Obama’s Tax Plan Exposed, The Destruction of Small Business And Why McCain Won the Presidential Debate October 15, 2008

In this third and final debate, the key issue was the economy, primarily the clarification of the tax plan of each candidate.  The key was not those impacted among individual employees, but how businesses would be impacted, specifically small businesses.

Obama, while saying he will only increase taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year, includes American business in his cross hairs.  And while $250K seems like a large sum, most small businesses operate well in excess of that amount and will be severely impacted.  The distribution of the tax will be uneven and specifically unfair to those businesses that are more capital intensive and have more employees.

In response to our original article, many expressed concern because Obama did not state clearly whether he was speaking of taxing gross or net business income in the debate. Some believe Obama is trying to be intentionally misleading on the issue, so we decided to clarify.

What we have found in our research is that Obama does say, buried deeply on his website, that the amount to be taxed would be the business’ net profit, not the gross receipts.  If it had been gross receipts, that would have shut the doors on many small businesses in America overnight.

Still, there is a major concern with his plan, because what Obama qualifies as a small business is totally suspect. Small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration, have average incomes in the millions of dollars and can employ hundreds. This site provides a summary.

So, if the Small Business Administration data is correct, how can Obama claim that 90-98% of American small businesses would be excluded from his tax increase?  The lie in Obama’s plan is that he is including sole proprietorships which aren’t really businesses; they are just individuals filing taxes that are not on a W2. That includes the maid, a lone painter, etc. These are businesses by tax qualifications only, not true businesses in any sense of the word.  They do not employ anyone, and they do not provide the same benefits to the nation as real businesses which employ people that also contribute to the tax base.

Let’s examine this.

First, Obama attempts to delude people that make less than $250,000 that they will benefit under his tax plan.  The plan, at first, does seem beneficial for the person in a normal job working for a US-based company.  It is true that most of those people do not make more than $250K, so they would get a tax cut.  Great plan, right?  Think again.  How many of these people work for small businesses?  If you do, you definitely should consider how Obama’s plan to increase your employer’s taxes could cost you a raise or even your job.

Second, and most importantly, when Obama speaks of taxing only those that make more than $250,000, he groups in what he claims are small businesses that have a net profit of over $250,000.  He has often referenced statistics stating how this applies to small businesses in America.  These statistics are not only misleading, they are an outright lie and the cornerstone of Obama’s campaign.

Obama states that at least 90% of small businesses make less than $250K, but the huge flaw in that statistic is it includes the sole proprietor.   These people are not making more than $250K on average any more than the average person does in any other job in America.  They are not considered a “business” for any other reason than they do not get paid via a W2 (with automatic deductions).  They do not operate as a true business, they do not employ others, and they essentially are not a business at all in any real sense of the word.

Joe the Plumber and Small Businesses

What we are most interested in are small businesses that provide jobs, and how those businesses will be impacted.  We want statistics that isolate small businesses that employ people, genuine small businesses.

The expert on small business in America is the Small Business Administration.  This SBA does a great job at summarizing the incomes and employment limits for many businesses to qualify as a “small business”.  None are as low as $250,000, some employ hundreds, and all would pay significantly higher taxes under Obama’s plan.

Obama claims that the companies, even though their taxes will rise sharply, will pay lower taxes than under Reagan.  That is a lie as well.  The rate could potentially be well north of 50% if you count Social Security contributions (a point that Obama conveniently glosses over).  Then consider the added expense of health plans (which Obama wants to force upon all businesses).  It is the highest tax rate since the Carter years, and we all know how that turned out…record unemployment.  Tack on the cost of health care and you have a small business disaster waiting to happen.

Why is this dangerous and why is it easy for Obama to mislead the average citizen?  The concept of taxing a business based on its net income sounds good to the average American when you throw out what seems like a large number to most of them.  Most don’t earn that much money, so we are just taxing the rich, right?

Wrong, a company’s net income is not what the proprietors take home.  It is extremely different from earned wages.  It is the money left after expenses for the prior business year, such as salaries paid, equipment depreciated, etc.  Most businesses reinvest large portions of their profits to grow the business, or in some cases, to just keep up with inflation.   If there are no profits, there is no money to invest.

In addition, the distribution of the tax does not take into consideration that businesses are vastly different from one to the next.  Some are more capital intensive, some employ more than others and others operate in areas with a significantly higher cost of living (New York versus Mississippi for example).

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Obama, “Say It To My Face”. If You Do, You are Covered Under Obama’s Plan

By S Daniel Miller, Guest Writer

Obama attacked John McCain in a recent TV interview, saying “Say It To My Face”. What is amusing about Obama’s response is that it is, in and of itself, an attack. Obama has been running a negative attack on McCain from day one. For him to criticize the McCain camp for any negative comment is laughable.

Obama has attacked every facet of the current administration and made every attempt to link McCain and the Bush Administration, no matter how different those policies are and no matter how different they are from the past. Obama started this dirty campaign during the primaries, and now he whines and cries wolf when McCain strikes back.

One of Obama’s best quotes ever.

“I am surprised that, you know, we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face. But I guess we’ve got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.”

Maybe McCain should, but then again why give Obama any chance to defend his radical positions. Should we give his nonsensical attacks equal time to the real issues. The Republicans should take a new tack. The Obama campaign is brilliant at promising America nirvana by spending money they do not have.  With the economy getting flushed down the toilet, neither man has the ability to deliver on any of the promises, so McCain may as well follow Obama’s lying lead and promise planetariums in every house, free real estate for every citizen, new appliances for every home owner.

As an example of the foolishness of the Democratic camp, one should consider heavily the promise of the Obama Health Plan. It is insane. He promises to cover pre-existing conditions, for anyone. In Massachusetts, they instituted the exact same plan last year. IDENTICAL. And after JUST ONE YEAR, premiums on most plans are up 40% in the state as healthy people are forced to pay for the sick. It is just another TAX people!! Welfare for the ill. They are just finding another way to tax you without your knowledge!!

In Massachusetts, and nationally, if Obama gets his way, your best bet is to just pay the tax penalties; they are vastly cheaper than the exorbitant price of insurance that has now exploded to about $20000 to $24000 a year for a decent plan. Then, just pay the doctor out of pocket. It is way cheaper for a person of normal health. And then, if you get sick, sign up!! You can be on the plan by the 1st of the ensuing month. GREAT PLAN!!

Massachusetts is obtuse in pursuing this kind of plan, and Obama is using it as a model. The result will be everyone will be forced to pay ridiculous medical premiums to support people that jump on the train just as they get seriously ill.

I am pregnant, honey, sign up for insurance.

I was just diagnosed with cancer, sign up for insurance.

I just had blood in my stool, sign up for insurance.

Our tax dollars at work.  Democrats need more of them.  Lots more.

McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

Everyone we speak to that works in America believes Social Security is just a pipe dream and that no funds will exist to support them when they retire.  This isn’t just paranoia.  Many politicians say the same thing. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the current system is unsustainable.

There are many ideas, such as taking Social Security private.  We find it funny that some politicians argue against that as being unsafe and it should remain in the hands of the Federal government. The Federal government has borrowed against Social Security with impunity, and, based on current estimates, in about 8 years or so will have to start paying that money back with interest in order to pay benefits.  Certainly, just examining the facts, Social Security in its current form cannot survive, and one can see it isn’t safe in the hands of the Federal government, who has acted like an irresponsible custodian stealing from her trustee’s trust fund.

Now the Federal government is sucking up mortgage backed securities at a huge rate, which means that all Federal investments will in part be based on these securities that have led to a major collapse of the financial institutions in America.  We are not so sure that keeping Social Security in the hands of government is a good idea at all.

From CNN:  “Demographics are a major reason for the funding shortfall. The number of workers, compared to retirees, has begun to shrink. That means the system will produce a smaller surplus, then none at all, and eventually it won’t be able to pay out all benefits promised to future retirees.”  This clearly argues for a strong immigration policy in favor of more immigration and less protectionism.  If we cannot demographically support our own programs, it only seems logical that we need to change the demographics.

It is currently suggested that there are only two ways to address the dire problems Social Security faces.  Raise the payroll tax even more or reduce benefits.  Some say to start now in small increments.  Fact is, they have already been increasing the tax, increasing the income limit on which Social Security tax is charged.  This has been a steady and subtle tax increase on Americans for years.

Medicare is an even bigger problem which we will address separately.  But we will mention that we are once again looking at the only way to address the problem being an increase in taxes from about 3% now to about 7%.  Doing the math, this implies that Medicare and Social Security alone will take approximately an additional 6% of Americans’ gross income.  Turn that around and imagine how much an American could save if that 6% went steadily into a retirement fund and was possibly even matched in part or in whole by an employer.

We personally believe in the abolishment of Social Security and Medicare, phasing them out in favor of private investments such as 401Ks and a national solution to the disaster the United States has created in its health care programs.

What are the candidates positions?

Obama’s Position

Protect Social Security

Obama is committed to ensuring Social Security is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. Obama will be honest with the American people about the long-term solvency of Social Security and the ways we can address the shortfall. He will work with members of Congress from both parties to strengthen Social Security and prevent privatization while protecting middle class families from tax increases or benefit cuts. As part of a bipartisan plan that would be phased in over many years, he would ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security to keep it sound.

Increase taxes on those making over $250,000 may help contribute “a bit“.

Question, Senator.  Does the rest beyond “a bit” come from the middle class below $250,000?

Despite the many smears of his opponents, Obama does not support uncapping the full payroll tax of 12.4 percent rate. Instead, he is considering plans that would ask those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to 4 percent more in total (combined employer and employee). This change to Social Security would start a decade or more from now and is similar to the rate increases floated by John McCain’s close adviser Senator Lindsey Graham and that McCain has previously said he “could” support.

But our Treasury Secretary already says we will have to start paying back what the Federal Government has borrowed from Social Security in less than ten years.  And, c’mon, isn’t that a complete cop out?  Putting off the plan for ten years.  Senator, even if you won two terms as President, would place the burden on your successor.  Great idea.  Never seen that one before.  You are pretty good at math.  And in ten years, won’t inflation make it so people that earn 250,000 a year ARE the middle class not the wealthy?

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McCain Versus Obama on Free Trade: McCain = McCan’t and Obama = OhMama

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

You have heard this famous cliché many times, we are sure. “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. There is even an acronym for it! TANSTAAFL. Go figure. For an explanation of how the cliché was derived, read the reference link. It is quite fascinating, well, at least interesting, well worth a click anyway.

Our politicians banter about the term “free trade”, but what it means is not exactly clear. Similar to the “free lunch”, it is practically a cliché. Our personal definition would be trade of merchandise between nations without taxes, duties or fees. So, if an item costs $5.00 to purchase from a company in Mexico, you don’t pay $30 because the US government wants $25 in tariffs, you actually pay $5.00!!  This combined with free and equal access, so it is as easy to find and buy our goods there as it is to find and purchase theirs here.

This really does not exist for the individual. We have relatives and friends all over the globe and most nations examine every package sent, even those declared as gifts, and charge fees and duties to the recipients. This is even with our so-called allies. Recently we sent a video collection to a friend in Canada. Its value was $100. They taxed our friend $30 even though it was marked clearly as a gift. 30% is hardly free.

Similarly, when we arrive home from travel to a foreign destination, our bags are searched to see if we have anything to “declare”. If we do, we pay taxes and duties on it. “Free trade” is a pipe dream for the individual.

On a larger scale, free trade provides merchandise from foreign countries at a significantly cheaper price than if tariffs and fees were charged. The questions become, why is it cheaper and what does it really cost us to deliver those cheap goods to our shores?

So called “free trade” has proven to be a double edged sword (what another cliché?). It clearly cuts both ways. It is not always tit for tat.  or even Steven. But we digress.

Fact is, nothing is “free” in “free trade” except the word free, and the lie behind that word has cost America plenty. What America has gained with respect to “free trade” is primarily a lower inflation rate. Just ask Uncle Alan Greenspan. We are able to import vastly cheaper products than we could manufacture in the US, so products are indeed cheaper. Check that $10 shirt in the closet and your $39.99 shoes and see where they are made. We are willing to bet it isn’t in the US.

Most of our cars are manufactured in Mexico, Canada, Korea, Germany and Japan. Most bicycles, clothing, shoes, etc. (and we stress the etc.) are manufactured in China and throughout Asia. The other edge of the sword is that it is no longer profitable to make anything in America, so jobs are lost, but more importantly, the national trade deficit rises as we purchase vastly more than we sell. Perhaps, as our wonderful politicians state, you actually could train people for new jobs, but that would only make them buy more foreign products increasing the deficit even more. Great idea.

The biggest consideration of a huge trade deficit is a weak dollar. The dollar has collapsed versus other currencies since we instituted supposed “free trade” with many other nations. Now, think for a minute. If this were fair, why are their currencies soaring with respect to ours? Because the only thing we have to trade is our dollar!! We don’t make anything else, so all we can do is print money to buy it all!

It is apparent that the gain in lowering the rate of inflation does not compensate those that lost their jobs as a result, and it certainly does not justify our huge trade deficit. If “free trade” were equal trade, the huge trade deficit would not be there! But we do at least have EBAY for those that lost their jobs as a result.

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was drafted for free trade among North American Nations. We cannot possibly cover all the facets and criticisms of this agreement, but it is also covered here. It has caused much of a stir over the years, and whether it was beneficial or not depends on your perspective, but we believe it the least of our problems.

We do not believe in “free trade”. We believe in fair trade. And we do not believe in fairness only for special interests, but for America as a whole. Certainly some businesses benefit strongly from marketing cheap goods in the US Market or exporting their labor to foreign nations, but who pays for that, and just as importantly, who gets paid for endorsing it (lobbyists, government officials)?

Here is an article that clearly defines how badly we are doing on the trade front. We agree completely with the Democratic position here. “In July, the politically sensitive deficit with China increased 16.1 percent to $24.9 billion, the second highest gap on record.

Critics contend the administration has not done enough to combat unfair Chinese trade practices. U.S. manufacturers say the Chinese keep the yuan undervalued by as much as 40 percent against the American dollar. That makes Chinese goods cheaper for American consumers while making U.S. products more expensive in China.”

On an international basis, we must be more restrictive with nations that cheat the United States. China, for example, while they provide cheap products, steals daily from Americans. They destroy American companies with illegally exported products and they cheat wherever it favors them. They market fake companies on our stock markets and steal from our investors by falsifying reporting information with the assistance of the NASDAQ and NYSE. And when one of these companies goes under, and the Chinese criminals make off with the money, no one prosecutes them; the Chinese government lines their pockets and Americans surrender another portion of their retirement portfolios.

Nations that cheat and steal from the United States should not be offered free trade even if it means cheaper products. Those cheaper products ruin US companies, destroy jobs and line the pockets of criminals. It is not that we think fair trade is not an objective we should seek with all nations, but we think our government has severely failed us in protecting us from economic theft by nations such as China that even cheat with 12 year old girls in Olympic Gymnastics. China does not deserve free access to our markets, and US citizens do not deserve to be abused by a government drooling over the evident opportunities for their special interests.

All that said, and now that we have made our opinions on “free trade” and trade in general as clear as we can without a complete dissertation on every possible trade agreement, let’s allow the candidates to have a say. After all, it isn’t we that are running for President.

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John McCain’s RNC Speech Shows No Real Direction

We feel last night Senator McCain had an opportunity to lay out a clear direction for America. We believe he turned mostly to hyperbole and avoided the issues that face America, and because of this, his speech failed. Here are some primary issues from that speech and our replies.

1. We lost their (Americans) trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

Our Response: OK, we need to know what the heck you are talking about Senator. If a bill was passed that was a welfare bill for oil companies, what was it, and how will you have it repealed? That is a big issue, don’t gloss over it.

2. We believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential from the boy whose descendants arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We’re all God’s children and we’re all Americans.

Our Reponse: Uh, no kidding. You are just paraphrasing the US Constitution. We are figuring the US citizens get that by now. But yet we appear to be doing everything we can to inhibit migration of new immigrants that could help this nation and economy going forward. That Latino daughter likely had parents that came to this country illegally because of the bureaucracy we create to block desirable immigrants from making our shores.

3. We believe in low taxes; spending discipline, and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor.

Our Response: OK, but there a policy in there somewhere right? These statements are too broad-based. Open Markets scare Americans because it has led to a huge migration of jobs out of the US and because we continually allow countries like China to export cheap, knock-offs of our products, often patented or name-brand products, to the US. Free trade is one thing. It means we do not charge duties and taxes on imports. But cheating trade is another. And those nations that continually hurt Americans do not deserve carte blanche access to our markets.  Certainly, we want to keep the “fruits of our labor”, but we want to have jobs so there is some fruit!

4. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.

Our Response: OK. But this is just filler right Senator?

5. My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them

Our Response: Senator. With all due respect, we have kept taxes low or cut them over the past eight years and destroyed our economy. We went from a nation in 2000 with a surplus to once again having a massive deficit. And despite all those tax cuts and Republican efforts, we are facing an economic meltdown as banks and mortgage companies fail.

6. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

Our Response: We fail to see how a health care system that pools the purchasing power of all Americans can hurt America. So far, the health care insurance companies are raking in unheard of revenues and profits, all the while telling us it is because the expense of health-care has gone up. Yes, it has, primarily because of these institutions that fight, not for health-care, but against paying for it while steadily raising premiums. On a regular basis, these insurance companies reject health-care claims for obscure reasons and make each and every American fight for every visit to their doctor or for every prescription. It is no longer up to your doctor to decide what is appropriate for your personal care; it is up to the insurance companies. That is not health-care. That amounts to insurance bean-counters trying to keep Americans from getting the care they pay for, and it has placed the US well behind curve in terms of quality nation-wide health-care.

In addition, your policy of removing the tax deduction for employer provided health-care benefits replacing it with a $5000 tax credit for family coverage is totally misguided. It penalizes people in higher cost of living areas.  It also rewards only families, implying single people were not worth government’s time (remember, all men/women were created equal, the constitution says nothing about “married only”), and essentially does nothing to address the furious rise in the cost of health insurance.  That is the true issue here.  It comes down to how much we are charged for medical coverage, not the cost of health-care artificially inflated by these insurance companies.

For example, when I get a bill for a test from the hospital, it is three times what the insurance company has told the hospital they would approve.  That is totally unfair to uninsured Americans, to pay many times the cost of the actual service and many times what large insurance companies pay for the same service.  A simple law to ban this practice would assist greatly in the artificially increasing cost of health-care.

7. Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas.

Our Response: It is not the tax rate that drives companies out of America, it is the expense of labor. Our cost of living is higher, so we have to pay our workforce more money. You argue for free trade, but fail to protect us from cheap and often illegal knock off imports that damage those companies that support our jobs. If you want to support jobs in America, make it less profitable for companies to locate outside the US, take away their tax breaks and take away the ability of foreign companies to export knock-off products into the US so easily that one can purchase illegal copies of copyrighted software and patented products on the streets of New York 24 hours a day.

8. Doubling the child tax exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American families. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit. Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity.

Our Response: Again, you are discriminating against the unmarried man or woman. That does not improve their lives, it makes them pay for the children of others. We are all for reducing government spending, but so far, we haven’t seen a specific policy regarding that. Opening new markets for us internationally is great. The US Market is too open already. Free trade so far is better than “free” for other nations, but is very expensive for America and its labor force.

9. My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We’re going to help workers who’ve lost a job that won’t come back, find a new one that won’t go away.

Our Response: Words are cheap. This is repetitive nonsense we have heard before. Where are those jobs? We don’t want to wish away the global economy Senator, we want to make it a fair playing field, not just allowing foreign countries to steal from our investors while marketing illegal products in our nation. That is not free trade; that is stupid trade.

10. We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities.

Our Response: Sounds good. But it implies you think that other nations aren’t already training their workforces as well, and as long as you make it more advantageous for them to steal work from America in a so-called global market place, they are doing the training cheaper and delivering cheaper labor, which is killing even trained jobs in America.

If we are going to do that, at least immigrate trained labor from other nations so those people can at least pay American taxes and support Social Security going forward, instead of wasting billions trying to fight off immigration.

11. Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I’m President, they will.

Our Response: More useless verbiage with no plan.

12. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It’s an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It’s time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.

Our Response: Here we agree with the Senator 100%. We are a “prima donna” nation that thinks we have the right to not use our resources as the rest of the world charges us for theirs. We think that by paying others to do the dirty work, we somehow brush off responsibility on them. We can no longer, with our massive deficit, continue to enrich the nations rich in oil resources. We have our own resources, we must find ways to tap them.

We as a nation cannot be responsible alone for the “health of the planet”. Our population is only 1/3 that of China, and that is only one other nation in the world. You speak of a global economy where the US takes all responsibility for “health of the planet” while you offer those countries taking advantage of cheap resources at the expense of the environment free trade with the US on a totally unfair playing field. We need to drill. We need to build better and more modern energy plants. We need to mine those resources available to us. If we do not, other nations will, we will pay them to do it, and they will not care about what they destroy in the process of taking our money.

We are done listening to speeches like this Senator. We want a plan. We want specifics. This speech was disheartening because it lacked content, it lacked a plan we can buy into, and it is clearly not going to get you elected president no matter how many years you spent in a prison camp.

We have a new idea.  How about making Iraq the 51st US State?  Wow, that is radical.  Anybody with any guts out there?