Friday, July 29, 2016

Canadian Senate, Senators, and Other Related Stuff!?

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Judge Exonerates Mike Duffy, "Indicts" Stephen Harper And Senate  
Published on Apr 25, 2016
Author and journalist Rick Salutin tells The Real News that Duffy, "a phony, populist man of the people," has served a historical purpose of bringing down Harper.
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Trudeau’s first senate appointees are exactly the sort of people you’d expect Liberals to appoint
Kelly McParland
March 22, 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance before the speech from the throne in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill.
Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the first crew of senators named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau appointed seven new senators last week, to a general lack of excitement. Ottawa’s pundits, perhaps still worn out by the thrill of the prime minister’s visit to Washington, and busy speculating on the contents of Tuesday’s budget, have been almost universally silent.
In a way, it’s not a surprise. It’s been a long time since the Senate offered anything but bad news. People are sick of hearing about Mike Duffy and the dubious means senators employed to nickel and dime the taxpayer, which was raked over once again yesterday in a report by former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie. They’re ready for the Senate to return to the boring, overpriced, near-irrelevant slumber chamber it’s been for most of its existence.
Still, you’d think there would be at least a smidgen of curiosity about the latest appointees. They’re the first by the new prime minister, the first in three years (since former prime minister Harper gave up in disgust and quit appointing anyone at all), the first under the Liberals’ heralded new arm’s-length advisory council, the first to be appointed entirely as independents, and the opening wave in the Liberals’ proclaimed plan to de-partisan the benighted second chamber.
Surveying the names on the Liberal list of appointees, two thoughts spring to mind. 1. The Liberals appear to have concluded that the best way to escape the sort of Senate controversy that engulfed the Tories is to make the process as boring as humanly possible. 2. Having achieved that, they’ve used public ennui to appoint exactly the sort of people you’d expect Liberals to appoint.
To get the apathy ball rolling, Trudeau’s government announced in January it had appointed a three-member committee to advise it on potential appointees. It had three permanent members: a federal bureaucrat and two academics, plus “ad hoc” members from provinces with vacancies. The first ad hoc advisers included another bureaucrat, the head of a native women’s group, the head of a Quebec doctor’s organization, an athlete, a singer and the head of a charity.
It duly sent some names to Ottawa, from which Trudeau picked his chosen seven: the head of his transition team, a former Ontario NDP cabinet minister, an academic, an “expert on migration and diversity”, a Paralympic athlete, a federalist journalist from Quebec and the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools.

Since the Liberals claim all new senators have to be non-partisan, we’ll have to assume all these people assured the prime minister of their independence, though, looking at the list, it’s not hard to guess they skew pretty much to the left. Not a lot of closet Tories in that group. As my colleague John Robson put it, the list is so predictable of a Liberal government it might have been selected by an affirmative action random-elite-candidate-generator.
And what else would you expect? Examine the membership of the advisory committee and you notice it’s heavy with people paid from the public purse, or dependent on government for grace and favour. Who else would they put forward but Canadians who reflect their own background: public servants, academics, friendly faces, administrators, reliable interest groups and members of other Liberal-friendly operations. They don’t reflect Canada so much as they reflect the Liberals’ view of Canada: people like them; people you see in the salons of Ottawa, people who will be sympathetic to Liberal aspirations and the Liberal way of doing things. Even if, under Trudeau’s directive, they have to promise not to call themselves Liberals.
James Cowan, the leader of Senate Liberals, understands the dynamics at work. Senate Liberals used to be Liberal senators, until Trudeau decreed that there are no more Liberal senators, and thus they must identify themselves as Senate Liberals. In much the same manner, Cowan says, there’s nothing to stop him wooing the new “Independent” senators into working with his Liberal members. “I will certainly be inviting them to come and have a look at the way we do business and see if it appeals to them,” he told the Globe and Mail.
To be fair to the Liberals, it would be difficult for any government to find 105 Canadians who have the experience, expertise and understanding of Ottawa’s ways demanded for Senate membership, yet have developed no views on how the country should be run, or which side of the political divide attracts their sympathy. But no other prime minister before Trudeau claimed the ability to do it. His “independents” may not hold a party membership, but that’s not the only measure of independence. Would it have been too much to include just one new senator who doesn’t see government as the answer to every problem? An entrepreneur? Someone who’s been required to meet a payroll or risked their own money on an idea?
Evidently so.
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Keeping Up with the Upper Chamber  
Uploaded on Jul 13, 2016
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Trudeau Senate appointees include aboriginal judge, Paralympian, ex-NDPer, journalist
Trudeau appoints 7 Senators to form a more 'independent, non-partisan' upper chamber
CBC News 
Posted: Mar 18, 2016
Four women were among the seven people appointed to the Senate to sit as independents by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (S. Kilpatrick, M. Cassese, R. Walker and A. Wyld for Canadian Press, Reuters and Ryerson University)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the appointment of seven new senators who will sit as independents to represent the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
The appointments are the first in three years and the result of a new selection process established by Trudeau's Liberals in a bid to transform the scandal-plagued Senate into a more "independent, non-partisan" institution.
The announcement comes in anticipation of new government legislation that will require the Senate's approval after the Trudeau government tables its first federal budget on March 22.
* Chantal Petitclerc, Murray Sinclair among 7 new Trudeau-appointed senators
* Justice Murray Sinclair accepts 'sacred' appointment to Senate
​​* Ratna Omidvar, Toronto expert on diversity, to sit as independent senator
* Chantal Petitclerc, André Pratte among those named to the Senate

Trudeau's pick of four women and three men includes Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, a Paralympic gold medallist, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister, and a journalist.
The new senators were picked from a pool of candidates on the recommendation of an "independent" advisory board selected three months ago by the Trudeau government to advise the prime minister in a concerted effort to make the upper chamber less partisan.
Trudeau made an unprecedented decision in 2014 when he expelled every Liberal senator from his party's caucus, leaving them to sit as independents.
The 105-seat Senate includes 42 Conservative senators, 26 ex-Liberals, and 20 independents which include today's appointments.
The seven appointments brings the total number of vacancies down to 17.
Meet your new 7 senators:
1. Peter Harder (Ont.)
Peter Harder representing the government in the Senate
Trudeau appointed Peter Harder as the government's representative in the Senate to work with Liberal House Leader Dominic Leblanc to ensure legislation gets tabled through the Senate.
Harder, who managed the Liberal transition to government, will be sworn in as a privy councillor allowing him to sit in on cabinet meetings when necessary.
He spent 29 years in the federal public service, including 16 years as a deputy minister and four years as the personal representative of the prime minister to three G8 Summits.
Peter Harder on representing the government in the Senate8:01
2. Justice Murray Sinclair (Man.)
Justice Murray Sinclair speaks during the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report in Ottawa, Canada, December 15, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
He was the first aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and only the second in Canada. He was the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the legacy of the residential school system and delivered a landmark report in 2015.
Justice Murray Sinclair senate
Justice Murray Sinclair speaks during the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report in Ottawa, Canada, December 15, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
3. Chantal Peticlerc (Que.)
Chantal Petitclerc tweeted that she was 'feeling humbled' on Friday. (Fred Chartrand/CP)
She has won over 20 medals for Canada in the sport of wheelchair racing, beginning at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona. She is chef de mission for Canada's team at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Chantal Petitclerc senate
Chantal Petitclerc tweeted that she was 'feeling humbled' on Friday. (Fred Chartrand/CP)
4. Raymonde Gagné (MB)
Gov. Gen. David Johnston presents the Order of Canada to Raymonde Gagné during an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
She has worked in education for over 35 years. She served as president of Université de Saint-Boniface from 2003 to 2014. She was responsible for the college obtaining full university status and has been honoured for increasing the range of educational opportunities available in French in Manitoba.
Raymonde Gagné senate
Gov. Gen. David Johnston presents the Order of Canada to Raymonde Gagné during an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
5. Frances Lankin (Ont.)
Frances Lankin, seen at Rideau Hall in 2013, served as CEO of United Way Toronto for years. (Adrian Wyld/CP)
Most recently, Lankin spent 10 years running the United Way in Toronto, taking that job after years as an NDP cabinet minister and MPP in Ontario. From 2009 to 2016, she was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the oversight body for the country's security agencies.
Frances Lankin senate
Frances Lankin, seen at Rideau Hall in 2013, served as CEO of United Way Toronto for years. (Adrian Wyld/CP)
6. Ratna Omidvar (Ont.)
Lifeline Syria's Chair Ratna Omidvar, centre left, is seen working with colleagues at the organization's offices in Toronto in 2015. (Chris Young/CP)
Recognized globally for her contributions to increasing the inclusion of immigrants, she is currently the founding executive director of a think tank at Ryerson University's school of management that focuses on diversity, migration and inclusion. She is the chair of Lifeline Syria, which seeks to bring 1,000 privately sponsored Syrian refugees to Toronto. She also serves on the boards of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, The Environics Institute, and Samara.
Ratna Omidvar senate
Lifeline Syria's Chair Ratna Omidvar, centre left, is seen working with colleagues at the organization's offices in Toronto in 2015. (Chris Young/CP)
7. André Pratte (Que.)
Journalist and author André Pratte autographs copies of the book 'Reconquérir Le Canada' (Reconquering Canada), a new pro-federalist collection of essays, at the launch in Montreal in 2007. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)
Author and journalist, he spent 14 years as editor-in-chief of the Quebec daily paper La Presse. He is one of the founders of a Quebec think tank on federalism.
Andre Pratte senate
Journalist and author André Pratte autographs copies of the book 'Reconquérir Le Canada' (Reconquering Canada), a new pro-federalist collection of essays, at the launch in Montreal in 2007. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)
Bios compiled by The Canadian Press.
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After appointing 56 senators, Stephen Harper is done
The Prime Minister declares a moratorium on Senate appointments and the countdown to a constitutional crisis is on
Aaron Wherry
July 24, 2015
After nine years, 59 appointments to the upper chamber, one ruling of the Supreme Court, one cheque for $90,000 and 31 charges against Mike Duffy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has now vowed to fold his arms, hold his breath and wait until the premiers are ready and able to present him with an agreement to reform or abolish the Senate.
So either the premiers—taken somehow by a desire to commit energy to addressing the form and function of the federal legislature—will band together to solve this conundrum and relieve this Prime Minister and all future prime ministers of ever having to nominate another unelected appointee, or we will, eventually, have ourselves a constitutional crisis.
Or perhaps, before then, we will have a different prime minister.
The Senate is not merely a quirk of our history or a blight upon our democracy. It is the law. Its existence is part of the constitutional basis for this country’s existence.
As drafted, the foundational text was the British North America Act, “an Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the Government thereof; and for Purposes connected therewith,” dated March 29, 1867. It is now known as the Constitution Act, 1867.
At section 17 it is written that, “There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.”
At section 22 it is decreed that, “The Senate shall, subject to the Provisions of this Act, consist of One Hundred and five Members, who shall be styled Senators.”
Section 23 allots these 105 senators to the provinces: 24 each for Ontario and Quebec, 10 each for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, six each for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland, four for Prince Edward Island, one each for the Northwest and Yukon territories.
Section 32 sets out that, “When a Vacancy happens in the Senate by Resignation, Death, or otherwise, the Governor General shall by Summons to a fit and qualified Person fill the Vacancy.”
And section 35 dictates quorum: “Until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides, the Presence of at least Fifteen Senators, including the Speaker, shall be necessary to constitute a Meeting of the Senate for the Exercise of its Powers.”
To change or ignore constitutional provisions should be considered no small thing.
At present, the Senate is 22 senators short of its constitutional allotment. And already it could be argued that the Constitution is being betrayed—that provinces are being deprived their rightful representation and that Parliament is not in its proper form. In fact, Harper’s reluctance to nominate anyone for the Senate is already being challenged at the Federal Court.
Even if that particular challenge fails, it will still not be possible to merely ignore the Senate away. Without at least 15 senators, the Senate would be unable to function. And unless passed by the Senate, legislation cannot be made law. Thus, as currently set out, there is no functioning Parliament without a functioning Senate.
As the Supreme Court ruled that any “fundamental” change to the form or mandate of the Senate would require provincial consent, it’s possible that a refusal to appoint senators would be ruled unconstitutional long before the Senate’s population fell below 15. What then? Would Harper ignore a court ruling? Shall we start speculating now about when a governor general would be compelled to intervene? Would it be too early to start manufacturing constitutional-crisis tchotchkes to sell to the tourists?
That the provinces have a role here is indisputable, but to suggest that they would sort it out themselves seems at least to absolve the federal government of its responsibility to join (convene, even) those discussions and to ignore the fact that the Senate is a federal institution.
Though his declaration today was more unequivocal, that the Prime Minister isn’t willing to fill those vacancies is not a new development; it has been more than two years since he recommended anyone to the Governor General. As rival partisans quickly pointed out, going back 11 years, this is not even the first time Harper has vowed not to make Senate appointments.
But then, on the very day he became Prime Minister, Harper decided he wanted Michael Fortier in his cabinet. And then, a few years after, there arrived Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. And, later, Don Meredith. Not to mention defeated Conservative candidates, the Conservative party’s top fundraiser, the Conservative party’s campaign manager, and the Prime Minister’s former press secretary. And then the Prime Minister’s chief of staff cut a cheque for Sen. Duffy. And the Prime Minister’s Office was apparently found to have managed the rewriting of a Senate committee’s report on Sen. Duffy. And then charges started getting laid. And then the auditor general was called in.
And so Harper wants nothing to do with the Senate now. Which is, given all of the above, perfectly understandable.
It’s just that this “moratorium” comes rather late. It was seven years before Harper referred the matter of Senate reform to the Supreme Court; even after gaining a majority in the House, the Conservatives sat on their own reform legislation. And now, nine-and-a-half years and 58 more senators after he recommended his first nominee, the Prime Minister has declared a moratorium. (In fairness, three of those nominees had gone through elections in Alberta.)
In addition to speculating about where things go from here, we might wonder how differently history would have unfolded if this moratorium and that reference had been initiated in February 2006.
(Earlier in the day, it had been speculated that the Prime Minister was about to announce his support for abolition, a position that could have at least been presented as his plan all along—the culmination of a decade-long play, brilliant in hindsight, to destroy the upper chamber.)
More currently, we might ask about the precise utility of the 83 senators that remain.
It was the Prime Minister’s estimation today that the 22 senators we don’t have are not missed. “There are 22 vacancies now,” he said. “How many people are noticing?” For that matter, he celebrated the budgetary savings that resulted from not having those senators. Later, he dismissed the notion that provinces gain meaningful representation from their current senators. “The number of senators you have today, in the current institution, gives no real weight in Parliament,” he said. “Decisions are made, for all practical purposes, in the House of Commons.”
It was previously the Prime Minister’s suggestion, mind you, that the Senate was fulfilling its functions, as long as the Senate was passing the government’s legislation.
All things considered, then, the Prime Minister should be looking to save more money. At present, and even if every independent senator votes against the government, the Conservatives have a majority of 11. Even allowing for the Conservatives to maintain a healthy majority still leaves a surplus of senators, and so, surely, at least five or six Conservatives should quit. And perhaps the rest can agree to a sizable pay cut. In the meantime, Harper’s senators might explain what it is they do that we should consider to be of any value.
(Harper’s principle of “How many people are noticing?” might next be applied to reducing his ministry by a third and seeing if the public complains.)
There is at least here some kind of discussion about the upper chamber’s precise utility.
“Honourable senators, I believe in Senate reform, because I believe in the ideas behind an upper house,” Harper said nine years ago during an appearance before a Senate committee. “Canada needs an upper house that provides sober and effective second thought. Canada needs an upper house that gives voice to our diverse regions. Canada needs an upper house with democratic legitimacy, and I hope that we can work together to move toward that enhanced democratic legitimacy.”
Is democratic legitimacy required to provide sobriety and voice? If so, how would an elected Senate interact with the House of Commons? How more likely would it be that we’d have the sort of gridlock that has paralyzed the U.S. Congress? And why wouldn’t an elected Senate merely behave as unsoberly as our elected House?
As lucrative as it might be to convert the Senate into lofts, would it be all the more dangerous, given the House’s drunken weakness, to abolish the Senate, as the New Democrats propose, and remove one more check on power, even if that check seems more theoretical than real at present?
Or is it possible that the Fathers of Confederation were onto something when they established an appointed chamber of second thought, even if we’ve maybe never had a Senate that lived up to its notional ideal? Could a new appointment process and a break from caucus allegiance, as the Liberals propose, achieve that utility? Or is that even merely just the most practical solution?
(If Trudeau hadn’t proposed it already, would that have been an option for the Prime Minister now? Or would he rather not have dealt with senators who couldn’t be counted on to advance his government’s agenda relatively unimpeded?)
Those questions would form the basis of a decent debate about the Senate. And maybe that debate will be had now—or be had more loudly and decisively than it was already being had.
For the moment, we have a Prime Minister asking the provinces to sort things out amongst themselves while he uses an ultimately unconstitutional moratorium to hide from an upper chamber already stacked with appointees of questionable utility. It is probably enough of a position to get him through the election—or, at least, it is surely a better option than appointing 22 senators this summer. But, nine years after he mused to senators about the “rite of passage for aspiring leaders and prime ministers to promise Senate reform on their way to the top,” only for their governments to lose interest and for the “status quo” to prevail, the Prime Minister is left with something worse than the status quo, as he attempts to redirect responsibility.
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Justin Trudeau removes senators from Liberal caucus
Liberal leader's move described as a 'smokescreen' by Conservatives
By James Cudmore, CBC News 
Posted: Jan 29, 2014

Justin Trudeau on Senate reform
Published on Jan 29, 2014
Justin Trudeau has expelled from his caucus every single Liberal member of the upper house and has declared there is no longer any such thing as a Liberal senator.
The Liberal leader said the former members of the Liberal Senate caucus will sit as Independents, and they will have no formal ties to the Liberal parliamentary.
"The only way to be a part of the Liberal caucus is to be put there by the people of Canada," Trudeau said.
  • Chat: Join Kady O'Malley at noon ET to discuss Trudeau's move
  • Senate expenses: What you need to know

  • The move stunned both Liberal senators and senior Liberal Senate staffers, who had not been formally advised of the decision. It also blindsided veteran insiders and political observers who had no inkling about the change.
    Trudeau's surprise move came as all parties held their caucus meetings in Ottawa.
    Those meetings typically include both MPs and senators.
    But sources told CBC News that Liberal MPs and senators were separated and sent to meet in different rooms.
    Trudeau advised senators of his decision just after 9 a.m.
    Sources said the senators listened and did not ask many questions.
    "The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed," Trudeau told them.
    At a news conference just a few minutes later, Trudeau explained why he had made the decision.
    "The Senate was once referred to as a place of sober, second thought. A place that allows for reflective deliberation on legislation, in-depth studies into issues of import to the country, and, to a certain extent, provide a check and balance on the politically driven House of Commons.
    "It has become obvious that the party structure within the Senate interferes with these responsibilities."
    Trudeau proposed the Senate should be made non-partisan, to better serve Canadians. He suggested an "open, transparent, non-partisan process" that would see all senators named to the Red Chamber sit as Independents.
    "Instead of being separate from political, or electoral concerns, senators now must consider not just what’s best for their country, or their regions, but what’s best for their party," Trudeau said.
    "At best, this renders the Senate redundant. At worst — and under Mr. Harper, we have seen it at its worst — it amplifies the prime minister’s power."
    Conservatives call it a 'smokescreen'
    As Trudeau gave his address, some Conservative MPs and senators observed from a balcony overlooking the Commons foyer.
    The government dispatched its lead on democratic reform, Minister of State Pierre Poilievre, to respond.
    "Today, Mr. Trudeau announced a smokescreen to distance himself from the auditor general's report," Poilievre told reporters.
    "In reality, not only would his senators continue to be unelected and unaccountable, the only change is that they wouldn't attend one caucus meeting per week."
    Poilievre said Trudeau's proposal for a non-partisan, independent Senate would make the institution worse.
    "We are the one party that supports a democratically elected Senate that is accountable to Canadians," he said. "Not only has the prime minister named to the upper chamber four citizens who were previously elected by citizens in the province of Alberta, the prime minister has also asked the Supreme Court for a legal instruction manual on how we can make all Canadian senators elected. That has to be our goal."
    Depth of change questioned
    Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan admitted Trudeau's decision was a surprise for senators, who he said were not consulted in advance.
    Cowan said senators were becoming increasingly comfortable with the decision, the longer they had to think about it.
    "What Mr. Trudeau has courageously done today is to set us free and allow us to do the job we're here to do – without any interference or direction from colleagues in other place," Cowan said.
    But Cowan then went on to cast doubt on the depth of change suggested by his leader. There will still be a Liberal Senate caucus, he said, and it will be populated by the same group of Liberal senators, who will each remain a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, though, they may call themselves something different.
    Harper jumps in
    In question period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper mocked Trudeau's Senate announcement.
    "I gather the change announced by the leader today is that unelected Liberal senators will become unelected senators who happen to be Liberal," Harper said, to cheers from Conservative backbenchers.
    "What the Liberal Party doesn't seem to understand is that Canadians are not looking for a better unelected Senate. Canadians believe, for the Senate to be meaningful in the 21st century, it must be elected."
    New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair also raised an eyebrow in response to Trudeau's surprise announcement.
    "It's quite interesting to see today that Justin Trudeau sees the merits of something we put on the table on Oct. 23," Mulcair said.
    Last fall, the New Democrats had put forth a motion to end partisan activities in the Senate, including participation in caucus meetings. Trudeau voted against it.
    Ultimately, Mulcair returned to the party's long-held position that the Upper Chamber should be abolished.
    "The way to deal with the Senate is to eliminate it," he said.
    Long-running scandal
    There are currently 32 Liberal senators who sit in the upper house as official members of the Liberal Party and represent the party's positions and political interests.
    Trudeau said his decision Wednesday will effectively remove his party formally from all of the Senate's institutions — including its committees.
    "These proposals, while bold and concrete, are not the final word. They represent our judgment of how far we can go without guidance from the Supreme Court," Trudeau said.
    "If the Supreme Court says more can be done, we are open to doing more."
    Audits and investigations
    The Senate scandal that has dominated political news in Ottawa for more than a year has had political implications for both the Liberal and Conservative parties.
    Although most of those senators under investigation are former Conservatives, the Liberals have not escaped being tarred by the scandal's politically sticky brush.
    Former Liberal senator Mac Harb has been accused by the RCMP of committing fraud by filing inappropriate expense claims, according to documents filed in Ottawa court.
    A Senate committee investigating senators' expenses ordered Harb to repay more than $230,000.
    He retired in August after paying the money back.
    Canada's auditor general has been called to audit the Senate's spending — including the expenses of all senators.
    That review is currently taking place.
    Trudeau's move could serve to isolate the party from criticism if any of its — now former — senators are found to have had spending trouble.
    Trudeau told reporters he has not been made aware of any early results of the auditor general's investigations.
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    Salaries of Canadian Senators 2015-16
    Basic Salary and Extra Compensation for Members of the Canadian Senate
    By Susan Munroe
    Updated June 03, 2015
    There are normally 105 senators in the Senate of Canada, the upper house of the Parliament of Canada. Canadian senators are not elected. They are appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada.
    Salaries of Canadian Senators 2015-16
    Like MPs' salaries, the salaries and allowances of Canadian senators are adjusted on April 1 each year.
    For the 2015-16 fiscal year, Canadian senators received an increase of 2.7 percent. The increase is still based on an index of wage increases from major settlements of private-sector bargaining units which is maintained by the Labour Program in the federal Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), however there is a legal requirement that Senators be paid exactly $25,000 less than MPs, so the percentage increase works out a bit higher.
    When you look at Senators' salaries, don't forget that while Senators do have a lot of traveling, their working hours aren't as strenuous as those of MPs.
    They don't have to campaign to get re-elected, and the Senate's schedule is lighter than in the House of Commons. For example, in 2014, the Senate sat on just 83 days.
    Base Salary of Canadian Senators
    For the fiscal year 2015-16, all Canadian Senators make a basic salary of $142,400, up from $138,700.
    Extra Compensation for Additional Responsibilities
    Senators who have extra responsibilities, such as the Speaker of the Senate, the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, government and opposition whips, and chairs of Senate committees, receive additional compensation. (See below.)
    Title Additional Salary Total Salary
    Senator   $142,400
    Speaker of the Senate* $58,500 $200,900
    Leader of the Government in the Senate* $80,100 $222,500
    Leader of the Opposition in the Senate $38,100 $180,500
    Government Whip $11,600 $154,000
    Opposition Whip $6,800 $149,200
    Government Caucus Chair $6,800 $149,200
    Opposition Caucus Chair $5,800 $148,200
    Senate Committee Chair $11,600 $154,000
    Senate Committee vice-Chair $5,800 $148,200
    *The Speaker of the Senate and the Leader of the Government in the Senate also get a car allowance. In addition, the Speaker of the Senate receives a residence allowance.
    Canadian Senate Administration
    The Canadian Senate remains in the throes of re-organization as it attempts to cope with the ongoing problems arising from initial expenses scandal that centered on Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Mac Harb, who are on trial or facing trial shortly, and Pamela Wallin, who is still under RCMP investtigation. Added to that is the impending release of a comprehensive two-year audit by the office of Michael Ferguson, the Auditor General of Canada. That audit covered the expenses of 117 current and former Senators, and will recommend that about 10 cases will be referred to the RCMP for criminal investigation. Another 30 or so cases of "problematic spending" were discovered, primarily having to do with travel or residency expenses. The Senators involved will either be required to repay the money or will be able to take advantage of a new arbitration system arranged by the Senate. Former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie has been named as an independent arbitrator to settle disputes the affected Senators may have.
    One thing that has become clear from ongoing Mike Duffy trial is that Senate procedures have been lax and confusing in the past, and will need a lot of effort for the Senate to handle the public outrage and to get things on an even keel. The Senate is continuing to work on improving its processes.
    The Senate does publish quarterly expenditure reports for Senators.
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    Also See:
    Abolish the Senate! We Don't Need It!
    30 May 2013
    and
    Canada, It's Time to Abolish the Senate!
    18 March 2013
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    Wednesday, July 27, 2016

    Destroying the Middle Class in America!

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    The 2000 Recount Changed Democrats Forever
    Rush Limbaugh
    July 26, 2016
    RUSH: I got an email. During the break I check 'em, I just don't read them verbatim to you.  I summarize them.  "Rush, come on, tell us the truth.  You love watching these Democrat conventions."  I don't, folks.  Maybe in the past.  But I imagine I'm no different than you.  It's torture.
    You care about the country, you care about the future, and you watch this, you turn these people on and you listen to the world that they project, you listen to the country they reflect.  You listen to the dystopian, negative, cataclysmic set of circumstances they want everybody to think they're living in.  I mean, it would be different if they got 20, 30% of the vote, but they win sometimes.  It's tortuous watching this stuff when you realize that it has a good chance of winning, that there are enough people out there moved by this.  That's scary to me.  It's tortuous watching this.
    As I said at the beginning of the program, I watch these things now entirely differently.  I remember back, this program actually began August 1st, 1988, and it was right in the middle of the George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis campaign.  And you talk about fun.  I mean, there was Dukakis running around in a tank looking like Beetle Bailey wearing his army helmet.  It was obviously lunacy. It was insane.  Remember, this was the Reagan third term, this was 1988 and Bush was campaigning that way. And even though when this program started Dukakis was way up in the polls, nobody thought it was gonna hold up and it didn't.
    But back in 1988, there was a confidence, there was a decent expectation that the left, as embodied by Dukakis, was gonna be vanquished.  And then 1992 came, well, before we got to '92, we had some serious policy malfunctions before that, like the "Read my lips:  No new taxes" backtrack and the Clinton campaign came along and even then we had all kinds of opportunity for jocularity and mimicking and mocking and so forth that we did, all the way through '96 and 2000.  In 2000 and the Florida recount aftermath is when I track the seminal change, and that's now 16 years ago, and it just seems like yesterday.
    The Democrats have never been the same since that recount.  They've always been liberal, but the radicals have taken over that party.  The protestor generation of the sixties has come of age, taken over that party, 100 percent.  There aren't any mainstream, moderate Democrats left.  You might have some of them try to act that way.  And that Florida recount, that aftermath, when they lost the Electoral College, legitimately, but they think the whole thing was stolen from 'em at the Supreme Court.  There was no way, based on what had happened and the vote outcome that they were going to win.  But yet they won the popular vote.  And that created a sense of rage and anger that has not abated.  It has only intensified.
    It came to its ugliest fruition during the George W. Bush administration.  And they have been nothing but hate-filled and angry and pessimistic.  They've always ripped America.  They've never thought America was the solution.  Michelle Obama last night, I have to tell you, listening to her praise the founders, I'm sorry, but I wasn't buying that.  I don't think Michelle and Barack Obama really think much of the founders.
    There's a popular statement that they're using now, which I think betrays something, actually, or portrays something, whichever it is.  Obama has begun saying it a lot, and last night she said it.  No matter, no matter when or what the occasion, they can't stop talking about slavery.  And largely, in a context of, "Hey, you know what?  It isn't settled yet.  Hey, you know what?  We haven't fixed it yet."  I mean, that's their starting point.  And I think that's a no-win situation for us.  Because we've made great strides.
    This country has made phenomenal strides since then, undeniable.  And we're one of the only countries on earth that has, Great Britain being the other.  This country has done more for and was organized for minorities more than any other nation on earth.  I gave a guy an analogy here on the program.  We had a guy call and wanted to know what I thought was so bad about grievance politics.  And I made an analogy for him.  I said, "Sir, are you married?"  He said, "Yeah."
    I said imagine that your wife has an affair, and it causes all kinds of acrimony. You almost lose your marriage, it's really a rocky period of time.  But you and your wife get together, and you decide that you're gonna forgive her, you're gonna look past it for the sake of the marriage and your kids, and you move forward.  He said, "Okay."
    Now, imagine, sir, every argument you have, you continue to remind her that she's to blame for everything because she's the one that had the affair.  I said your relationship doesn't have a prayer if you can't let it go.  If all you can do is continue to remind her what you've already forgiven her for, then the days of your relationship are over.  And the grievance industry does that. They don't want solutions.  They want to be able to do just that.  No matter what progress, no matter what agreements, no matter what, they don't want to acknowledge that anything has been done.  And that's how I hear the Obamas.
    They love to wax eloquent about the early days of the country and how they were three-fifths of a person, even though they never have been three-fifths of a person.  He doesn't even have any slave blood.  She does, but he doesn't.  But they will admit they're never gonna let it go.  They're never gonna let it go.  So whenever we as a nation have an argument, they're always gonna be circling back to that or the way women were treated, things that have been dealt with, things that have been addressed, maybe not fixed forever, but addressed very significantly.  But they won't let it go.
    So we're not making any progress here, by design.  So when a speech is heralded and contains all of these references to America's reprobate, dishonest, putrid, racist-pig past, and then the rest of the speech makes it look like there has been some progress like "Now I wake up in a house built by slaves."  I mean, what is what is the point of that?  I get it on one level.  If it were really uttered as an acknowledgment of the profound progress, then it would be great, but I don't sense it, 'cause I don't see it any other time.
    So when Michelle starts praising the Founding Fathers -- where has that been the last seven and a half years?  Have you ever heard her talk in those terms?  It's like they think there are certain things they have to say. In fact, liberals know they have to campaign as conservatives to win, but then to hell with it.  Republicans think the same thing.  Have to campaign as conservatives. You certainly can't campaign as your radical leftist, you know, moon walk fruitcake and get elected to anything.  Even after a convention like this, they're gonna come out and say it's all about trying to portray Hillary as moderate.
    And that's the real reason Bernie was allowed to keep going 'cause he's wacko leftist, he's there for two purposes: Make it look like she can overcome a fight. Make sure we can win a battle when it was a coronation to begin with, and he was also there to position her as a centrist, when she is as radical as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Saul Alinsky or any other leftist you want to name.  So it's torture watching this stuff.  I mean, all kinds of opportunity for great jokes and bits and funny lines present, but at the end of the day half the country, or close to it, this is gospel to 'em.  And that is depressing.  That is scary to me.
    And that's why they've gotta be defeated.  And in the process of defeating them, these people that are voting for 'em are gonna have to be educated and informed.  Their lives could be so much better if they would let go of the notion that they are powerless.  But when these guys start talking last night about how there's no future in individualism, rugged or otherwise, that the only thing that matters is standing together, it's so cliched.  Of course people stand together.  People come from families.
    I saw a story about some Democrat describing how they are going to really ultimately ban guns, and they're going to do it with language.  Some delegate at the convention admitted to a member of the media.  "Oh, yeah, it's the way we talk about it.  We can't ever go out as a party and say, 'We want to get rid of the Second Amendment. We want you to have to give up of your gun.'  We're instead gonna talk about common sense gun law.  And then after we use the phrase 'common sense gun law,' then we're gonna bring out parents of people who've been killed by gun violence. We're gonna portray the gun and having a gun as the opposite of common sense."
    *******

    Clinton Delegate Explains How Democrats Will Ban All Guns  
    Published on Jul 25, 2016
    *******
    And that's the way they do it.  Everything is common sense.  Health care reform, common sense. Tax reform, common sense.  Whenever you hear common sense (fill in the blank) you know they're lying to you.  When you hear liberal Democrats talk about common sense anything, you know they are gaming you.  They have admitted it.  I knew it before she admitted it, this delegate.  (interruption) No, no, no, no.  I'm not complaining about anything here.  I'm just telling you that I can sit here and watch this stuff and not be affected by, but I am.
    I think we're all affected by this.  This is our country these people are ruining.  This is our country these people don't like.  This is our country these people are trying to transform and make it something it was never intended to be.  I find it difficult to forget that when I'm watching these people go through the motions here at their convention.
    It bugs me to sit through their lies and their prevarications and their misrepresentations and their slander and their libel and their all-out allegations against decent people in their effort to destroy people that don't agree with them.  It's like this leak of what was on their servers.  They don't deny any of it's authentic; they can't.  Like they cannot debate us about ideas -- and their convention is not about ideas.  Their convention is about destroying opposing people who have different ideas, and then a bunch of Santa Claus-type mush.
    So I'm just... It's a long way of telling you that, yeah, I watch this stuff, but from a far different perspective, 'cause 28 years ago... Honestly, folks, 28 years ago I'd watch one of these conventions like the conventions of 1988, even the conventions of 1992, and the liberal Democrats would be doing what they're doing and I would think, "I don't have a thing to worry about because the majority of people are not buying this."
    Even when the Democrats were winning elections, I was saying, "They're not buying this. They're succumbing to something else, like Santa Claus or class envy."  But now we have to deal with the fact that they have succeeded in creating -- among way too many people -- a genuine dislike and disrespect for this country.  So when I hear Michelle talk about how it's a great country and don't let anybody tell you different, keep in mind the perspective and the context.
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    Michelle Obama: First Time proud of USA  
    Uploaded on Feb 18, 2008
    *******
    Yeah, in 2008 she said for the first time in her life she was proud, and that was only because her husband was running.  Okay, so it's eight years later. She can't run around and keep trashing the country, not after this guy has been transforming it for eight years.  She has to go out and talk about its greatness now.  And who knows? They may actually think that what Obama's doing to this country in this so-called transformation is making it great.
    But then you listen to Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or any of the other 61 speakers last night, and I don't hear anybody happy about anything. The wealth gap is bigger than ever, the poor are getting bigger, the middle class is being wiped out, climate change is destroying the planet, college loans are crippling. So who's running all these things?  When I hear 'em complain about student loans, yeah, I laugh. But I get really ticked off:  Who's running that program?  Who is it that refuses to reduce college tuition costs because that's where their buddies work?
    The left!
    I hear these people whine and moan about how difficult it is, and it's unfair for graduates to have such punishing student debt. Who the hell is doing it to them?  Who the hell has made the college education an albatross around their necks?  These people have!  So, yeah.  And I try to laugh at it.  But it still makes me mad as I can be, 'cause these people are destroying things. They're destructive, and they're succeeding at it, and they're doing it with the high hope it's unwitting assistance of low-information voters who have a stupefying idea of what's going on.
    END TRANSCRIPT
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    Obama says it’s a ‘difficult time’ for Muslims in U.S.
    By Dave Boyer - The Washington Times
    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    President Obama praised Muslim Americans Thursday as patriots and heroes, and decried an increase of violence against Muslims in the U.S.
    “This is a difficult time for Muslim Americans,” Mr. Obama said at a White House reception marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr. “Let’s be clear, Muslim Americans are as patriotic, as integrated, as American as any other members of the American family.”
    In an apparent reference to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants, Mr. Obama told young Muslims in the audience, “In spite of what you sometimes hear, you’ve got to know you’re a valued part of the American family and there’s nothing you cannot do.”
    When Mr. Obama told the crowd in the East Room that they are living in “challenging times,” many audience members responded by chanting “four more years!”
    “No, no,” Mr. Obama said. “Michelle’s going to come down and scold you.”
    He said attacks against Muslims in the U.S. are on the rise.
    We’ve seen a spike in Muslim Americans, including children, being attacked, Muslim mosques being targeted,” Mr. Obama said.
    “That shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America.”
    He added, “Singling out Muslim Americans, moreover, feeds the lie of terrorists like ISIL that the West is somehow at war with a religion that includes over 1 billion adherents. That’s not smart national security.”
    Mentioning terrorist attacks in Orlando, Florida; Nice, France; and other locations around the world, Mr. Obama said it was “a difficult Ramadan.”
    “In the face of terrorism, we will prevail,” the president said. “But we will prevail by working together, not driving each other apart.”
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    Listen This Time or HUD Will Destroy Your City
    Tom DeWeese
    July 19, 2016
    America’s homeowners should be shaking in their shoes. The federal government has decided that people who have worked, saved and planned so they can buy homes in nice, safe neighborhoods of their own choosing, are racists. They charge that it is a “social injustice.” The government now claims that it’s unfair unless everyone can have the same, whether they earn it or not. And it doesn’t matter whether they can afford such a home. We’re told that it’s racist to deny someone an equal home, just because they don’t have the money for it. White privilege, don’t you know.
    You may be watching the “Black Lives Matter” protests taking place on city streets around the country. You may be alarmed that such violence can happen in your downtown. And you may wonder what is behind such activity. Well, get ready for the same kind of threats and violence to possibly come directly into your own neighborhood simply because you have a nice house.
    Does that sound far fetched? Well you need the details on how the federal Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) is working to enforce its new rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).
    Social Justice is the name of the game under AFFH. That means the rule of law is dismissed in favor of “fairness.” Social Justice is enforced on us using pure emotion, basically operating on the level of a twelve year old girl in a pet shop who doesn’t like seeing the puppies with their sad eyes looking out from a cage. “Let the poor little doggies out,” she cries. Social Justice is purely based on redistribution of wealth. Your wealth. That’s money you worked for, saved, invested, and protected for YOUR needs; YOUR dreams; YOUR future.
    “SELFISH,” cries the social justice mongers. Why should you have so much when others have so little? Never mind that you had to save your money while forced to pay 50% of it in taxes that theoretically went to those less fortunate. The fact is, there is no “justice” in such a policy. Envy, desire, jealousy and theft are much closer to the truth.
    Do you think that sounds harsh. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Property Owner, tell me how harsh this sounds! As reported by John Anthony of Sustainable Freedom Lab:
    •First HUD is forcing every community which is applying for its grants to complete an “Assessment of Fair Housing” to identify all “contributing factors” to discrimination. These include a complete break down of race, income levels, religion and national origin of every single person living there. They use this information to determine if the neighborhood meets a preset “balance,” determined by HUD.
    •Second, HUD demands a detailed plan showing how the community intends to eliminate the “contributing factors” to this “imbalance.”
    •To produce the community’s plan for compliance, HUD rules demand that a wide array of “interested parties” participate in its creation, just to assure community input and to keep things fair, of course. These include civil rights groups, affordable housing developers and civic activist organizations. They call this “civil society.” All have a specific, left-of center agenda and a definite interest in the outcome.
    •Once the plan is prepared, then the community is required to sign an agreement to take no actions that are “materially inconsistent with its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.”
    •Once the community provides answers as to how they will implement the grant under these guidelines to HUD’s satisfaction, then they will receive the grant.
    These are the rules your locally elected representatives are forced to agree to in order to get that “free” grant money. And nearly every city council and county commission in the nation has already taken such grants.
    Now ask yourselves, just why HUD would be so insistent in demanding that the community tie itself to the so-called civil rights groups in order to get the grant. The answer to that question is diabolical.
    You see, if the community hesitates to comply in any way; perhaps local voters decide to turn down a program, or there aren’t enough local funds to fully comply, then HUD has a secret weapon waiting for them. Lack of compliance, in HUD’s eyes, results in law suits over civil rights violations.
    The civil rights groups them become a useful tool. They start protests and demand “fairness.” They get on television. They pressure city hall. And to the rescue comes HUD with its own law suits.
    Baltimore, Maryland became one of the first cities to feel such pressure and threats as the NAACP sued Baltimore over alleged housing segregation. The NAACP argument was that Section 8 subsidized housing programs “bunch people together, and that only fuels more crime and other problems.”
    The solution, says the NAACP is to “integrate the poor among wealthier families.” Outrageous as it sounds, such social justice mongers actually accuse those living in affluent neighborhoods of “self segregation for white privilege.”
    The pressure from these groups, along with the massive force of HUD backing them, has resulted in Baltimore being forced to agree to spending $30 million of tax-payer dollars over the next ten years to build 1,000 low income homes in affluent neighborhoods. The result will be a destruction of property values and the loss of equity for the homeowners. In short, destruction of earned wealth, leading to destruction of the middle class. That’s what socialism does. It creates more poor.
    On top of that, Baltimore has moved to destroy the property rights of landlords by denying them the ability to not rent to people who can’t afford their properties. Of course the government doesn’t say it that way, preferring to pretend that denying people who can’t pay for your property as “discrimination.” And who will pay the landlord when he is stuck with the bill? The only result will be fewer landlords and fewer choices for housing.
    In Portland, Oregon, the infamous “poster child” of federal Smart Growth development policies, the city council has now unanimously approved a new tax to raise $12 million per year to pay for “affordable housing.” “The lack of affordable housing is the greatest crisis facing our city right now,” says Commissioner Dan Saltsman. Perhaps he should take a long look at the twenty year Smart Growth history of Portland in which massive amounts of land were locked away to limit the “sprawl” of the city. This lead to land shortages, which led to bans on single family homes, which led to the need for massive high rise apartment buildings, all of which led to higher costs and shortages of homes. Now, they have a “crisis “of low income housings. Their solution now is another tax on construction, driving up housing costs even more.
    Do they ever learn? Government control over every aspect of our lives, as demanded by socialism never works. High costs, shortages and sacrifice are the only result. It has never been different wherever it has been enforced.
    Now HUD is rushing to enforce AFFH with a vengeance. HUD has raced to make Westchester County, New York the example for more suits. Right out of the new HUD playbook, a private civil rights group called the Anti-Discrimination Center sued the county under the Federal False Claims Act, claiming Westchester County lied when they filled out the HUD compliance form for their grant. Since there is no official definition of “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” the definition is whatever HUD declares it to be. There is no way for the local government to win such a suit. The result of the suit against Westchester County was $62.5 million – a sum greater than all of the community development and related funding received by the county from HUD.
    More suits are being filed against communities across the nation as HUD steps up its enforcement and local officials are scared, wondering what they can do to fight back, if anything. Some have tried to stand up to HUD, refusing to comply. But once the law suits are filed, and the “community organizers” start their pressure, most have quickly backed down.
    Let’s make one thing clear. The civil rights legislation of the 1960s made it illegal to bar people from neighborhoods based on their color or ethnic background. It guaranteed them the opportunity. But it said nothing about forcing people into neighborhoods to live beyond their means. No one, no matter their color or ethnic background, has a right to force their way in to a neighborhood they can’t afford. Instead, they must do the same thing those who already live there did; work, save, invest and prepare. Then no one can stop them. It has nothing to do with race or some perceived special “privilege.”
     For twenty years we opponents of Agenda 21 and Smart Growth have warned of the dangers of taking these HUD grants. We were ignored and called conspiracy nuts. The result now is that HUD has taken the gloves off. There is no longer a pretense that any kind of local control over spending the grant money exists. HUD now controls your community. Property rights are dead, property values are dying, and the local officials you elected to guide your community have been rendered irrelevant by HUD mobsters who have come back to collect.
    So what do local community representatives do? First and foremost STOP TAKING THE GRANTS!!!!! Second, stand up to these thugs who intend to rule our communities. Stand up to the law suits and stand up to the pressure of the special interest groups. In short, represent your community as you were elected to do. And finally, you might try listening to those of us who have studied these policies for decades instead of the slithering snakes of the American Planning Association and their ilk who fill their own pockets with those grants.
    Our American liberties are counting on local and state officials to start standing on your own two feet and represent US, instead of cowering in a corner because you sold us down the river.
    The American Policy Center is now working with officials who want to understand and fight back to save their communities. Recently we held a conference call for such officials. Here is a link to it so you can hear first hand of the dangers you are facing and some solutions for you to fight back. Perhaps this time you’ll listen.
    *******
    Bernie Sanders Shows How Reagan Helped Destroy The Middle Class
    Michael McAuliff, Senior Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post
    Updated Jan 30, 2015

    Ronald Reagan trickle down economics devastated the American middle class  
    Published on Jan 30, 2015
    WASHINGTON — President Ronald Reagan remains a venerated figure in American politics, even as folks on the left have been taking a more critical look at his economic legacy in recent years.
    So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders would not think well of the Gipper. But when Sanders took to the Senate floor Thursday evening to offer a broad vision for how to do something to help the declining middle class, he offered a stunning chart that showed just how poorly most Americans have fared during economic recoveries since the advent of Reaganomics.
    The chart starts by showing that in the decades after World War II, the bottom 90 percent of the country captured most of the growth in income during rebounds from tough times. But then came the Reagan era, and what George H. W. Bush once dubbed “voodoo economics.” After Reagan implemented his policies, the top 10 percent grabbed nearly 80 percent of the growth in incomes coming out of the oil crises of the late ‘70s.
    “Whoa! What happens in 1982?” Sanders said, noting the dramatic reversal in his diagram. “Well, Ronald Reagan is president, and the good news is we are into trickle-down economics.”
    The socialist Democrat is certainly aware that other factors such as technology, the waning of the union movement and globalization all played their roles, but his data makes for an awfully stark portrait.
    “Frankly, this is a metaphor,” Sanders said. “This is an example of exactly what trickle-down economics is all about.”
    Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.
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    30 Facts That Prove The American Middle-Class Is Being Destroyed
    by Tyler Durden
    Aug 21, 2014
    Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,
    The 30 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a staggering pace.  Yes, the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights this year and there are a few isolated areas of the country that are doing rather well for the moment.  But overall, the long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class just continue to accelerate. 
    Over the past decade or so, the percentage of Americans that are working has gone way down, the quality of our jobs has plummeted dramatically and the wealth of the typical American household has fallen precipitously.  Meanwhile, we have watched median household income decline for five years in a row, we have watched the rate of homeownership in this country decline for eight years in a row and dependence on the government is at an all-time high.  Being a part of the middle class in the United States at this point can be compared to playing a game of musical chairs.  We can all see chairs being removed from the game, and we are all desperate to continue to have a chair every time the music stops playing.  The next time the music stops, will it be your chair that gets removed?
    And in this economy, you don't even have to lose your job to fall out of the middle class.  Our paychecks are remaining very stable while the cost of almost everything that we spend money on consistently (food, gas, health insurance, etc.) is going up rapidly.  Bloomberg calls this "the no-raises recovery"...
    Call it the no-raises recovery: Five years of economic expansion have done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers while the rich have gotten richer.
    Meager improvements since 2009 have barely kept up with a similarly tepid pace of inflation, raising the real value of compensation per hour by only 0.5 percent. That marks the weakest growth since World War II, with increases averaging 9.2 percent at a similar point in past expansions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg.
    There are so many families out there that are struggling right now.  So many husbands and wives find themselves constantly fighting with one another about money, and they don't even understand that what is happening to them is the result of long-term economic trends that are the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.  Without middle class jobs, we cannot have a middle class.  And those are precisely the jobs that have been destroyed during the Clinton, Bush and Obama years.  Without enough good jobs to go around, we have seen the middle class steadily shrink and the ranks of the poor grow rapidly.
    The following are 30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed...
    1. In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall.  But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.
    2. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the "typical American household" is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
    3. One out of every seven Americans rely on food banks at this point.
    4. One out of every four military families needs help putting enough food on the table.
    5. 79 percent of the people that use food banks purchase "inexpensive, unhealthy food just to have enough to feed their families".
    6. One out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is "in collections".
    7. Only 48 percent of all Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.
    8. The price of food continues to rise much faster than the paychecks of most middle class families.  For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of $3.884 a pound.
    9. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now.
    10. The overall homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.
    11. The homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
    12. According to one recent survey, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
    13. The average age of vehicles on America’s roads has hit an all-time high of 11.4 years.
    14. Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.
    15. Amazingly, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.
    16. One recent study found that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job.
    17. 36 percent of Americans do not have a single penny saved for retirement.
    18. According to one survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
    19. More than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year in wages.
    20. Only four of the twenty fastest growing occupations in America require a Bachelor’s degree or better.
    21.  In America today, one out of every ten jobs is filled by a temp agency.
    22. Due to a lack of decent jobs, half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.
    23. Median household income in the United States is about 7 percent lower than it was in the year 2000 after adjusting for inflation.
    24. Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
    25. It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.
    26. According to one study, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
    27. Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
    28. If the middle class was actually thriving, we wouldn’t have more than a million public school children that are homeless.
    29. If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
    30. In terms of median wealth per adult, the United States is now in just 19th place in the world.
    *******