Is “The American Dream” Dying?

October 16, 2011

G’Day!

Yes, the traditional “American Dream” is probably dying if the divisive socialist and antibusiness policies of President Obama, the Democrats, and the Unions continue to be supported by our government. Already much damage is being done by the passage of Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Act (including the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the Durbin Amendment), the EPA, the NLRB, and now full force “Class Warfare” by the President to divide the country in an apparent attempt to be reelected. Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial opens this week and his famous “I have a Dream!” speech was about national unity and equality of opportunity not class divisions and wealth redistribution. If we want to preserve our freedoms, our opportunities, and our exceptionalism as a nation, these destructive attacks on our economy, attempts to divide the American people, and collectivist “nanny-state” policies must be stopped and reversed. We must protect and preserve “The American Dream” for future generations and ourselves.

Our traditional view of “The American Dream” is based on the principles our Founding Fathers and Patriots risked and gave their lives to secure for our country and our future. These values were documented in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. Primarily these values are: guaranteed individual freedoms (especially from government), equal opportunities for all Americans, decentralized governance BY THE PEOPLE, free market capitalism based on private property ownership, and a specifically limited-power federal government. These fundamental principles have provided all Americans the opportunity to choose our careers, succeed (or fail) based on our own decisions, and retain the fruits of our labor reasonably free from oppressive regulations, unnecessary controls, and excessive taxation. These freedoms and privileges essentially stood for over a century from our nation’s founding until the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 authorizing direct federal taxation. Since the authorization of direct federal taxation these basic rights have been inexorably eroded as the size, scope, controls, and restrictions by government over our lives and our economic opportunities has expanded. It is time to get government off our backs and return to our traditional vision of success embodied in “The American Dream”.

The socialist and antibusiness agenda supported by President Obama and his allies is accelerating the destruction of this dream. Obama’s alternative is a collectivist society of mandated wealth sharing, unsustainable federal spending, high taxation, limited individual and business freedoms, and highly centralized governance. Obama appears to want a federal government with virtually unlimited power to regulate, control and dictate our lives, our property, and our businesses, including the transfer of wealth from those who have created jobs and earned it to those who have not. Just look at the current “Occupy Wall Street” mobs that have picked up Obama’s message and essentially want to destroy the capitalism that made our country great. Socialism doesn’t work as the former Soviet Union and most European countries, especially Greece, have learned. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”. Is this the vision of America’s future that you support?

So how has the growth of “progressive” or socialist policies influenced “The American Dream” over the last century? Federal income taxes have “progressed” from a maximum rate of 7% in 1913 to a current rate of 35%. Obama and the Democrats are proposing to raise this rate to 40%. (Note: this rate does NOT include the approximate 15% in federal “payroll taxes” additionally paid by employees and employers or State and Local taxes.) Federal government spending has “progressed” from 3% of our national economy in 1913, to a current level of 25% under President Obama (an increase in the size of government by 5% in just two and one-half years by Obama). The number of federal government agencies, bureaus, departments, and employees has exploded since 1913 under both Republicans and Democrats. This was especially true under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, President Johnson’s “Great Society”, President Bush’s “Prescription Drug” legislation, and now President Obama’s “Healthcare” and “Financial Regulations”.

The Obama Administration alone has more than doubled the ANNUAL Federal Deficit, increased the National Debt by approximately 40%, increased the cost, uncertainty, and complexity of healthcare, and passed sweeping and largely unnecessary regulation over our essential financial industry. Obama’s healthcare plan alone creates an estimated 159 new agencies and the Dodd-Frank Act requires an estimated 387 new regulations across 20 agencies. The EPA under Lisa Jackson wants to implement and administer new business and job killing environmental regulations that are projected to cost tens of thousands of jobs and increase our energy costs. Essential domestic fossil fuel exploration and development in America has been virtually shut down. (Note: Opening our domestic energy resources could create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs and improve national energy security.) Among other pro-union activities, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to stop final implementation of Boeing’s new “Dreamliner” factory in South Carolina. The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder is disrupting our legal system, suing States for trying to enforce immigration laws, and interfering with mergers that would improve the competitiveness of American Business. Obama’s failed economic policies have stifled business and job creation, stagnated our economy, and significantly expanded the size and spending of our government. These policies are radically advancing an unsustainable European-style centrally planned socialist welfare state for our country and eroding our individual and economic freedoms. Are these “progressive” social policies enhancing our lives or your vision of “The American Dream”?

If we don’t stop this madness and get the government off our backs and our businesses, “The American Dream” of opportunity and success will continue to die and may be destroyed. A nation cannot be successful by confiscating wealth from those who create it and redistributing it to those who do not. Leftwing collectivist policies do not work. These are not the foundation of freedoms and opportunities upon which our country was created and which made America great. It’s time to take back our country and restore “The American Dream”. Let’s get to work!

The Old Guy PhD


Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs – Redux

September 30, 2011

G’Day!

On June 10 I posted the below article on the above subject. To date the Obama Administration and Congress have failed to act on any of the issues and suggested solutions presented. The article is still essentially accurate after three (3) months of non-action and is repeated below for those who missed it. We must get our government working for the people and not for themselves. I hope you join with me in advocating responsible government that supports individual freedom, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government! Let’s get to work!

Obama and the Democrats have tried and failed with virtually every centrally controlled socialist alternative to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The only jobs they have really created are in government. The so-called recovery is the weakest in decades and may be about to “double dip”. Big collectivist government solutions have failed miserably (see “Big Government IS Our Problem!”). Obama and the Democrats only answer to this failure has been to blame it all on Bush. They claim that without their $4 trillion dollar taxpayer & debt funded stimulus, nationalization of businesses, increased healthcare regulations and spending, increased financial regulations, and extreme monetary easing by the Federal Reserve, it could be worse. The only thing that worked has been TARP and that was enacted under President Bush! It is time for government to stop regulating, remove the uncertainties facing business, get out of the way, and let the free market and capitalism work. You do not create jobs by taking wealth from those that generate it, siphon off government administration and oversight, and redistribute less of it back into the economy.

Economic growth and job creation is about free markets, minimum regulations, incentives, and opportunities in the private sector. Government doesn’t create jobs; the private sector creates jobs. Government also doesn’t create opportunities but it can discourage or prevent them (think energy policy) and it can and does distort the market through politically motivated subsidies or tax deductions for selected industries. If taxation and regulations are minimized to the level necessary to support the essential role of government as defined in our Constitution, business will take advantage of whatever opportunities are available in the marketplace and the economy will grow. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress do not understand this. They apparently believe that a few “elites” (themselves) in government are smarter than the millions of consumers and business managers throughout the global economy. They have imposed on American business a climate of increasing regulatory restrictions, increasing healthcare costs, high business taxes, and increasing uncertainty as to what they will do next. In this centrally controlled environment, it is no surprise that American businesses are not currently hiring or investing in our country. The regulations and costs just in Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Act are particularly harmful and businesses are wisely waiting to see what the government will force on them next.

So what needs to be done to create jobs and get our economy back on track? At least six 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, 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners.

First, a moratorium on new regulations should be declared and all regulations associated with Obamacare and Dodd-Frank (especially the Consumer Protection Agency) halted until after the next election in 2012. The uncertainty overhang from these two bills alone is stifling hiring and investment by business. Ultimately, all regulations, both existing and new, should have a “sunset clause” that requires our government to formally reaffirm their need at pre-set intervals, perhaps every ten years. This would insure that outdated or unnecessary laws do not become permanent.

Second, President Obama needs to realize that his collectivist socialist policies don’t work and become truly business-friendly. It is no secret that the current administration is pro-union, pro-environmentalist, and anti-business as evidenced by numerous actions by himself and the Administration’s Departments and Agencies. The pro-union/anti-Constitution actions by the NLRB against Boeing in South Carolina (see “Attack on American Business by Obama “packed” NLRB!”) and the many actions of environmentalists against any form of energy development (drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil off the coast of Alaska (see “Obama Administration Attacks American Business Again!”) are not conducive to economic growth and job creation. This week the issue of an energy pipeline from Canada to Texas has also come under attack by environmentalists. These and other obviously pro-union and environmentally biased activities against businesses (and some States) should be halted and free markets given an opportunity to function.

Third, tax reform is essential to both economic growth and reduction in the deficit (see “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform essential!”). As the referenced article indicates, there are several excellent proposals available and Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, just added another this week. All are pro-growth and pro-job creation and all will work by providing incentives for private sector investment IN THIS COUNTRY, not abroad. Naturally, the Democrats, who believe in centralist government solutions and not in free markets, are generally opposed to all of them. Perhaps the easiest, most immediate, and most beneficial tax reform is to reduce (or eliminate) corporate tax rates to a level equal to or less than the major nations with whom we compete and simultaneously eliminate the politically motivated subsidies and deductions that distort the market. Currently US corporate taxes at 35% are highest in the developed world and actually represent double taxation on income, first at corporate level and again at personal level, when distributed as dividends. Additionally, the high US corporate tax rates discourage US based international companies from repatriating foreign profits back into the US because, if returned, they are taxed at the higher US tax rate. Our current tax policy encourages investment abroad and discourages repatriation of profits back into America. This is a job killer, not a job creator. Is our government crazy?

Fourth, enact a domestic energy policy that encourages rather than attacks development of domestic sources for traditional energy. This will create thousands of good jobs in our economy and reduce our dependence on foreign energy supply. For far too long we have allowed the environmentalists to dictate policy and stagnate domestic energy growth. Every rational person knows America will be dependent on fossil fuels for decades. Yes, development of alternative energy forms and technology is important but there is no chance “green energy” is going to be a replacement for traditional energy sources, including nuclear power, any time soon. It is madness to exclude active development of domestic fossil fuel sources and nuclear power from our alternatives just to satisfy a few environmentalists with unproven science and questionable computer projections. If “green energy” was a viable economic solution, we would not need a policy or subsidies to support it. Also, independent of the longer-term cost benefits from domestic production, the extremely high and increasing risk of supply from the foreign sources is a very dangerous national security concern. The Middle East is in turmoil and no one knows how it will turn out. Without domestic alternatives, American could find itself with an energy disaster, which could seriously endanger our economy. We must actively develop domestic energy to create jobs in America, sustain our economy, and reduce our global supply risk.

Fifth, resolve our short and long term deficit and debt crises. We must get government spending and the dual debt and deficit crises under control (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”, “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – Again!”, “Is Obama Really Serious about Debt Reduction?”). Our Government is too big, too oppressive, and exercises too much control over the American people and business. The current policies are sucking money from business and taxpayers, adding more public sector union layers of government control, stifling business growth, and reducing America’s ability to grow and prosper. As stated above, in a free market economy with protection for the freedom of individuals and businesses, the private sector creates jobs. Since his election, Obama has expanded the size and scope of government control far beyond the level any freedom-minded citizen would have imagined possible. Simultaneously, Obama has also increased our federal deficit by $4 trillion and increased our national Debt by approximately 40% to $14.3 trillion. Relative to GDP the size of government has increased from approximately 20% of GDP to over 25.5% of GDP, a 5% increase in the size of government relative to our economy in less than three years. Without correction, our deficit next year is expected to be another $1.6 trillion and in ten years our national debt will grow to a staggering $22 trillion! Does anyone think this makes sense? My article last week, “Is Our Government Broken? – Redux!”, provides more information on this critical issue.

Sixth, pass the Free Trade Agreements for South Korea, Columbia, and Panama. These proposals go back to the Bush Administration and should be easy to pass. I believe nearly everyone including the President and many Democrats support them. As usual, politics is holding them up. Free trade works and provides value through additional products and services at lower costs to all American consumers. Only unions are opposed to free trade because, in the short term, it may reduce union jobs in non-competitive industries. Over 200 years ago, Adam Smith established the unchallenged principle that the wealth of a nation was based on the goods and services available to its citizens. Free trade allows this to work for the benefit of all consumers. It’s time for the unions to realize this and support what’s good for the nation over what’s good for the union.

Yes, we CAN solve our problems, if we have the political will to do so. This country was founded and prospered on the principles of individual freedom, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, and limited government. Let’s get back to our foundations and demand that our elected representatives in government get to work.

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


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


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

 


Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy & Create Jobs

June 10, 2011

G’Day!

Obama and the Democrats have tried and failed with virtually every centrally controlled socialist alternative to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The only jobs they have really created are in government. The so-called recovery is the weakest in decades and may be about to “double dip”. Big collectivist government solutions have failed miserably (see “Big Government IS Our Problem!”). Obama and the Democrats only answer to this failure has been to blame it all on Bush. They claim that without their $4 trillion dollar taxpayer & debt funded stimulus, nationalization of businesses, increased healthcare regulations and spending, increased financial regulations, and extreme monetary easing by the Federal Reserve, it could be worse. The only thing that worked has been TARP and that was enacted under President Bush! It is time for government to stop regulating, remove the uncertainties facing business, get out of the way, and let the free market and capitalism work. You do not create jobs by taking wealth from those that generate it, siphon off government administration and oversight, and redistribute less of it back into the economy.

Economic growth and job creation is about free markets, minimum regulations, incentives, and opportunities in the private sector. Government doesn’t create jobs; the private sector creates jobs. Government also doesn’t create opportunities but it can discourage or prevent them (think energy policy) and it can and does distort the market through politically motivated subsidies or tax deductions for selected industries. If taxation and regulations are minimized to the level necessary to support the essential role of government as defined in our Constitution, business will take advantage of whatever opportunities are available in the marketplace and the economy will grow. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress do not understand this. They apparently believe that a few “elites” (themselves) in government are smarter than the millions of consumers and business managers throughout the global economy. They have imposed on American business a climate of increasing regulatory restrictions, increasing healthcare costs, high business taxes, and increasing uncertainty as to what they will do next. In this centrally controlled environment, it is no surprise that American businesses are not currently hiring or investing in our country. The regulations and costs just in Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Act are particularly harmful and businesses are wisely waiting to see what the government will force on them next.

So what needs to be done to create jobs and get our economy back on track? At least six 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, 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners.

First, a moratorium on new regulations should be declared and all regulations associated with Obamacare and Dodd-Frank (especially the Consumer Protection Agency) halted until after the next election in 2012. The uncertainty overhang from these two bills alone is stifling hiring and investment by business. Ultimately, all regulations, both existing and new, should have a “sunset clause” that requires our government to formally reaffirm their need at pre-set intervals, perhaps every ten years. This would insure that outdated or unnecessary laws do not become permanent.

Second, President Obama needs to realize that his collectivist socialist policies don’t work and become truly business-friendly. It is no secret that the current administration is pro-union, pro-environmentalist, and anti-business as evidenced by numerous actions by himself and the Administration’s Departments and Agencies. The pro-union/anti-Constitution actions by the NLRB against Boeing in South Carolina (see “Attack on American Business by Obama “packed” NLRB!”) and the many actions of environmentalists against any form of energy development (drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil off the coast of Alaska (see “Obama Administration Attacks American Business Again!”) are not conducive to economic growth and job creation. This week the issue of an energy pipeline from Canada to Texas has also come under attack by environmentalists. These and other obviously pro-union and environmentally biased activities against businesses (and some States) should be halted and free markets given an opportunity to function.

Third, tax reform is essential to both economic growth and reduction in the deficit (see “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform essential!”). As the referenced article indicates, there are several excellent proposals available and Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, just added another this week. All are pro-growth and pro-job creation and all will work by providing incentives for private sector investment IN THIS COUNTRY, not abroad. Naturally, the Democrats, who believe in centralist government solutions and not in free markets, are generally opposed to all of them. Perhaps the easiest, most immediate, and most beneficial tax reform is to reduce (or eliminate) corporate tax rates to a level equal to or less than the major nations with whom we compete and simultaneously eliminate the politically motivated subsidies and deductions that distort the market. Currently US corporate taxes at 35% are highest in the developed world and actually represent double taxation on income, first at corporate level and again at personal level, when distributed as dividends. Additionally, the high US corporate tax rates discourage US based international companies from repatriating foreign profits back into the US because, if returned, they are taxed at the higher US tax rate. Our current tax policy encourages investment abroad and discourages repatriation of profits back into America. This is a job killer, not a job creator. Is our government crazy?

Fourth, enact a domestic energy policy that encourages rather than attacks development of domestic sources for traditional energy. This will create thousands of good jobs in our economy and reduce our dependence on foreign energy supply. For far too long we have allowed the environmentalists to dictate policy and stagnate domestic energy growth. Every rational person knows America will be dependent on fossil fuels for decades. Yes, development of alternative energy forms and technology is important but there is no chance “green energy” is going to be a replacement for traditional energy sources, including nuclear power, any time soon. It is madness to exclude active development of domestic fossil fuel sources and nuclear power from our alternatives just to satisfy a few environmentalists with unproven science and questionable computer projections. If “green energy” was a viable economic solution, we would not need a policy or subsidies to support it. Also, independent of the longer-term cost benefits from domestic production, the extremely high and increasing risk of supply from the foreign sources is a very dangerous national security concern. The Middle East is in turmoil and no one knows how it will turn out. Without domestic alternatives, American could find itself with an energy disaster, which could seriously endanger our economy. We must actively develop domestic energy to create jobs in America, sustain our economy, and reduce our global supply risk.

Fifth, resolve our short and long term deficit and debt crises. We must get government spending and the dual debt and deficit crises under control (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”, “Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – Again!”, “Is Obama Really Serious about Debt Reduction?”). Our Government is too big, too oppressive, and exercises too much control over the American people and business. The current policies are sucking money from business and taxpayers, adding more public sector union layers of government control, stifling business growth, and reducing America’s ability to grow and prosper. As stated above, in a free market economy with protection for the freedom of individuals and businesses, the private sector creates jobs. Since his election, Obama has expanded the size and scope of government control far beyond the level any freedom-minded citizen would have imagined possible. Simultaneously, Obama has also increased our federal deficit by $4 trillion and increased our national Debt by approximately 40% to $14.3 trillion. Relative to GDP the size of government has increased from approximately 20% of GDP to over 25.5% of GDP, a 5% increase in the size of government relative to our economy in less than three years. Without correction, our deficit next year is expected to be another $1.6 trillion and in ten years our national debt will grow to a staggering $22 trillion! Does anyone think this makes sense? My article last week, “Is Our Government Broken? – Redux!”, provides more information on this critical issue.

Sixth, pass the Free Trade Agreements for South Korea, Columbia, and Panama. These proposals go back to the Bush Administration and should be easy to pass. I believe nearly everyone including the President and many Democrats support them. As usual, politics is holding them up. Free trade works and provides value through additional products and services at lower costs to all American consumers. Only unions are opposed to free trade because, in the short term, it may reduce union jobs in non-competitive industries. Over 200 years ago, Adam Smith established the unchallenged principle that the wealth of a nation was based on the goods and services available to its citizens. Free trade allows this to work for the benefit of all consumers. It’s time for the unions to realize this and support what’s good for the nation over what’s good for the union.

Yes, we CAN solve our problems, if we have the political will to do so. This country was founded and prospered on the principles of individual freedom, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, and limited government. Let’s get back to our foundations and demand that our elected representatives in government get to work.

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

 


Obama Ignores Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission – Again!

April 16, 2011

G’Day!

Spend and Tax! Tax and Spend! Spend, Spend, Spend! This is the clearly defined policy framework outlined in Wednesday’s political speech by President Barack Hussein Obama. As noted in a previous post, “Big Government IS Our Problem!”. Unless we replace Obama and the Senate Democrats in 2012, big government, reduced personal freedoms, and unsustainable economic policies will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future. Why does the President continue to reject the bipartisan comprehensive proposal by the Debt Reduction Commission, (“Bowles & Simpson have It Right!”)? Can’t Obama and the Democrats do math?

In President Obama’s speech presenting his 2nd new 2012 budget proposal in two months, he again, as usual, failed to exercise leadership by trashing the serious Republican debt-reduction budget plan of Paul Ryan, and by again refusing to incorporate important recommendations from the Debt Reduction Commission’s proposal. The President’s theme was to incorrectly accuse Republicans of taking money from Senior Citizens and Medicare to provide tax cuts for the “wealthy”. Obama knows better and, as President, should be ashamed of his attempt to mislead the American people. The Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission’s proposal is excellent and the President, the Democrats, and the Republicans should immediately and seriously pursue this comprehensive bipartisan recommendation, which was approved by a majority (61%) of the commission members. Our economic, fiscal, and debt problems cannot be solved by half-hearted and halfway measures. Everything must be on the table, considered, and acted on through an overall, thoughtful, bipartisan solution that benefits the American people not the political ambitions of the politicians.

In this regard, Obama’s speech was disappointing and pure politics, apparently intended to support his announcement to rerun for President in 2012 (hopefully unsuccessfully). The speech essentially ignored the Debt Reduction Commission’s recommendations and lacked real substance or specifics. In response to the Republican’s budget, Obama did propose to reduce the fiscal deficit from his 1st 2012 budget by promising to raise taxes on the successful job-creators in our economy – not a good idea for growth and innovation if you understand economics. The speech primarily engaged in inaccurate political demagoguery aimed at Republican Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal. VP Joe Biden was so impressed that he dozed off during the President’s delivery! The prospect of either the 1st or 2nd Obama 2012 budget proposal is potentially the same: a larger, bankrupt nanny-state in a slow-growth economy with lower than possible living standards, and a devalued currency with entitlements for non-producers supported by the few motivated and successful business managers, investors, and job-creators. Obama’s plan is an arrow aimed at the heart of entrepreneurs, innovators, and commerce.

In 2-3 short years Obama has increased government spending from an annual rate of $2.9 trillion in 2008 to an expected $3.8 trillion in 2011, increased our budget deficits by over $4 trillion and increased our National Debt by approximately 40% to nearly $14.3 trillion (over $1 trillion owed to China). In addition to this massive increase in the size and scope of government (which Obama now wants to “lock in”, not reverse), he has reduced our individual freedoms in healthcare choices (Obamacare), increased government control over our financial and consumer markets (Financial Regulation Bill including the powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), taken over private companies, halted domestic oil development, and expanded unsustainable fiscal and monetary policies. Obama is eroding virtually all the policies in which I personally believe and which made our country great, (see “Is Obama Our Worst President or Just the Weakest?”). How did we ever allow ourselves to believe his campaign rhetoric and fail to see through his lack of experience, leadership, and knowledge of the workings of an economy and foreign relations?

What is now quite clear is Obama’s personal commitment to increasing an already bloated and inefficient federal government and expanding bureaucratic control over our lives and our economy. He is attempting to change our entrepreneurial spirit of independence and freedom into a socialist state of citizens dependent on government handouts for our very survival. I would not be totally surprised if Obama adopted Herbert Hoover’s campaign slogan, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”, with this addition: “Paid for by the US Government”.

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. Even Russia learned that Karl Marx was wrong when he said, “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.” History has shown that socialist policies, if pursued to their ultimate end, result in reduced individual incentive, slower economic growth, lower living standards, and domination by state bureaucrats over the lives of people, (see Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, “The Road to Serfdom”, F. A. Hayek). Obama and the Democrats do not appear to have learned this yet. They appear to have the elitist belief that government bureaucrats can make better decisions for the people than people can make for themselves. Capitalism and democracy aren’t perfect but they are far better than a government-controlled command economy and authoritarianism.

The incentives of capitalism combined with free markets, individual freedoms, and limited government are the best ways to achieve economic growth, prosperity, improved living standards, AND to remain competitive in the global economy. Our US Constitution supposedly protects these fundamental principles but they appear to be increasingly in jeopardy through the actions of our current government. Let’s stop this decay, get back to our traditional foundations, and correct the trend as soon as possible.

The Old Guy PhD

 


Government Shutdown, Who’s to Blame?

April 7, 2011

G’Day!

Our federal government is facing the distinct possibility of a shutdown this week. If the government is shut down, President Obama and the Democrats will have no one to blame for the crisis other than themselves.

Last year Obama and the Democrats devoted their time and effort on passing an ill-advised and budget-busting healthcare bill, which added significantly to an already unsustainable debt problem for our country. During this same period, President Obama and the Democrats, with total control of Congress and the Administration did not even pass a budget for our current 2011 Federal Fiscal Year!! This is not leadership and represents a total disregard of their responsibility to our country. If Obama and Democrats had performed their duties to the American people last year, the current budget crisis would have been avoided and there would be no possibility of a government shut down this week. They have NOT performed responsibly and did not fulfill their obligations to the nation.

As bad as last year’s performance was, it is now history and must be corrected by the new Congress with the old President. So, what has happened in 2011 to handle the current Democrat-created budget crisis? The new Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bill over 40 days ago repealing the Obamacare healthcare fiscal disaster, passed a bill calling for only $61 billion in spending reductions this year (approximately 6 days of government spending, see “Is Our Government Broken?”), agreed to Continuing Resolutions to keep our government functioning until April 8, and have just proposed another Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

On the Democrat’s side, Obama submitted his 2012 Budget to Congress (an irresponsible fiscal and debt-busting budget disaster), which ADDS an expected $1.6 trillion to the deficit next year and $7.2 trillion over the next 10 years (see “Is Our Government Broken?”). The President’s 2012 Budget Proposal includes NONE of the suggestions from the Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission Proposal submitted in December, (see “Bowles & Simpson Have it Right!”). Until this week when, at the 12th hour, he finally called Congressional Leaders together, Obama has been absent from the process of resolving this critical problem. Even the Democrats have complained about his lack of leadership on this issue. In addition, Obama has rejected the current Republican’s proposal for another Continuing Resolution beyond April 8. Obama has, however, found sufficient time during the first 3 months of 2011 to engage in golf, political speeches and fundraisers, and “Presidential Tourism”, while displaying a remarkable lack of leadership in the various Middle East crises, especially Libya. For their part, the Democrats in the Senate have failed to pass ANY bills regarding the budget problem, have stifled any progress on legislation to resolve it, and have engaged in political posturing by persistently blaming Republicans, especially the “Tea Party”, for the stalemate. Specifically, they did initially offer $10 billion in spending reductions this year (1 day’s government spending) and, reportedly are now offering a “non-specific” reduction of $33 billion (3 day’s government spending). It is important to repeat that the Senate, under the direction of Harry Reid (D-NV), has FAILED TO PASS a single piece of legislation on this year’s budget issue except the Continuing Resolutions, which end April 8. The House, under the direction of John Boehner (R-OH), passed legislation over 40 days ago.

It seems absolutely clear that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are not serious about resolving the issue of this year’s spending and resolving the limit on our National Debt. My suspicions are they want a government shutdown and expect the Republicans will get the blame. I believe the history and facts are clear, if non-essential government services are forced to close, President Obama and Democrats in the Senate are fully responsible for the closure. I also believe that the American people are sufficiently intelligent and informed to recognize this and will properly hold President Obama and the Democratic Party accountable at the next election in 2012.

Frankly, as I have said before, other than national defense and essential services, shutting down the Federal Government might be a good thing. Certainly our government is too big and its growth, especially under Obama and the Democrats, is out of control. If all “non-essential” government workers were furloughed, we should have a clear indication of what size our government should be. By definition, “non-essential” means unnecessary. A case can always be made for “desirable” but “unnecessary” services. The key is the cost to the American taxpayer of the “desirable” service provided. The American people cannot afford to pay for every “desirable” idea and should not be forced to do so through taxation.

“Big Government Is Our Problem” and we MUST stop its growth and reduce its size. We need to return to our nation’s principles of free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, and limited government. Let’s elect national and state leaders that support these views.

The Old Guy PhD