Big Government IS STILL Our Problem – & It’s Growing!

May 16, 2012

G’Day!

A year ago on February 11, 2011 my first posted article was “Big Government IS Our Problem!” I firmly believe Big Government is STILL our problem and it is not only growing, it is accelerating! What our country needs is LESS GOVERNMENT not more. If we could get government off our backs, unnecessary discretionary spending could be eliminated, individual and business opportunities could be pursued, jobs created, and income increased, allowing our economy to expand more rapidly. Government needs to be reduced not enlarged.

Last year I believed President Obama and the Democrats would eventually consider the best interests of our country first and would finally realize that their policies were dividing and potentially bankrupting the nation and stifling economic growth. I hopefully thought the President and Congress would recognize this and relatively quickly pursue the excellent recommendations in the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission’s Report, which was officially presented to President Obama in early 2011. How wrong I was! Obama immediately shelved the report; the Democrats declared it dead on arrival and again failed to pass the required Federal Budget. It has now been over 3 years that the Democrats have prevented passing a budget and Obama’s huge overspending budget proposals have been overwhelmingly defeated by both Republicans and Democrats. Only the Republicans, especially Paul Ryan, have tried to adopt any of the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that the “Obammunists” are only interested in pushing their socialist agenda for central control over our lives, our environment, and our private property. Their actions, or lack of, are driving our country into an increasingly dependent and unsustainable welfare state. More importantly, their policies are in serious danger of destroying the American creative opportunistic spirit and national prosperity in which the majority of US citizens believe and enjoy.

In my opinion it is not too late to correct this adverse trend toward mediocrity and save our nation. America can resolve its fiscal and debt crisis and restore our country to a united foundation for responsible government and future prosperity. However, this can only occur if we return to the principles that have made America the greatest and most exceptional country in the world. These principles are: Constitutionally protected individual liberties, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policies, economic growth, and Constitutionally limited government. The “Obammunists” are rapidly leading us away from all these principles and toward a future of economic stagnation, shared poverty, limited personal freedom, and dependence on government for much of our survival. Under Obama, America is declining quickly into a centrally controlled overregulated socialist state with increasingly limited opportunities for aspiring individuals and companies to succeed.

So what should we do? The first and most vital action individuals can take is to become informed about the issues and vote out the “Obammunists” in the November election. This one single accomplishment will at least stop the rot and give us the opportunity to correct the damage done by Obama and the Democrats. Next we should demand our new President and Congress concentrate on resolving our fiscal/debt crisis, get our economy back on track, and create productive private sector jobs. As I outlined a year ago, at least six actions should be undertaken: 1) Stop/Minimize non-essential regulations, 2) Have a business-friendly government, 3) Reduce tax rates, especially on business, through tax reform, 4) Enact an energy policy that encourages rather than discourages development of domestic sources of traditional energy, 5) Fix the fiscal and debt crises by cutting government spending, revising entitlements, and increasing tax revenues through tax reform, 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners. Of these six actions only #6, the Free Trade bills, has been passed. (see “Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs!”)

More specifically, I suggest our new government in 2013 accomplish the following ten (10) priority items:

1)   Unless already accomplished in 2012 by the outgoing President and Congress, immediately extend all the 2012 tax rates for 2 years or until the Tax Reform in Item 6) below is enacted.

2)   Immediately declare a moratorium on any non-essential new laws and regulations.

3)   Immediately rescind Obamacare (unless The Supreme Court has already done this for us).

4)   Immediately rescind the Dodd-Frank Act and its approximately 400 new required regulations (most of which are still to be written). In this regard the most important pieces that need to be rescinded are “The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection”, “The Financial Stability Oversight Council”, and “The Durbin Amendment”.

5)   Initiate and approve a medium term Balanced Federal Budget that downsizes government, reforms taxes by simplifying the code, reducing tax rates, broadening the tax base, and eliminating politically motivated subsidies. This budget should reform entitlements to sustainable levels, assure the defense and security of America, and reduce and “Cap” the Federal Government Spending at 18-20% of GDP. (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”)

6)   Initiate and enact the necessary tax and entitlement reform necessary to accomplish suggestion 4) above. (see “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!”)

7)   Demand that any and all new laws or regulations enacted have a “Sunset Clause” that automatically terminates the new law within no more than 10 years.

8)  Demand that Congress review and terminate annually for the next five years at least 10% of all currently existing laws and regulations that are non-essential, unnecessary, or out of date.

9)   Demand a review of all Executive Departments and Agencies of our Government with the goal of downsizing or eliminating over time those that are non-essential, unnecessary, or just bloated. I suggest the prime candidates for consideration are the Departments/Agencies/Bureaus of: Environmental Protection, Energy, and the National Labor Relations Board.

10)   Longer term, Congress should initiate and pass a Federal “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the Constitution. Forty-nine states currently have some version of a balanced budget requirement. Only Vermont does not. (see “Is a Balanced Budget Amendment Necessary?”)

Our country can be saved if the American People recall and return our government to the original spirit and intent of our founders. The United States is exceptional among all nations because of our Constitutional support of individual liberties, private property rights, a free market capitalist society, and limited government. Government should be the servant of the people. The American People should not be the servants of the government. It’s time to take back our country! Study the issues and vote in November!

The Old Guy PhD


Is a Balanced Budget Amendment Necessary?

August 6, 2011

G’Day!

Yes, the Constitutional Amendment is necessary given the dysfunctional behavior of our government, and No, it is not necessary (even undesirable) in economic theory because it limits the flexibility of our government. So what should we do??

Given the past and current inability of our Congresses and Presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, to act responsibly regarding fiscal budgets and debt policy for our nation, a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the Constitution appears to be necessary. This amendment should mandate a federally balanced budget including a federal spending “Cap” of no more than 20% of GDP (preferably less), and with “Safety Valve” exceptions granted only for “War” or “National Emergency”. These exceptions should require a “Supermajority Vote” in Congress to authorize and the signature of the President to enact. Unfortunately, short-term personal political motivations appear to be stronger than the long-term fiscal responsibilities to our national economic needs. Therefore, we do need a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to protect the American People from continued irresponsible and dysfunctional fiscal and debt behavior by our federal legislators and Presidents. If we needed any additional indication of the necessity to curb government spending, the recent federal debt downgrade from AAA to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s should suffice.

Forty-nine States have some version of a balanced budget requirement (only Vermont does not). Interestingly, Germany and Switzerland, both strong financial nations, also have a balanced budget requirement. This forces their legislators to behave in a responsible manner that protects the national fiscal and long-term debt interests of the people they were elected to serve. Without such a constitutionally protected provision, including the “Cap” on federal spending above, lawmakers are prone to ignore the long-term fiscal consequences of the laws they pass and focus on their own short-term reelections. The relentless historical increase in our national debt and especially the current deficit and debt crises are clear evidence of irresponsible short-term decisions by our Federal Government.

Prior to the passage of 16th Amendment in 1913, which permits federal income taxes directly on the people, we had governments that were forced to limit their size and spending to a level reasonably consistent with federal revenues. The funds available required adherence to the provisions for limited federal government defined in our Constitution and required the establishment of appropriate priorities for federal programs and services. In other words, our government was reasonably forced to live within its means. What a revolutionary concept!! After the 16th Amendment, our government could (and did) simply increase income taxes or borrow to meet whatever programs or bureaucracy they deemed desirable, not necessarily important or essential. In 1913 federal spending was less than 3% of GDP. In 2008, President Bush’s last year, federal spending was approximately 20% of GDP and this year under Obama, the federal spending is estimated to be 25% of GDP. This is madness and does not serve the American people.

As mentioned above, since 1913 our elected officials have relied on increasing income taxes on the American people or debt to pay the increased costs of the programs and bureaucracy they desired, regardless of the cost, need, or even importance of these programs to the American people. It is easier for politicians to identify a socially “desirable” program than to identify and justify its costs and priority to the taxpaying public and its overall benefits to society. Our government has merely increased taxes to pay for these new or expanded social entitlement programs or added to our National Debt by borrowing the missing funds (increasingly from foreign sources, like China). In 2008 our National Debt was $10.0 trillion, a $4 trillion increase in eight years under President Bush. Currently, under President Obama in only two and one-half years, our National Debt has increased another $4 trillion (a 40% increase) to $14.3 trillion and, even after this week’s debt agreement, is projected to grow another $8 trillion to approximately $22 trillion over the next 10 years. This is more than 100% of projected GDP, is not sustainable, and must be corrected.

In economic theory (especially Keynesian), a balanced budget amendment would limit our government’s flexibility. It would restrict government fiscal actions to correct imbalances in our economy, such as running “deficits” to stimulate the economy during recessions and the use of “surpluses” to retard excessive and unsustainable growth. In theory, this should smooth economic growth by limiting the magnitude of peaks and valleys in the business cycle. This in turn would restrain “booms”, minimize “busts”, stabilize economic growth to reasonably sustainable levels, and avoid excessive fluctuations in job markets. Nearly all economists believe that prudent use of this power is good but excessive use is bad. All good stuff in theory! Unfortunately, the behavior of our governments and the actual results have not followed the theory. “Excessive use” has repeatedly hurt our economy and job growth starting with FDR in the “Great Depression” and currently with the Obama Administration’s “Stimulus”, expansion of government size, and spending to support his big government agenda. Also, when federal surpluses were possible, as with the Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush tax rate reductions (all of which increased economic growth and tax revenues), Congress quickly initiated new spending programs to use the money (Johnson’s “Great Society”, Bush’s wars, and the Democrat Congress’ Prescription Drug Program in Bush’s second term). As I have repeatedly said, socialism and long-term economic growth are not compatible. Most other nations, including many in Europe, and especially Russia, India, and China, have learned this and are increasingly relying on free market economies and prudent fiscal and monetary policies.

Since the founding of our nation, balanced budget legislation has been discussed. Thomas Jefferson was the first President to think seriously about requiring balanced budget legislation to maintain fiscal discipline and he actually wanted to ban federal borrowing power to limit the potential size of federal government. Ultimately, he concluded this would be too restrictive in times of emergencies, especially wars. For over 200 years our nation has relied on the wisdom and responsibility of our elected officials to act appropriately on behalf of the American people. The introduction of the federal income tax amendment above combined with the evolution of our short-term political reelection process has unfortunately undermined the ability of our legislators to perform their fiscal duties to serve the long-term interests of the American people. It is time to renew the effort to force our federal government to behave responsibly. Clearly, history, since 1913 has shown that they cannot be trusted to do it on their own.

So “Yes”, we do need a Constitutional “Balanced Budget Amendment” with federal spending “Caps” and a “Safety valve” for national emergencies to rein in the reckless fiscal behavior of our elected officials. Our governments are increasingly turning our nation into a centrally controlled socialist debtor nation. These policies are not the foundation of freedoms upon which our country was created and which made America great. It’s time to return our country to the individual liberties, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government upon which it was founded.

The Old Guy PhD