National debt is approaching $20 trillion ($20,000,000,000,000.00) – Drops in the bucket add up to a full bucket
The national debt of the United States is approaching $20 trillion dollars. That’s right – $20 trillion. Let’s put all the zeroes on $20 trillion – $20,000,000,000,000.00. That is almost $155,000 in debt owed by every man, woman and child living in this country. Now, let’s talk about Essential Air Service. EAS has always been a sore spot with me. This is a program the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes to small airports serving less-urban areas. The program currently subsidizes four airports in Mississippi – Tupelo, Meridian, Hattiesburg-Laurel and Greenville. I’d like to note an excellent report on EAS written by journalist Steve Wilson of Mississippi Watchdog.org. Mississippi Watchdog is part of a 50-state national organization sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. It is a network of news websites reporting on state and local government issues. The stated mission of the organization is to hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable for handling of taxpayer dollars and to focus on government waste. The highly regarded Columbia Journalism Review says the Watchdog sites are “impressive”. If you’re not receiving the emails of Wilson and reading the web site, I strongly recommend it. Wilson often does a better job of investigative reporting than much larger news organizations in the state. He has especially done a fine job reporting on the boondoggle that is better known as the Kemper County energy plant built by Mississippi Power Company. But let’s
However, Congressman Thompson’s chief of staff won’t join the march – his weekends are spent in prison
I’m sure many Mississippians were thrilled earlier this week when it was announced that socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders would join the state’s own Congressman Bennie Thompson to march against Nissan on March 4. Unfortunately, since March 4 is a Saturday, Thompson’s chief of staff, Lanier Avant, will be unable to join Thompson, Sanders and radical actor Danny Glover at the protest. Avant, who has been Thompson’s chief of staff for more than 15 years, spends his weekends in federal prison. According to the Justice Department, Avant was sentenced to four months in prison for failing to file an individual federal income tax return for five years. It should be noted when he pled guilty, Avant acknowledged he “willfully” failed to file the tax returns. The Washington Examiner reported for each of those five years, Avant’s salary was more than $165,000 per year. Avant filed a form which claimed he was exempt from paying federal income taxes. If that excuse were not bogus, I worked for 14 years on Capital Hill and could have avoided significant tax liability. Avant is serving his time in an unusual manner. After serving 30 days of his sentence in jail, he serves the rest of his sentence for 12 months on weekends. The sickening part of this is even after his guilty plea and sentencing, Avant is still Thompson’s chief of staff. After he completes his prison time, he will be on probation for one year and have to pay $149,962 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Why didn’t a certain newspaper report that Avant is spending his weekends in prison while he is still Bennie Thompson’s chief of staff?
Now, you may ask why isn’t the fact Avant is serving weekends in jail and is still Thompson’s chief of staff not been published in the state’s largest newspaper? The Clarion-Ledger had a report when Avant was charged with the crime and later reported
Republicans’ circular firing squad still has its guns loaded
Nothing illustrates the problem the Republican Party faces from the tea party and the far right than two quotes in a USA TODAY story about the conservative CPAC conference recently held in Washington, D.C. In an article by USA TODAY reporter David Jackson, he quoted a CPAC attendee talking about GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. While some CPAC members called Bush a RINO (Republican In Name Only), one particular member from California said that Bush should be a Democrat. You can say a lot of things about Jeb Bush and his consideration as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He would not be at the top of my personal list of candidates, but those who claim that Bush is not a conservative and should be a Democrat are nuts. In the same story by Jackson, a quote from a 26-year old CPAC attendee made a lot more sense and should be heeded by all Republicans. The legislative aide to a state senator from Hawaii said, “We have a lot of disagreements—which is good—but I think we spend too much time attacking each other. We should be attacking Democrats.”
The national debt as of this post is $17.9 trillion and still climbing. Add the zeros needed to write out that entire number and if doesn’t make you sick, it should. On the other hand, some of this nation’s biggest deficit hawks and defense hawks are handcuffing the Pentagon as it makes recommendations to at least make a dent in defense spending. That includes Mississippi’s two Republican senators and the three conservative Republicans who are members of the U.S. House from our state.
The U.S. House had two important votes on Wednesday of last week. THOMAS (Congress.gov) is the official website for legislative information and is maintained by the Library of Congress. On the site you can not only get detailed information on the U.S. Senate and House and their members, but you can find all roll call votes of every member of Congress.
The first vote Wednesday was on an amendment to a bill that would fund the government until Dec. 11 or after the November elections. As most people know this is commonly called a continuing resolution (CR), which allows the government to operate after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 when all the necessary appropriation bills have not passed the House and Senate. Funding during the term of the continuing resolution will be at current levels for this fiscal year.