Debt Crisis – Whatever happened to Bowles-Simpson?

November 10, 2011

G’Day!

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

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

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

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

The Old Guy PhD


What has America Become?

October 31, 2011

G’Day!

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

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

What has America become?


Editor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Ken HuberTawas City

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

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

The Old Guy PhD


Personal Responsibility – What Happened to Our Pioneer Spirit?

September 13, 2011

G’Day!

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

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

For well over our first century as a country, we experienced essentially free markets and constitutionally protected individual liberties, which were largely free of federal government controls. We experienced problems but grew and prospered into a great nation. Major federal government intrusion in our commercial and personal lives really began with the passing of Constitutional Amendment XVI in 1913 authorizing direct federal income taxes. In 1913, federal government spending was less than 3% of GDP. From that year forward the size of our government and its control over our lives and commerce has inexorably increased over time, especially under F. D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the ‘30s, Johnson’s “Great Society” in the ‘60s, and in this century Bush II’s “Prescription Drug Program” and Obama’s “Healthcare and Financial Regulation”. Except for WWII, the current size and scope of government spending has never been as high as it is now under the Obama Presidency at approximately 25% of our GDP! Just since Obama was elected, Federal Government ANNUAL spending has increased from $2.9 trillion to $3.8 trillion, the ANNUAL deficit increased from $500 billion to 1.7 trillion, and our total National Debt has increased by 40% from $10 trillion to $14.3 trillion! The Democrats in Congress have not passed a Federal Budget for over 800 days and have so far rejected all attempts this year by the Republicans to pass one for next year! To paraphrase Bill Clinton during the 1992 Presidential campaign, “It’s the Spending, Stupid!”

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

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

So what should be done to halt the increasing culture of dependency on the government and return prosperity and growth to the people and to our country? Our government must set priorities within “Capped” budget constraints (see “Is a Balanced Budget Amendment Necessary?”) and make rational cost-benefit trade-offs before commitments to any new or continuing government socially/politically motivated programs and bureaucracy are approved. For starters, every new law or program should have a built-in “Sunset Clause” specifying that it must be reapproved by a set date or it is terminated. As detailed in “Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs!” at least six specific actions could and should to be taken: 1) Stop/Minimize non-essential regulations, 2) Have a business-friendly government, 3) Reduce tax rates, especially on business, through tax reform, 4) Enact an energy policy that encourages rather than discourages development of domestic sources of traditional energy, 5) Fix the fiscal and debt crises by cutting government spending, revising entitlements, and increasing tax revenues through tax reform, and 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners. More is possible but this would be a good beginning.

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

The Old Guy PhD


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