Debt Crisis – Whatever happened to Bowles-Simpson?

November 10, 2011

G’Day!

The bipartisan Debt Reduction Commission co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson completed and submitted to President Obama in February a rational and comprehensive approach to our country’s fiscal and debt crises. I posted articles praising the work of the co-chairs and the commission members on April 1, April 16, and July 22. (See “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”, “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – Again!”, and “Debt Reduction: Bowles & Simpson Have it Right – Redux!”) To date, President Obama, the Democrats and the Republicans in the House and Senate have fundamentally ignored their proposal. Why their recommendations have been ignored by our government, and especially by the President, who established the commission, is a “puzzlement”?

The final Co-Chair’s proposal, “The Moment of Truth”, included both long and short-term government actions to resolve our fiscal and debt crises, contains nearly $4 trillion in debt reduction over 10 years, and was approved by eleven (61%) of the eighteen bipartisan members of the commission. As stated in Guiding Principle #2 of the draft report, “The Problem is REAL – the Solution is Painful – There’s no Easy Way Out – Everything Must Be On the Table – and Washington Must Lead”. Their proposal is comprehensive. It includes cuts and caps on discretionary spending and revenue enhancements through major tax reform to broaden the tax base, simplify the code, reduce tax rates, and cap revenue at 21% of GDP. It reduces spending for entitlements including healthcare and social security and eventually caps total spending at 21% of GDP. The proposed plan stabilizes the debt by 2014, reduces debt to 60% of GDP by 2024 and 40% by 2037. What’s not to like??

As noted above, it is a mystery to me why this proposal, developed and approved with bipartisan support, was shelved by Obama and ignored by Congress since it was formally delivered to the President nine months ago. While these are difficult and trying times, we should expect and demand that our President and Congress put partisan bickering and reelection concerns aside and act for the benefit of the American People. Time spent on campaign fundraising does not reduce our debt or improve job creation and economic growth. We deserve rational behavior from our elected representatives and should demand the compromise and cooperation necessary to correct our economic problems and return our great nation to a path of growth and prosperity. Admittedly, the Co-Chair’s proposal is controversial. It is also realistic, responsible, comprehensive, and should be receiving the immediate and serious attention of our President, Congress, and currently the “Super-Committee” (who are looking for a mere $1.2 trillion over ten years).

Every sensible citizen knows America has an unsustainable debt crisis that, if not corrected quickly, will lead to financial and economic disaster for our country. Socialism does not work. Greece is not a role model for government in America. Our current government is too large, too oppressive and is out of control. Economic growth is based on opportunities not restrictions and lower tax rates not higher regulations. Escalating government spending must be halted and its intrusion in our lives and businesses reversed. Tax reform to broaden the tax base, simplify the code, lower rates (especially corporate), and increase revenues is essential. Our government MUST be business friendly and promote 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 be the greatest nation on earth. The Bowles-Simpson proposal is a good start.

The Old Guy PhD


What has America Become?

October 31, 2011

G’Day!

I just became aware of a “letter to the editor” on the above subject written by Ken Huber of Tawas City, Michigan. This letter initially appeared in the Iosco County News Herald on June 9, 2010. While I am not in complete agreement with some of his examples, the overall question he raises is appropriate.

Ken Huber’s observations may be even more relevant today than they were a year ago. Since the letter was written, the size of our government has expanded, more regulations have been imposed, we have moved further toward socialism and wealth redistribution, and our President is using “Executive Orders” to replace our legitimate legislative process. The “Occupy Wall Street” mobs appear to support anarchy over law and order, communism over capitalism, and destruction over constructive action. All of this is very disturbing and is eroding our individual and business freedoms, stifling economic growth, and increasing the scope of government far beyond the intentions of the founders of our country. If you love our country and the freedoms it has provided, I suggest that you give consideration to the observations Ken Huber’s letter presents and their implications for our country’s current and future leadership. For those who have not seen it earlier, repeated verbatim below is Ken’s letter.

What has America become?


Editor,

Has America become the land of special interest and home of the double standard?

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama’s policies you’re a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don’t want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who’s at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

– Ken HuberTawas City

These are troubling trends and I also ask the same questions about what our nation is becoming and where our current government is taking us. Are we on the right or the wrong track? Is a politically correct, European-style unsustainable welfare state in the best interests of ourselves and our children? Does the transfer of wealth from those who create it to those who consume it increase or decrease our country’s economic growth and prosperity? Do you believe free market capitalism or more government regulation and control is the best solution to our fiscal and debt crises and the stagnate economy? These are some of the questions we all should consider before our next election.

I believe our government is too large, too centralized, too oppressive, and is out of touch with the desires of the American people. If you share this view, I suggest you commit yourselves to understanding the serious issues confronting our country and actively work to elect representatives who believe in our US Constitution, individual freedoms, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, and limited government. Let’s correct our nation’s course in 2012!

The Old Guy PhD


Personal Responsibility – What Happened to Our Pioneer Spirit?

September 13, 2011

G’Day!

It is obvious that the current members of The Democratic Party did not create our great country. They would never have taken the risks and hardships of crossing the Atlantic and relying on their own abilities for survival without an established government “socialized safety net”. So what has happened to the original American “Pioneer Spirit” of personal responsibility and risk-taking, free of government interference and control? Why have so many of us allowed ourselves to be deluded by lawyers and politicians into believing that the government or “someone else” is responsible for our personal security, retirement, healthcare, employment, injury, or any problem that we face? Why is America becoming a European-style socialist “nanny” state at the same time Europe is finally realizing that unconstrained collective socialism not only does not work but also restricts economic growth AND is ultimately unaffordable? Greece and Portugal are current examples and others may follow. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SOLVE EVERY PROBLEM OR TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR EVERY DESIRABLE SOCIAL GOAL OR ADDITIONAL REGULATION OR BUREAUCRACY OUR POLITICIANS WANT! Solving every social issue through additional taxation and government spending is neither affordable nor achievable and only retards economic growth and wealth creation for all. Wealth is not created by taking from those who earned it and giving it to those who did not.

Our pioneer ancestors came to this country searching for freedom from many different oppressions and the opportunity to build independent productive lives free from excessive government control and interference. Our ancestors accepted total personal responsibility for any risks they took. They understood that, whatever the outcome, their future and the future of their families were based on their own decisions and how well they made and executed them. Millions of immigrants have come to our country for the “opportunity” and not the “guarantee” of a better life. We need to rekindle this spirit in our country, get government off our backs, and retake personal responsibility for our lives.

For well over our first century as a country, we experienced essentially free markets and constitutionally protected individual liberties, which were largely free of federal government controls. We experienced problems but grew and prospered into a great nation. Major federal government intrusion in our commercial and personal lives really began with the passing of Constitutional Amendment XVI in 1913 authorizing direct federal income taxes. In 1913, federal government spending was less than 3% of GDP. From that year forward the size of our government and its control over our lives and commerce has inexorably increased over time, especially under F. D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the ‘30s, Johnson’s “Great Society” in the ‘60s, and in this century Bush II’s “Prescription Drug Program” and Obama’s “Healthcare and Financial Regulation”. Except for WWII, the current size and scope of government spending has never been as high as it is now under the Obama Presidency at approximately 25% of our GDP! Just since Obama was elected, Federal Government ANNUAL spending has increased 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 $14.3 trillion! The Democrats in Congress have not passed a Federal Budget for over 800 days and have so far rejected all attempts this year by the Republicans to pass one for next year! To paraphrase Bill Clinton during the 1992 Presidential campaign, “It’s the Spending, Stupid!”

In July, my post highlighted the fact that our Founding Fathers risked their very lives, not just reelection, with “The Declaration of Independence”. Eventually, a new nation and a new government, unlike any other in history, were born based on their courage, vision, and desire to preserve this spirit of independence and freedom and to protect it for future generations. Our Founding Fathers were incredibly wise and shortly after gaining our independence from England, realized the potential flaws inherent in pure democracy, and created a written “Constitution” and subsequent “Bill of Rights” establishing the role of federal vs. state government, protecting the rights and freedoms of individual citizens from the government, and establishing appropriate mechanisms to amend the Constitution as necessary without destroying it from within.

Where are we today? We have an emerging “nanny-state” in which many believe that anything bad that happens is NOT personally their fault and it must be the fault of “someone else” or the responsibility of the government to correct. In other words, we are giving up personal freedoms and responsibilities and becoming a nation of dependency on government. Our ancestors would be appalled! The government cannot and should not try to protect us from all misfortunes or bad decisions we make ourselves. Historically, Americans don’t want or need a “handout”; they want an opportunity and the freedom to get a “leg up”. Today, only the Republicans, especially the “Tea Party”, are even attempting to risk reelection by taking a long-term view of our country’s needs. They are actually proposing fiscal solutions to correct the spending disaster that our governments have imposed on us. So what has been the “Tea Party’s” reward for standing up for what is right? They have been the subject of malicious vilification by the Obama Administration, Democrats, and segments of the media and have even been called “Terrorists”! Unbelievable! The Tea Party members are currently our true “Patriots” and should be praised for refusing to accept the short-term and totally inadequate fiscal “Band-Aids” proposed by the Democrats. Instead of addressing our long-term problems of unfunded and unsustainable entitlement programs, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are ignoring the problem and are attempting to blame the Tea Party for our economic and political problems. The Administration and Democrats are not only continuing their failed policies down this path of national destruction but also seem to be intent on accelerating its speed of decline. More Liberal Madness!!

So what should be done to halt the increasing culture of dependency on the government and return prosperity and growth to the people and to our country? Our government must set priorities within “Capped” budget constraints (see “Is a Balanced Budget Amendment Necessary?”) and make rational cost-benefit trade-offs before commitments to any new or continuing government socially/politically motivated programs and bureaucracy are approved. For starters, every new law or program should have a built-in “Sunset Clause” specifying that it must be reapproved by a set date or it is terminated. As detailed in “Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs!” at least six specific actions could and should to be taken: 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, and 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners. More is possible but this would be a good beginning.

In short, we need to return to the principles of a constitutionally limited government and individual freedoms created by our Founding Fathers. Returning to our fundamental principles of individual freedoms, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government is the proper course of action. The government should get out of the road and let entrepreneurs and businesses generate the economic growth, job creation, and increasing wealth of which they are capable. Let’s get to work!

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


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

 


Is Our Government Broken? – Redux!

June 3, 2011

G’Day!

Nothing has really changed since my earlier post “Is Our Government Broken” on March 16. If anything, the situation is now worse and potentially more detrimental to our country’s international reputation and the growth of our economy. Obama and the Democrats appear to be determined to ignore the problem and demagogue any efforts by the Republicans to actually confront and attempt to resolve our fiscal and debt crises. While there will probably be an extension of the debt ceiling this summer, it will more than likely be another temporary fix and will just “kick the can” further down the road. As I have repeatedly said, this is madness and intolerable behavior for Congress and the President.

The good news is we now have three rational proposals available, any one of which would start to solve our problems. The bad news is that neither the President nor Congress is seriously considering any of them. The proposals available are: 1) the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission report, “The Moment of Truth”; 2) the Paul Ryan 2012 Budget Proposal, “The Path to Prosperity: Restoring the American Dream”; and 3) the recent Heritage Foundation Special Report, “Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity”. The Bowles-Simpson report and The Heritage Foundation Special Report are fully comprehensive proposals dealing with all sectors of our economy, including desperately needed tax reform, entitlement reform, and cuts in discretionary government spending (including defense). The Bowles-Simpson report was approved by 61% of the members of the commission but for unexplainable reasons, has been ignored by the President and Congress. Paul Ryan’s proposal, which was passed by the House but rejected by Democrats in the Senate, is reasonably comprehensive but does not address Social Security and, in my opinion, does not adequately address Defense spending. In addition to the proposals above, the GAO report “Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue” has already identified unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation existing across our Federal Government totaling BILLIONS of dollars in ANNUAL SAVINGS. This is also a good place to start.

I have referred to each of these reports in several previous posts on this website and, for the sake of brevity, provide appropriate links below:

The first two (2) paragraphs in my initial post on this subject are still relevant:

“Yes, our government is currently broken and it needs to GET TO WORK! The events taking place in our national government and some states do not represent the principles of elected representative government upon which America was founded. We elected our officials to serve the needs of the people, not the desires of their political party, big business, or unions.”

“President Obama, both Democrat and Republican Congressional Representatives and Senators (with minor exceptions) are not currently working for the long-term benefit of America. Nearly all are posturing and working for what they perceive as the good of their political party and personal reelection. Citizens have common sense and know that we have fiscal and debt crises that are too large and unsustainable. We must get our State and Federal Governments in order.”

Our federal government is out of control and has grown to be too large, too self-oriented, and is not performing their duty to be responsible to the American people. To date the Democrats have proposed absolutely no specific plan to elevate our fiscal and debt crises (other than increase tax rates) and have not passed a budget in over 700 days! President Obama is also not exercising leadership in this crisis and, as indicated recently, is “leading from behind”. Our President is already in full campaign mode in preparation for the 2012 election (which can’t come soon enough!) and is engaged in travelling, golfing, and political speeches. Obama’s proposed 2012 budget is an embarrassment given the magnitude of our country’s ongoing financial problems and projects spending next year of another $3.7 trillion and an addition to the deficit of $1.6 trillion. Over the next 10 years the new Obama budget proposal is expected to produce a further cumulative deficit of $7.2 trillion, bringing our overall national debt to approximately $22 trillion. Again, this is madness and irresponsible and does not serve the interests of the American people!

Most of the Americans now realize “Big Government is Our Problem”! Let’s fix it and put our country back on a solid jobs and economic growth foundation! Adopt one or a combination of the above proposals and let’s get to work.

The Old Guy PhD


Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!

May 27, 2011

G’Day!

Like our government, our federal tax system is broken (see “Is Our Government Broken?”). Our tax code is complex, unfair, damaging to our economy, and its thousands of pages of code are completely beyond understanding by all but a few highly specialized lawyers and accountants! On national television recently it was disclosed that 51% of AMERICAN HOUSEHOLDS PAID NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX last year, the so-called “rich” paid 76% of all income taxes, and 31% of households not only paid no income taxes but receive monetary benefits from the government. Less than half of households are paying for the services and benefits for the all the American people. Our federal tax system is broken and must be reformed as part of the solution to our fiscal and debt crisis. The basic goals of this reform should to stimulate our economy, simplify the tax code and its administration, broaden the taxable base so that all except those in real poverty pay federal tax, and is fair to the American people.

For over a century, federal income taxes were unconstitutional because our Founding Fathers believed that Federal Government should be limited. They believed (correctly as it turned out) that a direct tax on incomes would provide revenues that bureaucrats would find increasing ways to spend, triggering the desire for bigger and bigger government and more and more taxes! Our federal government successfully served the American people from the founding of our nation until 1913 without an income tax, fought several major wars, and we survived and prospered. It required the passage of a Constitutional Amendment (Article XVI) in 1913 to initiate the mess we currently have. In 1913 seven (7) tax brackets with rates from 1-7% were introduced. Five short years later under President Wilson, the top tax rate was 77%! President Coolidge reduced the top rate to 25% by 1925, avoided a post-war recession, and America enjoyed nearly a decade of prosperity. In the Great Depression under F.D. Roosevelt (FDR), while the economy stagnated, taxes were increased to a top rate of 81% by 1940 and reached 94% by the end of WW II.

History since 1913 has repeatedly shown that when income TAX RATES ARE REDUCED, the economy is stimulated, economic growth occurs, and FEDERAL REVENUES INCREASE! President Coolidge in the 1920s, President Kennedy in the early 1960s, President Reagan in the 1980s, and President Bush in the 2000s demonstrated this. The deficit problems following the more recent Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush tax cuts resulted from government spending that increased faster the increasing tax revenues. This provides further support to the original concern of our Founding Fathers that increased tax revenues lead to bigger government bureaucracy and control over economic and individual freedoms.

Our current and worsening fiscal and debt crises requires a comprehensive solution including significant reductions in government spending, major entitlement reform, and desperately needed tax reform to accomplish the goals above. Reform alternatives must consider sales (consumption) taxes, personal and business income taxes, social taxes (those designed to regulate behavior such as “sin” taxes and redistribution of income), “tax expenditures” (legal/loophole tax deductions for businesses and individuals), and government subsidies. The Congressional Democrats have no specific tax reform plan and Obama’s only consideration is raising taxes on the so-called “rich”, which is neither rational nor fair, will harm growth of our country, and cannot solve our deficit problem. Simply taxing business and the “rich” and giving revenues to the government to be redistributed is inefficient, wasteful, detrimental to job and economic growth, and encourages more companies and individuals to move offshore or find lawyers to “game” the system. Last year GE, with $14 Billion in worldwide profits, paid NO federal income tax, because of “tax expenditures” and government subsidies. This is crazy! Big businesses with big legal departments and lobbyists in Washington get tax relief and subsidies while the small businesses, which are the job creation engine of our country’s growth and future prosperity, are stuck with the high tax rates and no funding (unless you have friends in government or are part of stimulus plan).

Overly simplified, there are three basic reform alternatives to consider.

1) Retain but simplify our current “Progressive” tax system (the more you make, the higher the tax rate), eliminate or significantly reduce the deductions and government subsidies (thereby broadening the tax base), significantly reduce all the tax rates for both individuals and business, and eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Our current system with extensive and complicated deductions also represents a “double taxation” on income, first at business level and again at personal level when profits or gains are distributed. It is important to realize that the US business tax rate is currently the highest in the developed world at 35% (China is 25%, Russia is 20%, Germany is 15%, Ireland is 12.5%) and foreign profits repatriated back to the US are penalized by being taxed at the higher US rate. The current system encourages businesses to move offshore where taxes are lower and to retain profits abroad rather than returning them to America for investment or distribution. This is a job killer not a job creator and leads to wealth creation abroad not in the US. Frankly, I believe business “income (profit)” taxes should be abolished or at minimum reduced to levels consistent with those countries with whom we compete. Reform of the current “Progressive” tax system is the basis for alternatives in the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission Report, “The Moment of Truth”, and ignored to date by President Obama and the Democrats (see Bowles-Simpson Have it Right!). Republican Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives’ approved 2012 Budget Plan, “The Path to Prosperity”, is also based on this approach. (My reservations with the Ryan budget are that it does not address Social Security reform and does not adequately address Defense spending.)

2) Adopt a “Flat Tax” (one low tax rate paid by all) combined with the elimination or significant reduction of deductions and government subsidies above and the establishment of a single low tax rate for individuals and business. It is neither “Progressive” nor “Regressive” based on income and does not penalize one class of citizens over another. Steve Forbes, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore, among others, have proposed a “Flat Tax”. A low “Flat Tax” could accomplish all the goals above and reduce costs and increase compliance with the tax code by significantly simplifying both tax filing and administration. The tax reform in The Heritage Foundation comprehensive proposal “Saving the American Dream” is essentially a “Flat Tax” system based on income sources spent on consumption with an initial single low rate of 18.5% and deductions limited to education, charitable donations, and mortgage interest protection plus protection for low-income earners.

3) Adopt the “Fair Tax” (a tax on sales or consumption, not income), which abolishes income taxes on business and individuals and eliminates the need for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The US is the only developed country in the world without a broad national sales tax, usually called VAT. Currently a “Fair Tax” proposal in Congress would replace all federal income taxes on individuals and businesses, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would be abolished (a huge saving in administration expenses), and income tax withholding from wages would be eliminated. The new “Fair Tax” would be collected at the point of purchase like the current state and local sales tax. A “prebate” (advance monthly tax rebate) would be given to households on purchases up to the poverty level. Initially the tax would be levied at 23%. A “Fair Tax” treats everyone equally, would substantially reduce administration and compliance costs, greatly simplify the tax process, and allow more freedom of choice for consumers in purchasing and saving decisions. Equally important is the fact that a federal sales tax broadens the taxpayer base to include federal tax revenues from all non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) as well as US citizens making purchases within the country. A “Fair Tax” also encourages savings rather than consumption. “Americans for Fair Taxation” and Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain support this proposal.

Any of these proposals or a rational combination of them will accomplish the goals for tax reform stated above and stimulate economic and job growth for our country. Fortunately as noted above, there are several specific proposals available to accomplish this and adoption of any of them would be an improvement over the current system. I personally prefer alternative 3), the “Fair Tax”, followed closely by alternative 2), the “Flat Tax”, but neither may be politically viable. The “Fair Tax” in combination with either alternatives 1) or 2) is also a preferred option.

Tax reform is a vital part of any successful comprehensive plan to resolve our fiscal and debt problems. Let’s encourage our government to stop political bickering, get back to work, adopt one of the above, and get job growth and our economy back on track!

The Old Guy PhD


Is Obama Really Serious about Debt Reduction?

April 22, 2011

G’Day!

The answer is apparently “NO”, based on the 1st & 2nd Obama budget proposals for 2012 and the Democrats tooth-and-nail fight before agreeing to a miniscule and questionable $38 billion (a mere 3-4 days) in spending cuts this year from a current projected deficit of $1.7 trillion for 2011! However, they are serious about political posturing, fear mongering, and demagoguery against Paul Ryan and the Republicans for even proposing an earnest plan to resolve the crisis. As indicated last week in “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – AGAIN!”, their answer is SPEND, SPEND, SPEND and TAX the success of the real investors and hard-working small businesses who are the genuine creators of economic growth, job creation, and wealth in our country. Their only solution is to tax the “Rich” when approximately 45% of the households pay no federal income taxes at all and the “Rich” (Top 2%, incomes over $250,000) already pay over 40% of the total! Tax reform is necessary but Obama’s proposals are neither the serious leadership our country needs nor even a nod of recognition for the fiscal and debt crises we face.

The Fed can’t print enough money to solve this problem without major devaluation of our currency and significant increases in inflation and interest rates. History has repeatedly shown that excessive government spending financed by debt combined with extreme increases in money supply usually results in a collapsed economy and crisis in government. Many other nations have tried this and failed miserably. For example, France tried this before and during the French Revolution and it ultimately led to the collapse of their currency, their economy, the failure of their government, and the rise of Napoleon as dictator. Germany tried this after WWI and it lead to the collapse of their currency, their economy, the failure of their government, and the rise of Hitler as dictator. For more information about financial crises see, “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”, by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, who analyze financial crises in 66 countries in their 2009 book. Regarding “This Time is Different” they conclude, “It almost never is.”

America is not immune to the workings of economic forces and cannot continue as a great nation if we do not put our bloated and inefficient government spending on a sound fiscal path, cap government spending as a percentage of GDP, and appropriately modify (not eliminate) our currently unsustainable entitlement and social programs for long-term viability. Recent history suggests the sustainable level for federal government spending has been approximately 20% of GDP. Federal government spending was 20.7% of GDP in 2008, 23.8% in 2010, and is expected to be over 25.5% in the current year (the highest level in history, other than WWII). This is a +5% increase in the size of our federal government in the first 2-3 years of the Obama Administration! This is madness and must be corrected!

There is no question that many (but not all) government social programs are desirable; they are just not affordable or consistent with a vibrant, innovative, expanding economy, and rising standard of living for the American people. As I said last week, “We cannot continue as a great nation if we base economic policies on the failed socialistic principles of taking from those who work hard and succeed and redistributing their earnings to those who don’t.” Most other developed nations, including Russia, have learned the incentives and benefits of free market capitalism and our government needs to relearn them as well.

If President Obama was sincere about debt reduction, he would be listening to and acting on the recommendations from the bipartisan Debt Reduction Commission he established. The Bowles-Simpson Co-Chairs’ Proposal outlines how to achieve results through comprehensive and specific actions to improve revenues through tax reform, to reduce government discretionary spending including defense, and to reduce entitlement programs through healthcare and social security reform. All of these reforms: taxation, discretionary spending, entitlements for healthcare and social security are essential to a comprehensive solution for our country’s problems and, if we are to succeed, ALL must be addressed.

Our fiscal and debt problems are correctable if our government seriously addresses the needs of the country and not their political desires for reelection. If Obama, Democrats, and Republicans can’t agree on comprehensive legislation to reduce government spending and bring the size of government back to sustainable levels consistent with a growth economy, our country faces a potential sovereign debt crisis similar to those described in the book by Reinhart & Rogoff referenced above. I agree with Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the “outlook” for US Debt based on the political turmoil in our Government. The outlook for a government solution before the 2012 election is not good and I don’t believe Obama and the Democrats want a real solution. Currently, it appears Obama and the Democrats believe the American people are not intelligent enough to see the need for real government spending reform and are too self-interested to revise the social programs to sustainable levels. I do not agree with this view. I believe the American people are intelligent and don’t want to leave to future generations of Americans a damaged economy with an authoritarian bureaucratic government controlling our lives.

In my first post on this website, “Big Government IS Our Problem!”, I described in more detail the current Administration’s trend toward big government collectivism and the dangerous omens it portends for the future of our lives and our nation. In the 2 months since that posting, the situation has become worse and the socialist agenda of our President and the Democrats has become very clear. They do not appear to be serious about debt reduction or reducing government spending. If we are to have a successful and prosperous country in the future, we must take back our country and reestablish the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberties, and sound fiscal & monetary policies. Get “Big Brother” out of the way and off our backs, reform taxation & spending, and our economy will recover faster and the future of our nation will be assured.

The Old Guy PhD

 


Is Our Government Broken?

March 16, 2011

G’Day!

Yes, our government is currently broken and it needs to GET TO WORK! The events taking place in our national government and some states do not represent the principles of elected representative government upon which America was founded. We elected our officials to serve the needs of the people, not the desires of their political party, big business, or unions.

President Obama, both Democrat and Republican Congressional Representatives and Senators (with minor exceptions) are not currently working for the long-term benefit of America. Nearly all are posturing and working for what they perceive as the good of their political party and personal reelection. Citizens have common sense and know that we have fiscal and debt crises that are too large and unsustainable. We must get our State and Federal Governments in order.

Our overall national debt is currently $14.2 trillion and growing. It is nearly the size of our annual GDP.  Disturbingly, over $1 trillion of this debt is held by China, not our most reliable or friendly partner. Our fiscal deficit in 2008 was $0.459 trillion, by 2010 it nearly tripled to $1.3 trillion, and the expected deficit in 2011 is $1.7 trillion. Additionally, we currently have unfunded “entitlement” liabilities for Social Security of $14.8 trillion, Prescription Drugs of $19.6 trillion, & Medicare of $78.1 trillion. This is a total current obligation for future generations of $112.5 trillion, nearly 8 times our total annual output and just over $1.0 MILLION per current taxpayer. This is madness and is crippling our economy and economic growth.

We actually have NO FEDERAL BUDGET for 2011! Obama’s unapproved 2011 “budget” is expected to reach $3.7 trillion this year. This amounts to $10.1 BILLION PER DAY. In the current congressional debate concerning raising the debt ceiling, Democrats have offered  “real” cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year of $10 billion (1 day’s spending) and the Republicans are offering approximately $60 billion (only 6 day’s spending). Neither proposal even remotely addresses the magnitude of our problem. If agreement can’t be reached in Congress, the Federal Government may be forced to shut down. Frankly, except for national security and some essential services, this might actually be a good thing. Our government is too big, too irresponsible, and too self-oriented. Can you imagine what the Founding Fathers would think of what is happening in our government today? A temporary shut down might force us to be more responsible and self-reliant, as the founders of our nation and our Constitution intended.

As noted, the magnitude of our nation’s financial problem is enormous, increasing, and untenable! So what is our government doing to correct the crisis? Last year, the Democrats, who controlled the Administration, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, failed to even pass a Federal Budget for fiscal 2011. They were, however, able to compound our future fiscal and debt problems by passing a massive and unpopular healthcare bill and a financial reform bill, both of which further increase the size of government, with more regulations and control over important sectors of our lives. This legislation further erodes our liberties and free-market economy. Do we really want to become a collectivist country with the government dictating our lives?

For his part, President Obama has virtually abdicated all leadership in this crisis by proposing a new budget for next year projecting spending of another $3.7 trillion and an addition to the deficit of $1.6 trillion. Over the next 10 years the new Obama budget proposal is expected to produce a further cumulative deficit of $7.2 trillion, bringing our overall national debt to approximately $22 trillion. President Obama is spending (pun intended) his time travelling, golfing, and giving political speeches; and his proposed budget is an embarrassment given the magnitude of our country’s ongoing financial problems.

In Congress only the Republicans are even attempting to deal with the fiscal and debt problem and so far they are dealing with trivial, not real spending or fiscal reform (although it is promised). The Democrats are essentially ignoring the problem and blocking even the inconsequential cuts proposed by Republicans for the remainder of this year (see above). When real leadership is essential, Obama and Congress have abdicated their responsibility to the nation and chosen posturing and rhetoric over work and accomplishment for the American people.

At the State level a few Governors are trying to deal with similar budget issues, but some Democrats have deserted their State Houses and fled their elected responsibilities (see “State Democrats Shun Democratic Process!”). Unions are sponsoring demonstrations in several states, which are disrupting our democratic processes and interfering with the ability of our democratically elected representatives (when present) to perform their legislative duties. This is a travesty and is not the way our democracy is intended to work.

Yes, our government is currently broken and it’s time to get to work. What should they be doing? First, after quickly resolving the ridiculous political stalemate over the debt limit and budget for the rest of this year, they should NOT make the fiscal situation worse and the government’s out-of-control spending and inefficiencies should be eliminated as soon as possible. The GAO report “Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue” has already identified unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation existing across our Federal Government totaling BILLIONS of dollars in ANNUAL SAVINGS. This is a good place to start.

Second, they should employ proven strategic management techniques. Any basic management course indicates that solving problems and capturing opportunities requires: setting long-term goals, reviewing historical performance to identify strengths and weaknesses, identifying and prioritizing alternative “comprehensive” solutions, acting on the best “comprehensive” solutions, and measuring and correcting course to improve performance. Our government needs to follow this agenda. The Bowles-Simpson, Co-Chairs Draft Report, “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility”, is a reasonable draft proposal for identifying and establishing these goals and actions (some painful) to resolve the long-term financial crisis we face as a nation. It addresses all areas of government including its size, spending, and revenues and suggests major reform in income taxation and entitlement programs. This is also a good place to start. To date, neither President Obama nor Congress appears to be seriously considering the information and recommendations in either report.

“Big Government is Our Problem”! Let’s fix it and put our country back on a solid foundation with individual freedom, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government!

The Old Guy PhD