Is the DNC Afraid of Democracy? Clinton WH Counselor Says Party a “Dead Carcass” for Stifling Debate

bill curry

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee suspended the Bernie Sanders campaign’s access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. The DNC has also been accused of trying to help Clinton by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them on low-viewership periods like Saturday nights. Bill Curry, political columnist at and former White House counselor to President Clinton, argues that the DNC is deliberately blocking debate and that chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as a result. “This is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing,” Curry says. “That the political party itself — which is supposed to be the progressive party — has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, [and] has become just a dead carcass of what it once was, is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has emphasized. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process.”

AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to Phyllis on this issue of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who is the Florida congress member, who’s head of the Democratic National Committee, Bernie Sanders has not gone this far, but you’re saying she, herself, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, must go. Why?

BILL CURRY: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, you know, when the—Bernie’s spokesperson in the earlier segment did a wonderful job. I would just add, though, that it wasn’t the DNC that shut down the debates. It was Ms. Schultz. There was no meeting. There weren’t no notice. There are no minutes. All the other members of that committee never got to say—there have been at least two vice chairs have come forward and said they read about it after the fact in the newspaper. No one else has claimed to have been informed in advance.


BILL CURRY: It was a decision that Hillary—about the decision to have—to go from 26 debates in 2008 to six debates, three of them on a weekend, for 2016. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton made that choice together.

In this contracting dispute, the contractor, a company of which Schultz’s nephew was a principal, and all of the principals have worked either previous—in various ways for different Clinton campaigns in the past, if you’re the Bernie Sanders campaign or the—

AMY GOODMAN: The ones that run the database.

BILL CURRY: The one—I’m sorry, the ones that run the database. For anybody to think they’re getting due process, when there’s such a small cabal making all the decisions—this is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing, and making sure that the public was able to see how this process works. That the political party itself, that what is supposed to be the progressive party, has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, who are dependent upon them for their life, who pursue their own careers, that the party itself has become just a dead carcass of what it once was is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has revealed, or emphasized, because it’s been revealed a hundred other ways, including in the shutting down of debate. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process—if nothing else, from the Democratic Party, a democratic process.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Phyllis Bennis back into this conversation for the last minute we have. Phyllis, for the overall issues, we talked about what was raised, what wasn’t, by the journalists—they didn’t raise climate change, they didn’t talk about the issue of immigration—but where you feel the Democratic Party is going right now?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, I think that what we were seeing here is that Hillary Clinton is not running in a Democratic Party primary. She’s running in the general election, with the assumption, the entitlement, that she will be the candidate. And that’s a huge problem.

I mean, everything that Bill Curry just said I think is absolutely right. I think that what we have to recognize is that this so-called two-party system is not working. This is what we’re seeing in Spain in the victory of Podemos over the weekend and the possibility of breaking the monopoly of a two-party system where there’s just not enough differences on certain key issues. There are differences—I don’t want to minimize the differences between the two parties here—but they’re not nearly what they need to be, and there’s not a democratic process within either party. We don’t have a democratic democracy—small-d democrat. So, I think that what we’re looking at is a situation in which the clear differences—there are clear differences on climate, there are clear differences on the economy. I disagree a little bit—

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I disagree that there was not clarity from Bernie Sanders. I think he made a very compelling case on the economic side. On the issues, the crucial issues of war, the notion that you can go to war against terrorism, none of these candidates were prepared to say, “You can’t bomb terrorism. You can only bomb people, and that creates more terrorism, not less.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll have to leave it there. But, of course, we’ll continue to cover these issues. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Bill Curry, weekly columnist with We’ll link to your articles.

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Bernie Sanders on fight against ISIS: “We have got to learn the lessons from Iraq”


DICKERSON: We’re back now with Senator Bernie Sanders, who is in Burlington, Vermont, this morning.

Senator Sanders, the president is going to address the nation tonight. If you were president, what would you say?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I would say is that we have got to be as aggressive as we can in destroying ISIS, but we have to learn the lessons of the past.

And that means we cannot do it alone. It must be an international coalition, in which the Muslim nations are the troops on the ground. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country has been playing a heroic role dealing with refugees and ISIS, made the point that it is the Muslim nations that are fighting for the soul of Islam who have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS. The United States, the U.K., France, Russia, Iran, other countries around the world have got to be supportive, but the troops on the ground have got to be Muslim nations.

And I believe very strongly that we need to put that coalition together. We need to put it together as soon as possible. But I do believe we have got to learn the lessons from Iraq.

I hear a lot of tough talk coming from my Republican opponents out there. They are really tough guys. But I heard that back in 2002 from George W. Bush. He was wrong. The invasion of Iraq was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of this country and in many ways precipitated exactly where we are today.

So, yes, we have got to be tough, but we have got to be smart. And that means an international coalition with Muslim troops on the ground supported by Western democracies with airpower and other military efforts.

But the troops on the ground to crush ISIS have got to be led by the Muslim nations.

DICKERSON: That’s the foreign policy piece.

What is your feeling — what would you message be about America and the threat in the homeland security sphere of this conversation?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, we have got to do everything that we can to protect the American people. That’s a no-brainer.

And that means much tougher screening policies than we have right now. I think Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson is right. We should have more agents placed in other countries around the world. And it’s not just Muslim countries that we have to worry about. There are other countries as well that people can slip in to this country.

Second of all, I think we need to do much, much better work, not only in our intelligence efforts, but in coordinating international intelligence. I think, clearly, Paris was an intelligence failure. And we need to be tapping the intelligence information that is being ascertained from countries all over the world.

DICKERSON: Democrats are going to notice that you didn’t list gun control in your responses. A lot of Democrats, including the president, who will address it tonight, think gun control is an answer to this.

SANDERS: No, I — well, I was just at a press conference the other day talking about the need for gun — increased gun control.

I don’t think anybody believes it’s a magic formula. Clearly, though, there is an obvious commonsense consensus, John, in this country that guns should not be falling into the hands of people who should not be having them.

And, obviously, that goes without saying. I don’t think it’s very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists should not have guns. People who are being barred from flying on airplanes should not have guns. I believe we must improve and expand instant background checks.

I believe we have got to do away with this gun show loophole. About 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold outside of the purview of the instant background check process. I think we need — I agree with “The New York Times.” I think it does not make sense to me that we have guns designed for military purposes that can kill enormous numbers of people in a very short period of time being sold and distributed in the United States.

And I support a ban on assault weapons. I think we need to do away with the straw man provision so that people can legally buy guns, but then give them to criminals.

And I think we need a revolution in mental health. And that revolution is about making sure that the many thousands of people who are walking the streets of America today who are suicidal or homicidal get the help they need, and they get it now, not two months from now.


Senator Sanders, we need to take a break right now, but we’re going to ask you to stay with us.

And we will be back with Senator Sanders in a moment.


DICKERSON: CBS News will carry President Obama’s address to the nation tonight on the San Bernardino shooting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Scott Pelley will anchor our special report.

We will be right back.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including more with Senator Bernie Sanders and our political panel.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.

We’re back with Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I want to continue on with the conversation a little bit with — of on gun control. So many Democratic voters I’ve talked to in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings are concerned about this. One of the questions they wanted to ask — wanted me to ask you is whether you regret having voted to protect gun manufacturers, giving them that immunity. What’s your feeling on that now?

SANDERS: Well, I come from a rural state that has no gun control at all. I think the votes that I have cast over the last 25 years have been strong votes for protecting the American people from gun violence. That one particular vote, there were thing in it that make sense to me. There are things in it that do not make sense to me and I’ve said many times, I’m willing to rethink that piece of legislation and make it more effective. If a gun manufacturer understands and knows that the product that he is selling to a community is really getting out to criminal elements, that gun manufacturer should be held liable for what the company is doing.

DICKERSON: In retrospect, though, do you think it was a mistake, that vote?

SANDERS: There were elements in that vote back then that did make sense. In the sense that if a small gun shop owner in the state of Vermont sells a product, a gun, legally to somebody else who then goes out does something crazy, do I think that that small gun shop owner should be held liable for legally selling the product, no, I don’t. But I think, bottom line is, that we should be rethinking that legislation and we should be doing everything that we can as a country to make sure that weapons do not get into the hands of people who should not have them.

DICKERSON: Because of your experience from a rural state and your understanding of that, you’ve talked about being a bridge builder between the Democrats, who would like to see gun control and Second Amendment, those who care about the Second Amendment. So tell me how you would build that bridge in this instance, because when I talked to some conservatives they say, look, this is a situation in which a man went and killed his co-workers and a mother dropped of her six month old baby. You’re not going to stop those kind of premeditated killers with any gun control.

SANDERS: Well, let me answer it in two ways. For a start, there is a split, a political split on this country on guns, and everybody knows that. Every poll indicates that. But I think, John, there is a broad consensus of focusing on the reality that the vast majority of the American people, not everybody, by the way, but the vast majority understand that we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them.

And who are those people? Obviously, criminal people. People who are in to domestic violence. People who will use guns to kill other people. People who are mentally ill and should not have those guns. The vast majority of the American people believe that. And I believe that what we should be doing is improving and expanding instant background checks.

Second of all, if you believe that, which most Americans believe, but most Americans also believe is you don’t want an obvious loophole that allows guns to be sold to people who are criminals or mentally ill. That means shut — ending the gun show loophole.

DICKERSON: Senator —

SANDERS: That means ending the strong man situation.

DICKERSON: I don’t want to leave without —

SANDERS: And I think there is a consensus, John. Yes.

DICKERSON: Let’s talk about climate change. I know that was an important issue for Democrats this week. You got a new plan coming out. It has a carbon tax as a part of it. Might that not scare people who think they’re —

SANDERS: Absolutely.

DICKERSON: Tell me about that.

SANDERS: All right. Well, John, I mean this is not a plan for Democrats. Pope Francis recently said something, which I think is profound, and he’s right, as he often is. And what he said is, this planet is on a suicidal direction in terms of climate change. And it is beyond my comprehension that we can have a Republican Party and Republican candidates who are more concerned about getting huge campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and the coal industry than they are about accepting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying. And that is, climate change is real, caused by human activity and already causing major and devastating problems in our country and around the world.

And what the scientists are telling us — we are — telling us is, if we do not act boldly and aggressively now, which is what my legislation does, massive cuts in carbon pollution, if we don’t do it now, the planet that we are going to be leaving to our children and grandchildren may very well be uninhabitable and in much worse shape than the planet is today. We have a moral obligation to move aggressively to transform our energies —


SANDERS: Away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and that is what my legislation does.

DICKERSON: All right.

SANDERS: So if you want to talk about being frightened, I am frightened about the planet we’re going to leave our kids if we don’t act.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.

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Berlin High School football recruiting scandal cost Berlin Connecticut taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars

hc-berlin-new-britain-football-violations-1117-20151116 (1)

Dennis House: The Berlin High School football recruiting scandal continues tonight. Eyewitness News has learned it cost you the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell is live at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain where the rivalry between Berlin and New Britain is about to go down.

Matthew Campbell: The game’s gonna kick in about an hour or so and let me tell you the bad blood will be boiling over between New Britain and Berlin. Take a look behind me as the band just actually came into the stadium. There’s two separate entrances: one for New Britain and one for the Berlin fans as well.

And extra security has been added here all after this recruiting scandal that was uncovered by New Britain. Now if it wasn’t uncovered, taxpayers in Berlin would continue paying for players that didn’t live there.

As another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry is about to be written, an asterisk will forever be placed to this year’s game after the CIAC Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.

Stephanie Santa: “…I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and then it was taken away.”

Matthew Campbell: The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classroom that were always intended for kids from Berlin.

Carol Argazzi: “…weren’t able maybe to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them.”

Matthew Campbell: The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin head coach John Capodice suspended by the district. But the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.

Dr. Karissa Niehoff: “Each district is a little bit different but it for a family to come in and take advantage of another school’s resources like that, you know, if you do it for multiple years, you’re talking a lot of money.”

Matthew Campbell: In Berlin the superintendent confirms that each high school student cost taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases that’s money that was being spent on New Britain kids seemingly just to gain an edge here on the field.

Stephanie Santa: “I feel pretty robbed.”

Matthew Campbell: Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000: a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.

Stephanie Santa: “I feel really bad for the football players because they’ve worked really, you know, from Berlin, well all of them, but they’ve worked really hard for these wins and those were also taken away.”

Matthew Campbell: A live look here at Veterans Memorial as this game will kick in about an hour. And this game will be played for pride. Roaming the sidelines for Berlin will be assistant coach Rob Levesque. The long-term future for Coach Capodice: that’s still unknown.

That’s the latest live here with the mobile newsroom in New Britain.

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Berlin Connecticut needs candidates from a third political party to stop the strict partisan voting on the Town Council

522156_397391523604538_1693998518_n-506x400There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters.  There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.

Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties.  At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved.  Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.

On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party.  The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.

Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely.  Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing.  Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns.  Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut.  Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?

Are special interests controlling our two major political parties?  Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties?   Do governmental unions control one political party in Town?  Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?

If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council.  For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.

Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin.  If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us:

Thank you.

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Make an Offer that the IRS Can’t Refuse: How to calculate an offer in compromise acceptable to the”Don”

don corleone

by William Brighenti, CPA, Consigliere of Goombas to the IRS


IRS offer in compromise, Form 656, form 433-aAn Offer in Compromise is an agreement between the taxpayer and the government that settles a tax liability for payment of less than the full amount owed. The Internal Revenue Service will generally accept an Offer in Compromise when it is unlikely that the tax liability can be collected in full and the amount offered reasonably reflects collection potential. Consequently, it is essential to do the math before deciding to pursue an Offer in Compromise, since if it is not unlikely that the tax liability can be collected in full and/or the amount offered does not reasonably reflect what the IRS could potentially collect from you through liens on and seizure of your assets as well as garnishments on your wages, you will not only waste valuable time processing this lengthy, detailed application, but may incur thousands of dollars in costs in hiring professionals to assist you, and incur needless application fees and installment payments if other alternatives are available and preferable.

There are other alternatives to pursuing an Offer in Compromise in order to settle a tax assessment, including installment agreements, partial installment agreements, penalty and interest abatement requests, bankruptcy, etc. The ideal alternative depends on the individual circumstances of the taxpayer, including the amount of the tax liability as well as the ability of the taxpayer to pay it. Assuming that all of these alternatives already had been considered and found wanting, the key in deciding whether an Offer in Compromise should be pursued is determining the amount of the offer that is required in an Offer in Compromise submission in order to be acceptable to the Internal Revenue Service. There is a mathematical algorithm consisting of variables and parameters that needs to be calculated to determine your offer.  It is not simply a number picked out of the air or “pennies on the dollar”.  It is what it is.  The process of determination is rigorous and driven by a mathematical procedure to minimize frivolous offers. And you do not want to initiate a negotiation with the IRS with a ridiculous offer.  Would youirs offer in compromise, Form 656, form 433-a consider offering Don Corleone an insulting few shekels in payment of a debt?  Not too long ago the Internal Revenue Service issued an alert to taxpayers to beware of promoters’ claims on television and the internet that tax debts can be settled for “pennies on the dollar” through their professional services, inappropriately advising indebted taxpayers to file an Offer in Compromise application with the IRS. The IRS characterized such advice as bad, only costing taxpayers additional money and time.  The Don has spoken.

The purpose of this article is to explain how the amount of an offer is determined; however, it is not meant to encourage any unprofessionally trained taxpayer to prepare his own Offer in Compromise. If such were the intent, then this article, in effect, would be guilty of leading sheep to a slaughter. Only an irs offer in compromise, form 656, form 433-aexperienced professional should be entrusted to undertake the actual final preparation of the application since its processing and terminology are subtle, detailed, and complex.  Moreover, a great deal of supportive documentation needs to be obtained and included.  Finally, too much is at stake to the taxpayer.  Recall the fate of Luca Brasi.

Your first step in deciding whether to pursue an Offer in Compromise is to estimate what the IRS terms your “Reasonable Collection Potential” (RCP). This is essentially the heart of any Offer in Compromise and will be the basis of the Internal Revenue Service’s decision as to whether to accept or reject your offer, since the IRS requires that your offer equal or exceed your RCP. The Reasonable Collection Potential, in essence, is what the IRS reasonably and potentially could expect to collect from you from the attachment of your wages and income as well as from the seizure of your assets in order to settle the tax assessment against you. It equals your Realizable Value (RV) of all of your assets after paying off the Loan Balance (LB) remaining on any asset plus typically four to fiveirs offer in compromise, form 656, form 433-a years (depending upon the terms of your offer) of Disposal Income (DI), which equals Monthly Income (MI) less Necessary Living Expenses (NLE). If your offered amount is below the RCP, it ordinarily will be rejected, unless you can demonstrate extreme hardship, which has as much of a chance of being accepted by the IRS as Paulie’s apology to Michael Corleone.

The Realizable Value (RV) of your Monetary Assets (MA)–such as cash, bank balances, investments, life insurance cash value, and accounts/notes receivable–are ordinarily their face or Current Values (CV).  The Realizable Value of your Non-Monetary Assets (NMA)–such as real property, vehicles, personal assets, furniture and personal effects, business assets, books and tools–require the following computation:

RVNMA = FMV x 80% – LB


NMA = Non-Monetary Assets;

FMV = Asset’s fair market value determined by appraisals, book values, written estimates, published valuations, etc.;

80% = IRS’s discount factor representing what you could reasonably expect from the sale of an asset if you sold it quickly typically in ninety days or less;

LB = Loan Balance remaining on any asset as of the date of your offer.

In addition to discounting the fair market value of furniture, personal effects, books, and tools, you are also entitled to exempt $7,900 from your Realized Value of furniture and personal effects and $3,950 from that in books and tools, as long as the exemptions do not decrease your computed equity in each of these two asset classifications below zero.

The Internal Revenue Service expects you to include in your offer the payment of the RV of your personal and business assets since it reflects your accumulated wealth and, as such, usually a significant internal revenue service offer in compromisecomponent of your Reasonable Collection Potential.  The IRS, in effect, expects you to pay a portion of your tax assessment by liquidating assets, obtaining loans from lending institutions on your equity in your assets, borrowing on your home equity through a second mortgage or reverse mortgage, borrowing on any available balances on credit cards, borrowing funds from family members, friends, and/or the mafooch.

In addition to offering your equity in all of your assets, the IRS ordinarily requires 4 or 5 years (contingent upon the payment terms of your offer, theoretically up to 10 years) of monthly installment payments of an amount representing your monthly disposable income. If you agree to full payment of your offer within 5 months, you would make 48 installments; if you agree to full payment of your offer within 24 months, you would make 60 installments; if you agree to full payment of your offer over the remaining statutory period of collection (120 months less the number of months since the date your liability was assessed), you would pay an installment each month in the remaining statutory period for collecting the tax.

Now you are ready to reduce the concept of the minimum offer represented by the Reasonable Collection Potential in an Offer in Compromise to the Internal Revenue Service to the following algorithm:

RCP =  ?MACV + ?NMA(FMV x 80% – LB) – $7,900FPE  – $3,950BT + #MO x DI


MA = Monetary Assets;

CV = Current Values;

?MACV = Your total equity in Monetary Assets;

?NMA(FMV x 80% – LB) = Your total equity in Non-Monetary Assets before exemptions;

FPE = Exemption for furniture and personal effects, limited to RV or $7,900, whichever is less;

BT = Exemption for books and tools, limited to RV or $3,950, whichever is less;

#MO = Number of MOnthly installment payments (48, 60, or 120 – # of months since assessment);

DI = Disposable Income = Monthly Income (MI) – Necessary Living Expenses (NLE).

Monthly Income (MI) includes your average or current monthly wages, interest, dividends, pensions, social security, child support and alimony, Schedule C’s line 31 net profit divided by 12, Schedule E’s line 26 total rental and royalty income divided by 12, total distributions reported on Schedules K-1 divided by 12, etc.

NLE includes monthly allowances for food, clothing, housekeeping supplies, personal care products, rent or mortgage payment, property taxes, residential insurance, maintenance, dues, fees, utilities (gas, electricity, water, fuel, oil, trash collection, telephone), lease/loan payments on vehicles, vehicle operating costs (maintenance, repairs, insurance, fuel, registrations, licenses, inspections, parking, tolls), mass transit fares (bus, train, taxi, ferry), health insurance, out of pocket health care costs (medical services, drugs, medical supplies – e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.), court order payments, child/dependent care, life insurance, income and FICA taxes, secured debts.

Regarding food, clothing, housekeeping supplies, and personal care products, the IRS furnishes a table of total monthly national standards for these expenses and is presented below; the use of these values obviates any verification and substantiation on your part.  The amounts are based on surveys of consumer expenditures prepared by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Expense One Person
Two Persons
Three Persons
Four Persons
Housekeeping supplies
Apparel & Services
Personal care products & services
More than four persons Over Four Persons Amount
For each additional person, add to four-person total allowance: $262

Unless higher amounts can be substantiated as “necessary” living expenses with all required supporting documentation, it typically is advisable to use the amounts listed above for the corresponding expenditures for the expense category, “Food, Clothing and Misc.” on Form 433-A, the Offer in Compromise’s Collection Information Statement.

Copies of documents of all other income and expense items, including your prior year tax returns, need to accompany your Offer in Compromise in order to substantiate and verify these amounts to the Internal Revenue Service.

As you can see from all of the above, there is a precise formula used by the IRS in the determination of your Reasonable Collection Potential and, consequently, the minimum amount of your offer.  It is irs offer in compromise, form 656, form 433-aunlikely that a “pennies on the dollar” value would be derived from this computation, and you would be advised not to submit any offer that could be construed as frivolous unless you wish to “swim with the fishes”.  Before deciding on submitting an Offer in Compromise and engaging expensive professionals to prepare the application, it might be prudent for you to calculate your Reasonable Collection Potential, or minimum offer, using the above algorithm.  It is suggested that you set up the above algorithm and formulas in an Excel spreadsheet, enter the values of all of the requisite variables and parameters, and see how your calculated offer would vary using different assumptions, estimates, and data sets.  Moreover, if you are undecided about which of the three basic payment terms you should select, just insert 48, 60, or 120 less the number of months since your tax assessment, into the algorithm to see their impact on your offer.  This exercise alone may minimize errors of omission, incorrect estimates, and miscalculations in judgment, resulting in significant tax savings; more importantly, it may minimize the risk of your offer being rejected by the IRS.  Although precise numbers may not be readily available for some of your living expenses and the like, at least guesstimates may be sufficient to assist you enough in arriving at a preliminary decision as to whether an Offer in Compromise is the appropriate economic course of action for you to pursue in the settlement of your tax liability assessed by the Internal Revenue Service.  Of course, upon the formal filing of your offer, guesstimates will not suffice:  complete, accurate, substantiated, and honest information compiled in “good faith” will be required in order to enhance the prospect of your Offer in Compromise of being accepted by the Internal Revenue Service.
irs offer in compromise, form 656, form 433-a
In bocca al lupo!



This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice.  For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.

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Chuck Todd of Meet the Press interviews Bernie Sanders on May 31 2015

snapshot15The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of the interview of Bernie Sanders by Chuck Todd of Meet the Press on May 31, 2015.

Chuck Todd:  Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press.  And let me start with an issue you are going to be dealing with in a few hours, I know you will be flying back from Minneapolis to Washington for the special Senate session:  the NSA, the Patriot Act, Section 215.  I assume you are a supporter of the USA Freedom Act.  Are you?  Is that where you will be voting?

Bernie Sanders:  I may well be voting for it.  It doesn’t go as far as I would like it to go.  I voted against the original Patriot Act.  I voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people, but we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people. And I am very, very worried about the invasions of privacy right that we are seeing not only from the NSA and the government but from corporate America as well.

We are losing our privacy rights.  It is a huge issue.

Chuck Todd:  And the government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the USA Freedom Act.  You’re comfortable with that?

Bernie Sanders:  No, I am not.  But we have to look at the best of bad situations.  The question is whether the NSA keeps it.  The question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies who by the way already keep records for an extended period of time.

Chuck Todd:  You’ve served under two Democratic Presidents:  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama which one has been a better progressive champion in your view?

Bernie Sanders:  Well, neither one of them have gone as far as I would have liked them to go and that’s one of the reasons what we’re seeing the disappearance of the middle class in this country and a huge increase in income and wealth inequality.

That is why we are not dealing with the fact we have 45 million people living in poverty and why we are still the only major country on earth that  doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.

Look, I have a lot of respect for President Obama. I consider him a friend. I disagree with him on issues like that TPP or the extension of tax breaks that Bush initiated. But I think history will judge President Obama a lot better than many other of his contemporaries, given the fact that he came into office at a time when this country was in terrible, terrible shape.

Chuck Todd:  You singled out President Obama for praise but not President Clinton. Why?

Bernie Sanders:  Look I think Bill Clinton did a very good job as well.  I disagree with him strongly on NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China.  I’m a strong opponent of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs.  I  am helping to lead the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I also very strongly disagreed with President Clinton on the deregulation on Wall Street. I opposed that strenuously and I think the results prove that when you allow the greed and recklessness of Wall Street to go unchecked, you’re going to end up where we are today and where we were eight years ago.

Chuck Todd:  You know it’s interesting when you watch chief primary opponent right now, Secretary Hillary Clinton, on some key issues she has changed her position to amore progressive view on same-sex marriage, on immigration (that is, over the last 10 years), on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq war, on Cuba.  She has moved from a position basically in disagreement with you to a position that comes closer to your view.

So I guess is, do you take her at her word and do you think that rhetorically that’s enough?

snapshot19Bernie Sanders:  Look, I have known Hillary Clinton for twenty-five years. I have enormous respect for her and I like her.

And what I hope, Chuck, is that the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people, which is why for the last forty years our middle class has been disappearing, why 99% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1%, and why we have this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.

I have been–I know a lot of people criticize me in Vermont: they say, oh, Bernie, you have been saying the same thing for thirty years.

Well, it is kind of true. And maybe, you know, it is a badge of honor.

But I have been there. I think we need a political revolution in this country. I think we need to take on the greed of the billionaire class, a disastrous campaign finance system.

Chuck Todd: Do you trust these changes that Hillary Clinton has made or do you think she has been doing it just for primary politics.

Bernie Sanders:  I think that is for the American people to decide. I know where I have been on trade agreements, I know where I have been on Walk Street, I know where I have been on the Keystone Pipeline, and Secretary Clinton will obviously explain her position to the American people.

Chuck Todd:  This week you have found what it is like to become a nationally recognized candidate for President and potentially a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the 1970s for an alternative weekly. Your campaign has described it as satire: I’ll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it’s uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I am going to put up is you wrote this in February 1972, it was sort of a fantasy of men and women. You said “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously.” Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?

Bernie Sanders:  Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, that was forty-three years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes: why some men like to oppress women; why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like fifty shades of grey. Very poorly written, forty-three years ago.

What I am focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that’s what I will continue to focus on and what I think the American people will want to hear.

And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates debates as early as July and have some Republicans in those debates as well.

Chuck Todd: All right, there you go. Senator Sanders calling for July debates. We will go to Secretary Clinton. We are ready to host them right here on Meet the Press. Senator Sanders, stay safe on the trail, we’ll see you back in Washington.

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Bernie Sanders calls out Hillary Clinton to announce her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement

snapshot12The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of Ed Schultz on The Ed Show on May 28, 2015 attacking Hillary Clinton for not stating her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement.

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight folks. Thanks for watching.  We start tonight with the Bernie bump. Bernie Sanders has been on the campaign trail for only two days and he`s already giving Hillary Clinton`s campaign some real headaches. During a campaign event in New Hampshire, his first stop since his official announcement. Senator Sanders spoke with clarity on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


SANDERS: I am helping right now as we speak to lead the opposition to this TransPacific
Partnership trade agreement.

Now, Hillary Clinton can be for the trade agreement the president is.

She can be against the trade agreement. I am, Elizabeth Warren and many others of us are.

But I just don`t know how you don`t have an opinion on this enormously important issue.


SCHULTZ: This is the only sound bite that America wants to hear right now because this is the depressing issue. Now, that is speaking with clarity and that what campaigns are supposed to be about, to let people know exactly where you`re on key issues.  Senator Sanders is leading the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Meanwhile, we have no idea where Hillary stands on trade. We get a lot of parameters, but we don`t get absolutes. Clinton has said that she has some concerns about the TTP. But overall let’s be serious, this is her main taking point.


CLINTON: I have said that I`m going to, you know, make up my mind. I`ve been for trade agreements, I`ve been against trade agreements, voted for some, voted against others. So, I want to judge this when I see what`s exactly is in it and whether or not I think it meets my standards.


SCHULTZ: Well, respectfully Mrs. Clinton. You were in the United States Senate. The United States Senate has already voted on the trade agreement.  They`ve voted last week, and it was passing. No, question about it. Now, it`s up to the House and there`s a lot of Democrats in the House right now that want to know where the leading candidates stands on what is going to be a massive trade deal for this country.

Now, Hillary`s position on trade I think is anything but clear. She`s outlined what she wants in a deal. She`s outline what she wants in a trade deal. But she wants to see exactly what`s in it. Well, hasn`t the Senate seen what`s in it? She want`s to see it before she makes a decision. Give me break.

Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State when this deal was being negotiated.  I find it hard to believe that the Secretary of State is so in the dark about the TTP. I agree with Senator Sanders. I find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton can`t come to the some kind of conclusion on this an absolute, not a parameter of what she`s looking for.

The Clinton campaign is hoping that the House will vote on FastTrack ASAP so they don`t have to deal with this trade issue anymore. Clinton refusal to take a stand on certain issues starting to chip away at her lead in the polls as well, over the past month I know we`re long way away. But she`s going on the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton lost three points on
her lead. Bernie Sanders has jumped 7 points. He`s now at 15 percent. Is this a trend of a bump?

Now with the eight months to go until the first primarily Hillary Clinton shouldn`t be taking anything for granted. We`ve been down this road before.

POLITICO reported today that Hillary Clinton`s campaign is “Frightened of Sanders. Not that he would win the nomination, but he could damage her with the activist base by challenge her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist of corporatist”.

Is that what campaigns were all about? Frightened, frightened about the truth. I find that hard to believe. It`s not just trade. Hillary Clinton has been silent on other issue like the Keystone XL pipeline. It`s important to point out Hillary Clinton`s campaign website. It does not have an issues page.  I saw that today, you know, I just found that startling.

Senator Sanders`s website has had an issues tab from the start.

So, when do Democrats get to play fair with one another and say “OK, enough is enough, the House is getting ready to vote on this. The Senate has already voted on it. Let`s get an answer”.  We`re coming down to the 11th hour on trade in this Congress. Democratic
voters deserve to know where Hillary Clinton`s stands on trade and the TransPacific
Partnership. It`s time for an absolute.

We`ve got an absolute from Bernie Sanders. We have not in fairness, we have not got an
absolute from Hillary Clinton and there`s a lot of people that want to know, if she was still on the Senate, how would you voted Mrs. Clinton.

Is this Bill Clinton`s influence on his wife? He was a free trader. He was for NAFTA. So, what`s going on here? Why can`t we get the absolute answer from Hillary Clinton?  Is this loyalty to her former boss, President Obama? That`s a question in itself. When President Obama was in the United States Senate, he said that he was going to do something about currency manipulation.

Well, guess what. This trade deal doesn`t have anything in it about currency manipulation. It doesn`t have anything about investor`s state trade dispute or circumventing American law. Why the hell that we even have representatives in Washington, if we`re going to let International Tribunals tell us how we have to do trade. It`s wrong.

This should be a slam dunk from Hillary Clinton. It is going to be very hard for her and there`s going to be a lot of people who were going to remember that she didn`t take a complete stand on trade before the House voted.

Now, if this is causing political problems for Hillary Clinton. Why in the world would John Boehner bring it to the floor for a vote? Why not make sure Hillary Clinton takes a stand on this. I would venture to say that maybe the Republicans would rather go against Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton.

So there`s a lot of political calculations taking place right now.  There`s only one sound bite that this broadcaster wants to hear from Hillary Clinton right now and that is where she stands absolutely, just like every union worker in this country stands absolutely oppose to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This should not be that hard.

Get your cellphones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s question, “Is the TTP going to cause political problems for Hillary Clinton?”  Go to to cast your vote. We`ll bring you the result later on in the show.

So, what are they saying in the middle of county. Let bring in Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan who sits on the House Budget Committee, also with us tonight Scott Paul President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, gentlemen great to have you with us tonight.

Congressman, I want to know what your constituents are saying in Wisconsin in the middle of the country. Are they even aware of FastTrack and TPP, and are they paying attention to it?

REP. MARK POCAN, (D) WISCONSIN: Ed, they`re very aware of it, just a couple weeks ago I had listening sessions in six counties. I think in every single listening session this came up as an issue.

In fact in Lafayette County, the biggest town in Lafayette County is 2,400 people. They just
lost a company with 36 jobs that`s going to Mexico and they`ve applied for trade adjustment assistance. So we`re still seeing that. If you think about that, that 36 jobs in Darlington is like losing 3,600 jobs in Madison also in my district.

So, this is a big issue people talk about everyone Democrats or Republican should be standing against a trade deal that we don`t know enough about and doesn`t have protections for labor environment had this tribunals, doesn`t have currency manipulation go on and list. There`s many reason to oppose this.

SCHULTZ: Congressman. Do your constituents in Wisconsin in the middle of country. Are they curious about President Obama`s reversal on this? Are they talking about it?

POCAN: I`ve got several times while we do the listing session again as an example, why does the White House support this? And, you know, I think this question was asked of the gentleman who did trade for President Reagan who now opposes these trade deals. He said everything they`re promised back then didn`t come to fruition.

And now, he thinks this is a bad route for Americans and his analysis was that the White House, no matter who`s President, often looks at this for geopolitical reasons and we have allies in the region and how do you give something to your allies in a region especially where China is such a dominate economic force?

The problem is that ignores what I care about most which is that we`re going to lose more jobs here in the United States and we`re going to have wages depress right here at home. To me that is exactly what happens every time we have a trade deal that doesn`t have the proper protections and that`s why anyone should oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership…


POCAN: … if it doesn`t have those things. And I can tell you it doesn`t right now.

SCHULTZ: You know, this isn`t about playing political favorites. I want the audience watching the Ed Show tonight to know. This isn`t about Bernie Sanders. It`s not about Hillary Clinton. It`s not about President Obama.  It`s about those folks out there across American who are in this American economy and their future and their stability. That`s what this issue about.

It`s not about choosing of sides. This is an issue and it`s not a cheap shot nor is it negative to step up and say “OK, where does this candidate stand on something that is going to be so huge to our global economy. Where is American going with this?”

Now Scott Paul, you have recently written an oped and you wrote about President Obama when he was a Senator running for the White House.  President Obama, Barack Obama said he didn`t get that he`d get tough on currency. But now with an opportunity to do something about it as President he`s change his tune. What do you make of that Mr. Paul?

SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING: Well, I`d like to see more of the Barack Obama of 2007 and a little less of what we`re seeing today. If he was true to his words in 2007 and I would add if Senator Clinton is true to the words that she spoke back in 2007 as well.  Could be no doubt that this process the TPA, the FastTrack
authority and the agreement the Trans-Pacific Partnership would look a lot different than
they are today and that they would represent the interest of working people.

The challenge has been that and I think Rep. Pocan pointed this out that this is become about geopolitics. I think that`s a flawed argument. It`s become about Wall Street. And it`s losing touch with working people across America.

Ed, I would just add that the clarity is simple to happen. I mean Rick Santorum who announce for president yesterday penned an oped.

POCAN: Yeah.

PAUL: In March calling for dealing with currency manipulation and trade deals a very specifically. There`s an amended that narrowly passed last week that could have a game changer on this. Ed, I would like to hear Senator Clinton talk in the way that she did during the 2007 campaign about this with greater clarity. And I`ll just say this…


PAUL: … I think voters in Iowa and New Hampshire expect an answer. I think they`ll be asking her consistently and I hope they receive one.

SCHULTZ: Well, the Clinton campaign, I`m getting a sense if they want this vote in the House to take place ASAP so they get say “Well, it`s already passed and this is the way it is so we`ll have to deal with it moving forward”. No, I mean this is not a slam dunk in the House right now. And Congressman the votes aren`t there right now.

And this is a huge vacation or should I say working vacation or recess that the Congress is taking right now because they`re getting input from folks back home and this is building. The votes aren`t there or are they Congressman?

POCAN: No, in fact they will pull a vote when the White House and the Republican leadership and Paul Ryan think they have the votes lined up.  But I could tell on the House Democratic side, there are only maybe 20 people right now who`re at the yes and all of the rest of us are right no with a…


POCAN: … small number of undecided. And I can tell you that this is something that on the Republican side we think we might have at least 60 votes and growing who don`t want to give up our sovereignty through some of the provision. You talk about the tribunals and other issue.

So, this is not a slam dunk. We`re going to fight this to the last breathe we have. And I hope that are successful because we`re hearing it from our districts if people don`t want this. There are simply not real constituents who say “I think you should pass this”.

SCHULTZ: OK. Now back to currency manipulation for a moment. China and Japan are big players in this deal. Scott Paul, be very clear. They have a record of currency manipulation, correct? And also that Hillary Clinton has said that currency manipulation has to be address.

Well, in this trade deal it is not addressed. So, how much more information does Hillary Clinton have to have to take a definitive stance on this issue, your thought?

PAUL: Ed, it`s very clear and again this is the Democrats and Republicans largely agree on. We have American businesses and labor that agree on this point as well. And even if you don`t think that China and/or Japan are manipulating their currencies today, just as some smart people say “You don`t throw away you umbrella when it`s sunny outside because it`s going to rain again”.

They have a pattern on this, they have a history. We have sky high trade deficits with China and Japan. They cause American jobs all across Wisconsin and Iowa and New Hampshire there are factories that have shuttered form these unfair trade practices.

And if we truly want a trade agreement that represents 21st century interest in the interest of working people. It`s got to deal with currency manipulation. Right now in this country if you`re a hardworking business, if you`re worker and through no fault of your own you lost your job because of unfair trade practice like currency manipulation. You have…


PAUL: … absolutely no recourse, it just happens that`s why we need to this in trade deals and I would love to hear President Obama to use his position on this back to what it was on 2007. More importantly I think it`s important for Senator Clinton to speak out on this, very forcefully and also very specifically about what she expect.

SCHULTZ: OK, Congressman Mark Pocan, Scott Paul, President Alliance American Manufacturing, great to have both of you with us tonight.

You know folks this is what a campaign is about, to take a tough issue and yes, it is a hard choice. But there are absolutes. American jobs and the American economy is going to be injured if we go down this road. And if history be your guide there`s not one trade agreement that this country can turn to even under the Obama years that can say that it hasn`t added to our trade deficit and that`s American jobs.

Remember to answer tonight`s question at We`ll have the results right after this break. Follow us on Facebook and you could watch my Facebook featured “Give me a minute” and of course you can get my video Podcast at

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Chuck Todd tells Andrea Mitchell that Hillary Clinton will win the African-American and Hispanic vote in spite of the intellectual appeal of Bernie Sanders to liberal white voters


The Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, presents the video and transcript of an interview of Chuck Todd conducted by Andrea Mitchell on Andrea Mitchell Reports on May 29, 2015.

Andrea Mitchell: Let’s talk about the democrats because to be counter-intuitive contrary to what has been written recently in the New York Times front page about Bernie Sanders and older folks, I am hearing more and more from young people who are really intrigued by Bernie Sanders.

Chuck Todd: That’s right, and I think it’s more of, you know, Hillary Clinton’s reputation is very cautious; okay, she’s risk-averse. When she finally takes a position, just watch her. And look at how she’s campaigned:  everything’s been very risk-averse. You know, God forbid, she would ever take a question from you. You know, that type of thing. It is very risk averse.

Bernie and the young millenials, they’re not risk averse. And so I think they’re going to gravitate to a candidate that might be a little more rambunctious, and certainly Bernie Sanders is.

And I think the fascinating thing is three months ago the talk was, is Martin O’Malley going to be enough and how could he be the chief challenger.  I’m wondering now how does Martin O’Malley get past Bernie Sanders. And I don’t know if he can.  Will he ever be seen as a true blue progressive to those who really want a progressive to send a message. I don’t think they don’t necessarily think that a progressive would beat her in the primary but I think some progressives would like Bernie Sanders to force Hillary Clinton to answer to the left a little bit more.

Andrea Mitchell: And a couple of quick points about Hillary Clinton.  They say that they want to raise a hundred million dollars this year for primary money only; [they say] the things that have been written about two billion dollars is crazy.  [They say] It will be a hundred million–the same as Barack Obama in both cycles, that’s excluding super PACs. So that’s twenty seven hundred dollar contributions.

They say they have a fifty-state track strategy; they are serious about fighting in the primaries; they’re serious about Iowa; they are trying to lower expectations, saying that, well, nobody except Tom Harkin and the sitting president running has gotten more than 50 percent in the Iowa caucuses. They are trying to low-ball that when she came in third last time around.

And in South Carolina it is really interesting the way she tried to take on both the race and the gender issue. She was campaigning among African-American women and other women as well trying to fix what Bill Clinton messed up so badly in a race where he got accused by many including Jim Clayburn of playing the race card.

Chuck Todd: And this is to me the big gap for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders in his announcement speech, you know, if you were somebody who cared about civil rights issues, cared about immigration, you didn’t hear much out of Bernie Sanders.

Part of that is he’s a Vermont politician, and he’s never really had to campaign for African-American vote, campaign for Hispanic vote. And this is probably easily like, if things go really bad with the progressive wing for Hillary Clinton on economics and all these things, you know, she still has this. And I think if you look at the way Sanders is running and you’re saying he can intellectually give her a run for her money with sort of liberal white elites but the rank-and-file where the Democratic primary voter is, he is not as disconnected yet to African-American voters or Hispanic voters, and I don’t know how he gets there.

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Senator Bernie Sanders formally announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President

“Thank you all very much for being here and for all the support that you have given me over the years: as the mayor of this great city, as Vermont’s only congressman and now as a U.S. senator. Thanks also to my longtime friends and fellow Vermonters Bill McKibben, Brenda Torpey, Donna Bailey, Mike O’Day and Ben and Jerry for all that you do – and for your very generous remarks. Thanks also to Jenny Nelson for moderating this event and for your leadership in Vermont agriculture.

I also want to thank my family: My wife Jane, my brother Larry, my children Levi, Heather, Carina and Dave for their love and support, and my seven beautiful grandchildren – Sonny, Cole, Ryleigh, Grayson, Ella, Tess and Dylan who provide so much joy in my life.

Today, here in our small state – a state that has led the nation in so many ways – I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.

Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”

Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old – same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.

Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity and for a world of peace.

My fellow Americans: This country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression and, if you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are direr than any time in our modern history.

Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back. We’re going to take this campaign directly to the people – in town meetings, door to door conversations, on street corners and in social media – and that’s by the way. This week we will be in New Hampshire, Iowa and Minnesota – and that’s just the start of a vigorous grassroots campaign.

Let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not about Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in his life, my campaign will be driven by issues and serious debate; not political gossip, not reckless personal attacks or character assassination. This is what I believe the American people want and deserve. I hope other candidates agree, and I hope the media allows that to happen. Politics in a democratic society should not be treated like a baseball game, a game show or a soap opera. The times are too serious for that.

Let me take a minute to touch on some of the issues that I will be focusing on in the coming months, and then give you an outline of an Agenda for America which will, in fact, deal with these problems and lead us to a better future.

Income and Wealth Inequality: Today, we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we now have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone is wider than at any time since the 1920s. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time. And we will address it.

Let me be very clear. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral. It is bad economics. It is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it.

Economics: But it is not just income and wealth inequality. It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country – once the envy of the world – has been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity, median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. In Vermont and throughout this country it is not uncommon for people to be working two or three jobs just to cobble together enough income to survive on and some health care benefits.

The truth is that real unemployment is not the 5.4 percent you read in newspapers. It is close to 11 percent if you include those workers who have given up looking for jobs or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is over 17 percent and African-American youth unemployment is much higher than that. Today, shamefully, we have 45 million people living in poverty, many of whom are working at low-wage jobs. These are the people who struggle every day to find the money to feed their kids, to pay their electric bills and to put gas in the car to get to work. This campaign is about those people and our struggling middle class. It is about creating an economy that works for all, and not just the one percent.

 Vermonters and non-Vermonters alike flocked to Burlington Tuesday for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ official announcement that he will run for president. We asked them why they came.

Citizens United: My fellow Americans: Let me be as blunt as I can and tell you what you already know. As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined. What the Supreme Court essentially said was that it was not good enough for the billionaire class to own much of our economy. They could now own the U.S. government as well. And that is precisely what they are trying to do.

American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections. It is not about the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports the Koch brothers alone, one family, will spend more money in this election cycle than either the Democratic or Republican parties. This is not democracy. This is oligarchy. In Vermont and at our town meetings we know what American democracy is supposed to be about. It is one person, one vote – with every citizen having an equal say – and no voter suppression. And that’s the kind of American political system we have to fight for and will fight for in this campaign.

Climate Change: When we talk about our responsibilities as human beings and as parents, there is nothing more important than leaving this country and the entire planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. The scientific community has spoken in a virtually unanimous voice. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.

The scientists are telling us that if we do not boldly transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies, this planet could be five to ten degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century. This is catastrophic. It will mean more drought, more famine, more rising sea level, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering. We must not, we cannot, and we will not allow that to happen.

It is no secret that there is massive discontent with politics in America today. In the mid-term election in November, 63 percent of Americans did not vote, including 80 percent of young people. Poll after poll tells us that our citizens no longer have confidence in our political institutions and, given the power of Big Money in the political process, they have serious doubts about how much their vote actually matters and whether politicians have any clue as to what is going on in their lives.

Combatting this political alienation, this cynicism and this legitimate anger will not be easy. That’s for sure. But that is exactly what, together, we have to do if we are going to turn this country around – and that is what this campaign is all about.

And to bring people together we need a simple and straight-forward progressive agenda which speaks to the needs of our people, and which provides us with a vision of a very different America. And what is that agenda?

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders officially announces his bid for presidency of the United States at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Produced by Channel 17 and Burlington Free Press

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: It begins with jobs. If we are truly serious about reversing the decline of the middle class we need a major federal jobs program which puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs. At a time when our roads, bridges, water systems, rail and airports are decaying, the most effective way to rapidly create meaningful jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This legislation would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs, while making our country more productive, efficient and safe. And I promise you as president I will lead that legislation into law.

I will also continue to oppose our current trade policies. For decades, presidents from both parties have supported trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as corporate America shuts down plants here and moves to low-wage countries. As president, my trade policies will break that cycle of agreements which enrich at the expense of the working people of this country.

Raising Wages: Let us be honest and acknowledge that millions of Americans are now working for totally inadequate wages. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised. The minimum wage must become a living wage – which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years – which is exactly what Los Angeles recently did – and I applaud them for doing that. Our goal as a nation must be to ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. Further, we must establish pay equity for women workers. It’s unconscionable that women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work. We must also end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week – and earn no overtime. And we need paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all.

Addressing Wealth and Income Inequality: This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: you can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.

That is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which makes wealthy individuals and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.

Reforming Wall Street: It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in the country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist. We need a banking system which is part of the job creating productive economy, not a handful of huge banks on Wall Street which engage in reckless and illegal activities.

Campaign Finance Reform: If we are serious about creating jobs, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining our democracy. Long term, we need to go further and establish public funding of elections.

Reversing Climate Change: The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change. We can do that if we transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and such sustainable energies such as wind, solar, geo-thermal and bio-mass. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient, and we need a tax on carbon to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel.

Health Care for All: The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right. Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are under-insured. Yet, we continue paying far more per capita for health care than any other nation. The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right by moving toward a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.

Protecting Our Most Vulnerable: At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, at a time when senior poverty is increasing, at a time when millions of kids are living in dire poverty, my Republican colleagues, as part of their recently-passed budget, are trying to make a terrible situation even worse. If you can believe it, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families.

Well, let me tell my Republican colleagues that I respectfully disagree with their approach. Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need. And that’s the kind of nation we must become.

College for All: And when we talk about education, let me be very clear. In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce we can create. It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That must end. That is why, as president, I will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.

War and Peace: As everybody knows, we live in a difficult and dangerous world, and there are people out there who want to do us harm. As president, I will defend this nation – but I will do it responsibly. As a member of Congress I voted against the war in Iraq, and that was the right vote. I am vigorously opposed to an endless war in the Middle East – a war which is unwise and unnecessary. We must be vigorous in combatting terrorism and defeating ISIS, but we should not have to bear that burden alone. We must be part of an international coalition, led by Muslim nations, that can not only defeat ISIS but begin the process of creating conditions for a lasting peace.

As some of you know, I was born in a far-away land called Brooklyn, New York. My father came to this country from Poland without a penny in his pocket and without much of an education. My mother graduated high school in New York City. My father worked for almost his entire life as a paint salesman and we were solidly lower-middle class. My parents, brother and I lived in a small rent-controlled apartment. My mother’s dream was to move out of that small apartment into a home of our own. She died young and her dream was never fulfilled. As a kid I learned, in many, many ways, what lack of money means to a family. That’s a lesson I have never forgotten.

I have seen the promise of America in my own life. My parents would have never dreamed that their son would be a U.S. Senator, let alone run for president. But for too many of our fellow Americans, the dream of progress and opportunity is being denied by the grind of an economy that funnels all the wealth to the top.

And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say just look where we are standing. This beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful people-oriented public space it is today. We took the fight to the courts, to the legislature and to the people. And we won.

The lesson to be learned is that when people stand together, and are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.

We can live in a country:

  • Where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege;
  • Where every parent can have quality and affordable childcare and where all of our qualified young people, regardless of income, can go to college;
  • Where every senior can live in dignity and security, and not be forced to choose between their medicine or their food;
  • Where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve;
  • Where every person, no matter their race, their religion, their disability or their sexual orientation realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans.

That is the nation we can build together, and I ask you to join me in this campaign to build a future that works for all of us, and not just the few on top.

Thank you, and on this beautiful day on the shore of Lake Champlain, I welcome you aboard.”

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Is Bernie Sanders out in far-left field or are both political parties out in far-right field

birds of paradise mating dance

Have you ever observed the mating dance of the birds of paradise? The male moves dramatically, and in response, the female inches away, but ultimately the male conquers the female, and achieves the purpose of this ritualistic, instinctive dance.

Well, the Democrats and Republicans have been dancing ritualistically quite some time now like birds of paradise. The Republican Congress leaps dramatically to the right, and then the Democratic President and Congress inches to the right, and as a result, the fulcrum of the political balance between the two parties and the constituents that they represent, keeps moving ever so slightly and undetectably to the electorate to the right.

And this shifting to the political right has been occurring ever since 1969 with the election of Richard Nixon, but took giant steps with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the obtainment of power in the Democratic Party in 1985 by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which argued against populism and the traditional left philosophy of the old Democratic party, and embraced corporate and 1% money in order to win elections.

So especially over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been moving dramatically to the right on economic issues, and camouflaging its collusion with Wall Street and Corporate America big money by hiding behind wedge issues—such as abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc.—which are not financial and thus not any detriment or threat to the financial interests of Wall Street.

The elections of Bill Clinton as President in 1992 and 1996, and those of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, proved the political viability of this schizophrenic approach of the Democratic Party of remaining liberal on social issues but selling out to Wall Street on financial issues.

And the election of Hillary Clinton in 2016 will all but put the final nail in the coffin for populism and signal the death of populist Democrats, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and firmly establish the reign of corporate Democrats, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

So it is not surprising at all that Bernie Sanders is now being characterized as this “socialist” from out in far-left field.  But, in truth, Bernie Sanders has not changed politically over the past 45 years; rather, the Democratic Party has been doing this hokey-pokey dance with Republicans for all these 45 years in order to woo the votes of working class Americans while continue to cash in on its share of the loot from Corporate America and Wall Street.

Do you remember that hokey-pokey dance that you would do at weddings as a child?  That’s what Democrats have been doing with Republicans.

You put your left foot out,
You put your left foot in;
You put your right foot out,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey-Pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!

Don’t believe me? Recall that Obama had talked about a single-payer healthcare bill in 2008. Recall that he failed to present this bill to Congress for a vote. Instead in response to the Republican cries of socialism, pink commie, and the like, he then inched over and presented the Romneycare version of fixing healthcare, the original Republican solution to our nation’s healthcare problem of the mid-1990s. Of course, now that the Republicans have leaped to the extreme right (the political right raised to the nth power of infinity), they have not truly proposed any viable solution at all to the prohibitive cost of healthcare except for holistically medically dumping the sick and old on a hill outside Sparta and letting nature take its course.

Still don’t believe me? Recall that Obama in 2008 originally proposed tax increases for those earning more than $250,000 annually, and tax cuts for those earning less. And how did the Republicans dance to that tune? In 2010 they counter-proposed tax cuts plus a huge estate tax cut largely benefiting the rich. See? President Obama put his left foot out and his left foot in, he put his right foot out, then shook it all about…hokey-pokeying the middle class and turning himself around, and that’s what it’s all about.

The problem with doing this dance of the hokey-pokey birds of paradise is someone gets screwed at the end of this dance, and guess who does? Always, inevitably, the middle class: no single-payer healthcare system to control costs, making the insurance, pharmaceuticals, and medical companies even richer; tax cuts for the rich, resulting in huge deficits, which are hidden, deferred taxes, later to be passed onto the middle class in customary subterfuge fashion; and ultimately the privatization of medicare and, doomed to follow, social security, eventually abandoning us all on that same Spartan hill after we become old and sick.

It’s too bad President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton never appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” because they do this dance oh so well, and would be shoo-ins to win that contest hands down with their hokey-pokey, birds of paradise dance. They are so good at it that I bet you didn’t even notice it, did you?

But do not fret:  Hillary Clinton will win the night on “Dancing with the Stars” and the American Presidency doing  the hokey-pokey dance of putting her left foot forward on the social issues of gay marriage, immigration, and feminism, but taking her left foot back on the economic issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Keystone XL Pipeline, and income and wealth inequality.  So Wall Street and Corporate America has its winning dance partner in Hillary Clinton.  Do you think she knows how to do the hustle?

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, never even learned to hustle.  Consequently, is it any surprise that he is being characterized as the guy who is not with it and who is out in far left field?  Look at what this so-called “socialist” has been saying:

  1. Control the ever increasing income and wealth inequality
  2. Stop the outsourcing of jobs overseas
  3. Raise the minimum wage out of a poverty wage
  4. Require equal pay for both genders
  5. Cut the $720 billion annual military budget:  World War II ended 70 years ago, folks!
  6. Make public college education free:  virtually everyone needs a college degree to get a job today
  7. Provide healthcare to all instead of letting people die in streets
  8. Save our environment from total destruction
  9. Get big money corruption out of politics
  10. Break up those big banksters under the forgotten Sherman Antitrust Act
  11. Stop giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations, and go after their stash on the Cayman Islands
  12. Encourage free assembly in unions for workers

This is communism?!  This is socialism?!  Is there any mention of the State owning your property and your house?  Of course, Wall Street owning your house with all of your debt, and owning your children with all of their student debt is perfectly acceptable:  it is capitalism at its finest hour since the rich get richer and you continue to get screwed.  Or is it a corporate totalitarian state reigned by oligarchs and monarchs?

Does the State dictate prices and wages?  Or does Corporate America, by shipping all jobs to China and Vietnam, where the average hourly wage is $0.56 per hour?

Isn’t all of what Bernie Sanders has been saying is a call for equity and justice for all rather than merely the super rich, the 1%, the American aristocracy?  His twelve steps forward remind me of those once highly regarded American ideals and proposals of our most popular President of all time—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—who endorsed them over 80 years ago!

Yes, Old Uncle Bernie Sanders may indeed be an anachronism from the 1960s and the 1930s.  But he hasn’t moved to the far left; he has merely remained where he was in the late 1960s.  The country, through corporate ownership of our elected officials and of the media, has shifted way to the right.

And we, the American people, have been hustled to this far right by the birds of paradise mating dances of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  We just didn’t notice, however, that we were being hokey-pokeyed by these political parties.  Why?  Because its execution was, and is, kabuki theater at its finest!

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