Beyond the Cusp

October 5, 2013

Challenge President Obama and Change the Entire Budget Battle

A single undeniable truth that can be said about the budget battle is that the Republicans are getting the worst end of the blame. It stands to reason as the Republicans decided to pick their fight over Obama Care (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) by defunding it specifically in this continuing resolution knowing that they would be facing opposition from President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid and the majority of the mainstream press. The blame falling on the Republicans for any budget battle has a long-standing history and it does not matter which political party holds the different position, the Republicans are always the ones who are shutting down the government and denying services to the population. The only break the Republicans have received was due to the overreach by the Obama Administration who sought to go to ridiculous extremes to make their point. When the Administration gave the orders to the numerous separate Cabinet Departments to shutter everything and anything they possibly could close in order to inconvenience the most number of people, they perhaps should have said within reason instead of everything and anything possible. When the Park Service cordoned off the World War II Memorial which sits in an open area which had to have barricades erected and guards placed to enforce the no trespass the monument is closed order, they perhaps chose badly. The Republican legislators gained a photo-op as they came down from Capitol Hill and removed a few barricades and opened the memorial allowing a number of World War II veterans, who were all elderly making the scene that much more poignant, to visit. The same became the case when some news services reported that the very same Park Service had barricaded the parking lot at Mount Vernon. This was made to appear even worse as Mount Vernon is run by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association who also own the parking lot which is serviced by the Park Service making their closure appear as exactly what it was, a spiteful move done purely to hurt as many people as possible over the government shutdown. Despite these few examples, you cannot tune in to a news broadcast without hearing at least three and as many as uncountable references to the Republican shutdown of the government as if the Democrats are clean of any blame for the impasse.

 

The Republicans in the House of Representatives, the branch of the Federal Government tasked exclusively with initially formulating the budget and the place where all financial outlays must begin although these items must then pass the Senate and the President, could change the entire fight over Obama Care and instead make the battle over the fact that they are doing something which would be revolutionary for the years of the Obama Presidency, passing an actual and real budget and ending this deceitful practice of running the government by passing Continuing Resolutions every few months. Ever since President Obama first took the oath of office the United States Federal Government has failed to pass a single budget. There are some advantages and opposing disadvantages to running the Federal Government, or any government, by passing Continuing Resolutions every few months in place of formulating an actual budget for the entire year. Should you wish to be able to increase spending radically more than usual then the Continuing Resolutions is your ticket while passing an annual budget restricts the increase in spending. The reason for this is when you have to stick to an annual budget the increase is measurable and can be debated while with the Continuing Resolutions you can increase spending with each resolution which even if the exact same percentage is the rate of increase, the fact that these increases are being applied compounding their effect, this actually has the effect of increasing the spending by a greater amount. For example, if you increased a department’s budget 10% and say their budget had been $1,000,000; then their budget for the next year will be $1,000,000. If instead you passed a Continuing Resolution every three months with each employing the same 10% increase, a quarterly budgeting, then you would take the budget for the first quarter which would be $250,000 and increase it to $275,000. When you get to the second quarter the 10% is applied to the budgeted amount after the last increase so you apply the 10% to $275,000 resulting in $302,500. At the third quarter you apply the 10% to the $302,500 which yields $332,750 and in the final quarter you apply the 10% to $332,750 yielding $366,025. When you add the spending up you have $275,000 + $302,500 + $332,750 + $366,025 resulting in an annual budget totaling $1,276,275 which is $176,275 more than if you had made an annual budget. That is almost triple the increase in spending just by passing four Continuing Resolution instead of one annual budget.

 

Of Course when passing these Continuing Resolution there will always be the crisis, real or manufactured, that requires an extra amount to be put into a budget which simply compounds and makes for even higher increases in spending. An example of such is the current debate over funding for Food Stamps where the Democrats wish to increase the spending by 25% more than the Republican desire though the Republicans are still offering to give the Food Stamp Program a healthy increase. Of course the news is reporting that the Republicans are attempting to cut Food Stamps by 25%, the exact difference between the increases proposed by both parties. When you are convicted by those who give the public their news of decreasing or cutting funding whenever you offer to increase spending by less than the other party you will constantly be portrayed dishonestly as being Scrooge before the ghostly visitations.

 

If the Republicans took a novel route and came up with a budget that would extend through the entirety of the fiscal year they could argue that they were only being responsible and proposing an annual budget like anybody else does when it comes to spending. They could point to the fact that even when President Obama had a solid opposition proof majority in both Houses of Congress that the Democrats still refused to pass an actual annual budget choosing instead to utilize numerous Continuing Resolutions in order to allow for massive increases in spending made with smaller steps which together added up and produced a record deficit beyond any previous Presidential budget, even double that produced by President George W. Bush who according to President Obama spent beyond all reason. They could further advise that they were proposing that Obama Care be financed on an as needed basis so that the public could be informed of the actual costs used to implement this untested venture into government assured medical care. They could press the fact that they also desired some changes chiefly among them that if those who President Obama granted a one year exemption are not to be held to their obligations under Obama Care then the American people should also be given the same one year exemption from their obligations under Obama Care. The concept is a simple one learned by most of us in our youth, if it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander. America has always been based on equality as well as freedom and liberty. We have equal opportunity, equal application of the law, except when some are exempted from Obama Care, we have equal responsibility and we have equal representation in governance. Exempting those few favored sectors of our society from their equal obligations under Obama Care while it is being applied in its entirety on the people simply because they do not have the cadre of lobbyists, lawyers and influence peddlers to argue and pressure those in power to give them favors is against everything America was founded upon. To punish the individual while catering to big business, unions and others who wield political clout is an abomination and this is the wrong that the Republicans need to stress when they have any opportunity to get their message out. Of course it would help if all of the Republicans actually were supporting the people instead of their political pals in Washington. That is another problem with the attempt to equalize the application of Obama Care, too many in Washington simply support anything which further empowers Washington and tough luck to the people back home. Hopefully the people will have a message for those who so callously disregard the wellbeing of their constituents.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 10, 2013

President Obama Inadvertently Identifies Historic Economic Ailment

President Obama continued his assault on Congress threatening that they could be responsible for a murder. The victims of this Congressional threat are, according to President Obama, thousands of jobs and the continued improvement we have supposedly been enjoying in the economy. The method with which Congress will bludgeon the economy and jobs to death is the death by thousands, nay, millions of cuts via sequestration. According to President Obama, if the Congress does not accept his proposal to match any spending cuts with equal measure of tax increases through the removal of loopholes and credits, then uncountable numbers of jobs will be lost or never filled as without government subsidies sectors of the economy will relapse into a recession-like collapse. This is the fate the Congress will force on a hapless country where its people are thirsting for the continued supply of government milk to suckle and care for them supplying them with jobs and seeing to their every need. Well, at least this would be reality if those who believe in big government as the solution for everything were to have their way. What President Obama has managed to do with his threats is to point to one of the most dire situations confronting the United States today. Actually, this has been a growing problem since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and greatly enhanced by Lyndon Baines Johnson and numerous other assists along the way to the present. The pinnacle of this monster which has been built one bad idea after another was the farce that some companies, banks, investment, insurance, and other chosen favorites of those in power being sold as too big to fail and thus deserving of millions upon millions of taxpayer’s money. Since the too big to fail was not an Obama original but was inspired by the original bailout which was committed with the approval and blessings of President George W. Bush.

The problem is that such a large percentage of the economy and way too many of our major companies rely almost entirely on government largess, tax allowances, contracts, and in a surprising number of cases, their entire margin of profit. That is one of the problems which rarely is discussed when the entitlement debate comes under scrutiny. There are always numerous pundits willing to blame it on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Food Stamps, and any of the other programs which assist individuals. When was the last time the evening news covered the amount of farm aid that goes to ADM, a huge agricultural conglomerate, or timber allotments granted to Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Pacific, or the any of the numerous generous funding of other industries or the customs, tariffs, and other regulations which are used to give advantages to the chosen few? No, the only government funding which is ever challenged are those which go to people, which many will claim are bad enough, and never those given to industrial giants and other large firms who often hold numerous politicians hostage to the funding these firms can put together come campaign time. The story about whose funding pig gets gored when the government decides to take austerity measures to avert fiscal crisis will almost always end with the piggy with the least cash affords the least protection. It is the same game as local, city, county and state governments take when they face times of economic hardship. The first cuts that are threatened are always police, firefighters, libraries, teachers, and the closing of parks and other recreational facilities. They never discuss ending their personal Lear Jet used to fly around the state, the limousines used to take them to dinners and other functions, the helicopter used to make grand entrance at public gatherings, or any of the myriad of perks many of which we regular people would never ever dream exist but are what makes their positions so prized that they make careers out of “public service”. I have always defined their “public service” as the elected potentates allowing the peasants to pay above and beyond the necessary so that they may feel their privileges to which they have become accustom.

Actually, there is a very cozy relationship between big business and big government, something which we were warned would be the end of the American experiment by, of all people, President Dwight David Eisenhower. Yep, Dwight D Eisenhower, the President who gave us such Constitutional projects as the Defense Highway Bill establishing the Interstate Road System for emergencies where it would allow the transport of any and all military transport and fast response by government and which in such times the public would be barred from utilizing, and the Defense College Scholarship Act which gave promising students scholarships in order to assure that we would have sufficient numbers of well-educated youth for use in an ever more advanced weapons and other systems which would be necessary for the competent operation of the military. President Eisenhower claimed to care about the Constitution and sold these programs not as being giveaways to the public for their private betterment or any such nonsense, these were purely programs which would supply necessary and desirable results for the competent and efficient utilization of the United States Military. So, the man who warned us about the, his words, “Military-Industrial Complex” also used the military in order to fund the interstate highway system and give student grants and scholarships because such investments were necessary for an adequate military of the future. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophesies.

The problem with a coupling of big government with big business is that such an arrangement discourages inventiveness, competition, efficiency, and eventually economic growth. If certain companies have an arrangement with government, nothing formal or written, just an understanding between the leadership of both parties and the ownership of the companies, sometimes the two are one and the same as many of our Congressional leaders are heavily invested in the same companies, then it becomes much more difficult if not impossible for a smaller company to come along and compete. As soon as a small company gets a foothold and gives the slightest of hints that they might pose a challenge, a threat to the larger established company, if that company can utilize government to change the playing field making it more difficult on the smaller company, then innovation and other possible benefits of competition are snuffed out. Imagine if the carriage industry of the horse and carriage era had an undue influence on government such that laws could be passed which made it impossible to operate motor vehicles on public roads, we would still be watching carefully where we stepped when crossing the street. Companies such as Ford, Packard, Studebaker, and others would never have been allowed to replace the horse drawn vehicles as government could have enacted laws preventing such progress. This sounds ridiculous but there were such laws implemented in some places. Motor carriages were required to have a man walk ahead of them with a flag by day and a lantern by night warning any people who were riding in their horse drawn carriages that a noisy, smelly, frightening motor vehicle was coming.

So, thank you President Obama for pointing out one of the difficulties plaguing our economy, namely that too much of our economy and too many companies are completely addicted and dependent on government monies which damages the competitiveness and equality of opportunity which damages economic progress. With your plea to the Congress, you have, likely inadvertently, made likely the strongest argument in favor of allowing sequestration to strike government spending thus cutting the effect of government on everything back in size. Perhaps, once we find we can survive just fine with less government across the boards, then we might enact planned sequestrations for the future and continue to make cuts with such abandon until government has been shrunk down to a more manageable size. Who knows, if we allow this to go far enough we might even actually return to Constitutional governance and thus return the real American dream. In case you have lost sight of the real American dream, allow us to remind you. The Founding Fathers had a new and previously unimagined idea which had never before been attempted in the history of mankind. Their revolutionary idea was that man; regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill man was capable of governing themselves. Mankind did not need a King or an oligarchy of his betters to lord over him and direct his life because without their higher wisdom and abilities the common man would be lost and all would fall to pieces in ruination. Instead, the Founding Fathers saw mankind as being fully capable of knowing what was best for him and through self-government they would be able to provide adequate, nay, superior governance than that or any potentate or collection of self-righteous individuals who placed themselves above the common man. Simply put, they did not find the simple man to be that simple. Today we are faced with a megalomaniacal governance that had run afoul of the Constitution and no longer believes in the common man but does believe that the common man must be ruled over by his superiors. We do not need superiors and anyways, you in government are supposed to be working at our pleasure, not the other way around. Read the Declaration of Independence, it is also a founding document if not the founding document. Right there it explains the place of government, to serve at the pleasure of the people having only those powers delegated to it by the people. Perhaps it is time to have a vote of the public and let the people once again decide how much government we need. That is our right and someday soon we just may exercise that right.

Beyond the Cusp

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