Whitehouse priorities

It took a Democratic Congress to finally implement most of the remaining 9/11 Commission proposals.

Congress gave final approval Friday to legislation that requires tighter screening of air and sea cargo, and shifts more federal anti-terrorism grants to high-risk areas such as New York and Washington, delivering on a pledge by Democrats to implement additional recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

Voting 371-40, the House followed the Senate, which voted 85-8 Thursday night, to send the measure to the White House…

But…

… after dropping a controversial provision that would have extended union protection to 45,000 federal airport screeners. That language had prompted a veto threat from President Bush.

That’s right. President Bush would have vetoed a vital Homeland Security bill if it extended union rights to airport screeners. Because nothing threatens our national security more than organized labor.

Comments

  1. 1

    George Bakan spews:

    Pass the unionization bill at once as new legislation – let him veto it – lets get aggressively proactive and protect the working class.

    Those security people have shit jobs, bad hours, low pay, a lot of responsibility. they deserve decent wages and benefits.

    And Bush needs to shown to be the creep he is – on to victory in 08 —

    REPEAT- new bill, quick thru congress, to his desk…..political strategy ….. for victory ….mobilize labor like has not happened in 50 years

  2. 2

    spews:

    Support seems pretty strong there. But this congress can’t even override that veto.

    2008 can’t come fast enough.

  3. 3

    spews:

    re 2: But every veto can be a public relations disaster as the “principles” that our self-deluded creep of a president reveals what those principles truly are.

    They are video game/John Wayne principles based in a gay Andy-Warholian cinemized horse-opera — and he knows it!

  4. 4

    ArtFart spews:

    Actually, given Bush’s record of contorting bills via “signing statements” into something completely different from what Congress intended, that might be dangerous. A bill authorizing union protection might come out twisted into something that actually undermines worker rights.

    What’s fallen out of most peoples’ memory is that the creation of DHS in the first place was largely a rearrangement of existing functions as a ruse to yank thousands of federal jobs out from under Civil Service rules.

  5. 5

    delbert spews:

    Jeebus – You mean those lazy, surly TSA screeners AREN’T already unionized. They sure act like it.

  6. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If ever a group of workers needed a union, it’s TSA airport screeners. Working conditions are so bad the TSA makes Asian garment factories look benign by comparison. Even the anti-union Republican rag, The Seattle Times, ran an expose of TSA’s abusive working conditions. Under an administration that mismanages virtually everything, the TSA arguably is the most mismanaged of all federal agencies.

    “Workplace conditions jeopardize passenger safety, screeners say

    “By Ken Armstrong, Cheryl Phillips and Steve Miletich
    “Seattle Times staff reporters

    “On any given day, federal workers who screen passengers and luggage at the nation’s airports stand a good chance of being berated by bosses, harassed on the job, injured while lugging heavy bags, ordered to work extra hours or cheated on their pay … screeners … get distracted by managers prowling for petty infractions. Some have been fired by mistake, victims of bureaucratic bungling.

    “Morale has suffered, and with it, security. … Time and again, audits have blamed failure to detect guns, knives or bombs on low pay, high turnover, insufficient training and a kind of thankless work that combines tedium with stress … security lapses that preceded the 2001 hijackings continue. Fatigue, fear and confusion undermine the work of federal screeners, creating a daily risk of another major breakdown. …

    “An internal TSA memo, obtained by The Seattle Times, chronicles the agency’s management failures …. It warns that TSA has subjected screeners, ‘our most valuable resource,’ to a litany of abuses. TSA forces screeners to sacrifice vacation time ‘for the good of the agency’ but turns around and fires screeners with little explanation, the memo says. … TSA has subjected screeners to ‘extreme stress,’ the memo says. It places impossible obstacles before them. It whipsaws them with shifting directives on how to do their job. … ‘Our screeners have endured false promises from hiring contractors, weeks or months with no (or incorrect) pay or benefits, competency testing, right-sizing, mandatory conversion to part time, forced overtime, and now a recertification process that shows no regard for screener morale, effectiveness, or livelihood,’ the memo says.

    “More than 100 current or former TSA employees interviewed by The Seattle Times echoed Florian. In stories striking for their similarity — whether their airport is in Los Angeles, Houston, Boston or elsewhere — employees described a workplace defined by intimidation, pettiness and marching orders that fluctuate by supervisor, shift and airport … many employees worry more about losing their job than doing it well, where they watch their backs as much as the X-ray images before them.

    “At TSA, screeners say, it doesn’t take much to run afoul of the rules and of certain supervisors. Socks must be black (supervisors can conduct sock checks, ordering screeners to lift their pant legs), and ink must be blue (former Albany, N.Y., supervisor Todd Grandy says a boss ‘had a conniption’ when he used a green pen to make checkmarks on a form). Some managers dictate posture, ordering screeners to keep their hands out of their pockets or to stand at parade rest — hands clasped behind back, feet a foot apart — as though in the military. In Portland, Ore., screeners could not take breaks in the concourse areas unless they wore coats over their uniforms and were there to buy a meal. (A cup of coffee, they were told, would not suffice.) …

    “Many screeners interviewed by The Times complained of inexperienced supervisors, leadership by intimidation, and promotions based on favoritism ….

    “Mismanagement hobbled TSA from the very beginning. TSA began recruiting screeners in March 2002 … [at] a hiring pace so frenetic that, at times, 5,000 people a week were signed up. To handle recruitment, TSA hired NCS Pearson, a data-processing company that billed the government $740 million, more than seven times its original contract. TSA failed to keep proper tabs on Pearson and other human-resources contractors, creating a host of problems, according to a government audit.

    “At least 18,000 screeners were hired without timely background checks. TSA wrongly hired felons … and wrongly fired … people with clean records.

    “Some screeners say TSA used bait-and-switch tactics. A former Boston screener provided The Times with his hiring letter, which promised pay of $31,200 and included this cheery sign-off: ‘You should find here a great opportunity for public service and a distinguished career in transportation security.’ But TSA paid him only $26,800, according to pay records. He complained, he said, only to be told his hiring letter wasn’t an official contract … many screeners say distrust divides management and front-line workers. Some managers document screener missteps in such detail that personnel files become hundreds of pages thick. (A Portland screener’s is 493 pages — and that covers only 10 months.) One screener told The Times he secretly tape-recorded conversations with managers. One supervisor said he refused to use a work locker, afraid a manager might plant something incriminating inside. …

    “Across the country, many screeners have reached out to unions, members of Congress and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Although TSA forbids screeners to bargain collectively, about 700 employees have joined the American Federation of Government Employees, seeking help with lawsuits, discrimination complaints and better working conditions. ‘There is no effective safety valve at TSA,’ said Peter Winch, a national organizer for the union. ‘There is no good way to raise concerns about the way you’re being treated.’ …

    “For decades, government reports have blamed insufficient training for airport screeners missing weapons. When they worked for private security agencies hired by airlines, screeners received minimal instruction. … TSA’s training program is designed to be more demanding, but … doesn’t achieve its promise … security directors at the nation’s five largest airports have told congressional investigators that they don’t comply. … A former screening supervisor in one Midwestern city told The Times that managers directed her to submit false training reports. … In Seattle, a building devoted to training — rented by the TSA for $7,500 a month — lacks phone lines ….

    “The TSA hired contractors to help train and certify about 30,000 baggage screeners on the use of explosives-detection equipment. But a government audit denounced the certification process. …

    “TSA employees get hurt or sick more than any other federal employees, suffering back, shoulder and knee injuries, pulled muscles, tendinitis, and cuts and puncture wounds from sharp objects tucked in luggage. In the fiscal year that ended last September, nearly one in five TSA employees sought workers’ compensation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Overall, 4.2 percent of federal workers suffered work-related injuries or illness. TSA’s percentage was 19.4 — nearly five times as high, topping Park Service employees and federal marshals. … Those numbers also create a cycle: the more workers out sick or hurt, the greater the strain on those who remain, causing fatigue and more injuries … many screeners attribute TSA’s injury rate to insufficient training and inadequate safety equipment. …

    “Too often, screeners say, their claims for workers’ compensation meet with delay or denial. … Some screeners say such frustrations even dissuaded them from pursuing compensation — suggesting the agency’s injury rate may be higher than reported.

    “Sometimes, long hours compound the stress. Screeners can go weeks without a day off. In Boston, some have worked so many double shifts ‘they are ready to drop,’ says Michael Jasilewicz, a former screener. Breaks can be six hours apart. After two hungry and tired screeners were denied breaks, they actually passed out, Jasilewicz said. …

    “TSA officials acknowledge that they rely heavily on overtime, especially during the busy summer months. In 2003, TSA employees worked more than 7 million hours of overtime — an average of three weeks per employee. Overtime has declined this year, but some screeners at busier airports say they still pull long hours, sometimes clocking 20 hours of overtime in a week. For screeners, mandatory overtime and rigid scheduling create stress, dashing planned vacations or requiring personal affairs to be rearranged on a moment’s notice. In Seattle, a screener ordered to work overtime reluctantly left her children, ages 12 and under, at home for three hours, unsupervised. She said her supervisors told her: Work, or lose your job.

    “One Boston screener was to be best man at his nephew’s January 2003 wedding in Florida. In October, he requested the time, only to have supervisors say he was asking too early. So he asked again in November, only to be told in late December — mere days before the wedding — that his request was denied. Ordered to work, he quit. He went to the wedding. More than a year later, TSA sent him a letter. Because of a payroll error, it said, he owed TSA about $1,000.

    “Work conditions that include forced overtime, a high injury rate and flagging morale typically lead to high turnover. And at TSA, examples abound of workers calling it quits. When a Seattle screener resigned in December, she wrote: ‘The stress of this job is far too much for me to endure.’ … In fiscal year 2003, the government reported that 131 of TSA’s Seattle employees left. But internal pay records, obtained by The Times, show the actual number was at least 193 …. TSA employees in Seattle told The Times that the airport has had multiple staffing lists with inconsistent employee counts.

    “Instead of tracking each screener’s hours electronically — an early goal of the agency — TSA records pay manually, then sends the information to personnel contractors that have been widely criticized for losing or mishandling paperwork. … In Seattle, screener Tenya Manny quit Jan. 6. TSA stopped paying her, but for five months it still listed her as an employee — a mix-up that kept her from collecting nearly $2,000 in outstanding compensation. Manny said it took the intervention of a congressman’s staff to clean up the mess.”

    Quoted under fair use; for complete article and/or copyright info, see http://tinyurl.com/2av9dn

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: The president is the guy we pay to run the government. And what’s his response to this mess? He’ll veto vital security measures to keep the employees of the worst-managed federal agency from getting representation on such issues as arbitrary firings, abusive supervision, inadequate training and safety equipment, not being paid, etc.

    Unfortunately, Bush’s attitude towards workers is not atypical. All cheap labor conservatives are bastards. Why should ANYONE work under such conditions? Why should anyone work at all? Let Republicans screen their own baggage — or let ‘em do without screening. They don’t seem to want airport security anyway — they prefer to let terrorists blow up planes in their sick, misguided belief that such acts will help Republican candidates at the polls:

    “Congratulations Speaker Pelosi, now let the bombs fall where they may. My prediction: terror attack on domestic soil passenger aircraft within the next six months. Casualties in the 2-300 range. And, unfortunately, maybe that’s just what we need. … Posted by FullContactPolitics at November 8, 2006 10:52 AM”

    (Quoted from Sound Politics at http://blog.usefulwork.com/cgi-bin/mt-comments.cgi?)entry_id=7430

    I could go on about what twisted bastards Republicans are, but you already know that.

  7. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    What do you want to bet that top TSA managers have gotten big “performance bonuses” for doing “an outstanding job” of running the federal government’s worst-managed agency? Which, of course, they sign for each other.

  8. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Here’s what you get when you work for Republicans:

    1) Misrepresentations of how much you will be paid.
    2) Paychecks delayed, lost, or withheld.
    3) Split shifts, rotating shifts, on call shifts, part time shifts, or no shifts.
    4) Bullying, intimidation, and harassment.
    5) Little or no training.
    6) Inadequate or no equipment.
    7) Incompetent and/or abusive supervision.
    8) Chaotic workplaces.
    9) Extreme stress.
    10) Long hours, no breaks, delayed or denied vacations, being scheduled for work shifts with little or no advance notice.
    11) High injury rates.
    12) Delayed or denied workers compensation claims.
    13) Falsehoods and slanders in your personnel records (they may even label you a “felon” when you’re not).
    14) Arbitrary punishments.
    15) No grievance or appeal rights.

    Why the fuck should ANYONE work for these bastards? under these conditions? I don’t work. I’m a capitalist, living off my pension savings and investments. I pay taxes at capital gains rates, not wage earner rates. I have no non-deductible commuting or other work expenses. The deck is stacked so heavily against workers in our country that I quit working as soon as I could afford to retire! There are so many disincentives against working under our screwed-up “free market” system that I’m surprised ANYONE does ANY work at all! I wonder when America’s fed-up workforce will simply walk off the job? They should! What we need is a national union. We’ll call it the Democratic Party. We’ll take over the government and change the work rules and tax code. We’ll make the fucking Owner Class clean OUR toilets, instead of the other way around! We’ll pay them the minimum wage THEY enacted into law! When those lazy bastards have to do some actual work for a change, guess what, they’ll want to join a UNION.

    HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

    I’d like to see that!!!

  9. 10

    spews:

    delbert said:

    “Jeebus – You mean those lazy, surly TSA screeners AREN’T already unionized. They sure act like it.”

    Spoken like someone that tried to argue with the screener about his quart bottle of shampoo and his hunting knife in the carry-on bag.

    Like at any other job, some of those folks are better than others, but most of them are doing a difficult job pretty well.

    Unfortunately, the pay is lousy and working conditions are pretty poor, so they have a high turnover, and cannot be as selective as they would like in who they employ, and must keep marginal performers.

    Some companies resist unionization through keeping their pay and benefits at a level where the employees do not want a union. While some pro-union folks may disagree, I’ve got no problem with that.

    Other outfits resist unionization through intimidation (WalMart and Best Buy come immediately to mind) and some manage to get the government to use the force of law to prevent employees from being represented by a union.

    Intimidation is another issue for another day, but I cannot understand how the government can legally forbid union representation for anyone. I had thought that was covered under the “right of the people peaceably to assemble

  10. 11

    Right Stuff spews:

    Hi Roger

    I’m a capitalist, living off my pension savings and investments. I pay taxes at capital gains rates, not wage earner rates”

    Democrats want to change your rate from 15% to “wage earner rates”

    My commentary,
    Too bad your party is going to rob your bank account. You worked your whole life, and now when you need it most, here come the democrats to pick your pocket. How progressive.

    Or is it that you don’t think this is fair? That you SHOULD be paying 30+% on your capital gains? Of course you could GIVE more to the government freely, but don’t.

    Sorry to post off topic but when garbage is spewed, it must be answered.

  11. 12

    Right Stuff spews:

    ” after dropping a controversial provision that would have extended union protection to 45,000 federal airport screeners. That language had prompted a veto threat from President Bush.

    That’s right. President Bush would have vetoed a vital Homeland Security bill if it extended union rights to airport screeners. Because nothing threatens our national security more than organized labor.”

    I think the real story here is that Democrats SAY they are pro labor, yet time and again prove otherwise. IF this was important to democrats, they would stand up for it.
    They have a lame duck president with the lowest approval ratings in their sites and are still ineffective.
    Instead what democrat supporters get is more lipservice and then the lame excuse ” the president threatened a veto”..

    John B makes a good point.

    “Intimidation is another issue for another day, but I cannot understand how the government can legally forbid union representation for anyone. I had thought that was covered under the “right of the people peaceably to assemble“

    The same is true for the inverse, I didn’t think it was up to the government to set up unions either.

  12. 13

    spews:

    Right Stuff said:

    “The same is true for the inverse, I didn’t think it was up to the government to set up unions either.”

    My understanding is that the provision allowed TSA workers to collectively bargain and choose union representation, rights that they do not currently have.

    “I think the real story here is that Democrats SAY they are pro labor, yet time and again prove otherwise. IF this was important to democrats, they would stand up for it.

    They have a lame duck president with the lowest approval ratings in their sites and are still ineffective.
    Instead what democrat supporters get is more lipservice and then the lame excuse ” the president threatened a veto”..

    You cannot imagine how much I wish that I could disagree with you on this point. But I can’t.

    This should have been a point where, at the very least, we made the President actually use his veto pen, then made members of Congress go on record as either supporting or opposing the veto.

    Perhaps after all that, we would still have ended up with the current bill, but at least we would have made the attempt, and made individual Congress members go on the record.

    Does anyone know exactly how the union provision was removed? Is there a record of how that choice was made, and who voted for it, or was this one of those “in committee” things where nobody is on the record?

  13. 14

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    If the righties don’t like the lazy TSA screeners, they can thank their AWOL, draft – dodging, drunk driving, cowardly President for that. He created the TSA and the ensuing largest government department in US history. The problem is that Publicans SAY they are for less government, ONLY when they don’t run the government. They lie, cheat and steal to make sure they get what they want otherwise.

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 “Democrats want to change your rate from 15% to “wage earner rates”

    What’s wrong with that? Why should capitalists like me get privileged tax treatment that wage earners don’t get?

  15. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 It’s like this, RS. All that money you rightwing nitwits are wasting on a losing war, contractor corruption, and useless programs like spending a billion bucks to tell high school kids to abstain from sex isn’t free. Yes, there are ways to get it besides taxes, but when you borrow you have to pay it back with interest, and when you run the printing press you impose an “inflation tax” on the citizenry (which you can see right now at the gas pump and grocery store). You guys are spending lots and lots and lots of our collective monies on things I deem destructive or just plain silly.

    Somebody has to pay for all this, and we already know where you stand on that — SOMEONE ELSE should pay for it, but God forbid, not you. Fuck you, you wrong-headed moron! I don’t see why only the working class should pay taxes, but that’s where Republicans want to take us — if they could get their way, there would be no taxes at all on capital gains, dividends, interest, rents, inheritances, or other income people don’t work for.

    How is that fair to working people? Please explain.

  16. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 Garbage? I’ll tell you what garbage is. Garbage is Frank Blethen using his privately-owned editorial pages to whine about paying taxes on inheritances. Heirs already get $2.5 million of exemptions before paying a penny of taxes, compared to a few thousand dollars of exemptions for wage earners. How is that fair? Garbage is your sniveling drivel that people who pay inheritance taxes are getting screwed. Garbage is people like Blethen wanting to do away with inheritance taxes altogether — as part of a broader scheme to put the country’s entire tax burden on workers — in order to perpetuate an aristocracy of inherited wealth controlled by inbred morons. Garbage is everything that comes out of your mouth about taxes. Now go pet your armadillo.

  17. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Frankly, I can’t justify paying less than half the tax rate on my stock market winnings that workers pay for the wages they earn by working. I simply take it. That’s the system, so I take it. If I could change it, I would. Taxing capital gains at half the rate of wages is immoral. It’s also bad for the economy because over the long run it will destroy the incentive to work and we will become a nation of real estate flippers and stock market speculators with nobody producing anything. Screwing wage earners and rewarding speculators is one of the better ways to end up with a third world economy.

  18. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Maybe I should say “one of the more effective ways” because there’s nothing “better” about it.

  19. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Let’s do this. Let’s pass a law that says capital gains, inheritances, and other unearned income will be taxed at the same rate as wages. I’ll even go along with a single-tier, flat-rate tax if I can get this. We’ll save for a later day what the rate should be. This law simply establishes the principle that all income gets taxed the same. What wage earners pay, investors and heirs also pay. How about it, rightys? Deal or no deal?

  20. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 “I think the real story here is that Democrats SAY they are pro labor”

    I think the real story here is that Democrats are pro-labor and Republicans are anti-labor. It’s uncomplicated.

  21. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    This is just more of the same old GOP dirty tricks. It was the Democrats who wanted to create the Department of Homeland Security in the first place, and it was Bush and the GOP congress who delayed DHS’s creation for more than a year over union representation issues. When Republicans are in charge, anti-labor policies get highest priority, and national security takes a back seat to keeping workers down.

  22. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @13 Do I wish the Democrats in Congress had more spine? Yes, a thousand times every day, but they are still infinitely preferably to ANY Republican congressman or senator.

  23. 27

    Right Stuff spews:

    In my world, the money I have invested – 401K, IRA, Index funds, Gold, Muni’s – was all earned from wages. My labor.
    With the exception of IRA, and 401K, I was taxed on my earnings before investing. You see, I saved. I continue to take money out of post tax income and put it into SAVINGS.

    So let’s review.
    Income – Taxed
    Save, invest, dividend – Taxed again.
    Social Security (when I take it) – Taxed.

    NowI didn’t bring up the inheritance tax, but since you did….
    I don’t think that the government has any right to this money. Some people win the lottery. So what. Unless you are for a socialist, marxist world where everyone is exactly the same….SO WHAT.
    It is not right be me to work hard as a laborer, SAVE, build wealth, and then have the government raiders crash the door before my body get’s to room temperature. That money, property, wealth is not the “peoples money”. The “common good” got their’s and then some in the process of my saving and building wealth.

    All these “inheritance” laws do is make me think about a swiss banc account, and off shore investment vehicles.

  24. 28

    Right Stuff spews:

    @24
    No it wasn’t. The Democrats wanted the “Department of Peace”

    You know, free love, hug a tree stuff.

  25. 32

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    Right Stuff if you and your ilk are so invested in the idea of making war not peace, why are you over here, instead of over THERE? Or are you like WHATADICK Cheney and have OTHER PRIORITIES while OTHER PEOPLE fight on your behalf?

    If I believed for ONE SECOND – that’s right ONE SECOND – that the war in Iraq was ANYTHING other than Publican bullshit – I’d sign up. The Publicans who say this is the most important war in a generation like GW Bush have 36 combat-aged relatives – none of which are in Iraq.

  26. 33

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @28 You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to make up your own facts. The Dep’t of Homeland Security was proposed by the Democrats and blocked by Republicans, who held it hostage for their anti-labor agenda. In fact, During the first two years of the Bush administration, Republicans obstructed virtually all of the domestic security initiative proposed in Congress. Here is their sorry record:

    Nov. 14, 2001: Senate Democrats propose $15 billion for homeland security; White House warns against “permanent spending on other projects that have nothing to do with [economic] stimulus and that will only expand the size of government.”

    Dec. 4, 2001: Senate Appropriations Committee votes 29-0 in favor of $13.1 billion for homeland security; Bush threatens to veto it the next day.

    Dec. 6, 2001: Senate Republicans reduce homeland security funding by $4.6 billion.

    Dec. 19, 2001: Under White House pressure, House-Senate conferees eliminate another $200 million of funding for airport security, port security, nuclear facility security, and postal security.

    June 7, 2002: Senate votes 71-22 for $8.3 billion of homeland security funding; Bush’s advisors recommend a veto the next day.

    July 19, 2002: Under White House pressure, homeland security funding is further reduced by cutting money for food security, cyber security, nuclear security, airport security, port security, drinking water security, coordination of police and fire radio communications, and lab testing to detect chem-bio weapons.

    Aug. 13, 2002: Bush decides not to spend $2.5 billion that Congress appropriated for homeland security on grounds of “fiscal responsibility.”

    Jan. 16, 2003: White House reacts to Democratic efforts to increase homeland security funding by stating, “The Administration strongly opposes amendments to add new extraneous spending.” Later that day, Senate Republicans vote against funds for smallpox vaccine.

    Jan. 23, 2003: Senate Republicans cut security funding for the FBI, FEMA, INS, TSA, Coast Guard, and National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Feb. 3, 2003: Bush submits a 2004 budget cutting homeland security funding by nearly 2 percent.

    Feb. 14, 2003: Senate Democrats request money for smallpox vaccine, police and fire radios, and public transportation security; no Republicans support it.

    March 21-25, 2003: Republicans defeat 7 Democratic amendments to bolster homeland security.

    April 2, 2003: Senate Republicans reject Democratic amendment to provide $1 billion for port security.

    April 3, 2003: Republicans reject protection of commercial airliners from shoulder-fired missiles and 4 other pro-homeland security amendments.

    June 2003: House Republicans reject Democratic proposal to raise $1 billion for homeland security by reducing tax cuts for 200,000 millionaires by an average of $5,000 each (from $88,000 to $83,000).

  27. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @29 “However a flat tax should eliminate the inheritance, capital gains, double taxation on saving and dividents.”

    Shove it up your Republican ass.

    “That is what a real flat tax would do.”

    A flat tax, by definition, is a single-rate tax. “Flat tax” has nothing to do with what is taxed.

  28. 35

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    There is no “double taxation on saving and dividends.” You pay income tax on dividends only once, and savings aren’t taxed.

    When Republican freeloaders, whose ultimate goal is to put the country’s entire tax burden on wage earners and give the Owner Class a free ride on unearned income, talk about “double taxation” they’re referring to the fact that corporations pay income tax on profits, which are taxed again when distributed to shareholders as dividends. The logic of their argument works only if you assume the corporation and its shareholders are the same “person.” They’re not.

    Tell you what I’ll do, though. I’ll agree to eliminate corporate income taxes if you’ll agree to eliminate the corporation’s separate legal status and treat it as a partnership in which each shareholder is personally liable (in proportion to the number of shares s/he owns) for the corporation’s debts and liabilities.

  29. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @32 G. W. Bush (and Dick Cheney, and most Republicans in Congress) had their opportunity to put their patriotism on display during Vietnam — and opted out.

    Republican = someone who wants your son to die for his country

  30. 37

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @27

    “So let’s review.
    Income – Taxed
    Save, invest, dividend – Taxed again.
    Social Security (when I take it) – Taxed.”

    Thank you for your donations to the U.S. Treasury, which lighten the tax burden on the rest of us. Most of us only pay taxes on what our savings and investments earn, which has not been previously taxed. If you’ve been paying taxes on your savings, you need a smarter accountant.

    “Now I didn’t bring up the inheritance tax, but since you did…. I don’t think that the government has any right to this money.”

    The government is sovereign. It can tax anything it wants to, unless expressly prohibited by the Constitution. Even then, Republicans could tax it if they wanted to, given that they don’t see Constitutional prohibitions as binding, and don’t let the Constitution stand in the way of anything else they want to do.

    Let’s review: An inheritance is unearned income to the heir, which in many cases has never been taxed. That’s because the heirs receive a stepped-up basis in property held by the estate. For example, let’s say Grandpa bought some commercial land in 1950 for $40,000 which is now worth $2.6 million, and still owned the land at his death. Having never sold it, no capital gains tax was ever paid on the increased value, and no capital gains (or any other tax) ever will be paid on the difference between $40,000 and $2.6 million, because it passes to the heirs with a stepped-up basis of $2 million. If they sell it tomorrow for $2 million, the capital gain is zero, and no tax is owed.

    In this illustration, Grandpa and his heirs have made a tax-free profit of $2,540,000. The heirs also get an inheritance tax exemption of $2.5 million. Why is it too much to ask the heirs to pay an inheritance tax on a measling stinkin’ $100,000?

    Wage earners can’t even dream of tax breaks like that. Most wage earners won’t make anywhere close to $2.5 million in gross wages even if they work for 50 years. I get soooo fed up listening to the whining of freeloaders who already have the best tax breaks in the fucking universe.

  31. 39

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I think we should simplify the tax code. First, eliminate the inheritance tax, and tax inheritances as ordinary income of the heirs. Second, eliminate preferential tax treatment of capital gains and dividends, and tax them as ordinary income. We could consolidate all of the tax-preferred and tax-deferred retirement programs into a single program. We should tighten standards and enforcement of what can be claimed as a “business expense” or other cost of earning income. Finally, we should tell rich business executives who live abroad to shelter their income from U.S. taxes that if they don’t want to pay taxes to this country, then they can’t own property, do business, or vote in this country, either. If all these things are done, I’ll go along with a single-rate flat tax to further simplify the tax system.

  32. 40

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, our righty friends won’t take that deal. Why should they? They’re getting away with murder under the current system. What they want is to make the current system even more unfair in their favor than it already is. Fuck that, and fuck them! When we get back in power, first thing we do, let’s tax the holy shit out of those freeloaders to make up for lost time.

  33. 41

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    What it boils down to is that Republican positions on tax policy are selfish, unfair, and indefensible.

  34. 42

    Right Stuff spews:

    “A flat tax, by definition, is a single-rate tax. “Flat tax” has nothing to do with what is taxed.”

    Wrong!

    Single tax rate on income.
    That is the rub.

    @40-41 A Republican put forth the flat tax, didn’t you check the link? No you didn’t. If you had, you would have had a basis of knowledge. That means Dems and Repubs have not moved anything forward. And by the way? Ditto what you said about tax policy for Democrats.

    @39 of course that would take amending the constitution…

    I admit your puffed up attempts to lay this on Republicans is funny. But it’s laughable to say that Republicans are the reason for the current tax code. That just ignores history.

  35. 43

    Heathen Sinner spews:

    I am Republican – Stupid, dumb and arrogant with my head up my ass looking for any sign of significance.

  36. 44

    Yer Killin Me spews:

    28
    I think I must have missed something. At what point did “Dennis Kucinich” come to equate to “the Democrats”?

  37. 45

    Mark spews:

    Roger Rabbit says:

    There is no “double taxation on saving and dividends.” You pay income tax on dividends only once, and savings aren’t taxed.

    You are even stupider than I thought. If you knew anything about business, economics, and taxation, you would know the following:

    Dividends are paid out of the Retained Earnings of a corporation. Retained Earnings are the the accumulated AFTER TAX profits of a corporation. For people in Seattle, that means the corporate Earnings have ALREADY been taxed at the corporate rate.

    Then, when these AFTER TAX profits are paid out of Retained Earnings of the corporation, they are AGAIN taxed to the shareholder at individual tax rates as dividend income.

    For the slow in thought, that means they are taxed:

    1) First at the corporate level,

    then

    2) At the shareholder level.

    Ergo, this results in double taxation.

    Are you learning anything yet junior?

  38. 46

    Wm. Black spews:

    Will someone explain to me why the FED is involved in this anyway?
    Let the airlines take care of it.
    Tell the TSA Nazi’s to get a real job, that is one that people will pay for volitionaly.