aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Reverse Robin Hood
Cut taxes for the rich. Cut programs for the poor. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Sometime early next year, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the budget reconciliation legislation that the Senate passed on December 21 and the House passed in a slightly different version on December 19. That legislation would make significant cuts in a number of programs serving low- and moderate-income families and individuals, including Medicaid, child support enforcement, and student loans.
Supporters of the legislation defend the cuts as “tough choices” that need to be made because of large and growing budget deficits. These claims are undercut by the fact that, in the last six weeks, the House has passed four tax-cut bills that together cost more than twice what the budget reconciliation bill saves. The claims are further undermined by Congress’s unwillingness to rethink any previously enacted tax cuts as part of its supposed reevaluation of priorities in light of deficits.
In particular, Congress has chosen to allow two tax cuts that exclusively benefit high-income households - primarily millionaires - to begin taking effect on January 1, 2006. By 2010, these tax cuts will eliminate two current provisions of the tax code that limit the value of the personal exemptions and itemized deductions that people at high income levels can take.
It’s not too late to change course:
Congress is expected to act early in 2006 on other tax measures that expired at the end of 2005, for instance extending relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. Just as Congress can still enact these other tax changes in January or February and make them retroactive to January 1 without creating significant tax compliance and administration problems, it could still rescind the two tax cuts after the start of the new year. If Congress acts expeditiously, the change could be made well before tax forms have been generated and before significant estimated payments have been made.
Congress could use the funds saved by this step either to eliminate the low-income cuts in the reconciliation package or to reduce the deficit. Either approach would represent a distinct policy improvement.
Via Angry Bear.
The begining of the end in CA?
California anti-Gay Marriage group bows out:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—One of two groups competing to put a gay marriage ban before California voters in 2006 has bowed out of the fight for now, saying the timing and political climate are not right to get such a measure passed.
Tuesday was the deadline for ProtectMarriage.com to submit the signatures needed to qualify for the June primary ballot one of two overlapping initiatives that would outlaw same-sex marriage and restrict domestic partnership rights.
Andrew Pugno, the group’s legal adviser, said the signature drive had fallen about 200,000 voters short of the requirement for 591,105 signatures. [...]
Last summer, the California Legislature became the nation’s first elected state body to pass a bill legalizing gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the law, but conservative activists warned that without amending the Constitution it was only a matter of time before either lawmakers or the courts sanctioned same-sex unions.
A rift among conservatives, however, led the two groups to promote dueling gay marriage bans while sniping publicly over which proposal was better. At the center of the split was disagreement over how far the anti-gay marriage camp should go in attempting to repeal the significant spousal rights domestic partners are granted in California.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum pops in from vacation to find an ambiguous lesson in the LATimes article reporting the CA same sex marriage foes’ faltering. He wonders if a slightly lower profile - while counting on demographic trends - is the way for gay marriage advocates to win.
Schwarzenegger’s lesbian chief of staff
I’d like to think a lesbian chief of staff a good thing…
Ms. Kennedy’s 25-year career in Democratic Party politics includes serving as deputy chief of staff and a cabinet secretary to Mr. Schwarzenegger’s predecessor, Gray Davis, who was ousted by Mr. Schwarzenegger in a stunning recall vote in 2003.
But Ms. Kennedy said she had decided to join the Schwarzenegger administration because she believed in the governor’s agenda. She said rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, including its pocked freeways and woefully inadequate public transportation system, without raising taxes ranked at the top of their shared priority list.
Though a lesbian who was, as she frequently describes it, “married” to her partner in a 1999 commitment ceremony on Maui, she supported the governor’s veto this year of a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in California. She cited the voters’ support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman in a statewide ballot measure several years ago and suggested that pushing the gay rights envelope too far could prompt a backlash.
...BUT I DON’T.
Rebuilding an infrastructure without taxes is something for nothing. A “married” lesbian who supports a veto of a same-sex marriage bill is rank hypocrisy.
Porn spam in decline?
Ads mentioning real estate tycoon Donald Trump and those hawking “Penis Patch” body enhancements were among the top 10 junk e-mails in 2005, according to America Online.
Noticeably absent? Porn.
“Porn is passe when it comes to spam,” Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman said.
Hmm. My site’s spam looks as pornographic as ever. I’ll watch for the debunking, and hope that it’s true in the meantime.
In other spam news, the FTC says spam email is leveling off and credits the federal spam law.
Richi Jennings doesn’t think so:
1. Spam levels are dropping? False.
The number of spam messages sent continue to rise. It’s possible that spam might be leveling off as a percentage of spam, but the number of legitimate messages is also rising. In other words, the number of spammy messages is still increasing.
2. But people are getting less spam, right? Irrelevant.
Yes, less spam is being delivered to people’s inboxes. But this is nothing to do with CAN-SPAM and the activities of the FTC. It’s all to do with better spam filters protecting more inboxes.
3. CAN-SPAM has caused spammers to stop spamming? Unproven.
Certain state laws appear to have made spammers think twice about spamming, but the federal CAN-SPAM Act hasn’t (yet). It’s simply too early to say—large, high-profile prosecutions take several years to come to a conclusion. Almost all the recent well-publicized punishments imposed on spammers—large fines and confiscations of property—came from prosecutions under state laws, such as those in Virgina.
It’s been three years in Europe. Just yesterday the first win was reported under their law allowing companies to be sued for sending unwanted e-mails.