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By: Wayne Brown
Watching the political pandering play out in Washington over the debt ceiling debate is painful for it is the shining example of what we have come to in America from a political and ethical standpoint. Disinformation and outright lying have become the rule of the day and the focus of either side of the aisle is simply on winning the day for political purposes. This is not what was envisioned by the Founders of this great land and this behavior is certainly not something that I hope Americans look back on in historic and describe as heroic.
The President again took to his bully pulpit and used national television to send threats to the senior citizens on Social Security and those who depend on Medicare. He conveniently made the potential outcome sound as though the debt ceiling must be raised or we have no choice but to default on the debt service of this nation. His only alternative cited to that was to suggest that possibly the funds of Social Security and Medicare would have to be withheld in order to meet our debt obligations as a nation. This is a very poor portrayal of the facts and leaves those uniformed believing that those on the right side of the aisle are interested in nothing more than undermining entitlements with spending cuts. This nothing but cheap political maneuvering at its finest by a President who seems to have little credibility left with the majority of the American people.
The President suggests that compromise has been offered and turned down. He portrays himself as then grand compromiser leaving out the fact that after reaching an agreement with the Republicans he essentially violated it by adding another four hundred billion dollars to the spending pot. In effect the President is saying that he is there to compromise as long as he gets a long-term debt ceiling increase of over two trillion dollars and he can continue to spend without restriction at his discretion. The President goes on to quote Jefferson saying in effect that we don’t get everything we want all the time…apparently a lesson he has not taken to heart himself.
Harry Reid continues to demonstrate his appreciation of democracy and the democratic process. Although the House has passed legislation associated with Cut, Cap, and Balance, Reid refuses to allow the bill to even come to the floor of the Senate for debate. I ask you, who died and made him king? The Democrats hold the majority position in the Senate…what is there to fear of a debate on this bill coming before them? Could it be that the discussion just might not reflect too highly on the past actions of the Democrats populating the Senate and House? Reid’s political tent should have been folded long ago. Those who would shun the democratic process of debate to cover the antics of their own politics have no place representing the American public in any position. It is past time for the Gemini twins…Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to depart Washington politics.
The right side of the aisle needs to rethink its position. Reducing real spending is important but holding the line on the short-term debt ceiling and demanding long-term cuts may not fly within the compromise. The majority of Americans are looking for a commitment to change directions. Taking some first steps with some “real spending” cuts as opposed to the imagined ones conjured up by Harry Reid and company would be a welcome orientation. At the present, if we can find a way to hold the short-term debt ceiling in place and agree on some level of cuts in both discretionary and mandatory government spending which would cover our debt service obligations, most Americans would be pleased. This step does not have to endanger entitlements and cause anyone to miss receiving their funds on the short term.
No doubt the question of the future status of programs such as Social Security and Medicare must be addressed and soon. This debate over debt ceiling is not the proper ground for that debate because it confuses the issue with too many other factors. At present, our government receives more revenue from these two programs than it pays out. In effect the programs are solvent for present day circumstance. Unfortunately, thanks to LBJ and the Democrats, all funds from these programs go into the general funds as opposed to a trust. Since the days of LBJ, all the surplus money in either fund has been spent on other areas of elective government spending. That figure amounted to over $70 billion dollars in surplus money in 2010. Eventually, due to shrinkage in the workforce, the payout will exceed the inflow of revenue and government will be faced with an overwhelming problem which in effect has all the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. The future of these programs must be adjusted to offset these future problems but this is not the time and place to accomplish that important task.
The fraud and improper pay outs associated with the Medicare program are estimated to be in a revenue range which would exceed the cost of our current national debt interest service yet there seems to be no aggressive action on the part of the government to address this problem and eliminate it. It is absolutely amazing that our government can detect a leak in a barrel this large but cannot identify effective methods to eliminate it. Maybe the primary obstacle is desire or the lack of it. With the advent of Obama Care, obviously there is no one in the Obama Administration interested in securing the program. Remember, this is the program which Obama just gutted financially to initiate his national healthcare effort.
The latest Rasmussen Poll rank President Obama’s approval rating with the American people at a level of 21%. This figure has been on a declining trend since this President took office. The approval rating for Congress is even worse coming in at a dismal 18% approval rating. America is stating loud and clear that we have no faith in those in Washington DC who were elected to serve us as a nation and take care of our financial well-being for the future. Given this trend, the outcome of the upcoming 2012 elections will likely surprise many of those currently in office who are touted as unbeatable. One can only hope that is the case.
The left side of the aisle in Washington wants to blame the rich and large corporations for our financial misery. Many of those in the category of “rich” have made it quite clear that they are more than willing to pay more taxes but, at the same time, they would expect to see a change in the approach to spending in Washington by our elected officials. They quickly ask the question, why should we provide more money for them to waste on unnecessary and inefficient pork-barrel programs? It’s a good question and has not yet been answered. Others rant about how corporation slide by on taxes in America ponying up approximately 9% of the revenue stream in 2010. They rant for more taxes on these entities not realizing that increased taxes on industry simply means increased shelf prices on goods to the consumer. Taxes stifle competition in the marketplace by driving out producers and those who endure the taxes simply embed them into the price of goods and services and pass them on to the consumer…in effect increases taxes on middle income Americans once again.
Closing tax loopholes and increasing taxes will not grow the economy, especially at a time when the economic engine is barely running with any steam. The job market will shrink to an even greater degree. Companies will give up on the American market and move elsewhere not only taking jobs but also leaving a less competitive market where prices are more easily raised to the consumer. Spending, on the other hand, especially spending for which there is no revenue stream only grows the debt and the interest service on that debt. Eventually, the government has a greater demand for the available money in circulation than the private sector which tends to devalue the currency and feed the fires of inflation in the economy. Spending also has a tendency to grow government to even bigger levels. That fact is apparent when one looks at the spending of the current administration over the past two plus years and the 17% growth in the federal monster.
It is time for some effective bipartisanship in Washington. The President is not willing to lead it and has demonstrated that he cannot do so effectively with his recent actions. Those in Congress must act and do so in a manner which serves America and its people in the most honest and effective manner. It is past time that recognition is given to the fact that we have a debt ceiling for a reason and that reason is not to hold a debate every six months over raising it. At the same time, the solution to that dilemma is not to hand the keys to the piggybank over to the President to spend at his discretion. Congress, the House in particular, is charged with affecting an operating budget for this country on an annual basis. That duty has been neglected now for far too long. Let’s see Congress roll up its sleeves and go to work on the spending issues in this country to identify those that we can do without or minimize in order to free up some of the hard-earned money paid in by Americans in taxes. Then, let’s pay our bills and agree that we need to continue doing so without increasing our growing debt load to even higher levels. We have the opportunity before us at the present. At some point in future borrowing, that door will close and there will be no options and at that point Americans will realize just how badly we have been bamboozled by our own elected officials.
God Bless America! WB
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