It’s the Entitlements, Stupid!

November 29, 2012

G’Day!

With apologies to President Clinton for modifying his famous phrase, this time “It’s the Entitlements, Stupid!” Virtually everyone with a functioning brain knows that our exploding National Debt and $1 trillion annual Federal Deficits are unsustainable. Without a solution to this government-imposed national crisis, the American economy will continue to stagnate, unemployment will be high, job opportunities low, and the country may ultimately decline into bankruptcy. Also, anyone with a functioning brain knows that the solution to this problem must involve compromise and agreement among the three (3) fundamental contributors to the problem; “Entitlements,” “Discretionary Spending,” and “Tax Revenues.” By listening to the Media, President Obama, and the Democrats, you would conclude that the sole cause of our country’s fiscal and debt crisis is insufficient “Taxes on Rich.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This is like trying to stand on a 3-legged stool with two of the legs removed.

Let’s analyze President Obama’s only publicly proposed solution, “Tax the Rich.” Our annual federal deficit is currently $1.3 trillion. Obama’s proposal with possible outcomes is presented below:

Obama “Tax the Rich” Proposal

Possible Annual Revenue (billions)

% Deficit Solved

Raise top 2 rates on Incomes above $200-250,000 from 33 to 35% & 36 to 39.6%

$44.2

3.7%

Raise Dividend tax from 15% to Ordinary Income Rate

$20.6

1.7%

Raise Capital Gains tax fro 15% to 20%

$3.6

0.3%

Reinstate the Pease limit on Itemized Deduction

$12.3

1.0%

Reinstate the Personal Exemption Phase-out (PEP)

$4.2

0.4%

Subtotal Tax increase for Upper-income

$84.9

7.1%

Restore Estate & Gift Tax to 2009 levels

$11.9

1.0%

Total Government Tax Revenue

$96.8

8.1%

 

The above result is a static analysis and assumes no income or behavioral change by taxpayers (highly unlikely). In total, Obama’s “Tax the Rich” solution would potentially generate $96.8 billion per year and solve a mere 8.1% of our annual fiscal deficit problem. Since neither Obama nor the Democrat leaders have publicly suggested any change in either “Discretionary Spending” or “Entitlements,” this would leave a continuing federal deficit of approximately $1 trillion per year or 92% of the fiscal problem unresolved. (Interestingly, a $1 trillion annual deficit is the amount in Obama’s currently proposed budget for the next four (4) years.) This is blind insanity and “Ostrich Management.”

“Entitlement” reform for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security combined with growth oriented “Tax Reform” and “Discretionary Spending” cuts are the only ways we can avoid the trap that Greece and other European socialist countries have created for themselves. By insisting ONLY on “Taxing the Rich” with no consideration for “Discretionary Spending” cuts or “Entitlement” reform, Obama appears to be more interested in political ideology than in solving our nation’s economic problems. Without correction, we will create a European slow growth dependent society for America and potentially financial collapse. We must demand a better and more comprehensive performance from our government. I believe the Republicans are correct in demanding that any agreement on additional tax revenues must be accompanied by significant cuts in federal spending.

Let’s review some fundamental facts about our unsustainable National Debt and continuing Fiscal Deficits. The table below summarizes the major items in our national economy and Obama’s 2012 enacted budget.

Item

2012 Budget Amount (Billions)

Total Current National Debt

$16,200

Estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

$15,797

Total Federal Government Receipts (Tax, etc.)

$2,469

Total Federal Government Outlays

$3,796

Annual Federal Surplus (Deficit)

($1,327)

Total Mandatory “Entitlement” Outlays

$2,252

Health (Medicaid, etc.)

$361

Medicare

$484

Social Security

$818

Income Security (Food Stamps, Unemployment, Housing, etc.)

$580

Net Interest on Debt

$225

Total “Discretionary” Outlays

$1338

National Defense

$702

Education

$79

 

Federal outlays in 2012 are expected to be $3.8 trillion (24% of GDP) with a $1.3 trillion deficit after government revenues of $2.5 trillion. Mandatory “Entitlements” total $2.3 trillion, (60% of federal outlays and approximately 15% of GDP), AND are growing at an alarming and unsustainable rate. Discretionary federal outlays (including National Defense) are $1.3 trillion. Simple math indicates that to balance the budget without “Entitlement” reform, the entire Federal Government “Discretionary Spending” (including National Defense) must be eliminated or tax revenues increased across-the-board by approximately 50% to eliminate the deficit. Neither of these alternatives individually or in combination is feasible or desirable. Currently the largest federal “Entitlement” outlays are: Health (Medicaid) & Medicare $845 billion, Social Security $818 billion, Income Security $580 billion, and Interest on Debt $225 billion. (Please note that “Interest on Debt” is unusually small based on an artificially low interest rate (approximately 1-1.5%) resulting from global economic problems and monetary support by the FRS. When interest rates return to normal levels the $225 billion could easily double or more in a very short period of time. Remember, interest rates were in the double digits in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Just look at the recent government borrowing rates in the troubled countries in Europe.)

While the mandatory “Entitlement” programs have good intent and are desirable, they are not sustainable and are inconsistent with economic growth policies. “Entitlements” are where the big federal outlays reside and must be part of a major solution to our fiscal and debt crisis. “Entitlement” reform is the most significant fiscal spending problem we face. Fortunately, we have excellent proposals from Conservatives and bipartisan groups available on how to fix “Entitlements” (see Bowles-Simpson, “The Moment of Truth,” Domenici-Rivlin, “Restoring America’s Future,” and The Heritage Foundation, “Saving the American Dream”). It would be helpful if Obama and the Democrats would acknowledge these or offer proposals of their own. It won’t be easy but as I said in the title, “It’s the Entitlements, Stupid!”

Let’s get to work and save our country!

The Old Guy PhD


Has American Decided Its Future?

November 7, 2012

G’Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Old Guy PhD


Decision Time in America – Which Future do You Want?

October 28, 2012

G’Day!

On November 6 we will face an election that will decide our nation’s course for many years. This election will be the most important election in our lives and will decide not only our immediate future but also the future for our children and grandchildren. After 3 ½ years of the Obama Administration, the Senate Democrats, and over a year of campaigning, our choices have never been more clear. At stake is the success or failure of our economy, the relationship between our government and ourselves, federal fiscal and debt solvency, taxation levels, America’s role in the world, and the legacy we are endowing to future generations.

The key issue we must face is which Presidential Candidate and political party offers the best opportunity for economic & job growth, wealth creation, supportable social safety nets & entitlements, sustainable National Debt, and a higher standard of living for the American people. It is vital that each of us take the time and make the effort to understand the potential consequences for our culture, our freedoms, and the potential survival of our country from these two widely different visions of government’s role in our society and vote accordingly.

Choice 1

Fundamentally, Romney/Ryan and the Republican Party support smaller government, free market capitalism, a strong national security, and individual liberty. They believe in the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers, individual & business freedoms, private property rights, sound fiscal and monetary policies, lower taxes for business and individuals, a government limited to the powers granted in the Constitution, and equality of opportunities for all citizens.

Specifically in this election, Romney/Ryan and Republicans support overturning government run Obamacare, which significantly increases healthcare costs, adds central bureaucratic control over healthcare, and erodes our freedom of choice in the doctor/patient relationship. They support overturning the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, which has stagnated our financial industry and economic growth and adds layers of still to be written rules and regulations and additional costs over banking. As protection from mounting problems in the Middle East, Romney/Ryan and Republicans support the construction of the Keystone Pipeline and the opening of public lands and offshore exploration for expanding and achieving North American energy independence.

Republicans further believe in a clear and resolute Foreign Policy supported by a strong economy and military and free trade with other nations. They believe that a reasonable but not unlimited social safety net is desirable for those truly in need and welfare as a temporary situation with the objective of being a transition to independence. Romney/Ryan advocate major tax reform by lowering the rates and broadening the base for individuals and businesses in order to promote economic growth. They further advocate major entitlement reform to bring the Federal Budget into balance, while insuring that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will be sustainable for future generations.

Regarding the economy, Republicans believe that prosperity and job growth is derived from entrepreneurial business activity free from excessive government interference and is advanced by minimizing regulations, having lower taxes, and maximizing freedoms and opportunities. Individual and business success is praised, honored, and rewarded. Free markets determine winners and losers and wealth is distributed based on objective “achievement” through persistence, intelligence, and hard work.

Choice 2

Primarily, Obama/Biden and the Democrat Party support bigger (unlimited?) government, centrally planned European-style neo-socialism, reduced national defense, and bureaucratic control of individual and business freedoms. They believe in a “living” Constitution to be interpreted and modified by the judicial system as desired, control over private property use, and unsustainable fiscal policy and National Debt. They advocate open-ended entitlements, welfare, and government spending, higher taxes on businesses and individuals but especially the successful “rich”, and forced wealth transfer to achieve “fairness”. Opportunities for success (or failure) will be largely determined by central government administrators.

Specifically in this election, Obama/Biden and Democrats approve of and are committed to retaining government run Obamacare and Dodd-Frank financial legislation. They have no practical national energy plan and are against the Keystone Pipeline, offshore exploration, and expansion of fossil fuel development on public land. As is well documented, Obama currently favors “Green Energy” as the alternative to fossil fuels and, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE), has used billions of taxpayer money to subsidize and support his belief. Through the EPA and DOE, The Obama Administration is waging a “War on Coal”, which is preventing the country from exploiting a cheap and plentiful fuel source and will result in the loss of thousands of jobs in the Coal Industry. All of this makes America weaker and more dependent on foreign energy from the troubled Middle East Area.

For nearly four years Obama has followed a Foreign Policy of appeasement, apology, and withdrawal emphasized by planned reductions in the military and controlled trade with other nations. Obama and Democrats believe in regulated and even hostile control over businesses and the use of Administrative Executive Power (especially EPA, DOE, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and Department of Labor (DOL)) as desired to accomplish this. They believe in and have encouraged entitlement expansion and welfare dependency supported by a $6 Trillion increase in the National Debt in four years.

Obama/Biden and Democrats believe that economic and job growth is derived from central government planning not free markets, high taxes on successful individuals & companies, and taxpayer funding through grants and subsidies to bureaucratically selected companies and industries. Individual and business success is envied, derided, and penalized through regulations and wealth transfer. The government determines winners and losers based on administrative subjectivity and wealth is redistributed based on an arbitrary determination of “fairness”.

For months we have heard impressive speeches from our President promising more of the same “Hope and Change” supported by increasing government restrictions (Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the EPA, the DOE, etc.), unsustainable entitlements, higher taxes on the “Rich”, and ballooning National Debt. But no volume of skillful oratory by the President can disguise the fact that Obama and the Democrats have no new ideas for the next four years and Romney/Ryan and the Republicans do. Romney has articulated clearly his 5-Point Plan to get America back on track to a prosperous growing economy with job opportunities for those who want to work: 1) Energy Independence, 2) Free Trade, 3) a Balanced Budget, 4) Improved Education, and 5) Tax Reform to support Small Businesses. While no one party or individual is perfect or will solve all problems we must select the alternative that provides our best opportunity to save our country from financial disaster and economic chaos that uncontrolled government deficits represent. The survival of our great nation depends on making the right choice.

OK, it’s decision time! Which future do you want? Please take the time and make the effort to study the alternatives, the potential outcomes from each, consider what is at stake for yourself, your children, and our great country, and vote wisely. The choice will be yours on November 6th.

The Old Guy PhD


Save America – Elect Romney & Ryan in November!

August 30, 2012

G’Day!

Romney and Ryan! Hooray! The Republicans have chosen intelligent, honest, dedicated, and responsible candidates for President and Vice President of our country. Unfortunately, Obama and Biden are currently still in office. They cannot be replaced fast enough for me. The longer Obama and the Democrats continue in power, the greater the decline of America. In my opinion, a vote for Obama and the Democrats is suicidal for our exceptional nation. I trust and believe that the American people are wise enough to see through the rhetoric of deception, division, and blame and recognize the true economic and social failures of Obama’s centrally planned socialism. In November we must vote Obama and enough Democrats out of office to save our country from financial collapse under a mountain of unsustainable debt, which in the next week will reach $16 Trillion or over $50,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. This is an increase of approximately 60% since Obama was elected and is absolutely intolerable!

The team of Romney and Ryan are real Americans who personally share and support the opportunities and values inherent in “The American Dream”. They believe in the values expressed in “The Declaration of Independence” of equal opportunity for all to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They further believe in strong national defense, individual freedom, free market capitalism, sound fiscal and monetary policy, freedom of religion, and Constitutionally limited government. Unlike Obama, Romney actually has a business-friendly five point plan to correct our fiscal and debt crisis, create millions of new private-sector jobs, save Social Security & Medicare, and get America back on a path to prosperity. Fortune Magazine summarized the five key areas in the plan as follows: “(1) Aggressively promote domestic energy development, especially fossil fuels. (2) Expand the market for U.S. goods overseas by negotiating new trade agreements and standing up to China on intellectual-property and currency issues. (3) Improve workforce skills by transferring job-training programs to the states and going after teachers’ unions, which, he says, stand in the way of school choice and better instruction. (4) Attack the deficit through budget cuts, not tax increases. And (5), reshape the regulatory climate to “encourage and promote small business” rather than swamp it. That last item covers his most consistent and passionate campaign pledge, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act — “reshaping health care reform,” he says, “by replacing Obamacare with measures that will bring down the cost of health insurance rather than, as Obamacare does, increasing it.” This plan, combined with the Romney-Ryan Budget and a proposed “Cap” on Government Spending at 20% of GDP, is an excellent start.

On the other hand, Obama has America on a suicidal path to fiscal and economic failure with no serious plan to grow the economy, create private sector jobs, and reduce the national debt and deficit. Obama’s alternative is more of the same: more government spending, more government regulations, more government taxes, more government control, and less personal and business freedom. Obama doesn’t seem to care about our national security, the US Constitution, our allies abroad, personal liberty, private property rights, economic growth, free market capitalism, or traditional American values. Apparently, Obama cares more about wealth redistribution, bigger and bigger government, labor unions, and, most importantly, personal reelection. Unlike Obama, Romney and Ryan are telling us the truth about the economic crisis we face and have logical and reasonable plans to correct the Obama debacle over the next decade. Their plans are not radical but rational and should be supported by a majority of Americans who want our country to grow and prosper.

Obama is the antithesis of nearly everything I believe about America & virtually everything that has made America exceptional. The centrally controlled “trickle up poverty” collectivist policies of dependency & unsustainable entitlements by Obama and the Democrats are not working in America, are creating crisis and potential disaster in Europe, and have failed historically. Obama has had his opportunity and he has failed as a leader. Perhaps his failure was inevitable given his serious lack of qualifications when he was elected. It is time to replace him and Vice President Biden with a truly qualified and experienced leadership team.

The growth of Western Civilization and especially the United States was fuelled by the expansion of individual liberties, private property rights, and a free market capitalist society. Our nation was established on the basic principle that government is the servant of the people, not that the people are the servants of government. It’s time to take back our country and return to the individual liberties, free markets, economic growth, and limited government we have long enjoyed. The United States of America is the greatest, most prosperous, most unselfish, and most exceptional country in history. There is still an opportunity to save The American Dream but time is rapidly running out. Vote for the real American “Hope & Change” offered by Romney and Ryan in November.

The Old Guy PhD


Obammunism – What is “Fair”?

July 13, 2012

G’Day!

Everyone believes in “Fairness” but what is it? Is “Fairness” equal opportunity to succeed based on your own efforts and decisions, free of government intervention? Or, is “Fairness” government dictated equal sharing of the success of others independent of personal effort and decisions? Consider this, who determines “Fair Share”? Under Capitalism, “Fair Share” is objectively determined by the choices of free people in a free market. Under “Obammunism”, political bureaucrats subjectively and arbitrarily determine “Fair Share” and impose it on the people. Regarding tax alone, what is to protect you from the “Bureaucratic Elite” changing the wealth threshold from $1 million, to $250,000, to $100,000, to $75,000 or lower? If you support Obama’s policies, nothing can protect you from the Government arbitrarily changing “Fair Share” to adversely penalize more and more successful people. If you work hard and succeed in improving yourself and your family, what is to prevent the government from penalizing you for becoming “Rich”? Under Obama, “Fair Share” cannot be satisfied until everyone is economically equal. This is not “The American Dream”.

To our Founding Fathers “Fairness” is our personal “Entitlement” to national security, individual freedom, and free market capitalism with limited fiscally-sound government based on equality of opportunities and private property rights. To President Obama and the Democrats it is “Obammunism”, which is based on the government’s “Entitlement” to regulate and control the American people and businesses to accomplish subjectively determined income and wealth equality. “Obammunism” is achieved through higher taxes, bigger government, forced income and wealth redistribution, expanded welfare dependency, and unfunded entitlements to an unnecessary and undeserved portion of the population. It further requires excessive environmental restrictions on the use of private property, regulations and controls over selected industries, and use of taxpayer funds in the arbitrary selection of industrial “winners & losers”. So far Obama’s big government approach to economic equality has resulted in slow economic growth, a net loss of approximately 4 million jobs, and an energy policy that has killed jobs and leaves American security more dependent on imports of foreign oil. “Obammunism” has also resulted in a 60% increase in our National Debt (from ~$10 trillion to ~$16 trillion) and a huge fiscally unsustainable federal deficit that has exceeded $1.3 trillion in every year of Obama’s Presidency. Erskine Bowles of the Bowles-Simpson Debt Reduction Commission stated earlier this month on the subject of our National Debt, “It is like a cancer. Over time it will destroy the country from within.” Alan Simpson simply referred to it as, “Madness”.

The founders of our great country also believed in equality, the equality of opportunity implemented through personal freedoms, private property rights, and free markets. They believed in minimal government and established a Constitution and subsequent Bill of Rights to guarantee and protect the individual liberties of all citizens from the oppressive policies of the foreign governments from which our ancestors fled in search of a better life. Is it moral or ethical or “Fair” for the government in a land of equal opportunity to engage in wealth redistribution from those who worked hard, made good decisions, and earned their success to those who did not? While nearly everyone believes and supports a reasonable social safety net for the truly needy, the trends since the Great Depression have increasingly been to increase welfare and entitlements far beyond reasonableness and absolutely beyond sustainability.

So what do I believe is “Fair”? What “Entitlements” should we expect from our government? First and foremost, I believe that we are entitled to a President who actually believes and supports the oath of office he declared at his inauguration, which is: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

I believe that we are entitled to a limited government that is business friendly and supports and protects our individual freedoms, free markets, private property rights, sound fiscal & monetary policy, economic growth, and the security and defense of our great nation.

I believe that we are entitled to a limited federal government that regulates and enforces only those activities that cannot be controlled by citizens through either individual freedom of choice under free market capitalism or by State and local governments.

I believe that, except for essential government services, we are entitled to keep what we earn and that wealth redistribution for the goal of economic equality, excessive welfare, and unsustainable entitlements is “Unfair”, unethical, and destructive to economic growth. I further believe that tax reform is essential. (See “Fiscal & Debt Crises – Tax Reform Essential!”)

I believe that, as the Founding Fathers intended, we are entitled to a government that protects our right to use our private property as we wish as long as it does not endanger or encroach on the value of our neighbor’s property AND that we should have the right to use our private property free of unnecessary environmental control and regulation by administrators.

Finally, I believe we are entitled to a President that supports and protects the rights of ALL American citizens and does not promote policies intended to enhance reelection prospects by dividing the country by income, gender, ethnicity, religion, political party, sexual orientation, or race.

Under Obama, our exceptional nation is on the precipice of a fiscal catastrophe and terminal decline in the world. It is not yet too late to correct the Obama’s neo-socialist trend for more taxes, more spending, bigger government, slower economic growth, and eventual collapse under a mountain of unsustainable debt. Throughout history, no nation has been able to sustain excessive spending by taxing, borrowing or “printing money” as a way out of fiscal insanity. All have failed. It is time for America to wake up and realize where this “Amateur” President is taking our country. Study the issues and vote accordingly in November.

The Old Guy PhD


Election 2012 – America’s Choice Has Never Been More Clear!

January 13, 2012

G’Day!

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was enjoyable and successful and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2012!

This year we will face an election that will probably decide our nation’s course for many years to come. 2012 may be the most important election in our lives. Never have the choices been clearer than they are today: small government vs. big government – free market capitalism vs. centrally planned socialism – individual liberty vs. bureaucratic control of freedoms. At stake is the future of our economy, the relationship between our government and ourselves, federal fiscal and debt solvency, taxation levels, America’s role in the world, and the legacy we are endowing to our children. The key issue is which choice offers the best opportunity for economic & job growth, wealth creation, and a higher standard of living for the American people. It is critical that we each take the time and make the effort to understand the potential consequences for our culture, our opportunities, and our country from these two widely different visions of the role of government and vote accordingly.

Choice 1: Overall, the Republican Party generally supports small government, free market capitalism, and individual liberty. More specifically, they further believe in the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers, individual & business freedoms, sound fiscal and monetary policies, tax reform for business and individuals, a government limited to protecting the legal rights of individuals, property, and the security of our nation, and equality of opportunities for all citizens. They believe that a reasonable but not unlimited social safety net is desirable for those truly in need. Republicans believe that prosperity and job growth is derived from entrepreneurial business activity free from excessive government interference and is promoted by minimizing regulations and maximizing freedoms and opportunities. Individual success is honored and rewarded. Free markets determine winners and losers and wealth is distributed based on objective “achievement”.

Choice 2: Overall, the Democrat Party supports big government, centrally planned European-style socialism, and bureaucratic control of freedoms. They support a “living” Constitution to be interpreted and modified by the judicial system as desired, regulated individual & business freedoms, unsustainable government spending and entitlements, higher taxes, and forced wealth transfer from the successful to the less successful. Democrats and especially the current President believe in regulated and even hostile control over businesses and the use of Administrative Executive Power as desired to accomplish this. They believe that economic and job growth is derived from government planning, controls, and subsidies to bureaucratically selected companies and industries. Individual success is envied and resented and should be corrected through wealth redistribution. The government determines winners and losers based on fiat and wealth is distributed based on an arbitrary determination of “fairness”.

For months we have heard impressive speeches from our President promising more “Hope and Change” supported by more government regulations, unsustainable entitlements, and higher taxes on the “Rich”. No doubt we will hear many more. But no volume of skillful oratory by the President or his eventual Republican contender can disguise the fact that the two fundamental choices above are the issues in the forthcoming election.

Do you believe that big government, centrally planned European-style socialism, and bureaucratic control of freedoms with increasing control over your lives and businesses are best for you? Do you believe that government administrators can make better decisions for us than we can make for ourselves? Do you believe that these bureaucratic decisions are the best approach to economic growth, job creation, and a higher standard of living? If you believe this, vote for Democrats.

On the other hand, do you believe in small government, free market capitalism, and individual liberty with the freedom to make our own decisions about our lives and businesses? Do you believe that we can make better decisions for ourselves than the government? Do you believe that individual decisions under free markets are the best approach to economic growth, wealth creation, and a higher standard of living? If you believe this, vote for Republicans.

President Obama’s position on the above choices is precisely clear and soon we will have a Republican Presidential Candidate to compare. Please take the time to study the choices, the potential outcomes from each on your lives, consider what is at stake for our nation and our children, and vote accordingly. The choice will be yours in November.

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


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 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