point, they are very weak as compared to their historical influence.

Automation and export of manufacturing and labor has long since destroyed the Economics Philosophy of "Wages and Prices are only flexible upwards." I am looking as I write, at a thermostat that I found in my garage. I spent several hours researching it last night. It looks like my father purchased it as a replacement in the late 1960's and saved the old (identical model no.) in the same package to be repaired later. (My parents lived through the depression.) The price tag is $34.49, about a day's pay as a union member at the time. When Honeywell stopped manufacturing the CT51A, it appears that the manufacturer's suggessted retail price had fallen to circa $12.00. (About a half hours gross pay, not factoring in the cost of benefits when I retired.) On e-Bay, the same model was available 24 hours ago for less than $10.00, and comparable models were available for less than $1 plus shipping.

I recall a strike where we had been walking a picket line for over 5 months. I finally wrote a letter to my local Federal Representative outlining the cause and effects as I viewed them. I outlined the effects, as I saw them, on the salaried employees and their families who were forced to work 84 hour weeks to keep the plant running. I outlined the effects, as I saw them, on hourly workers and their families who were living off food stamps and being threatened with foreclosures. I jokingly refer to that letter as the only letter that I ever sent to a Congresman, where I didn't get a personal reply. A Federal mediator got off an airplane an evening or two later. (It's been over 35 years now.) The mediator sat down with both parties behind closed doors, and within 24 hours we were voting on a contract proposal...

Our government, whether you refer to it as a Republic or a Democracy, was classically defined by a Republican President as a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." My arguments go to the fact that we need to have people influencing our Congress, and by people, I mean our children as well as ourselves. I can remember when our Federal Congressman in Midland, MI was available at the Farmer's Market to meet and greet every Saturday morning. I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, where Gerald Ford simply turned all donations to his campaign over to the Republican Party. By representing the people well enough, he never had to actually campaign for re-election. I can recall getting involved in politics because a President took the time to write a hand written response to the hand written letter I sent him as a cub scout. Until George W. Bush was elected, I got a reply from every letter that I ever wrote to the White House. The Bush White House era Republican Administration solved the problem of responding to the average citizen by passing a law that made it illegal for a President to send any official White House response to a citizen... I cannot persuade my children that there is any benefit to getting involved in a campaign, getting to know the candidate, etc. has any value. I doubt that any of them has yet written to complain to an elected official. They simply believe that their government has been sold by the politicians and bought by the corporations. "Wealth is Power."

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 13 2009, 07:29 PM) *
QUOTE

3) It would provide for Universal Health Care, modeled after the rest of the industrialized nations. If we import a car from Korea, Japan, Germany, etc.; the cost of Health Care for their factory workers is an expense shared by their taxpayers, and not built into the cost of the automobile. Why should American manufacturers be penalized?
Why do we have to have the government run the system? Let the government pay for it but let's not have a bunch of bureaucrats run it – please.

Where did you ever get the impression that there are no bureaucrats in the private sector. One of my difficulties in paying my medical bills is that when you are treated at a hospital, every person that looks t your chart, or looks at you, or changes the sheets on your bed bills you separately. Two separate insurance agencies look over the bills and decide what they are willing to pay before a doctor's office is willing to send me a bill. Then, I get a notice that if I don't respond within ten days, it will be turned over to a collection agency. At some point, I got on a Federal Government watch list... The U.S. mail doesn't reach me in ten days. My records to date are an e-mail that reached me six months after it was sent, and two letters that found their way to my address in 2008. My father sent a letter to my mother at an address that they were forced to vacate in 1968. Both of my parents died in the last century... (Yes, I recognized both my father's signature and his sense of humor.) The second letter that reached me that year, mailed to the same address, advised my oldest sister that she had been accepted to Alma college, which she graduated from in the 1950's. I did not feel it appropriate to forward the letter to her husband, as he is still grieving her loss in every annual Christmas letter.)

The result of the private bureaucracies? I have had a collection agency call me and say that they are trying to collect over 900 past due accounts from a local hospital which is no longer in business. At most, we had three people living here. Why should I need to track 900+ accounts from a single business...

Then again, there is my Credit Union. Due to the fact that they have had to fight with collection agencies and courts who cloned checks to pay the total amount due and sent through electronic replicas, my credit union no longer honors any check paid to a court or a collection agency...

I am really not impressed by the efficiency of private bureaucracies. A single payer health care system would mean that the hospitals, doctors, etc. might actually have a way of getting paid for their services.

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 13 2009, 07:29 PM) *
QUOTE
4) Our drug costs and health care, I am hearing on the television, are among the highest in the world. Let's allow our government to negotiate the prices we pay. "But then, the drug companies can't afford to do the research!" Okay, let's delegate the research for new drugs to Universities and Government labs. That way, the manufacturers could compete solely on their ability to manufacture a given drug at a competitive price.

Got a model for this idea in the world that works?

Didn't think so. Same as above – let's not trust the government to invent drugs. It would be imo more expensive and slower.

Please allow me to respond to your question, "Got a model for this idea in the world that works?," before you presume that I have no response... I started this thread, not because I have all the answers, but becuse I was looking for a model for change... I frankly expect this health care ill to fail. I expect that some Democrats, such as Joe Lieberman, will face challengers in their next election. What I do not expect is the Republican's "Vote no on everything." policy to be an effective way to govern. I strongly suspect that it may be a long while before we return to a two party system of government. What I am looking for is input, new ideas on the role of our governement... If the system collapses as I suspect it may, I expect that our current Congress will not leave office gracefully. I am looking for ideas to propose in a letter I will draft next November.

I would encourage you to begin drafting, as well, your hopes for our nation's future. If you really hope to shut down our government completely, and find a job paying a fair wage, offering a future, etc.; draft a letter showing how this would accur and contact your legislators. Perhaps you will find a model for your ideas that works. I won't pretend though that I can read your mind, and dismiss your ideas, before your fingers find the on switch of your computer...

Corporations ask their employees to sign a "standard patent agreement," first modeled by Thomas Edison as I recall. If I am working for a factory doing research on drugs, and I develop a patent for a better mouse trap, that corporation owns not only the patents I develop for new drugs, but also my patent for the better mousetrap... I was not relying on the government to invent new drugs. I suggested that in the past, both government research and universities funded research. Both employment models are able to give the individual some control over and benefit from the patents they develop. It will not necessarily be any slower, would likely cause people working towards a common end to collaborate, and could provide incentive for the individuals to actually work on their ideas as opposed to spending their time drinking coffee and discussing the Lion's chance of going a full season without a win.

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 13 2009, 07:29 PM) *
Lets let the government bargain for the best prices though.

And for god sake lets kill the current Health Care Bill which is no so far out in left field it will bankrupt us all within 20 years.

Lets have a bill that covers more people but keeps the government out of the business of running it. Lets shoot Medicare and Medicaid in the head and privatize it.

Once again, I would like to see the government return to a conservative value, this is a government that should be run by the people and for the people. Privatizing a working public program will not reduce tthe cost of the program; it will force the corporations that take over the program to factor in a profit margin, and to purchase insurance plans to ensure that they will not go bankrupt.

Public Health care as a basic human right has been well established in most of the industrialized world. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and similar areas, our government is providing health care for their citizens in order to win over their hearts and minds.

Governments in other countries are subsidizing their businesses. Our postal service is going broke because we are having this argument on the Internet. If you go on eBay however, and make a small purchase from China, the company is able to compete with American companies because the shipping is free. As individuals, we are paying neither import duties nor sales taxes. I do not really believe that a company selling me a part for under a dollar is absorbing the cost of shipping it halfway around the world; I am forced to believe that the Chinese government is absorbing the cost of shipping exports.

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