Joanne Butler | All Articles

Joanne Butler
Joanne Butler
Former Staffer, House Ways and Means Committee

On Billy Graham, From A Catholic’s Viewpoint

The clouds open with a dove. (Shutterstock)

Years ago, when I was in Catholic elementary school, the nuns would go berserk whenever Billy Graham brought his crusade to D.C. They were afraid Graham was a ‘sheep stealer’ – trying to lure Catholics into becoming Protestants. But I, always the contrarian, was interested in Mr. Graham. While my parents would never let us watch his crusades on television, much less attend one, I was intrigued by the power of one man, in a plain suit, to fill a stadium. No glitz or glamor involved, just forthright talking about Jesus.

REVEALED: Hillary’s Biggest Political Mistake

10:48 PM 02/01/2018

While watching Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) squirm during the recent ‘Schumer Shutdown’ of the federal government, it occurred to me: what if Hillary Clinton had kept her Senate seat? She, not Schumer, would be the Senate Minority Leader. And she would be a major player in politics, instead of being reduced to a Tweeter who made a joke about Trump at the Grammy awards broadcast.

How VISA Is Helping To Fix The Retirement Savings Problem

1:49 AM 01/22/2018

The news about VISA using the new tax law to increase its 401(k) match for employees is terrific. Retirement matching is better than a bonus, as it encourages employees to save more for retirement. Bonuses aren’t bad; they just end up in purchases, not savings accounts. Pay raises are better too, considering we’ve been in a long period of flat wages. A pay raise can create more discretionary income, and some of it can go to a 401(k) plan.

Will Voters Really Remember The Trump Tax Cuts In November 2020?

11:12 PM 01/14/2018

Walmart, the largest private employer in the world, just announced an astounding package of new benefits for its employees. Bonuses for employees, minimum pay raises to $11 per hour, paid maternity leave, $5,000 in adoption expense benefits and more. Why now? Walmart says it’s due to the new tax law.  Ditto for the approximately 20 other companies that are handing out bonuses (naturally, the New York Times says it’s a publicity stunt). Do the employees know these bonuses and other benefits are due to President Trump’s leadership? If so, will they remember in November 2020?

Tightening Social Security Disability Will Obviously Lead To Higher Unemployment

10:39 PM 01/07/2018

When financial analysts crow about the low U.S. unemployment rate and, in the next breath, say the Social Security Disability program needs a fix, I have to laugh. Those analysts fail to account for the 8.8 million workers (as of 2016) who dropped out of the work force and qualified for the disability program. If the disability program’s requirements were tightened, the unemployment rate would rise.

Pennsylvania and Delaware: Potential Tax Reform Winners?

12:21 AM 12/22/2017

In southern New Jersey over the weekend, I met a man who owned a $325,000 house (1950s ranch) and paid $13,000 in property taxes per year. He wanted to move to Delaware, but New Jersey’s property taxes are an albatross in the real estate market. Meanwhile, a Delaware friend told me how her new neighbor from ‘up north’ was amazed that property taxes were so low they were paid annually -- not monthly! Hint: the new tax reform law curbing state and local tax deductions could be a boon for Delaware and Pennsylvania, if leaders in those states take the right steps.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About The First Ratification Of The U.S. Constitution* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

1:34 PM 12/11/2017

The 230th anniversary of the first ratification of the U.S. Constitution occurred on Dec. 7 -- a critical date in American history. The ratifying state was little Delaware, which passed the Constitution unanimously. The stakes were high: Were the states to become mini-countries under an ambiguous confederation, or would they be united under one overarching document?

Welcome To The Actions-Have-Consequences Era

1:24 AM 11/28/2017

The first Nobel Prize winner for literature, John Galsworthy, commented on the difference between "everybody knows" and "somebody tells." Today there’s a tsunami of ‘somebody tells’ incidents about sexual harassment. That’s a good thing. Sexual harassment is more than a physical incident; it’s symptomatic of a poisoned work culture. Although I can’t claim to have been harassed, I’ve seen its deleterious effects.

Messing With 401ks Is A Bad Idea

11:41 PM 10/31/2017

In ancient Rome, legislators would determine policy issues by sacrificing an animal and then employing a priest to interpret the signs based on the animal’s entrails.  While our Capitol Hill legislators don’t engage in animal sacrifices, they’ve retained their priest-interpreters:  the Congressional Budget Office.  The result:  some House Republicans are proposing limiting 401(k) retirement savings to appease the CBO high priests.

Martial Humanity

8:28 PM 10/20/2017

Listening to Thursday’s speech by General John F. Kelly, I had a flashback to a story told to me years ago by a senior Marine.  When this man was a junior Marine, his job was to deliver poinsettias to Marine Gold Star families in the San Diego area.  The families mostly consisted of those who had lost men in the Vietnam War.  He told me it was one of the toughest jobs of his career.

Las Vegas Shooting: ‘Hot Zones’ Result In More Deaths

2:11 PM 10/02/2017

Watching the Vegas panic-stricken spectators running in all directions reminded me of the 9/11 response on Capitol Hill.  Bluntly, the Capitol Hill police and others had never anticipated a mass attack on Washington.  Thus, Hill staffers randomly left their buildings.  Many walked towards the U.S. Capitol – a possible target of the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania!  The lesson:  getting people out of a danger zone in an orderly way is an essential part of security procedures.

Tax Reform’s Murky Future

5:46 PM 09/21/2017

In D.C. the tax reform show is going strong.  Republicans want tax cuts for everybody (including Bill Gates) as well as corporations.  Democrats say this is the old Republican game of helping the rich and big businesses at the expense of the less well off.  Plus it seems any tax reform bill won’t go through the usual legislative process.  If a bill comes to fruition, it will have to be passed via the mysterious ‘reconciliation’ process.  Politics, process and a razor-thin Republican majority in the Senate results add up to a murky future for tax reform.

The Winners And The Losers Of DACA

2:01 AM 09/08/2017

The late Ted Kennedy’s spirit must be laughing right now over the Republicans’ struggle with Dreamer legislation.  Kennedy knew well of the political power of benefits for children.  In 1997 he cleverly got federal children’s health insurance legislation passed (with Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) support).  President Obama followed Kennedy’s example when he gave a waiver to illegal immigrant minor children, generally known as ‘Dreamers’ (an acronym from prior legislation).  This waiver expires in six months.

NAFTA Talks: Who’s In Charge?

11:08 AM 08/24/2017

Last night President Trump said (again) how the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a lousy deal.  He added that the United States may have to exit NAFTA.  Meanwhile, his U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is scurrying to renegotiate parts of NAFTA.  Further, some of the U.S. side’s goals seem to drift to towards the left.  Who’s in charge here?

To The Shores Of 1600 Pennsylvania

4:35 PM 08/01/2017

The Marine of Marines, General John Kelly, is now President Trump’s chief of staff.  Poor Reince Priebus spent over six months tap-dancing around the West Wing, living in fear of his boss, Jared, Ivanka, and (no doubt) others.  News Flash:  Marines don’t tap dance.  Period. 

Fear Of ‘Repeal And Replace’

11:11 PM 07/20/2017

The repeal/replace stall on Obamacare reveals two important lessons.  First, Republicans never have had a unified response to Obamacare.  Second, Republicans squandered their chance under President George W. Bush to fix health insurance.  Thanks to certain GOP purists, this chance was tossed while Congressional Republicans knew the issue was a top priority for Democrats when they would take control.

Trade, Merkel, and Meh

3:00 PM 06/30/2017

Some financial sector ‘experts’ say Angela Merkel is the ‘head of the free world’ as she is a globalist and President Trump is not.  They’re appalled at the administration’s sanctions on a small Chinese bank that is claimed to have business dealings with North Korea. Sanctions on larger Chinese banks may follow if they too have had dealings with Pyongyang.  The President’s action is a stark lesson to the globalist believers:  our nation’s interests always come first.