ELEPHANT CORNER: Lost Luggage Finds Its Way To Homeless Vets, Thanks To Toomey
This Tuesday, US SEN. PAT TOOMEY held a press conference at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center in Northern Liberties. The Center's Executive Director MARSHA FOUR introduced Toomey. Toomey discussed a bill he had introduced which would require the Transportation Administration to distribute any unclaimed articles at airport-security checkpoints to homeless and needy veterans. This luggage often includes high-quality apparel. The US House of Representatives passed a companion bill sponsored by KATHY HOCHEL (D-NY) recently.
Attendees at the press conference included elected officials and veterans. STATE REP. NICK MICCARELLI, STATE SEN. MIKE STACK and CITY COUNCILMAN DAVID OH, who are both elected officials and veterans, were there. Miccarelli, a Republican from Delaware Co. and University of Pennsylvania graduate, expressed his gratitude to the Vietnam War veterans who greeted him at the airport on his return from Iraq. He noted we Americans are treating our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan far better than we did those who came back from Vietnam.
While this demonstration of respect is positive, he noted we must remember that many of these returning solders are suffering both physically and psychologically from their wartime experiences. Many have found it hard to transition into civilian life. Many have not found jobs and many are homeless.
The Veterans Affairs Dept. states about 75,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Toomey's involvement in this bill illustrates his willingness to reach across the aisle. Earlier this year, the President signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. This legislation makes it easier for mid-sized companies to issue the equity needed to expand and thus make jobs. Toomey sponsored this bill with SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY).
Toomey was one of the first Republicans in Washington to put forth a detailed plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff". If the President and Congress do not reach an agreement on taxes and spending cuts, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire for all Americans and automatic spending cuts will go into effect on Jan. 1. The spending cuts include significant decreases in military spending which could affect local employers such as Boeing. Many economists believe if we do not avoid the fiscal cliff, the country will go into another recession.
Toomey is averse to tax increases, as he believes our federal government does not have a revenue problem but a spending problem. However, in order to avoid the fiscal cliff, Toomey has proposed we increase taxes primarily on the wealthy through revising the tax code and getting rid of numerous exemptions. He also believes we need to change both Social Security and Medicare because these plans as currently structured are not economically sustainable.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives JOHN BOEHNER offered a similar plan to the President this week but was rebuffed. The President still wants to let the Bush-era tax cuts remain in place for all except families making $250,000 per year or more. He refers to these people as the "2%". He revised this from his previous talking point of the "1%" when I assume his advisers told him that those in the1% make much more than $250,000.
The President recognizes that this tax hike on the "rich" will cover only a small fraction of this year's deficit, but he states that these high-income people need to pay their fair share. This elephant is not sure what their "fair share" is. The Internal Revenue Service data shows in 2009, the top 5% of households paid roughly 40% of federal income-tax revenues. Approximately 50% of the households in the US pay no federal income taxes.
This elephant is also curious as to why the President is fixated on the $250,000 figure. I am sure a family of four living in Des Moines, Iowa is living very well on this figure. However, in New York City a veteran police officer and his nurse wife could make $250,000 (with overtime). The cost of living in New York is much higher than in Iowa. Not to mention they may feel that the need to send their children to private school if their offspring are not lucky enough to get into magnet schools. This police officer and his family are better off than many, but they are not living large. This is not lost on Schumer, a liberal Democrat, who has recommended the higher tax bracket apply to those making $1,000,000.
Meanwhile, word in the Philly elephant herd is Republican City Committee has a dream ticket and is trying to persuade Common Pleas JUDGE PAUL PANEPINTO to run for District Attorney and Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association PRESIDENT FRED ANTON to run for City Controller. The logic goes that with a 6-to-1 Democratic edge, there's no way either would realistically win. However, a bona fide city GOP ticket will assure super GOP voters will come out to vote – and thus cut into the Democrats' Philly voter margin to assure that VIC STABILE, the anticipated GOP candidate for Superior Court wins. Stabile needs a strong GOP turnout in Philly despite this being an off-election, because Allegheny Co. has a strong turnout to the hot Pittsburgh mayoral race.
No word yet from the Judge or Anton, but this will be the most viable DA/Controller ticket since Specter-Gola! Additionally, Panepinto and Anton know how to fund-raise.
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