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Cynthia Neely: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 2013

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Posted: Saturday, January 4, 2014 12:00 am

In looking back over the events of 2013, it is difficult but challenging to place some of them in categories of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. There are many other topics and incidents which are worthy of note, but these sang out to me as I pondered the events of this past year.

The economy

The good: The deficit has been cut in half since 2009. The Republican screed on this issue seems to have died down to a whimper even as they conveniently forget the exponential growth of the deficit under George W. Bush. Unemployment is down, housing starts and prices are up, and the economy continues to grow.

The bad: Last year, Congress could not agree on a budget, so they settled for sequestration, which caused automatic spending cuts with no thought given to consequences — such as furloughs of 800,000 federal workers and costly domestic cuts affecting working Americans.

The ugly: In their zeal to end the Affordable Care Act, Republicans staged a government shutdown, costing American taxpayers $24 billion dollars. A Republican congressman later complained that there was no chance of success of shutting down the government, eliciting a furious Republican majority leader to shout, “You’ve got to be kidding!”


The good: Pope Francis has inspired Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his forgiving spirit and care for the poor, following the actual teachings of Jesus. His views on economic inequality are perhaps exemplified by his statement that “trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world ... have never been confirmed by the facts (and) express a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”

The bad: Some companies complain that their religious freedom is being infringed upon by including birth control in insurance policies for their employees. However, the Constitution actually provides that there should be no law imposing religious beliefs on others, which is exactly what these companies are trying to do to their employees through government action.

The ugly: Saudi women have staged protests to the Saudi government because they want to be able to drive automobiles. Need I say more?


The good: Congress passed the Ryan-Murray budget in a 64-36 Senate vote. Nine Republicans joined Democrats to pass the budget. Is this the beginning of Republicans and Democrats coming together to work on the issues facing this country? Hope springs eternal.

The bad: Republicans have used the filibuster to deny President Obama the ability to appoint nominees and to fulfill his duty to govern. A filibuster is a strategy by a minority party to use dilatory or obstructive tactics to prevent a vote on a measure. In appointing presidential nominees, of the 128 filibusters of presidential nominees in the history of the Senate, half have occurred under Obama. Thirty nominees to executive positions have been filibustered during his presidency compared to 20 in previous history. This example typifies the blatant political ruthlessness of this behavior.

Judge Robert Bacharach was nominated by President Obama to the appellate court after being suggested by Sen. Coburn, R-Okla. After the nomination was to be put to a vote, Coburn put a hold on the nomination. Republicans then filibustered. One year later Bacharach was confirmed by a 93-0 vote, without any question as to his qualifications.

The ugly: A recent poll shows that two-thirds of Americans believe that this Congress is the worst in history. Their legislative output has been dismal. Background checks for guns were foiled by the NRA and a spineless Congress. Food stamps were slashed while subsidies to millionaire farmers were extended. Climate change was ignored even though an overwhelming majority of scientists are warning that we should address the issue. The Jobs Act, which would have given tax breaks to companies bringing jobs back to the U.S. and closed corporate tax loopholes for those sending jobs overseas was filibustered. Instead they voted 44 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act

The good: Starting Jan. 1, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge more due to pre-existing conditions. They cannot drop you from coverage just because you get sick or have an accident. Nor can they place a yearly cap on medical benefits. More than 48 million uninsured Americans will have the opportunity to obtain health care, and some will be entitled to subsidies.

The bad: The ACA expands Medicaid to individuals making below the federal poverty level. However, some Republican governors are denying 5.3 million people the opportunity to visit a doctor by turning down the funds provided by the ACA.

The ugly: The rollout of the Affordable Care Act was dismal and inexcusable. Even though there were problems even in the Romney-Massachusetts rollout, they were nothing as wide-ranging as the problems with the ACA. These problems are being resolved, and currently there are over 1 million people who have signed up; this is progress. However, the rollout has proved to be useful fodder for Republicans to cast doubt on the ACA just because of computer glitches, which have nothing to do with the provisions of the act itself.

Cynthia Neely is a Lodi resident.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Andrew Liebich posted at 11:44 pm on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    The deficit and the debt are NOT the same thing. [sleeping]

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 11:39 pm on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Ms. Bobin's INABILITY to digest the facts is limitless.

    Obama Deficits

    FY 2014*: $744 billion * Federal Deficit is budgeted. [sleeping]
    FY 2013: $680 billion [sleeping]
    FY 2012: $1,087 billion [sleeping]
    FY 2011: $1,300 billion [sleeping]
    FY 2010: $1,294 billion [sleeping]

  • Jeff Tillett posted at 10:48 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 558

    yes, except that her second sentence framed it in Rep/Dem terms. context, context. you also seem to be stuck on a presumption that an increase in spending/debt is automatically a bad thing.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 11:24 am on Tue, Jan 7, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Chuckle... from your CATO link. "It should go without saying that this post is not an argument for Obama’s fiscal policy. The current President promised change, but he is continuing the wasteful and profligate policies of his big-spending predecessor. That is where critics should be focusing their attention."

    I'm not helplessly stuck in the false left/right paradigm Mr. Tillett. I just post the truth which is why I said, "Although the deficit has been cut in half since 2009 it is still $184 billion ABOVE where it was in 2008."

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:25 am on Tue, Jan 7, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Liebich's ABILITY to obfuscate the facts is limitless.

    Repeat: When you receive your degree - PhD would be preferable - get back to me about your silly claim.

    Until then - don't try to copy and paste information that SEEMS to support whatever claim you are trying to make when it is obvious that you DO NOT understand how deficits work.

    Playing pretend can only get you so far - and only with gullible people.

  • Jeff Tillett posted at 9:48 am on Tue, Jan 7, 2014.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 558

    When did FY 2009 start? Who should be responsible for the $1.4T deficit?




  • John Lucas posted at 6:06 pm on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Jerome said:

    I freely chose to waste that time on such so-called “progressive” drivel.

    No, what you are is a coward. You do not take one of her ideas or statements and make a counter argument. What you do is make a blanket statement condemning the author. If you had and courage or integrity you would stand up and state your case on any of the particulars on anything you disagree with. You are a typical(very much like Joe Baxter) one hit wonder making general personal attacks. Why don't you man up for a change and get your hands dirty by participating in the battle of ideas. If you want to see how it is done look at Joanne's comments but do not take her on for she would eat you alive.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 3:06 pm on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Your inability to understand that a deficit INCREASE of $184 billion dollars isn't a deficit DECREASE is silly.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:27 pm on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488


    When you finish that degree in economics, Mr. Liebich, let us know.

    What you stated above is just plain silly, i.e., "the deficit came down really fast because it shot up really fast."


  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:17 am on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I think it is hilarious that Mr. Kinderman, over the past year, has taken it upon himself to "counsel" new conservative posters, nay - WARN them, that they are in for inaccurate, incorrect, and untruthful information from those who are left-leaning in this forum.

    As Baxxter would say - "that's another load of (conservative) dumpster stew."

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 10:17 am on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Man attempts to put numbers on everything. Without numbers there can be no points of contention.

    What is Wealth? - Numbers (money) , health and compassion for one another. More numbers might make you live longer or it can put you in an early grave. More numbers can make you greedy or enable you to be more compassionate for your fellow man. All that is what the freedoms we enjoy can do. No where else can this happen. Being accused of being naïve about any of this is very narrow in itself.

    Being poor is an option that relies on the good deeds of others. Being content with oneself and a relationship with others is a value immeasurable. Life does not have to be complicated.

    What is taxes? - A measurement varied upon points of view. Man to man, dollar to dollar, a dollar has it's own value and how much a man owes is subject to views of what is fair. A dollar to pave the road in relation to each man and his individual benefit from that paved road is all relative and multiplies itself as the man's use increases with other men's use as his dollar multiplies. It maxes out as there is only so much time in a day and man himself is limited. All the government's game of uplifting everyone. Life does not have to be complicated.

    Dollar value with percentage figures increase incrementally with the wage earned. What is fair is exactly that. I would be the first to vote for a flat percentage for everyone just to get rid of all the games . Simpler is better and more efficient which in turn produces more usable money. Even the poor would have a better idea on where they potentially stand.

    Special "Luxury" taxes are outside the fair box and yet you just employed middle income people to build the boat you just bought. Life does not have to be complicated.

    If you want to stop reading just because of religious points of view - now would be the time.

    There is no money in heaven. God decided that because he didn't want any points of contention to argue about in his house. If he did have money at one time , he doesn't now because he spent it all when Jesus paid for our sins. Trying to earn your way there is only a man's viewpoint. Bottom line is THAT relief is the feeling God wants us to have and not feel the point of contentions we argue here today.

    Religion has more to do with our relationships with each other than numbers. The "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is exactly that.

    Businesses deal with numbers and are forever trying to nail down costs and expand incomes. Without that , in this numbers world, it is difficult to even think of any of the rest until the day our maker comes and gets us.

    If you had a billion dollars , as a good Christian, what would you do with it ?

    The next question would be , as a good Christian, where did you get a billion dollars ?

    - So give the poor everything you have - numbers wise if you like. You have the knowledge and advantage of doing it again and again. That knowledge is something the poor does not have unless you teach them - that is - if they can learn.

    You might ask what is the government's role in any of this and the answer in the Bible is that God wants you to support your government. Doesn't say which government - just man's government. It won't matter when you get to heaven.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 10:12 am on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Ms. Neely's column is riddled with falsehoods and slant Ms. Bobin.

    Rather than address each and every one let's simply begin with her first sentence shall we. She said, " The deficit has been cut in half since 2009."

    Of course President Pinnocchio claims credit for cutting the deficit in half. But one reason it fell so fast is that it shot up so high in the first place.

    In 2008, the deficit was about $458 billion.

    In 2009, it rocketed up to $1.4 trillion.

    The 2013 shortfall should end up at around $642 billion, according to the CBO.

    Although the deficit has been cut in half since 2009 it is still $184 billion ABOVE where it was in 2008. The nation’s fiscal problems are far from solved.

  • John Lucas posted at 7:01 am on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Jerome your humor always works for me. The idea that Conservatives are correct, accurate and truthful. There is no one who believes that even Conservatives. It is part of the modern day Conservative ethic that the only things that matter is power and getting their way. Remember the Iraq war?

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:16 pm on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Spears - you should understand that as a columnist Ms. Neely will always write on a liberal slant - this is simply who and what she is. From that perspective I have no problem with her column - nothing at all. But since this is what we all expect from her, I rarely read her column. Because after doing so I’m left wondering why I freely chose to waste that time on such so-called “progressive” drivel.

    As you appear new to these Op/Ed pages, you’ll soon become aware of those who come from the left or right (also meaning: correct, accurate, truthful) side. My best advice to you as you appear to be a reasonable fellow is to consider yourself warned! But by all means try to have some fun while you’re here!

  • John Kindseth posted at 6:07 pm on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    John Kindseth Posts: 246

    My ugly list includes the 10 most corrupt politicians this year, look it up.....which come from both parties, plus Bengazi, fast n furious, " you can keep your plan"....you can keep your doctor", the tsa, homeland security buying billions of rounds of ammo for "practice", murdering a Wash DC mother for target practice and about a dozen more.

  • John Lucas posted at 5:05 pm on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    When you have no counter argument you make silly comments. Typical Conservative behavior. You might try addressing something she said.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:55 pm on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Which part of Ms. Neely's column was blatantly false, Mr. Spears? Unless falsehoods were contained in this column, there IS no "slant."

  • Billy Spears posted at 7:05 am on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    Billy S Posts: 7

    Your Liberal slant to events is Blatantly Obvious.
    Could you try next time to be a little more neutral.


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