Election Connection – Just Say NO to a 30% Sales Tax

Standard

I’ve been seeing and hearing quite a bit about a new proposal from House GOP members about abolishing the IRS and implementing a 30% sales tax*. On its face it is an absurd prospect filled with scare tactics talking points and falsehoods, or as we like to call them: LIES.

I’m including three links as well as a great video that explains exactly what’s in the bill at the end. First, I’m glad to give you my opinion on this as someone who pays the bills for my household and is soon-to-be preparing our taxes and who spent the weekend shopping with my family for our household needs.

A 30% tax increase is CRAZY. It’s as simple as that. We’re an average family of five, one of whom lives on his own (but who often comes to dinner). We are still materially supporting two other children (regardless of their ages), feeding, clothing, entertaining. We live paycheck to paycheck, and some months we don’t have anything at all until the next paycheck. It varies.

This weekend we went to several places and took our daughter to breakfast on Sunday. I’m going to round up what we spent:

Breakfast out: $63

Department Store: $68 (this included groceries, medicine, and clothing)

Walmart: $6 (groceries)

McDonald’s: $3 ($1 drinks)

Sally’s Beauty Supply: $24 (school supplies)

Target: $164 (personal care/hygiene, toilet paper, school supplies, groceries, toy on clearance)

All of these purchases include state and county sales tax, which in (our part of) New York is 8%.

New totals based on an additional 30% federal sales tax (on goods and services):

  • Breakfast: $81.90
  • Dept. Store: $88.40
  • Walmart: $7.80
  • McDonald’s: $3.90
  • Sally’s: $31.20
  • Target: $213.20

For a grand total increase of: $98.40 for one day’s shopping. ONE DAY.

Republican House Members claim that this will abolish the IRS and eliminate 87,000 “weaponized” IRS agents who were increased in a recent bill that President Biden signed last year. This is a falsity that they’ve continued to lie about. Those 87,000 IRS agents will not be armed (as they’ve claimed) and they will not be coming to your house, but increasing the assistance the IRS gives to its clients every day. I’ve been on the phone with them previously and have always felt helped. They’re also supposed to help reduce the backlog to avoid situations like we experienced in 2021 when we filed in May and didn’t receive our refund until the end of December.

This National sales tax will be on goods AND services, where the current state formula is on primarily good with only a few services paying sales tax. This tax on services would include babysitters, which is explained in the video. This will also be on top of the state and local taxes paid on goods currently.

One of the things they claim is that 40% of households pay no form of income tax, and for those family’s eligible, there will be a monthly rebate based on a formula in relation to the poverty line and family size, but you would still have to pay it upfront at the time of purchase. If you’re eligible for the rebate, that is.

This creates an enormous burden on the poor and middle-class working families. The rich will always find ways to get around this tax, simply by leaving the country to do their shopping. Plus the fact that they can afford the increased pay out.

If it wasn’t obvious yet, I am definitely against this bill, and will be contacting my Congressman’s office to let him know he has my support to vote NO when this comes to the floor.

*Republicans claim that it isn’t a 30% increase, that it’s a 23% increase. That is because of how they are doing the math: $30 out of $100 is 23%. The video does an excellent job of explaining this.


Don’t Buy the Sales Tax (from the Brookings Institute)

TaxVox: Federal Budget and Economy

SNOPES: Is GOP Freedom Caucus Pushing for a 30% Sales Tax in US? [SPOILER ALERT: YES]

Video from Brian Kim of Clear Value Tax:

Adding Politics Girl’s Take here:

Roe v. Wade Today

Standard

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that gave women the right to an abortion. More specifically, and importantly, they found the right to an abortion under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that we all have a fundamental “right to privacy”. Any laws that prohibited an abortion would be subject to strict scrutiny by the Courts.

Much has been made of the plaintiff, Roe expressing her regrets for her abortion. She had gone back and forth on this issue, and honestly I feel that she was taken advantage of by both sides. She was paid by the right to recant her wish for an abortion, and stated in the 2020 documentary, AKA Jane Roe that she hadn’t ever supported the antiabortion movement.

Roe’s holding was reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992 while at the same time overruling the trimester framework established in the Roe decision and moved from “strict scrutiny” to “undue burden”.

In 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe with their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the right to an abortion was not “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history or tradition.”

This is false, and it is simply Justice Alito (and his cohorts) grasping at straws and making law whole cloth from their beliefs which violate the Constitution as well as basic human rights of women to their own bodily autonomy. In the ruling, they also included questioning rights now recognized as to contraception, interracial marriage, and marriage equality (same-sex marriage). Some on the right are suggesting we take another look at those rights already enshrined in law (and common sense, to be quite honest).

Abortions have been happening for as long as there’s been pregnancy. The real value of legal abortion is safety. When abortions are illegal, women are less safe. In addition, many, if not all of the proponents of eliminating legal abortion have no idea how pregnancy and birth works. They throw out terms that they don’t understand, pass laws, and criminalize medical care for women under the guise of stopping abortion.

Since Dobbs, women have died from miscarriages that weren’t treated; ectopic pregnancies that were left to fester. Women have lost the ability to have more children because of doctors waiting for the last minute to help women, afraid that anything they do to save the woman will create a liability for themselves and their facilities.

The right set up pregnancy centers who lie to women and scare them and do not give them all of their options as far as family planning and abortion. If their way is the right way, why do they need to lie?

This is horrifying, and it needs to end.

Women need to be able to make informed decisions on their family planning, their pregnancies, their terminating or continuing of pregnancies. My daughter has less rights than her grandmother had.

In addition to our activism and raising our voices, we need to contact our Congresspeople and especially Leader Jeffries, and have them bring a bill to the floor and pass it to make the Supreme Court more modern. The last time the Supreme Court was changed with respect to number of justices was with the Judiciary Act of 1869 during the Grant Administration. We currently have nine justices and thirteen circuit courts. We should have 13 justices to correspond to the circuits. For those saying that this is packing the Court, it is unpacking the Court that Mitch McConnell gave us by blocking President Obama’s duly chosen nominee in 2019 and then reversing his “logic” and pushing through Amy Coney Barrett while we were in the middle of an election. Literally while voting was happening.

We can’t stop speaking out.

The only way we can solve this disparity and reproductive health crisis is by reinstating Roe, expanding it, and codifying it into law.

Election Connection – Speaker’s Edition

Standard

House Clerk, Cheryl Johnson and CSPAN earned their accolades this week. They are both in thankless jobs until something like this happens and they become household names.

Finally, on the fifteenth round of voting, six thousand, five hundred ten names called over three days, Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House by Republicans. All Democrats (212), in every round, voted for NY’s Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. In my opinion, he would have made an excellent Speaker, and one day, he will.

I’d like you to watch a portion of his first speech as Minority Leader. He thanked Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi for her service and her job as the first woman Speaker of the House. She really is remarkable. She has stepped down from leadership for the next generation, but she remains in the House of Representatives as the Congresswoman from her California district.

This video of Rep. Jeffries is just superb, and I look forward to hearing from him more and more. This is only a small part (A-Z), but it’s also worth finding the full 15 minutes of his speech.

Election Connection – Year End Wrap

Standard

What a Year from Vote Save America

Let’s look at the list of the races we were following here for the 2022 Election, and see how we fared:

  • Senate Races
  • AZ – Mark Kelly
  • CO – Michael Bennet
  • CT – Richard Blumenthal
  • FL – Val Demmings
  • GA – Rev. Raphael Warnock
  • HI – Brian Schatz
  • NH – Maggie Hassan
  • NV – Catherine Cortez-Masto
  • NY – Chuck Schumer
  • OH – Tim Ryan
  • PA – John Fetterman
  • WA – Patty Murray
  • WI – Mandela Barnes
  • Also, keep an eye on Iowa and Kentucky
  • House of Representatives
  • AK – Mary Peltola
  • MI – Elissa Slotkin
  • NY – Matt Castelli
  • NY – Sean Maloney
  • VA – Abigail Spanberger
  • Governors
  • CA – Gavin Newsom
  • CO – Jared Polis
  • FL – Charlie Crist
  • GA – Stacey Abrams
  • MI – Gretchen Whitmer
  • NY – Kathy Hochul
  • PA – Josh Shapiro
  • TX – Beto O’Rourke
  • Mayor
  • Los Angeles – Karen Bass

Looks like the majority of them won their races. Beto and Tim Ryan were close. We need to keep pushing in Ohio and Texas. In that endeavor, follow Olivia Julianna on Twitter (while there’s still a twitter). She is a Gen Z political activist, doesn’t back down, and speaks her mind.

Have we learned anything from the last several years?

Continue reading

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Standard

I was out this weekend for some breakfast and holiday shopping, and I saw a man wearing a dark hoodie with an American flag on it, although it was black and white with a blue stripe for the middle stripe. I recognize this as a call out in support of law enforcement. I don’t disagree with supporting law enforcement when it’s called for, however there is a lot to be done to improve their strategies, especially when it comes to working with people of color and the mentally ill and people not necessarily mentally ill but in crisis in the moment they meet up with LEOs.

I am certainly not going to solve this problem in one blog post.

On the back of this hoodie, above and below the black, white, and blue flag was the phrase:

Blessed are the peacemakers,

For they will be called the children of G-d.

Matthew 5:9

I was drawn to it in a negative way. It bothered me. It bothered me enough to start writing about it here. Part of that is some of the study I’ve been doing this Advent season through readings and a couple of faith enrichment and scripture classes throughout the month of December.

I recognized that phrase as from Scripture, although my initial thoughts were incorrect in assigning it to Isaiah (his readings are quite prominent during Advent) rather than where it actually comes from: Matthew 5:9; the Beatitudes.

The entirety of the Beatitudes is contained in Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

I won’t relay them here. You can google or open any Bible and read all of them. There is also an addition that Pope Francis expressed on an Ecumenical trip to Sweden in 2016 that can be read here.

Reading through this part of Chapter 5 of Matthew and getting to verse 9, it is clear to me that this Scripture is entirely misinterpreted by the people who created (and wear) that hoodie. The implication that law enforcement and military are the peacemakers is inconsistent and contradictory.

I also found it ironic that I saw this on the hoodie during Advent when we are reading the Book of Isaiah who prophesizes an unlikely peace among foes: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, calf and lion, cow and bear, children and snakes (reversing Adam and Eve’s punishment in the Garden of Eden). (Isaiah 11:6-8)

When I see these types of scriptures on hoodies that promote law enforcement and military soldiers as peacemakers it just fills me with exasperation and even a touch of anger. The misinterpretation that soldiers are peacemakers and not warriors first is simply wishful thinking. This isn’t to say that all soldiers are bad; I don’t believe that, and I understand the need for a military. I understand that when the UN sends its soldiers they are called peacekeepers, and I get that too. Peace is the goal. The UN tries to be neutral despite arguments of its futility and the presence of its flaws. I think that neutral isn’t the objective though as much as fairness and the desired overall good of society.

Are the peacemakers the ones with guns? Or are they the ones with food? With books? With pens and clothes and shelter? The pen is mightier than the sword is it not? That aphorism (as wella s many others) credited to author Edward Bulwer-Lytton has been known similarly as far back as before Biblical sources including an Assyrian sage in 7th century BCE and Greek playwright Euripides using different words in place of pen: word, tongue. Talmudic and Islamic sources also reference words, both oral and written, a means of knowledge and peace as being stronger than the strength of the sword, a means of war. The implication being that with the pen/word being mightier, peace is also mightier than war.

It’s important that we call out these misuses of words and reclaim our Scriptures that have been corrupted and used in opposition to what they actually say.

War is sometimes necessary, but it shouldn’t be considered inevitable, nor should it be considered the path to the kingdom of heaven and to the discipleship of G-d.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart; those who are persecuted; those who are reviled and persecuted falsely on the account of Jesus.

And blessed are the peacemakers; those who make peace. They don’t force something they call peace on others; they create a lasting peace, an eternal peace.

Those are the peacemakers; they are the children of G-d.

Election Connection

Standard

Why This Election is Like No Other

If you’ve watched this space for any length of time, you have seen the call to vote in this once in a lifetime, critical election several times since 2016. It is hard to believe that all of these elections are the most important one in your life. I am sad to say that they are.

For many people, more than you may realize, the outcome of this election is important not only to their well-being, but to their very lives.

Dramatic, I know.

  • But tell that to kids who are being taught BOTH SIDES of the Holocaust.
  • Tell that to kids trying to read The Diary of Anne Frank in Oklahoma, but being told it’s banned due to its being a “graphic” novel. The folks doing the banning think it’s graphic, as in adult when it’s actually really a bound comic book.
  • Tell that to transgender youth who see no way apart from suicide.
  • Tell that to women who have and will die IN HOSPITALS (with doctors beside them) from treatable emergencies because of new anti-abortion/anti-women laws.
  • Tell that to kids and adults with rheumatoid arthritis who can’t get their medication because regardless of their future plans, they are of child-bearing age and can’t get their regular medicine because it MIGHT cause a miscarriage.
  • Tell that to married couples who can’t get birth control because a pharmacist doesn’t agree with contraception. This has already happened recently.
  • And all of this is in addition to the Insurrection on January 6th that this country as yet to come to grips with. Many of the insurrectionists are still SERVING in Congress.

Video was released just last week of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi on the phone with then-Vice President Pence discussing what was going on in the Capitol. She was telling him to be safe while the President of the United States was encouraging a mob to “find” him. In the room witnessing this were GOP (Republican) leadership who subsequently went out and denounced her for not doing enough. I’m speaking specifically of Rep. Steve Scalise of LA and others. He knew she was taking care of business and lied, trying to blame her for not calling the National Guard, which she is legally not authorized to do.

That is the real problem with today’s elected Republicans. They lie. They’ve lied about things they’ve witnessed, things we’ve seen on video, things we know to be true. If this is their demeanor when we see the lies, what are they saying about things we don’t know first hand?

Have you watched the debate between Georgia Senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker? It is no exaggeration to say that Walker is barely intelligible. His past and his lies about his past are disqualifying. And in polls, they’re tied.

The hit-job they’re doing on John Fetterman against carpetbagger, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania is reprehensible. Yes, Fetterman had a stroke and is in recovery, but anyone can see that his cognitive function (and physical for that matter) is equal to what it was before. They refer to his accommodation of using closed captions during interviews as if they don’t use teleprompters or that perhaps they feel the deaf and hard of hearing should be excluded from running from office.

The Supreme Court is outdated, and that’s the least of its problems. It would not be hyperbole to say that two of the nine justices are sitting in stolen seats. Three of those Justices were appointed by a man who tried to and fortunately failed to stage a coup and overthrow the government. This has been painfully shown over and over again through witness testimony under oath to Congress. Most of those witnesses are lifelong Republicans.

I’m begging you: Vote Democratic across the board, from dog catcher to US Senator. We need to hold the House and expand the Senate, not to mention Governors and local legislatures.

We need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would protect elections from voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the continuing sabotage of insurrectionists.
The bipartisan January 6th committee showed us how things could be if honest people work together.

Visit Vote Save America and see what you can do in your region to help save America. Everything begins with voting and free and fair elections.

Other sites to visit and support include:
Fair Fight
Democracy Docket
ACLU
When We All Vote
Vote dot Org

We have 20 days to get it done. Let’s get it done!

Election Connection – Opinion

Standard

Vote ALL Republicans out! All of them! From Dog Catcher to US Senate. Let conservatives start their own legitimate party and earn America’s trust (if they can ever get it back). We need to purge these do-nothing, pro-death politicians.

They claim the pro-life mantle, but they are pro-death, especially women and children. If you’re a fetus, they want you born. Once you’re born, you’re on your own. Schools can’t protect you. Grocery clerks can’t protect you Police can’t protect you. And Republican politicians certainly can’t AND WON’T protect you.

Continue reading

Election Connection – Buckle Up, 2022!

Standard

NOTE: After writing this and scheduling it for publication for this morning, late last night I read this article from Rolling Stone about Sen. Joe Manchin’s constant reversal on voting rights, some of which I witnessed in real time through news reports and interviews. In addition to what I’ve written below, we need to ensure that ONE Senator, even one from our side doesn’t have so much control over somethng as fundamental as voting rights.

I also want to note that Joe Manchin (along with Sen. Sinema) torpedoed the Build Back Better bill that they had continuously supported with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (that passed and was signed into law by President Biden.) Build Back Better was the main bill that would help more working class Americans. Manchin needs to be made irrelevant by adding to our Senate majority.

How Joe Manchin Knifed the Democrats…

It looks like I chose an appropriate quote to begin my original subject.



Politics don’t corrupt people; people corrupt politics.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson

I’m not sure people realize the gravity of the upcoming election situation. It may seem as thought everything is standing still it’s important to recognize that in the first year of the Biden Administration an enormous amount of work has been done, and is continuing to be done. (* See graphics below.*) We need to call out the Republican hypocrisy and fascism (and yes, that’s exactly what it is) whenever and wherever we see and hear it. We need to call out the lies and misinformation whenever and wherever we see and hear it. It doesn’t matter whose feelings it hurts. Lies are lies and their lies are killing us.

Continue reading

COVID Reminders

Standard

With many communities adjusting their lockdown protocols, I thought it was a good time for some reminders. For those remaining or returning to lockdown, my Covid Information Center is still available, although there may be scientific updates to the medical information. I haven’t updated that since last year, but the recipes and activities should all be useful to those continuing in lockdown. I will do a more extensive update in the next couple of weeks.

Where mask mandates become optional, there is nothing to stop you from wearing a mask to protect yourself and the people around you. My kids have already been told that I expect them to wear masks in school when the changes eventually take effect.

My personal opinion is that many school districts (including my own) are bending over backwards to a small anti-mask contingent. I read an interesting analogy this week on Twitter that stated how we all, parents, teachers, students rallied to follow the exclusion of peanut products in schools because of a very small minority of children with peanut allergies.

None of us minded this small adjustment to our daily school lives in order to protect the vulnerable classmates even though our children were unaffected. This has never been made political. The same attitude should be for masks. Masks conclusively protect us from transmitting and becoming infected with covid. It is a simple precaution. This should not be a disagreement for people who care about the others around them.

I’ve said many times that masks should be part of the dress code for the forseeable future. Regardless of the loud people, we can all do our part to end this pandemic, and the easiest of that is to wear a mask in pubic.

The WHO has provided this graphic with their recommendations.

Do it All. World Health Organization. (c)2022

Admit It: This Country is Anti-Women

Standard

Overturning Roe v Wade isn’t pro-life; it’s anti-women.

In addition to being an issue of the 14th Amendment, it is also a First Amendment issue as it violates religious freedom and unconstitutionally imposes what amounts to a “state sanctioned religion” on the rest of us. It violates the establishment clause and it attempts to control women’s choices and their economic independence as well as their basic human rights.