Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Review of Senator Ernst's Response to President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address

In this post, I will look at Senator Joni Ernst' response to President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address.  My review of his State of Union Address is posted here.

As always with this blog, I am reviewing the proposals through the lens of shared earning/shared parenting families.  Also, as always with this blog, the analysis is of the broad policy implications; individual families will want to review their own situations and consult with tax and accounting advisers to determine the best course of action for them.

As there is almost no specific policy criticism or proposal in this speech that affects shared earning / shared parenting families there is little for me to review directly.

This failure to call out the issues correctly, much less to advocate substantive, workable reform that syncs with the Constitution, harms Shared Earning / Shared Parenting Families.

Many of the issues for reform lie in areas of advocacy that were a focus of the "Radical Republicans" who originally formed the Republican Party prior to the Civil War.

The Tea Party has had a "constitutionalist tax protest" basis to it, but they have not focused on either the Constitution or tax policy in the ways both are these are violated with regard to shared earning / shared parenting families, both with regard to policies implemented in the past as well as ones implemented by the Obama Administration. 

Here are the few policies that Ernst mentioned:

1.  Ernst talks about her personal experience.  She says she is " . . . a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa".  She says "As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees. . . . We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning. . . . You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry."

There are references here to Ernst working as a woman, plowing the family farm, working construction and working in a minimum wage job for college.  There is no reference to an earned income or work she had after college.

With regard to the family farm, Ernst had opportunities to discuss problems with state and federal policies regarding property ownership in marriage, especially ones that assume as a default that all marital property is in the control of the man, rather than a default that marital property is in joint control.  Likewise, many state federal policies subsume women's farm labor into the labor of the man so it is not recognized.  The tax reforms mentioned by President Obama implicate these issues, so this would have been a good opportunity to tackle them.

Similarly, Ernst's jobs in construction and at Hardees are areas where she could have identified specific reforms to get this work acknowledged, but she did not do this.

2.   "We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills.  . . . We'll also keep fighting to repeal and replace a health care law that's hurt so many hardworking families."

It is difficult to get at what the complaint is here.  Stagnation in wages has several causes related to federal policies that penalize shared earning / shared parenting families, but Ernst missed the opportunity to discuss this..

The ACA is a huge redistribution of wealth, greater even than Social Security, but this redistribution takes place via the tax code, not in increased premiums for wealthier people.  

The canceled policies are usually because the insurer doesn't want to comply with the ACA coverage requirements.  There may be some good reasons for this as there are medical fictions in the ACA reproductive health provisions and preventive care provisions that are not sound public health policy and which will lead to increased expense in the health care system, however, Ernst is not calling this out.

3.   "Let's simplify America's outdated and loophole-ridden tax code. Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let's iron out loopholes to lower rates — and create jobs, not pay for more government spending."

4.   "We'll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget — with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the President has proposed."

These issues are particularly relevant for Gen-X and younger people (those under the age of 50) because of the $19 trillion size of the federal debt that is rapidly being passed to them.   (Ernst is 44 years old).  Again, no discussion of this problem or even calling it out.  Erst represents Iowa, which recently became an "equal rights" state.  It is not an "equal responsibility" and it is a fairly big contributor to the federal debt.

5.   "Some of it will occur where I stand tonight, in the Armed Services Committee room. This is where I'll join committee colleagues — Republicans and Democrats — to discuss ways to support our exceptional military and its mission. This is where we'll debate strategies to confront terrorism and the threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them."

The issue of shared earning / shared parenting families is tangentially related to terrorism, because one of the claims that the terrorists make is that the liberal democracies are "immoral".  While they obviously have issues with this themselves (among other issues, Islamic lawyers are still trying to override actual paternity determined by DNA with Sharia law concepts), there is hypocrisy in the US systems that could be corrected to present a more formidable defense to terroristm as well as leadership on the issues of ethical behavior that will make clear the problems in Islam and prevent groups like ISIS their easy recruitment of terrorists.

Young men and women the world over today are facing an accountability as parents that previous generations have not faced.  The ability to prove paternity is novel in world history, and in recent years as it is becoming more and more inexpensive to prove it, even poorer countries will have it available and need to deal with it.  The patriarchal religions are all based in not being able to prove this, and they go into crisis when it becomes provable.  The US Constitution is flexible enough to deal with this, however, a constitutional amendment on "rights of the child" may be something we see in future years.  In an upcoming post, I'll discuss the UN Rights of the Child Treaty and updates to it to acknowledge that paternity is inexpensively provable.

6.  "We must also honor America's veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms, and our way of life. They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised and a quality of care we can be all be proud of."

The only problem with this is the reference to "America". The country is actually called the United States and when the United States goes to war it does so as the United States; the Constitution governs only the US.   How can you fight in a war and win it when you  are not even accurately defining the country you are defending?  America is a derivative of "Americas", the continents on which there are many countries besides the US.

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