Has American Decided Its Future?

November 7, 2012

G’Day!

No, there is still the opportunity to influence our future! While it is not possible for me to adequately describe my disappointment, disbelief, and initial unhappiness with the results in this election, a free people in a free society expressed their current desire for a popular President to continue to transform our country into a centrally controlled socialist welfare state. If this new nation evolves, our country will be very different from the America in which I have long lived, long enjoyed, and hoped to endow to my children. Fortunately, we live in a country where it is possible for an election as divisive is this one to take place peacefully and without violence and there will be another Congressional election in only two years. We now know (or should know) exactly what the next four years are likely to bring unless we strive to change it.

On its current track America faces a looming financial & economic collapse, unsustainable deficits & National Debt, higher taxes and healthcare costs, the ultimate failure of our important social safety nets, continued energy dependence on nations that do not like us, and a Foreign Policy of appeasement, apology, & withdrawal that has encouraged terrorists & enemies of the US and our allies. If Iran does create a nuclear weapon and the “Arab Spring” continues to deteriorate, it is unlikely that our best ally in the Middle East, Israel, will survive without resolute US support. Without a course correction, the America and freedoms I know and love are probably doomed. In my opinion, our only hope is that Obama reverses nearly all of his policies (unlikely) or the Republicans and Democrats in Congress can find a bipartisan way to resolve our country’s multiple crises quickly (possible). It is now time for all of us on both sides of the issues to work together to save our country. It can be done!

John F. Kennedy at his inauguration said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” This was not only inspirational but an accurate indication of our country’s culture of independence, freedom, and opportunity at the time. Since those words were spoken, our nation has experienced a gradual erosion of our freedoms, a huge increase in the size of our government, and increased welfare and dependency by citizens on government. We must regain our spirit of personal responsibility, mutual cooperation, and independence from a government that increasingly seems to believe (with apologies to JFK), “My fellow dependents, ask not what you can do for yourselves; ask what your government can do for you!” Let’s all endeavor to reestablish a culture of unity not divisiveness, compromise not partisanship, progress not gridlock, and independence not welfare. We are all Americans!

I believe the Republicans can and should take the lead in proposing new solutions to the major crisis of our time: the impending financial collapse of our federal government and our economy. My two principal suggestions for initial Congressional action are: 1) In the lame duck session extend the “Bush Tax Cuts” for 6-12 months to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff” and give Congress a reasonable opportunity to properly deal with the real reforms necessary and 2) As the first priority in 2013 pass the Bowles-Simpson proposal in the House with added entitlement reform as the appropriate framework for a permanent solution and submit this to the Senate for review and actual vote. (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!” “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission-Again!” “Debt Reduction: Bowles & Simpson Have it Right-Redux!” “Debt Crisis-Whatever happened to Bowles-Simpson?”) Simply “Taxing the Rich” cannot work. If the “Rich” were taxed at 100% and paid it (unlikely), there is not enough tax revenue available to pay for and sustain our government for the future. What is required is renewing the growing private-sector economy necessary to create the jobs needed to move individuals from permanent dependency to employment and personal independence. In other words, “Save the American Dream!”

Longer term Republicans need to properly and practically address with positive programs the issue of Latinos in America (+40% voting edge for Obama), Women’s issues (+11% voting edge for Obama), and the lack of under age 30 youth support (+20% voting edge for Obama). Without broadening the party’s appeal to these constituencies, it will become increasingly difficult for Republicans to win future elections.

The challenge facing our future is getting our government to work together to correct its self-inflicted path of fiscal insanity, unsupportable debt, unsustainable entitlements, and individual dependency on government by a combination of economic growth policies, major business and individual tax reform to increase tax revenues, cuts in unnecessary federal discretionary spending, and reforms required to make our social safety nets and entitlement programs sustainable for future generations. We can do this! Let’s get to work!

The Old Guy PhD


“Obamacare” Revisited!

June 29, 2012

G’Day!

Originally I intended to post an article on the subject of “Fairness”, but the unexpected decision by the Supreme Court to uphold “Obamacare” has placed the healthcare issue firmly back on the political table. It is expected that the House of Representatives will vote to repeal “Obamacare” in its entirety in the next few weeks and, like the fate of nearly all House proposals passed, it will die from total avoidance and neglect in the Democrat controlled Senate. This makes healthcare, along with the economy and job creation, again a key issue for the November election and one we should seriously reconsider. Therefore, the article noted above will be delayed and posted in the future.

Over a year ago I posted two articles on the subject of fixing healthcare, “How to Solve Healthcare Part I” and “How to Solve Healthcare Part II”. The suggestions proposed in these articles are as relevant today as they were last year. Because many of you may not have read them previously, I am summarizing the important points of these articles below. Reconsider them carefully in light of the current situation, follow closely the proposals put forward, and vote accordingly in November.

First, while I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court decision, perhaps its most troubling aspect is the justification by Chief Justice Roberts of the “Mandate” on the principle that Congress has the power to tax in order to force us to buy products consistent with laws they pass. This seems to open a new Constitutional power for Congress to dictate what we should (or should not) buy or to “tax” us if we do not comply. In this case we must buy insurance or a penalty (now considered a “tax”) for non-compliance will be imposed. What are the limits of this new power? Can the federal government demand that we buy (or not) certain foods or buy specific energy sources (or not) or buy other specific products (or not) or we will be penalized (“taxed”) into compliance? This is a troubling development that was not in the original bill and now permanently stands as a constitutional Supreme Court ruling regardless of the ultimate fate of “Obamacare”. This is not a good outcome.

Next, as stated in the two articles referenced above, “Obamacare” will only increase costs, undermine individual freedom of choice, result in jobs lost in the private economy, reduce competition, increase government size, spending, regulations, and ultimately lead to government-only rationed health services & treatment. This is still true. Nothing has changed. If anything, the damage to the economy and free markets from “Obamacare” has become even more obvious to all except Obama and his hardcore supporters. Obama’s tax and spend supporters actually want fewer freedoms for citizens, bigger government, and more control over individuals, private property, and business. “Obamacare” is just another big government program of tax and spend, which in my opinion is neither necessary nor desirable for the country. As I said in the above articles, there are free market solutions available, which would expand individual choices and minimize or prevent a government takeover of healthcare. The Republicans are right to oppose the bill, but the question of how we can fix it, reduce costs, and maintain our freedom of choice is still an issue. Perhaps the biggest question to be answered is, “Who should make healthcare decisions, the government or the patient in consultation with his or her doctor?” For me, given my belief in personal liberty and the effectiveness of free markets, individual freedom of choice is the correct answer.

In the two referenced articles the major issues upon which there is general agreement for improvement were identified. These are still applicable: 1) cost reduction, 2) coverage for “pre-existing conditions”, 3) patient choice in doctor selection & treatment, 4) portability of existing coverage in relocation, 5) coverage for catastrophic events, 6) tort reform, and 7) coverage for those involuntarily uninsured because of need. In the referenced articles I explain why largely non-government free market alternatives to “Obamacare” can provide specific solutions to each of these issues. We can do this at lower cost, with greater freedom of individual choice, and without an intrusive and expensive government takeover of healthcare in America. President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society introduced the Medicare and Medicaid programs that started us on our current unsustainable healthcare path to ultimate fiscal collapse. We need to curtail these programs to cover only the truly needy not expand these unsupportable models for our future.

Simple and rational changes can and should be pursued such as:

  • Insurance competition across state lines,
  • Repeal/amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, which exempts insurance companies from anti-trust acts,
  • Require portability of existing policies when relocating,
  • Enact tort reform (capped punitive damages and “loser pays”),
  • Create a national catastrophic healthcare insurance pool (similar to “Flood Insurance”,
  • Require coverage of pre-existing conditions with appropriately higher premiums (like car insurance for bad drivers),
  • Elimination of employers from the healthcare system with the current tax-deductible payments going directly to the employee with the option to buy his or her own insurance (also tax-deductible) (see “How to Solve Healthcare Part II” for details).

All of these changes except the last should be doable with some common sense and a little political will and are explained in greater detail in the original articles.

Healthcare should be a choice and responsibility of individual citizens in a nationwide market-driven economy. Let’s keep our government’s role at the minimum necessary to provide a competitive level playing field and a safety net for only those in temporary need and medical catastrophes.

“Obamacare” is another big government socialist attempt to take over our country, reduce our freedoms, and control our lives. Individual choice in a competitive free-market economy is the best way forward. Study the issues and policies carefully and vote accordingly in November.

The Old Guy PhD


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


Obama – The Ego has Landed!

April 30, 2012

G’Day!

When I started this Blog in February 2011, it was not intended to be political but, after a year of following our President and Congress carefully, I believe I have no choice. My overall assessment is that Obama and the Democrats, what I call the “Obammunists”, are determined to fundamentally change the culture, prosperity, and exceptionalism of America into a huge centrally governed socialist nation where hard work, innovation, achievement, and success are penalized and indolence, obedience, and dependence are rewarded. Obama is actively pursuing a “Race to the Bottom” policy of economic wealth redistribution where the general population and industry (except the chosen “Obammunist” elite) are equally poor and dependent on government for survival. As I have said before, it sounds like communism to me. The Republicans are not perfect but at least they are trying to save our Constitution and our country from becoming Greece or perhaps Russia. If the Obama Administration’s policies are pursued, America is on a path of potential self-destruction that is unnecessary, unwise, and undesirable. I call on all freedom-loving Americans to become politically active, to get out the vote, and to defeat Obama in November.

Obama is acting like a man who would be king and is displaying the ego to believe he can accomplish it. Perhaps the clearest indicator of excessive self-image is someone who blames everyone else for bad decisions and bad results and continues to actively pursue and promote his mistakes. So far he has blamed his failures on former President Bush, the Republicans, Congress, the Tea Party, millionaires and billionaires, Wall Street, Europe, and recently launched an advance attack on The Supreme Court over Obamacare. He has been campaigning with our taxpayer dollars to divide the country by economic class, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and entitlements. Charles Krauthammer recently predicted this could be “The dirtiest campaign you’ve ever seen.”

Obama’s ego is off the scale. He appears to believe that he is always right and anyone who doesn’t agree with him is wrong. Obama appears to believe that Americans are so naïve and gullible he can continue to be “charming” and successfully blame everyone but himself for the failures and bad policies of his administration. I believe that the American people are smart enough to see through his organized propaganda campaign of blame and misinformation. He is following other self-centered historical European kings and dictators who believed that a distortion of truth repeated often enough and combined with the use of government force will be tolerated by sufficient population to acquire and retain authoritarian power. Do you want to reelect a man who has been so wrong and made so many mistakes and still believes in his infallibility? The “Obammunists” are very dangerous to our Constitution and our culture of free market capitalism, constitutionally protected individual freedoms, entrepreneurship, and limited federal government. These are the foundations that have made America exceptional for over 200 years and, with our help will keep it strong, free, and prosperous for the future.

The “Obammunists” are counting on a silent majority of Americans to be apathetic and to believe the politics of misinformation that is being proclaimed to divide our nation. Obama is expecting freedom-loving Americans to stay at home in November and allow the organized leftwing socialist (communist?) labor unions, those receiving entitlements, and their supporters determine the election outcome. We must not let that happen! We must become passionate about saving our country for our children. The Founding Fathers established the Constitutional principle that government is the servant of the people not vice versa. We have the opportunity in November to correct the course of our country and put it back on the right track of liberty, capitalism, economic growth, and limited government. Study the issues and candidates and vote accordingly.

The Old Guy PhD


Wake Up America – Obama is Hazardous to Your Health (& Wealth)!

March 31, 2012

G’Day!

Not only is Obama hazardous to your health and wealth, he is even more hazardous to our Constitution, our personal freedoms, our national defense, our foreign policy, our economic growth, our energy independence, and our very fiscal survival as a country. If Obama and the Democrats are left unchecked (pun intended), our capitalist freedom-loving nation, that has been a model for the world for over two centuries, could become a centrally mandated, entitlement state of mostly parasites living off the productive endeavors of fewer and fewer successful hard-working citizens. At worst, America could turn into a failed bankrupt state. Given the apparent Obama agenda of dictated economic equality and oppressive federal government control over all aspects of our social, economic, and personal lives, the freedoms and opportunities for the hard working Americans will continue to be eroded through increasing regulations, restrictions, and taxes. It appears that Obama’s intent is to engage the nation in “class warfare” in order to make us all equally poor and dependent on the federal government for our survival. Unfortunately, it sounds a lot like communism to me. As “The Economist” headlined in February: “Over-regulated America: The home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation”. Regrettably, this appears to be true!!

Regarding health, all I need to say is “Obamacare”. Approximately two-thirds of the country doesn’t want it. It has and will continue to increase both healthcare and business costs and will inhibit job and economic growth. It will penalize medical innovation, decrease incentives for doctors, and increase direct and indirect taxes for those who actually pay them. It is a massive increase in government’s intrusion in our lives and will ultimately result in government-rationed healthcare including end-of-life decisions by bureaucrats. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will correctly declare the act unconstitutional and we can return to a logical and rational free-market based system with reasonable government support for the truly needy. I lived in Europe for approximately ten years and can assure you even our current system, which can be improved, is far better than “Obamacare”.

Obama is clearly an “elitist” who does not support our Constitution. The Constitution is the foundation of our individual liberties and places strict limits on federal government power. Obama appears to believe that he and his administration are smarter than our Founding Fathers and are more qualified than Congress or the people to make decisions and rules controlling our lives and our economy. Obama’s agenda is found throughout his administration and especially in his policies for Energy, Environment, Labor, Defense, and the Department of Justice, not to mention his appropriately named “Czars”. Look at the damage these federal bureaucracies have done during his brief term in office. Obama is trying to force his socialist agenda of an all-powerful federal government on the American people. He is even trying to bypass Congress with excessive use of executive power through administrative mandates. This is not the way our Founding Fathers intended the three branches of our government to function and is not good for our country.

Obama’s financial and economic policies have been and continue to be an accelerating train wreck for America. Suffice it to say that in only three years he has increased our national debt by over $1 trillion every year and in total by $5 trillion to more than $15 trillion (+50%), so much for electing a Community Organizer to run the country. Over the last year I have written many articles about how totally unsustainable and incomprehensible his financial and fiscal policies are. His Presidential budgets and the Dodd-Frank regulations are obvious examples of bad proposals and legislation. President Obama may be charming but he is a disaster for the future of our nation.

How many of you really believe Obama’s National Defense and Foreign Policies over the last three years have been favorable? Do you believe our country is safer and that our influence throughout the world has improved under Obama’s guidance? Do you feel that ignoring European desires, especially Poland and the Czech Republic, and caving in to Russia’s demands to eliminate the European missile defense shield has made Europe or the United States more secure? Has this concession to Russia resulted in any change in Russia’s willingness to cooperate with us on Iran, Syria, the Israel-Palestinian conflict or any important foreign issue? Has the abrupt withdrawal of armed forces from Iraq caused the Iraqi to experience less internal hostilities and regard us more favorably than before? Has the ill-advised announcement of a specific timetable for unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan improved our relations with the Afghan government and the Taliban or resulted in a reduction of hostilities? Has his policy regarding Israel improved or worsened their conflict with the Palestinians in the West Bank? Have the unilateral defense cuts, including cancelling of the NASA Space Program with the immediate lost of thousands of highly trained technology jobs improved our ability to defend ourselves or compete scientifically in space with China, Russia, Iran, or even North Korea? Have our relations with China and Pakistan improved under Obama? And finally, how is the containment of Iran’s nuclear program going? Are these the policies you want continued by our government? I know that I do not.

Regarding Energy, the arbitrary Energy Department and EPA restrictions on fossil energy use, exploration, and development have made us more dependent on foreign energy sources from unstable regions of the world and increase our energy costs. Does the stoppage of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada and the associated loss of desperately needed domestic jobs make any sense to anyone other than radical environmentalists? Will the newly released emission standards on coal-fired power plants kill the coal industry and result in thousands of lost jobs. These administrative mandates will result in higher gas prices, higher energy prices, lower employment and less economic growth at a time when our country is struggling to recover. Obama and his administration should realize that our nation and the world will be dependent on fossil fuel energy for years and probably decades. We have abundant domestic sources of oil, natural gas, and coal available if our government would let us develop and use them. And, if we do not, the security of America will be in jeopardy and we will be at the mercy of unstable nations that do not like us. I for one am totally mystified. What is Obama thinking? I do not want to believe that Obama intentionally wants to destroy our country but his policies are certainly trending in this direction. This is not good.

As I said in last month’s article, “The growth of Western Civilization and especially the United States was fuelled by the expansion of individual liberties, property rights, and a free market capitalist society. Our nation was established on the fundamental principle that government is the servant of the people, not that the people are the servants of the government. It’s time to take back our country and return to the individual liberties, free markets, economic growth, and limited government we have long enjoyed.” WAKE UP AMERICA!

The Old Guy PhD


Let’s Send Congress & The President on Unpaid Leave!

November 30, 2011

G’Day!

Let’s face the truth. Our government is doing nothing to solve our country’s economic problems and has actually made the situation worse in the last two and a half years. While not practical, perhaps the best way to create jobs and improve our economy would be to send Congress and President Obama on an unpaid leave of absence for 2012. Certainly neither is accomplishing anything of benefit and paying Congress to do nothing and President Obama to campaign for his reelection is a waste of their time and our money. Also, my real concern that they will continue to do even more harm through Executive Orders or will create new regulations that further restrict our businesses and prolong the political uncertainty that is at the heart of our economic stagnation. Since they are not doing anything meaningful, preventing all new government action in 2012 would give business the certainty of “status quo” and no further damage would be done prior to our national vote on economic policy. Withholding pay is a logical penalty for our current do-nothing government representatives and would have the benefit of reducing the deficit. Since their priority is reelection, this would give them the freedom to try to convince the electorate that they support policies that will protect our freedoms, promote jobs and economic growth, and deserve to be retained in office.

To be fair, let’s review a few of the major government results since the 2008 election. Our total deficit has increased by $4 trillion and the annual deficit more than doubled from $500 billion to $1.3 trillion/year. Government spending has increased from approximately 20% of GDP to 25% of GDP. National Debt has now increased by nearly 50% to an estimated $15 trillion, nearly 100% of GDP. New entitlement commitments through “Obamacare” was passed against the desires of the majority of American voters and will further increase deficits and debt in the future. The Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Bill was passed, which significantly increases regulations over the financial services industry and has currently added to the turmoil, confusion, and stagnation in our banking system. The Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have virtually shut down domestic development and exploration of fossil fuel resources, have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars in support of noneconomic renewable energy companies (Solyndra et al), and have again delayed the proposed pipeline from Canada (Note: Canada is now threatening to sell the oil to China). The Department of Justice (DOJ) tried to bring the terrorist prisoners back into the US to be tried under US laws, supported the sales of guns to criminals and is delaying business mergers, which will improve the competitiveness of American companies. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has joined with DOJ in attacking the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. The pro-union activist National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to stop Boeing from finalizing its new “Dreamliner” plant in the Right-to-Work State of South Carolina and is attempting to change voting rules to eliminate the requirement for secret ballot for unionization in a company. The do-nothing Democrat-controlled Senate has passed no government budget for approximately three years and has blocked attempts by the Republican-controlled House to pass fiscally responsible legislation. Not an appealing set of accomplishments.

President Obama is and has been in re-election campaign mode for months and has virtually abdicated leadership to resolve our unsustainable deficit and debt crises. In fact, Obama has significantly added to the magnitude of these problems by his uncontrolled increases in government spending, Obamacare, and the overall anti-business attitude of his administration. Obama ignored the excellent recommendations of his own Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission, which addressed all areas of the deficit and debt crises including increased revenues through tax reform, entitlement reform, and decreased government spending. Obama has also provided no apparent advice or leadership for the failed “Super Committee” and it now appears to have been designed to fail in order to create a political issue for the next election. As Governor Christie of New Jersey said this week regarding Obama’s lack of leadership, “What the hell are we paying you for?”

Enough is enough. Given the stalemate in Congress and an absentee President focusing on his own reelection, we should, if we could, send them all home on unpaid leave until the next election. Unfortunately, we need to have this election ASAP and not a year from now. The will of the American people needs to be determined regarding whether free market capitalism and individual freedoms or redistributive socialism and big government central planning is preferred. Personally, I vote for individual freedom, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government.

The Old Guy PhD


The Tea Party – Patriots or Terrorists?

August 21, 2011

G’Day!

Members of The Tea Party ARE true American “Patriots” and definitely NOT “Terrorists” or “Racists” or “Crazies” or “Fanatics” as accused by liberal politicians! I am not a Tea Party member but am appalled by the inaccurate, unfounded, and demonstratively biased political attacks on them by the Obama Administration, Congressional Democrats, and segments of the Liberal Media. The ONLY reason for these attacks is that the Congressional members of the Tea Party movement are willing to stand up for our nation’s long-term constitutional principals of individual freedoms, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government. Congressional Tea Party members have NOT been willing to make the short-term compromises of these principles typically characteristic of our political representatives. GOOD FOR THEM! We need more elected members of Congress who are willing to take a stand for what is right for our country not for what is convenient for reelection or supportive of bigger and bigger federal bureaucracy and spending. Political compromise is not necessarily progress and, given our current fiscal and debt crises, is not in the long-term interests of the American people. OUR GOVERNMENT GROWTH IS OUT OF CONTROL, UNSUSTAINABLE, AND MUST BE STOPPED AND REVERSED! The Tea Party is trying to accomplish this.

So what is “The Tea Party” and why are Obama and the Democrats so terrified of them that they are aggressively engaging in political demagoguery in an attempt to discredit their positions and influence? First of all “The Tea Party” is not a political party (yet). The Tea Party is a “movement” by ordinary Americans of all parties who are fed up with the encroachment by federal government into our personal lives, our business commerce, and the inexorable increase in the magnitude of our government spending and debt. The Tea Party is trying to correct this, which is the primary reason the Obama Administration and Democrats with their tax and spend big government socialist policies are attacking them.

Perhaps the most accurate and concise summary of what The Tea Party stands for is on TheTeaParty.net website, which describes supporters as follows:

“The Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement of millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. Tea Party members share similar core principles supporting the United States Constitution as the Founders intended, such as:
•  Limited federal government•  Individual freedoms•  Personal responsibility•  Free markets

•  Returning political power to the states and the people

As a movement, The Tea Party is not a political party nor is looking to form a third political party any time soon. The Tea Party movement, is instead, about reforming all political parties and government so that the core principles of our Founding Fathers become, once again, the foundation upon which America stands.” 

So what’s not to like? Who among true hard-working Americans willing to challenge forced dependency on government could object to these core principles? It is no wonder that Obama and the Democrats object to and attack them because The Tea Party’s core principles are diametrically opposed to those of Liberal Democrats. The Liberals are leading us down a path of less support for our Constitution, bigger federal government, greater government control over our lives, more regulation of what’s left of our free markets, more central power for the federal government and less freedoms for the states and the people. Contrary to the “Blame Game” against The Tea Party, the real “obstructionists” in government are Obama and the Congressional Democrats, who refuse to address the fundamental causes of our fiscal and debt crises, such as government growth and entitlement spending.

Let’s review a few of the activities Obama and Democrats have initiated in just the last two and one-half years. Since Obama was elected, Federal Government ANNUAL spending has increased “relatively” from 20% to 25% of GDP and “absolutely” from $2.9 trillion to $3.8 trillion, the ANNUAL deficit increased from $500 billion to 1.7 trillion, and our total National Debt has increased by 40% from $10 trillion to over $14 trillion (and an additional $2 trillion increase has just been authorized)! The Democrats in Congress have not passed a Federal Budget for over 800 days and have so far this year rejected all attempts by the Republicans to pass one for next year! The budget proposed by President Obama earlier this year continued his excessive government spending and added another $10 trillion in deficits and debt over ten years, (fortunately, both parties in Congress overwhelmingly rejected the President’s budget). Over the objections of a majority of the American people, they passed Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations legislation, both of which add additional costs, additional regulations, and additional central control to our federal government. During a Congressional Recess without Senate approval, Obama appointed union activists to the National Labor Relations Board who have attacked Boeing’s implementation of a new non-union factory in Charleston, SC, (see “Attack on American Business by Obama “packed” NLRB!” and “Obama “packed” NLRB Continues Attack on Boeing & Free Markets!”) and the EPA under Lisa Jackson has stopped a Department of the Interior’s previously approved Shell Oil request to development a large oil reserve off the Alaskan coast, (see “Obama Administration Attacks American Business Again!”). They have allotted $27 billion for “Green Jobs”, which have not worked out well and have virtually shutdown oil and natural gas development (at a loss of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of good jobs). In summary, the obstructionist policies of Obama and the Democrats have produced a Congressional stalemate, hurt our economy, are stifling job growth, are hostile to business operations, and have increased our deficit and debt crises. What part of reckless and unsustainable spending, destructive regulations, and excessive government control of free markets and personal liberties don’t Liberal Democrats understand? It is no surprise that they feel threatened by The Tea Party.

Regarding taking responsibility and showing leadership, Obama has been demonstratively invisible. During his recent “Black Bus Tour” (in a bus made in Canada), Obama has blamed Bush, The Tea Party, Republicans, Congress in general, the earthquake in Japan, the Arab Spring, and the European Debt Crisis for our current economic problems. Never once did he admit or even suggest that his policies of irresponsible spending, uncontrolled borrowing, and increased federal regulation were part of the problem (see “Government Imposed Uncertainties Hurt Economic Growth!”). Other than the President’s outrageous budget proposal noted above and his endless generic campaign speeches, Obama has offered NO SPECIFIC PLAN to solve our economic problems and create jobs. Like Democrats in Congress he has been content to “kick-the-can-down-the-road”. Astounding behavior for the so-called leader of the free world! Again, it is no surprise that the President is afraid of the patriots in The Tea Party, who actually have a plan to get America back on track and are willing to take responsibility for it.

So, can we resolve our problems? In a previous article I outlined, six (6) specific suggestions, which I believe would improve our situation (see “Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs!”). If our President and Congress are serious about solving our problems and restoring our economy, all of these suggestions could be accomplished quickly and all are consistent with the goals of The Tea Party. Overall, the message is to reverse the socialist movement toward a “nanny state”, get government off our backs, and return our country to the American people. Because most of my suggestions require reversal of Obama’s policies, it is unlikely that they can be pursued before the next election in 2012. Therefore, the 2012 election will be critical to our future as a great nation. Think about it and act accordingly!!

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


Debt Reduction: Bowles & Simpson Have it Right – Redux!

July 22, 2011

G’Day!

On April 1, I posted the article, “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”, suggesting that the Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission’s proposal was a good solution to our country’s deficit and debt crises. Subsequent articles have repeatedly referred to this proposal as a reasonable bipartisan way to address our federal fiscal problems, especially long-term debt, (see “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – AGAIN!”, “Is Obama Really Serious about Debt Reduction?”, “Fiscal and Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!”). Approximately eight months after publishing the Commission’s preliminary report and 5 months after formal submission to President Obama, the “Gang of Six” in the Senate finally appears to be considering it. Perhaps there is some intelligent life in Washington after all. I hope so.

To resolve our unsustainable deficit and debt crises, we need significant comprehensive changes to improve revenues through comprehensive tax reform, to reduce discretionary spending including defense, and reduction/reform in entitlement programs for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. All of these reforms: taxation, government spending, and entitlements, are essential to a comprehensive solution for our country’s problems and ALL must be addressed if we are to succeed.

Bowles-Simpson, which is still an appropriate bipartisan starting point, addresses all of these issues and was approved by 61% of the commission members. I hope it now gets the attention it deserves. The “Gang of Six” and Bowles-Simpson have identified nearly $4 Trillion in deficit reductions over ten years with an immediate reduction of $500 Billion. Both plans rely on government spending cuts and tax reform to lower tax rates, broaden the tax base, and increase tax revenues. These are all good initial actions and I would also suggest the addition of the House “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, which specifically “Caps” government spending relative to GDP and includes a “Balanced Budget Amendment” provision to insure that our government performs its future fiscal requirements in a responsible way. Currently, polls indicate that over two-thirds of the American people want a “Balanced Budget Amendment” and do not want a further increase in our National Debt. Now is an appropriate time to deal with these issues to insure not only our own future but also more importantly, the future of our children.

If Congress and the President had seriously considered Bowles-Simpson earlier in the year, the debt crisis could already be resolved. We must bring responsibility to the country back into our government and significantly reduce its size.

The Old Guy PhD

Note: The original Bowles-Simpson article with “links” is repeated below for those who missed it.

Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!

In my previous posts, “Big Government IS Our Problem” and “Is Our Government Broken”, I laid out the current and projected fiscal and debt problems facing our nation and argued that significant contraction in government spending is immediately essential. Also essential is tax reform. Our taxes MUST be simplified, the tax base broadened, and tax rates reduced (especially business taxes), if we are to be able to compete in a global economy.

The Debt Reduction Commission’s “Co-Chair’s Proposal” released in December 2010 by the Co-Chairs, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson and submitted to the President in February 2011, is an excellent and understandable overview of the recommendations, which, with minor modification, were approved by 11 of the 18 bipartisan members (61% approval) in December 2010. Unfortunately, the final vote fell short of the 14 votes necessary for the “Supermajority” needed to directly submit the recommendations to Congress. While the Co-Chair’s Draft Proposal differs slightly from the final report submitted to the President, it is worth reviewing for its importance, focus, clarity, and brevity. They have done an excellent job and their proposal deserves the immediate attention of the President and Congress. While no one will be fully happy with all of the commission’s proposals, rational behavior combined with cooperation and compromise by our elected government is necessary if we are to remain a solvent and great nation. The time for government to act is NOW!

The bipartisan Debt Reduction Commission worked from April – December 2010 to develop and present overall comprehensive recommendations to solve our country’s short and long term fiscal and debt crises. They have done their work well. The report addresses all the necessary areas required to resolve the issues including setting out ten (10) objectives, “Guiding Principles and Values”, beginning with “#1-We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow than it is today”; and “#2-The Problem is REAL – the Solution is Painful – There’s no Easy Way Out – Everything Must Be On the Table – and Washington Must Lead”. The other 8 can be read by clicking the link in paragraph above. After establishing the Guiding Principles, the following comprehensive “Five Part Plan” is recommended:

1.Enact tough discretionary spending caps and provide $200 billion in illustrative domestic and defense savings in 2015.

  1. Pass tax reform that dramatically reduces rates, simplifies the code, broadens the base, and reduces the deficit.
  2. Address the “Doc Fix” not through deficit spending but through savings from payment reforms, cost-sharing, and malpractice reform, and long-term measures to control health care cost growth.
  3. Achieve mandatory savings from farm subsidies, military and civil service retirement.
  4. Ensure Social Security solvency for the next 75 years while reducing poverty among seniors.

Implementation of the comprehensive Five Part Plan is projected to achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020, in addition to other specific improvements in debt and budget reductions summarized below:

  • Achieves nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020: 50+ specific ways to cut outdated programs and strengthen competitiveness by making Washington cut and invest, not borrow and spend.
  • Reduces the deficit to 2.2% of GDP by 2015, exceeding President’s goal of primary balance (about 3% of GDP).
  • Reduces tax rates, abolishes the AMT, and cuts backdoor spending in the tax code.
  • Caps revenue at or below 21% of GDP and gets spending down to 22% and eventually to 21%.
  • Stabilizes debt by 2014 and reduces debt to 60% of GDP by 2024 and 40% by 2037.
  • Ensures lasting Social Security solvency, prevents projected 22% cuts in 2037, reduces elderly poverty, and distributes burden fairly.

 

The proposal outlines how to achieve the above results through specific recommended actions to improve revenues through “Comprehensive Tax Reform” alternatives, to reduce spending through “Discretionary Budget Options” including Defense cuts, reductions for entitlement programs through “Mandatory Budget Options” for healthcare and “Reforming Social Security”. All of these reforms: taxation, government spending, entitlements for healthcare and social security, are essential to a comprehensive solution for our country’s problems and all must be addressed if we are to succeed.

The Co-Chair’s Proposal is controversial but responsible, realistic, and deserves the serious consideration of the President and Congress, who are currently engaged in irrelevant political bickering over trivial spending cuts instead of the substantive fiscal and debt problems we face. Congress and the President should get together, agree on or revise as appropriate the “Guiding Principles and Values” above, and start to work for the American people and our country. Political posturing for re-election is NOT a valid course of action.

Currently, neither the Congress nor the President is addressing our fiscal and debt crises with any sense of urgency. The President and the Democrats are not only totally ignoring the problem but are fighting to avoid even minimal reductions from the inflated budget spending of the last 2-3 years. Federal Budget inflation nearly tripled our federal deficit from $0.459 trillion in 2008 to $1.3 trillion in 2010 and is expected to increase again to $1.7 trillion this fiscal year. Obama’s recent budget proposal for 2012 continues spending at $3.7 trillion and the deficit at $1.6 trillion. Additionally, Obama’s new budget projects a further cumulative deficit of $7.2 trillion for the next ten years – bringing our debt to approximately $22 trillion! This is not leadership; it is madness! Only the Republicans are even attempting to address the issue and, to date, their proposals are woefully inadequate. To be fair, the House Republicans through Representative Paul Ryan are promising to present a comprehensive budget in April that does address the looming long-term catastrophe we face. I hope they deliver.

Given the magnitude of our fiscal and debt problems, the current congressional squabbling is an inappropriate distraction from solving the overall crises facing our nation! Without an agreement on debt limits and/or spending cuts by April 8, our government may shut down. As noted in “Is Our Government Broken”, except for national security and some essential services, shutting down might actually be a good thing. Our government is too big, too irresponsible, and too self-centered. Can’t our Congress or Administration do math?

Where is President Obama’s leadership in all of this? Actually, at the time of this writing he’s currently travelling again and making speeches at a Democratic Party Fundraiser – big surprise. As usual, when leadership and responsibility for our country are required, Obama is absent. Last week with a national debt deadline imminent, Congress took a week off rather than stay in session to attempt to resolve the current national debt limit issue. Brilliant! Our elected representatives need to make financial solvency and economic growth a priority and get to work NOW!

We are on unsustainable fiscal and debt crises that, if not corrected quickly, will lead to potential financial and economic disaster for our country. Our government is oppressive and out of control, its growth must be stopped, and its intrusion in our lives and businesses reversed. We MUST maintain the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for economic growth and global competitiveness. We need to bring back the constitutional freedoms and personal liberties that led us to become the greatest nation on earth. Our government should immediately take up the Bowles-Simpson Co-Chairs’ Proposal.

The Old Guy PhD


Government Imposed Uncertainties Hurt Economic Growth!

July 7, 2011

G’Day!

In nearly every analysis or survey of why business and financial institutions are not currently hiring or investing in America, the primary reason given is “uncertainties”. While dealing with economic uncertainties is a normal part of business decisions, the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress have created additional administrative and legislative uncertainties that are unnecessary and detrimental to growth. Removal, or at minimum temporary suspension, of these government obstacles to investment, growth, and job creation would allow business and financial institutions to get America moving again.

Summarized below are the current government-sponsored complications that are discouraging job creation, capital investment, and the economic growth that we would expect from business during a normal expansion. I apologize in advance for its length but the issues are important and merit nominal analysis. Please review the information below and ask yourself, “If I were a business manager or a banker, would I risk my own money to expand, startup a new business, or make loans in this restrictive and uncertain regulatory environment?”

Fiscal Deficit & Debt Crisis: These two related issues are by far our greatest overall national risk! Fortunately we have a very comprehensive, rational, and bipartisan solution available, which was initially sponsored by President Obama. It is the Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission Report, “The Moment of Truth”. Unfortunately, President Obama and Congress have ignored this proposal since its completion. I have extensively discussed and still support this positive and bipartisan solution, (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!” “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – Again?” and “Is Obama Really Serious about Debt Reduction?”). The commission’s report, which was approved by a majority of 61% of the bipartisan members, has languished in obscurity since it was completed and presented to President Obama early this year. The recommendations from the commission cover all the necessary aspects of an implementable comprehensive solution to the our fiscal and debt crises including significant tax reform, reductions in discretionary and defense spending, and entitlement reforms including Social Security. For reasons that are a mystery to me, neither Congress nor the President appears to be considering this report in their current discussions. The President and the Democrats are not only totally ignoring a rational solution but have been fighting for months to avoid even minimal reductions from the inflated federal budget spending of the last 2-3 years. How can anyone expect financial institutions or business firms to act positively with these uncertainties hanging over them?

Taxes: As repeatedly discussed in previous articles, both corporate and individual income tax reform is essential for economic growth and investment in our country (see “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!”). We need to raise additional federal revenues by lowering tax rates (especially corporate tax rates), eliminating loopholes, subsidies, and unnecessary “tax expenditures”, broadening the tax base to include more taxpayers, and simplifying the tax code. Currently at 35%, corporate tax rates in America are among the highest in the developed world (corporate taxes in China are 25%, Russia 20%, Germany 15%, and Ireland 12.5%) and foreign profits are penalized if returned to the US. This is ridiculous and encourages job creation and investment overseas, not in the US!

Regarding broadening the tax base, over 51% of US families currently pay no income taxes but receive the benefits paid by taxes from the rest of us, especially the much maligned “wealthy” (who already pay 76% of total income tax revenues). The current Obama proposal is to add more taxes on the “Rich” by rescinding the “Bush Tax Cuts” sooner than they are scheduled to expire. Simple math demonstrates that the “Rich” don’t have enough income to pay for the current and projected Obama deficits. This is nothing but political demagoguery and class warfare in preparation for the next election and is neither rational nor a serious solution to our long-term government overspending problems. If we are to solve our deficit and debt crises, broadening the tax base can and must be accomplished.

In “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!” noted above, I have outlined three overall reform alternatives: 1) Retain but simplify our current “Progressive tax system, 2) Adopt a “Flat Tax” (one tax rate for all), and/or 3) Adopt a “Fair Tax” (a consumption or “VAT” tax). I personally prefer implementation of the “Fair Tax” either alone or in conjunction with one of the other two alternatives.  However, any one or a rational combination of these alternatives will accomplish the necessary tax reform goals and stimulate economic growth. All have detailed proposals available to our government, which are currently being ignored. The current extension of the “Bush Tax Cuts” expires at the end of 2012. Would you hire new employees or invest in your business, if you didn’t know what your taxes would be in eighteen months?

Obamacare: Virtually all independent analysis indicates that implementation of the 2000+ pages of Obamacare will ADD not reduce healthcare costs and will probably result in a single payer government-controlled healthcare system with restricted options and limited services. Small businesses, the job growth engine of our economy, are particularly at risk. At last count, approximately 1450 organizations, including many unions, have been given Obama Administration waivers against required implementation of Obamacare because of the higher costs it demands. Equally importantly, no one really knows all the implications, costs, or unintended consequences of the legislation because the Obama Administration is still writing the rules. In two separate articles, I suggested market-based solutions to our healthcare issues, “How to Solve Healthcare Part I” and “How to Solve Healthcare Part II”. I lived and worked in England for the better part of ten years and can assure you government-run healthcare is costly (through taxation), inefficient, slow, and limited in providing medical services. Think long and hard before you support such a system in the US. Again, if you were a business manager and were faced with the higher costs, more administration, and uncertainties associated about healthcare rules that are still being written by the administration, would you add to your payroll costs by hiring new employees?

Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation: Like Obamacare, this legislation is lengthy, complicated and potentially expensive for the financial services industry and ultimately consumers. No one really knows all the implications or additional regulations of the legislation because they are still being written by the administration and will create many unintended consequences for consumers and the industry. The Act is perhaps the most significant change in financial regulation since FDR. It represents major changes to all financial regulatory agencies and affects most of the nation’s financial industry. Major new agencies have been created: Financial Stability Oversight Council, the Office of Financial Research, and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Perhaps the most controversial provision is the creation of the potentially big and expensive “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” within the Federal Reserve System (FRS). Very importantly, even though the new Bureau is placed within the FRS, it operates INDEPENDENTLY. The FRS is PROHIBITED from interfering with matters before the Director, directing any employee of the Bureau, modifying the functions and responsibilities of the Bureau or impeding an order of the Bureau. With virtually unlimited power and authority to act independently, without oversight, the agency can do whatever it deems appropriate supposedly to protect consumers! WOW! Have we become a potential police state regarding “consumer protection”! What ever happened to “Caveat Emptor” (let the buyer beware) and personal responsibility? Is the government going to protect us from everything and if so, how? How many new public-sector union employees will this take? What will it cost? Ultimately, businesses and consumers will end up paying for this new unlimited-power bureau with sweeping authority to do “whatever it deems appropriate to protect consumers”. This is a scary development and creates endless uncertainties as the bureau writes its new regulations. More government madness and not good for job creation (except in the government)!

Additionally, the “Durbin Amendment” gives the power to regulate debit card interchange fees (prices) to the FRS. Effectively this eliminates free markets for debit cards and allows price fixing by the FRS, which was acted on by the FRS this week!

This is not a good trend for freedoms or free markets and bodes poorly for the other uncertain regulations to follow. If you were a banker faced with these uncertainties and risks, what would you do?

Energy & Environmental Policy: An intelligent national energy policy is vital to support economic growth and minimize the very real and present dangers of disruptions in our essential imports of foreign supplies. This policy must include and recognize America’s economic necessities, national security concerns, and the time required and costs necessary for conversion from any current source to any new technologies without creating growth constrains. It must include ALL possible sources of domestic energy generation including fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal), nuclear, as well as green energy sources (wind, solar, biotech).

Obama has no apparent energy policy other than promoting the green energy sources to ostensibly support his “global warming” environmental agenda. This action is happening at a time when more and more evidence is challenging and refuting not only “global warming” theory but also CO2 as a causative agent, and at a time when energy demands and prices for fossil fuels are increasing with NO serious alternatives in sight for decades! Further, the dependency and risks from imports of fossil fuels to the US are staggering and the economic and national security consequences of a stoppage of these imports would be catastrophic for our nation. Obama’s administration is actively working against virtually every effort to explore and develop domestic sources of fossil fuels. Offshore drilling in the continental shelf and interior of the US is being severely restricted even though thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of good jobs could be created by actively pursuing known domestic reserves. Specifically, exploration and development of fossil fuel sources are being stifled by a lack of permits from the Administration and delays forced on development by environmentalists such as the EPA’s recent stoppage of Shell Oil’s permit to drill and develop a 27 billion barrel reserve in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska. (see “Obama Administration Attacks American Business Again!”)

The EPA is also trying to circumvent Congress’ refusal to pass “Cap and Trade” legislation by “backdooring” the regulations as new rules issued directly from the agency. Also, the EPA has proposed two new “clean coal” regulations regarding the use of coal in power plants that may result in “hundreds of thousands of coal industry jobs lost” and an estimated increase in the cost of coal produced electrical power by 11-23%. It is further estimated by a trade group that, in addition to the above jobs lost, the new regulations will cost the coal industry approximately $180 billion. For information, coal-fired power plants account for approximately half America’s energy supply.

I am not opposed to environmental protection or pursuit of green energy sources but, like many, am not convinced that global warming is actually occurring, and if so, is caused by humans or CO2. A rational and balanced national energy policy is needed. Restricting our domestic economy growth at a time of increasing global competition and increasing our dependency on foreign imports from a very volatile area of the world for the sake of a still unproven theory does not seem to me to be wise. It only creates more costs and uncertainties for our country and harms job growth, especially in the energy sector.

Pro-Union, Anti-Business Activism: The pro-union anti-business biases of the current administration are well documented and are detrimental to job creation, capital investment, and economic growth in America. Obama’s endless campaign speeches to unions, the stream of union activists to the White House, and repeated class warfare attacks on the “wealthy” are sufficient evidence of these biases.

Perhaps the most flagrant current example is the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) anti-business, anti-free market, and pro-union (not pro-labor) socialist attack on the Boeing Corporation and “Right-to-Work” States (see “Attack on American Business by Obama “packed” NLRB!” and “Obama “packed” NLRB Continues Attack on Boeing & Free Markets!”). Under Obama, the NLRB has become a pro-union activist body and is now deliberately attacking job creation and investment in America by attempting to stop Boeing, America’s #1 exporter, from final implementation of the firm’s new “Dreamliner” factory in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina is one of 22 “Right-to-Work” States, which don’t require (or prevent) hiring union workers. To date, Boeing has already invested approximately $1 billion and hired approximately 1000 workers in South Carolina. Boeing directly employs over 160,000 workers, and is indirectly responsible for approximately another 1.2 million jobs. Apparently to the NLRB, the only “good” American jobs are union jobs.

For years during and subsequent to the Bush Presidency, union activists and Democrats in Congress have prevented the passage of Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama, which are favorable to American business, American exports, American consumers, and will create American jobs. The unions have delayed passage because imported goods coming into the country at lower prices will displace some workers. Really! This is the global free market at work, expands economic growth, creates wealth and jobs, and benefits all consumers who are provided with more product choices at cheaper prices. Finally, this week the Senate is holding hearings on these bills and hopefully, after years of delays and economic losses, will be passed and signed by the President. Just another uncertainty caused by government interference in the marketplace that has hurt job growth and consumers.

With these pro-union anti-business biases at the very top of our political leadership and government, is it any wonder that business is hesitant to hire and banks to loan?

Conclusion: Government needs to get out of the way! (see “Big Government IS Our Problem”) The above issues and the uncertainties they have imposed on our economy are indications of where Obama’s and the Democrat’s policies are leading us. Socialism and central planning don’t work – just ask the former Soviet Union or India. Free markets and individual freedoms do work! Obama is increasingly turning our nation into a centrally-controlled socialist welfare state with significant pro-union, anti-business biases and uncertainties that hurt us all. These policies are not the foundation of freedoms upon which our country was created and which made America great. It’s time to return to individual liberties, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, and limited government. It is time to take back our country!

The Old Guy PhD