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Archive for March, 2011

Tentative Budget Agreement Reached in the House of Representatives

March 31st, 2011

The following is a guest post from Alexis Bonari. If you are interested in guest posting at Geek Politics, check out the guidelines here.

Amid the current fight between Democrats and Republicans over passing a budget, talks of a government shutdown have been circulating throughout the media. Late Wednesday night ABC News has reported that a tentative agreement has been reached that would involve a compromise by both parties. Although there seems to be some amount of compromise with John Boehner and the Republican lead house conceding to a budget cut of $33b splitting the difference between the Republican proposal of $36b and the Democrats $30b.

The acrimonious fight being waged in the House has threatened to cause a government shutdown if an agreement is not able to be reached by April 8th. This would not be the first time a government shutdown has occurred because of a budget dispute. In fact a total of 16 shutdowns have occurred in the last 30 years, a phenomenon among developed nations that is unique to America. The most famous and perhaps the most costly one occurred in 1995 when President Clinton vetoed the spending plan passed by the Republican dominated congress. It lasted for a total of 21 days with federal employees, the airline industry, and tourism industry taking the brunt of the damage. Losses to furloughed employees was estimated to be $400 million, while the airline and tourism industries were estimated to suffer a loss of up to 9 million travelers.

A government shutdown, which is attributable to the Antideficiency Act of 1870 is required in cases where the federal government is unable to enact funding. The government has provisions in place to handle these types of situations with all non-essential services being cut. Legislators, military personnel, police, fire, utilities, air traffic management, and corrections are not affected by these shutdowns, although House Republicans are pressuring Boehner to pass legislation that would freeze Congress and the President from being paid as well. For most Americans the impact is minimal. Social Security and Medicare checks still arrive in the mail; however the processing of new applications is typically delayed. During the shutdown in 1995 50,000 SSA workers were recalled early to handle the processing of new claims. Federal parks and monuments are shut down as well, affecting travel plans.

Of course, this all comes after the Republicans initially set a budget cut of $61b. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader has split from House Speaker John Boehner in demanding that House Republicans keep their commitment to the original budget. Given the Majority Leader’s ability to stall House floor negotiations, Cantor’s demands should not be taken lightly. This has acted to split the Republican Party between the Tea Party supporters who demand that no compromise be made to the budget cuts, while some moderates fear that a government shutdown would cripple our currently fragile economy.

Given the current economic situation, the compromise being made between Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be necessary to arrive at a solution. The major problem with the additional cuts at this point is that no one has agreed upon where those cuts are actually going to be made. So don’t be surprised if we see yet another fight over where to cut the money.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching autism scholarships as well as equestrian scholarship programs. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Daily Patriotic Quotes

March 15th, 2011

I just released a new app for the iPhone that some of you may be interested in. It is called Daily Patriotic Quotes(iTunes Link) and you can get it for $0.99.

The app is pretty simple, but I like it and I think you will too. The premise is that each day you will be greeted with a new patriotic quote designed to be inspiring or educational.

Daily Patriotic Quotes

On this page you are offered 3 options:

-Share the quote by email
-Share the quote on facebook
-Save the quote

When you save the quote it goes into a list that will be separated by author. Clicking on that list will show you your saved quote.


List of Quotes
Daniel Webster Quote

If you check it out let me know what you think and leave a rating if you like it. Thanks.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: General Politics Tags:

2011 Wisconsin Protests: Pros and Cons of Unions

March 6th, 2011

The following is a guest post from Lisa Shoreland. If you are interested in guest posting at Geek Politics, check out the guidelines here.

Honestly, I didn’t know anything besides cheese ever came out of Wisconsin. But in all seriousness, Wisconsin, like many other states is currently facing a budget crisis. They’ve projected a deficit of $3.6 billion for the 2013 fiscal year, and their governor’s proposal for closing the gap has been met with stiff opposition from the democrats and unions.

Details of the proposed legislation would require state workers to contribute part of their salaries toward covering pension costs and health care premiums totaling 18.4%. Certainly, any workers facing 18.4% decrease in their salaries are going to be upset. But that’s not even the main issue. The main issue is a disagreement over the power of collective bargaining rights. Certain provisions in the proposed legislation are aimed at reducing the collective bargaining rights of unions, an issue that doesn’t sit well with them or democratic leadership. A compromise was proposed which would keep the first two provisions while eliminating the third, which was rejected by Walker.

Unions certainly aren’t without their inner struggles. They have been criticized for years for taking things too far, establishing systems which reward seniority and foster laziness. Like any institution, self-serving agendas have come to dominate their actions. On the other hand, unions are the primary tool of promoting worker’s rights. After the financial crisis of 2008, unions immediately took a position calling for reforms to the health care and financial industries. They are the only force representing worker interests in a system that has come to be dominated by big money.

There are equally compelling arguments against unions as well. For one, workers that don’t belong to a union are typically seen as being the have-nots, receiving lower pay and having fewer benefits than their union counterparts. Also, unions have been blamed as being partially responsible for the migration of jobs from America to Asia and other markets. The economist, Milton Friedman, has theorized that the increase in wages brought about by unions creates a comparative advantage, through lower wages, in countries where unions don’t exist. In addition, the larger salaries associated with unions reduces the number of available jobs within a market. Lastly, unions have been criticized for implementing ineffective policies concerning equality in the workplace.

Regardless of what your personal feelings about unions are, it is hard not to be appalled at the actions of our leadership in handling this issue. Some of the more despicable strategies have included:

• A response by President Obama attacking Scott Walker as trying to bust the unions. The federal government has long acted to reduce the sovereignty of individual states, and state’s rights were the major issue leading to the Civil War. Will the leaders in Washington ever realize that people want to maintain the original intent of the Constitution in matters pertaining to state’s rights?

• Governor Scott Walker is in a position where he has some tough decisions to make and with any decision as big as this there is going to be detractors, especially from political enemies. However, the estimated 70~100k protestors in Madison represent a grass roots effort to fight the legislation. Doesn’t Scott Walker have a responsibility to listen to the people? Isn’t his refusal to compromise in opposition to the concepts which have made America so exceptional to begin with?

• In an effort to block the legislation, 14 Wisconsin democrats fled the state. In recent years there have been increased efforts by both parties to block legislation using these dubious kinds of tactics. Regardless of what ideologies you hold near and dear, getting the job done takes priority. How are Americans supposed to feel when they see their leadership acting like a bunch of babies?

Perhaps the most ridiculous point of all is the fact that this supposedly union-busting legislation lacks any real teeth. As proposed by Governor Walker, the proposed restrictions on collective bargaining fail to address the union’s ability to negotiate increased wages. Without this measure, the restrictions fail to address the primary mechanism meant to balance the budget, because the unions can simply push to raise their wages to offset the costs brought on by the pension and health insurance measures. Although it is likely posturing on the part of Walker to do this, it is a tough argument to make in favor of legislation that cannot be effectively enforced.

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she’s been researching parent plus loans as well as physical therapy grants. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: General Politics Tags: