Archive for the 'Congress' Category

Observations regarding S&P’s Downgrade of America’s AAA bond rating.

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

They say the worst news in Washington is dropped on Friday afternoon. Yesterday was no different as Standard and Poors’s decided to downgrade America’s AAA bond rating.

While many in the political establishment (that includes many of us activist) view what may be profitible for the next election, businesses look for stability and solvency to ensure a return on their investment.

As a result I believe the following observations are important to note going forward:

* Republicans offered not one (cut, cap and balance), but three plans which would cut in excess of the 4 trillion requested by S&P.  This included Paul Ryan’s plan (~7 trillion) and Senator Coburn’s 9 trillion dollar reduction plan.

* Gang of Six technically reaches the magic number, but includes trillions of dollars in tax increases which offers businesses zero incentive to bring jobs or investment back to the United States.

* Democrats still refuse to provide any sort of long term deficit reduction plan outside of repealing the Bush era tax rates.

* Brinksmanship was just as much as a determining factor as the deficit its self. For those who argue conservatives could twist arms better after the August 2nd date, S&P disagree and cites such gamesmanship as a core reason as to why AAA could not be retained:

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.

Taking the budget to the edge makes investors and business people nervous. It adds unpredictability and concerns those who might seek to or invest in our bonds.

To be clear, I am not advocating folding like a cheap suit and implementing tax increases as Democrats sought. That is wrong.

However, to intentially want to shut the government down and even appear to threaten the situation does more harm than good. This includes the United States Senate refusal to pass a budget for in excess of 800 days or President Obama’s refusal to propose any sort of plan.

*No real structural changes were made in the budget agreement proved very costly. While obvious for many of us, at the heart of the rational for the decision to downgrade, was the fact no real changes were made to ensure the solvency of entitlement programs.

Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures.

Any real reform, such at the Ryan plan or cut, cap and balance address these core concerns and provide sound fiscal policy which addresses such issues. Without reforming entitlement spending investors will continue to look at our bonds with doubt whether or not we can pay them back.

* Most importantly, poor economic growth matters greatly. While the report notes that Democrats desire to increase taxes on “upper income earners” would bring in 950 billion over ten years, it is equally important to note tax revenues are a full 3.5 percent below the Bush years and account for 300-400 billion a year.

The key element here is not just the recession, but the core cause of why businesses are not re-investing. With the passage of Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank act, the cost doing business increases greatly. Combined with Democrats current threats to increase taxes, it dramatically depresses any optimism or opportunity for investment.

While entitlement reform is key to any long term budget deal, the environment for businesses to be able to make money and invest here must be changed.

If elected officials truly seek to tackle debt or the deficit under any plan, the economy must grow. Businesses must feel comfortable investing in people and resources.

As I’ve noted before, businesses small and big need certainty and encouragement that the money they spend will return as a net positive.  If the government’s policy is counter to this basic need, then the economy will not grow and our yearly deficits will only grow larger.

Simply put, Marco Rubio is correct when he stated that the system needs more tax payers as a pose to more taxes.

Suggestion: Keep pressure on issues, not on eating our own.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

If your anything like my self you’ve been a nervous wreck the past few weeks as the debt issue hurtles out of control and into the realm of obscene comedy.

First there was the possibility of reasonable policy discussion. Then there was the class warefare and insults launched at Republicans. Then there was more discussion followed my more insulting of Republicans, and Americans and large, paired with another healthy dose of class warfare.

As if those hurdles weren’t enough to trip up common sense, we have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell making one of the most bone-headed manuevers in recent political history.

For those who arent up to speed, Senator McConnell tipped his hand and revealed a “doomsday” scenario in which the President of the United States gets to raise the debt on his own terms, without need to make cuts or offer concessions, in an effort to divert a government default.

The only thing worse than the proposal its self, was the timing - this afternoon - when a wave of negative news was hitting the wires regarding people’s rejection of President Obama’s apparent decision to try and threaten Congress into accepting bigger government.

The net result was a much deserved outrage.

However, as upset as I am in such a piece of legislation which would remove the exact reason why voters put the GOP in charge of the House last November, I am equally upset about those who might eat our own.

Now is not the time to split up and combat our selves. Not when the stakes are so high.

This budget show down is the perverbial hill to die on. It is what so many Americans tasked the Republican party to deal with.

With that in mind I would suggest for everyone to close ranks and stick together.

This is what seperates those who simply want to burn and blow up things for the sake of fun and those who want to move policy forward constructively. One only need to look at how President Obama addressed Republicans over the past couple of weeks as a reminder.

In contrast Speaker Boehner, and others, are classy and refrain from stabbing each other - and those who they are trying to broker a deal with - in the back.

Similarly while we should cry out and let our voice be known that while the McConnell proposal may be well intentioned and opposed, our focus should be on Democrats and President Obama.

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Congress must act now to protect individual rights

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

One would think the Constitution and Bill of Rights spell out in plain language our freedom to donate to whomever we like politically, to move freely about privately without worry. Unfortunately, several recent reports note that this is not the case. Congress must, therefore act, in an effort to preserve these basic and essential elements of liberty.

Congress should not interfere with business, but it must protect its citizens. Companies tracking people without their knowledge falls into this category and must be addressed. Apple and Google are doing so via smart phones.

Tracking software deployed without user knowledge is at very least unethical. As such Congress should require at the very least a notification to the user - if not also - provide the user with an option to turn off the tracking.

The need for personal data protection does not stop with corporations, it extends into law enforcement and government as well. The Michigan State police apparently are using a device which extracts personal data such as text messages, photos, video, and GPS. The ACLU recently made an inquiry into use of  these “data extraction” devices.

Laws must be passed regulating such devices in an effort to prevent abuse. Otherwise an individuals most personal information could be misused.

Not to be out done, the White House is pushing two iniatives through executive orders which must be stopped.

(more…)

Then there are the rest of us.

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I am not a happy camper. No sir, not one bit.

This last week reminded me once again what burned me out during the 2009 and most of 2010 political news cycle.

The conflict between those seeking to position themselves politically and those who are seemingly tone deaf to the desires of the American people is gut wrenching and dispiriting. Neither is playing smart or seemingly interested in doing the will of the voter - to reduce federal spending and cut the deficit.

How we get there is debatable. We do not need to achieve our goals “in a single swing of the bat”, but we do need to arrive there.

(more…)

What are we to do now? Really.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Let me make this as brief and to the point as possible. In a high stakes policy show down which our nation cannot afford us to fail we are playing dumb. Real dumb.

Its as if there is some insationable desire to do precisely the wrong things at the wrong time as if maximize the advantge of those who seek to keep our nation shackled in debt and restrained by the bondage of big government.

Let me be clear: begging for a government shut down is akin to hand the keys of the House of Representatives back to Democrats. I know it is tempting to just pull the plug on government,  but our troops and the families of the people who work for the federal government deserve better. Our nation deserves better.

Similarly it is morally irresponsible to default on our debt. Period.

We all want to limit how much the government spends, and if you are like me, feel that there isnt a blessed thing that can be done at the moment. Defaulting on our national loans by telling the world that our country has no intention to pay for its programs will do nothing more than turn us into another Greece - and finish off what Democrats started five years ago when they took over Congress.

Like a bug attracted to an electric zapper, we conservatives seemingly without thought charge into this policy with the best intentions.

The results, however, seem to do nothing more than play into the hands of Democrats and President Obama.

What was a win and positive move in the budget process now looks to be nothing more than a charade put on to try and cripple the GOP in the public eye. We, unfortunately, are all too happy to oblige. Its as if we want our leaders to fail - for what ever reason. No good can come of this, no matter how one wishes to spin such incidents

So what now? Make Democrats pay in reforms every step of the way. No matter how small or big until we make headway.

We, the citizens of this great nation spoke last fall, and made it clear that government should be smaller. This means starving the beast; not fattening it up by raising taxes and giving it a larger percentage of GDP to live on. The money is no longer there.

However, the two biggest policy battles in my life time are about to take place and instead of strengthening our side, it seems our side elected to discredit its self. This is troubling.

At a time when our attention should be focused on how to defeat the forth coming proposal from President Obama, we are focused on how bad a deal our leaders got in the last confrontation. In effect we are weaking our hand.

Yes, we should hold all of our elected officials into account and we should not hide from the truth of policy. We must know all the facts and details if we are to make better decisions in the future.

Similarly we must also acknowledge that Democrats retain control of the Presidency, Senate and media. If we are to be honest with our selves, we know Democrats still hold the keys to power in many ways. Last November simply put the breaks on the runaway train.

It is now time to work to move the ball forward, together, smart.

Digesting the new budget deal.

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Let us be up front shall we? The continuing resolution and rest of the year budget deal passed last night was not all we hoped for - but it was a mild success.

After months of hard grass roots level work and pushing for serious cuts to put some sort of, at very least symbolic, dent the agreement on the surface seems to fall flat. After all, instead of defunding the EPA, Planned Parenthood and a host of other big government entitles and making serious cuts the GOP came away empty handed. Right? Not quite.

I must admit after hearing the Planned Parenthood and EPA riders were gone and read reports of the dollar amount being only 33 billion I asked my self how on earth will we ever get true entitlement reform. However, once I examined the actual content of the continuing resolution and the associated riders which did pass I felt quite a bit better. As Reagan once said, “I would rather have 80% than go over the cliff with my flag flying”.

Without repeating Steven Foley’s detailed post, I would like to highlight a few elements which in fact give us that 80%.

  • The amount of debt reduced adds up. The 38.5 billion plus 10 billion cut earlier adds up to 48.5 billion out of the targeted 61 billion. Add in unspent money and we arrive at a 88.5 billion number. No, it is not the 100 billion number - but its darned close. I will take it in a heartbeat. Remember this is last years budget which Democrats refused to even bring to the floor for a vote.
  • Money is not one time expenditures. It. will. Add. Up. According to the Wall Street Journal savings from equate to hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. That is real money folks.
  • There will be a vote on repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. While neither may pass because Democrats control the United States Presidency and Senate, there will be an up or down vote. Regardless of the results it will be a major step forward to both put elected officials on record and push the ball forward toward repeat.
  • The use of tax payer dollars to fund abortions in the District of Columbia is re-instated. Contrary to some media outlets comments, in 2009 Democrats passed and signed legislation which allowed tax dollars to pay for abortions in the Washington, DC area. Under the new CR and budget this can no longer happen.
  • IRS additions defunded. Remember all those additional request sought by the Obama administration which would be enforced through a bigger IRS? While the provisions may still be intact, the money to enforce the associated increases are gone.
  • Last but not least, the government will become more accountable to citizens. Additional tools were provided within the legislation which would keep a check on elements of Obamacare and Bureaucracies created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed last year.

Is it a list of 100% winning items? No.

Did Democrats get away with more corporate cronyism with Planned Parenthood and NPR retaining funding? You betcha.

Am I concerned about the fortitude of our leaders and what it will take to get entitlement reform done on the scale necessary to keep this nation from collapsing financially? Absolutely.

However, credit should be given to Boehner and the Republican leadership for getting us 80% of the way for our first goal and picking up some very important reforms along the way.

If the government shut down and troops, who were clearly being used as pawns, would end up going without pay the political ramifications would be potentially crippling for any shot at winning 2012 and putting honest to God reforms into action.

Most importantly the CR and budget agreement swings momentum toward cutting instead of spending. This change in mind set cannot be under estimated. While it took a literal 11th hour agreement to cut two percent of the budget, the moment is clearly on the side of those seeking to reform and eliminate unnecessary spending.

Perhaps that is the most important element, given that there are forth coming battles for both an increase in debt ceiling and next years budget.

Updated 4/9/2011 with new figures provided sources confirmed on Capital Hill.

RE: TSA “love pats” We need our elected officials to do something NOW.

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Take a good hard look, America. This is what unchecked government looks like.

A father, helpless to do anything, standing by and watching while his son recieves a strip search.

I dont know what is worse in the matter: the TSA agents willingly dispencing the policy, the fact that the father couldnt simply say “like the devil” and walk away, or our elected officials allowing this policy to continue.

To that end we must take what action we as citizens can and demand our elected officials take action to stop these types of searches. Now.

It is one thing when you are trying to stop terrorist and secure our lines of transportation. It is another matter entirely when we decide to grope Nuns and demand our children be stripped.

These procedures would be deemed illegal and sexual harassment (or assault) if it were looked at in any other light. So my next question would be why are our law makers looking at it in another light?

There is not one single element to these “enhanced screenings” which to my knowledge stopped a terrorist act. Quite the contrary, by their very nature the screenings accomplish what terrorist could not in the past decade.

Until our elected officials come to their senses and decide to limit government and bring some common sense to these events, I will no longer be flying. Especially with my children.

In fact, if I wouldnt know better, I would say the TSA is trying to crippled the airline industry so it could bail it out and nationalize it.

Fed up with the earmark demagoguery (reprise)

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Can we get just a moment of complete honesty please? Just one.

A few months ago I wrote a piece warning about hypocritical politicians who love to misleadingly use the term earmark. For them, it is a grand straw man argument flaunted to cover for their own fiscal policy while riling the feathers of the average voter fed up with federal waste.

It is clear that an earmark moratorium answers the simple plea of individual responsibility which we, the voters, expect.

If we are intellectually honest about the subject we should acknowledge legitimate dissent on the matter. It is a small amount of the budget in which our Congress critters get to decide where to allocate money to and in many cases abuse.

Still, many are legitimate needs where local tax base funds cannot afford tackle. I can think of two in my district from years past. One including the clean up of the White River basin project.

With that in mind, it discourages me to the point of noninvolvement reading overly hyped critical comments against known conservatives Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator-elect Roy Blunt.

It literally makes me sick to my stomach to see Erick Erickson and Dana Loesch completely forget Senator Claire McCaskill’s votes for porkulus™ and Obamacare™ and carry her water in attacking Roy Blunt on earmarks.

I find the comments seriously troubling and intellectually dishonest at best. A knife in the back and push towards ideological purity and worst.

I would like Roy to sign on the earmarks. No, it isn’t a deal breaker to me.

That said, the deal breaker for me is the larger battle over entitlements.  

The entitlements monster is hundreds of times more powerful and entrenched than earmarks. You want to impress me? Do something about those issues.

Right now we need to focus our energies on where we are going to cut the monster and muster all the political capital and courage we can.

Rush Limbaugh was correct in that we should be proposing massive cuts and make those who want to increase government spending, like said Senator McCaskill, defend those larger programs which cost us hundreds of times more.

The upside to much of this discussion is that McConnell and other members of the GOP leadership do seem to be getting the message. I hope they understand the power they wield come from the consent of the governed.

In the end I hope those conservatives who are against the moratorium change their mind and decide vote for the policy. Similarly, I pray some of our conservative leaders and friends choose better battles to engage and hold the line on.

Why earmarks hurt now more than ever.

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

On the heals of Democrats screaming over a move Senator Bunning of Kentucky (R) made, apparently blocking extra money being spent on extending unemployment benefits, I believe its important to make a couple of points.

From my understanding on the issue, Bunning is asking for Senator Reid of Nevada (D) to find the 15 billion or so from other sources of revenue as a pose to deficit spending.

Why is this important?

Well if we go back to the Presidential debates last year, one can remember a then Junior Senator Barack Obama claiming that ear marks didn’t matter, that they were an insignificant amount of the budget.

John McCain argued that the larger point that it was a symptom of wreckless spending. In the end, McCain was dead on regarding Obama’s fiscal policies.

More over, though, what came to my mind was the figure provided in the debate. It as roughly 20 Billion (Factcheck.org says there was roughly 17 Billion in earmarks).

To that end, if Senator Reid and Barack Obama were serious about fiscal constraint they would propose cutting earmarks completely and spending that money on employment benefits.

I some how doubt this will happen.

Congress to deploy World of Warcraft dance battle system to determine budget fate.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Just a heads up for those of you who arent following the budget battle in Congress as our children’s future (and their kids) is being spent. Congress apparently is moving to a system in which Horde and Alliance Republicans and Democrats might be able to resolve their differences in a more civilized manner: The World of Warcraft dance battle system.

For those who think I’m kidding, ask your self if the system since Democrats took over in late 2006 is any better?