Tag: Congress

Better Question: “Are these guys really serious?”

Republican...Leadership?

Republican...Leadership? (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Pat Caddell asked a rather interesting question on Fox News the other day: “Does this guy have any idea what he is doing?” Referring to the President, of course, he expresses frustration (much as he did with Jimmy Carter) with wondering why “his guy” was not willing to take a leadership role and get something accomplished. Watch the entire video.

Pat Caddell On Obama: “Does This Guy Have Any Idea What He Is Doing?”.

Another issue he mentions is that the two parties–as a whole–are showing how little they really know what they are doing. Now other than the fact that this a subject that is popular with your humble author, it bears exploration. In what way are the Democrats…AND the Republicans illustrating exactly how little they know about what they’re doing when it comes to budget?  I’ll offer ten points on why I don’t believe that either Party, nor any of its leaders, are taking budget talks seriously:

  1. They are talking about reforming the tax code as a part of a comprehensive debt reduction plan.–moronic. Unnecessary. Cut spending.
  2. They are not serious about finding efficiencies and cuts in military spending–they are there. Everyone knows they are there. Republicans should put them on the table.
  3. They are talking too much about entitlements, and not enough about current spending.–long term deficits: entitlements. Short-term deficits: other stuff. It’s pretty simple. Cut spending.
  4. Republicans brought abortion into the mix (not the current talks, but the previous ones on the 2011 budget).–not a fan of abortion…certainly not a fan of Planned Parenthood…but when you’re talking budget issues, you should focus on the things that can actually affect the budget.
  5. No serious talk of cost of Federal Employees. Salaries, benefits, pensions, etc.–NEVER discussed as an important point in budget discussions. Local Governments, State Governments, and school systems across the country HAVE to look at their employees pay and total compensation packages, and when they do, they receive a huge amount of hell from both sides of the budget issue…but if they have to make cuts they have to make cuts. Our Federal Government has to do the same. That goes for employees and contractors.
  6. The President hasn’t even mentioned or alluded to his debt commission–why bother with the debt commission if you’re going to ignore all of it?
  7. And lastly, why not bring up the fact that the United States Federal Government is involved in things domestically that it shouldn’t be involved with…like entire Departments of the Federal Government that shouldn’t exist as Departments at all because they are not core functions of the Federal Government (Education, Energy, Labor, etc), and the States can handle them.
  8. And speaking of, why not bring up the approximately $550B dollars in State aid…that’s right…$550B dollars in transfer payments to states…EVERY YEAR.
  9. And while we’re speaking of Federal Aid, what about the $45 Billion in Foreign Military and Economic assistance that we give away every year.  That should at least warrant a glance, shouldn’t it?
  10. Yachts and corporate jets? REALLY?  That’s your position.  That the evil rich folk aren’t paying enough.

 

I’ve said it before: AUSTERITY. It’s required. These are times that require a serious look at the budget, and NONE of these guys are taking it seriously.  Contrast this with British cuts last year:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/20/AR2010102002989.html

The New York Times asked whether Armageddon would ensue if similar cuts were enacted here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/weekinreview/24herzenhorn.html

In case you missed it:

The British plan includes a few increases, notably for the government-run health care system. Almost all other departments would face a freeze or cuts, resulting in an average reduction of 19 percent; 490,000 public jobs would be eliminated. Even the military and support for the royal family would face reductions. The austerity program is the most drastic in Britain in 60 years, and it is difficult to envision something at the same scale in the United States. Some economists say it would also be ill-advised, because such a quick contraction of government spending by the United States would reverberate forcefully across the world economy and risk another recession.

Average deduction of 19%.  490,000 jobs.  And this 19% is WITH INCREASES to their health care system. Personally, I’m not a fan of a NHS (or tax hikes), but I’m not British, so I don’t get to call that shot. They prioritized and they cut DRASTICALLY, because they looked at what was happening in Greece and other parts of Europe.

The difference between the British approach to the budget (similar-sized deficit from a percentage of GDP standpoint, and over a similar amount of time)?

They took this stuff seriously.  They cut support for the ROYAL FAMILY.  Wonder if Congress is entertaining cuts to itself? They seem to THINK they’re royalty; maybe they’d take Her Majesty’s example to heart.

All that to say: these guys (the U.S. Congress and White House) are NOT really serious about cutting the budget.  EVERYTHING they do is politics now.  The only reason that Republicans in Congress are holding the lines on taxes is because they believe that their political futures depend on it.  And it does.  And, for the same reason, Obama is picking on yacht owners and corporate jet users, because he’s pandering to the “working class” (because as everyone knows, people who fly corporate jets don’t really WORK).

It’s all pandering.  They’re not even close to serious…none of them are. It’s a joke, and everyone knows it.

Well, we’re done joking.  Both parties and their leaderships have already been deemed useless by me, and many like me.  As Caddell says, that sentiment is going to continue to grow, and grow, and grow, if they don’t look around and take their jobs seriously.

Rise up and fight…for “austerity.”

Now that Greece has passed its “austerity measures,” we here at Logipundit feel an obligation to wonder why austerity in Government is such a bad thing.  We feel the need to explore the meaning of the word and wonder what all the fuss is about.  So first, some definitions:

  • Sternness or severity of manner or attitude
    • he was noted for his austerity and his authoritarianism
  • Extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance
    • the room was decorated with a restraint bordering on austerity
  • Conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism
    • a simple life of prayer and personal austerity
  • Difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce a budget deficit, esp. by reducing public expenditure
    • a period of austerity
    • austerity measures

Now the last is the modern definition as it relates to Government spending. The first example sentence seems to relate “sternness” with authoritarianism, which…OK, I guess that makes sense.

It’s the second definition (restraint and simplicity) that has me the most intrigued, especially when I read stories like this:

Thousands of Greeks demonstrated outside Parliament as lawmakers began a second day of debate on a €28 billion ($40 billion) program of spending cuts and tax increases the country has promised its international creditors. A vote on the measures is scheduled for Wednesday. The demonstrations began peacefully, but later turned violent, leaving more than 40 people injured—including 37 police officers.

OK…did anyone catch the math there?  That’s a score of: protesters-37, police-3.  Not a good situation.

The reason for the protests? The Government sought to, through its agreement with its EU creditors (and now has passed the resolutions required to) eliminate its control or ownership in:

• Ports and airports with long-term contracts
• Athens International Airport
• Public Gas Corporation
• Casino Mont Parnes
• State lotteries through concessions
• Hellenic Post
• OTE, Hellenic Defense Systems and Larko
• Renewal of OPAP’s licenses
• Licenses for online betting and “slots”
• Egnatia Odos
• TRAINOSE
• Banks: Hellenic Postbank, ATEbank, Consignment and Loans Fund
• Water supply companies: EYDAP, EYATH

In other words, it took severe international pressure and billions of Euro’s to get the Government out of: virtually every little corner of the Greek economy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have the U.S. Budget fight, and thankfully, we have this:
YouTube Preview Image

What better illustration is there of blindness and ignorance in the U.S. Senate.  Bernie Sanders makes the case that the rich are doing so very well that it’s not necessary to commit “cruel cuts” to the “most vulnerable” in our country.  He argues that we need to stand with the majority of the American people (those that don’t pay taxes), whom he describes as “working families”–as if the upper class and upper middle class…really don’t work.

While Greece is paying the price for the NONSENSE of overreaching Government, Bernie Sanders can ONLY find wasteful spending where? At the Pentagon. He then threatens that our debts will not be paid if we don’t continue to spend ourselves into oblivion.

Now, I know that Bernie Sanders is a Socialist; everyone knows it.  But when are those on the left going to realize that if we continue going the way we’re going…the “anarchists” will be protesting against them 20 years from now when the Government has to take away all the things that it is now giving away.

Some of the most laughable comments by Mr. Sanders have to do with the rich and powerful paying their “fair share” which is just…well…laughable.  He apparently believes in austerity…for the private sector, but fails to take into account another category of the rich and powerful who need to pay “their fair share”.

Why is it, pray-tell, that some are too blind to see what another generation of dependence on Government largesse is going to do to those “working families” that Bernie purports to care so much about? What happens when the “anarchists” (yeah…I know…many of the Greek protestors call themselves “anarchists” weird, huh?) are the working families that are dependent on “programs”?

Indeed, THE most laughable part was when he said that it’s time for Americans to stand up and say, “Enough is Enough.”  Well, we did that Bernie.  We stood up to the THE MOST POWERFUL CORPORATION IN THE WORLD blameless and called on it to pay its “fair share” to get our economy back in good standing.

We stood up and said “enough is enough.”  We stood up to the powerful: YOU!  We gave you this:

You’re asking for this?

Why?

If we do not fight for austerity, now…OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN will be fighting against it.  And it won’t look the same, and there might not be anyone there bailing us out for finally getting around to doing the right thing. Luckily, in a world of independent and sovereign (well mostly) nations, we can see the future and avoid it.

Stimulus?

The bill was finally posted in its “final” form late last night at about 11pm Eastern.  This is the $48 hours that we have to look at this thing?  They’re voting today…less than 18 hours after the final version of the bill was posted.  The NTU emailed me this morning with a summary of some of the non-stimulating stimulus:

  • $24 million for USDA buildings and rent
  • $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings
  • $290 million for flood prevention activities
  • $50 million for watershed rehabilitation
  • $1.4 billion for wastewater disposal programs
  • $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp program
  • $1 billion for the 2010 Census
  • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
  • $650 million for the DTV converter box coupon program
  • $360 million for construction of NIST buildings
  • $830 million for NOAA research and facilities
  • $2 billion for Byrne JAG program
  • $10 million to combat Mexican gunrunners
  • $125 million for rural communities to combat drug crimes
  • $1 billion for the COPS program
  • $1 billion for NASA
  • $300 million to purchase scientific instruments for colleges and museums
  • $400 million for equipment and facilities at the NSF
  • $3.7 billion to conduct “green” renovations on military bases
  • $375 million for Mississippi River projects
  • $10 million for urban canals
  • $5 billion for weatherizing buildings
  • $2 billion to develop advanced batteries for hybrid cars
  • $3.4 billion for fossil energy research (possibly including an earmark for FutureGen)
  • $5.1 billion for environmental cleanup around military bases
  • $5.5 billion for “green” federal buildings
  • $300 million for “green” cars for federal employees
  • $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration
  • $200 million to design and furnish DHS headquarters
  • $98 million earmark for a polar icebreaker
  • $210 million for State and local fire stations
  • $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
  • $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
  • $140 million for volcano monitoring systems
  • $600 million for the EPA Superfund environmental cleanup program
  • $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks
  • $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention
  • $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution
  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $1.2 billion for “youth activities” (for “youth” up to 24 years old)
  • $500 million earmark for NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
  • $1 billion for Head Start
  • $32 million for home-delivered nutrition services
  • $160 million for volunteer programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service
  • $500 million earmark for the SSA National Computer Center in MD
  • $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico
  • $8 billion for high-speed railway (including an earmark for Harry Reid’s LA to Las Vegas MagLev)
  • $1.3 billion for Amtrak

Name one of these items (totaling over 50 billion dollars) that actually do anything to stimulate the economy? If these spending items are not worthy of making it on their own weight, then they certainly don’t need to be a part of a stimulus package. And this list is just a tip of the iceberg. A real stimulus package would be a tax break to the top 1%, but don’t get me started on that.

(If you don’t think a tax break to the top 1% would have a more drastic effect on our economy as a whole than ANYTHING in this $800 billion crap sandwich, then go study economics. Even John Meynard Keynes would have trouble disagreeing with this statement, and he’s the so-called “father” of this twisted sort of  “demand-side” philosophy that’s dominating the progressive mindset these days.)

But the real problem is that Congress wants to get this to President’s desk on Monday…before giving us a chance to realize how laden with nonsense it really is.

And you will know their names:

This is, almost to the tee, EXACTLY how I felt last night after this vote.

Oh, where to begin?

How does one construct an essay when one sees the national government rapidly turning this country into a nation with which one is just not familiar? I mean, this isn’t America anymore…. Is it? Could it possibly be? Is this the nation with a limited government designed by James Madison and his brilliant cohorts?

And this is one of a plethora of reasons I felt that way:

The Senate is supposed to serve, in James Madison’s analogy, as the “cooling saucer” for the hot tea served up by the House–but in this case, it is the House that has remained cool and refused to panic. That’s because the hysterical demand for a bailout didn’t come up from the people; it came down from the elites in Washington and Manhattan. The House is reflecting the sensible skepticism coming up from the folks on Main Street who don’t want to pay the bills for bailing out Hank Paulson’s former colleagues on Wall Street.

This is the rollcall vote:

How the Senate voted Wednesday on the financial bailout bill (S. Amdt. 5685 to H.R. 1424):

Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Nay
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Nay
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Nay
Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Nay
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Nay

Find your Senators, and tell them what you think of their vote.

Meanwhile…

a handful of more moderate House Republicans yesterday signaled that they were at least studying the changes in the bill. Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) all voted against the measure Monday, but their aides said yesterday that they were undecided on the latest version.

God help us all.

VA delegation on the Bailout Plan

Just so everyone knows the score.  Our Virginia delegation voted against the bailout plan 6 to 5:

Virginia’s congressional delegation was sharply divided, with six voting against the package and five in favor. Bobby Scott was the only Virginia Democrat voting against the bill. He joined Republicans Robert Wittman, Thelma Drake, Randy Forbes, Virginia Goode and Robert Goodlatte.

Voting for the legislation were Republicans Eric Cantor, Frank Wolf and Tom Davis, and Democrats Jim Moran and Rick Boucher.

If I recall correctly, Eric Cantor was one of the Republicans front and center really pushing this thing.

But since my Representative is Frank Wolf, that’s who has some explaining to do to me (OK, not me in particular, but his constituents in general).  And check THIS out.  His former primary opponent, Vern McKinley (whom Mr. Wolf trounced 9 to 1), reportedly warned about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae more than 10 years ago:

“Although Freddie and Fannie are privately owned, they are what is known as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). GSEs don’t have to follow all the rules that true privately owned companies do: they don’t have to register their securities with the government, their securities receive special treatment for investment purposes, they don’t have to pay state and local income taxes and–most important–their government sponsorship gives them the aura of a fully guaranteed government entity. That final benefit means they save billions in borrowing costs, just as lenders are willing to offer low-interest student loans that are guaranteed by the government. That savings alone allows the GSEs to pocket about $2 billion per year, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and the Treasury Department.”

“Allowing Congress to grant such special privileges is a bad idea. Those privileges, which are granted solely to Freddie and Fannie, crowd out other potential competitors in their market. Privately owned companies should not receive such preferred borrowing status, because it redirects investor funds into the middle- and upper-income housing market at the expense of other potential investments. Finally, the failure of either Freddie or Fannie could saddle taxpayers with a huge liability.”

Congress should immediately revoke all the benefits of government sponsorship: clearly, Freddie and Fannie can be profitable without them. Eliminating special privileges will force mortgage markets to be truly competitive and will eliminate the possibility that the current system of government sponsorship will someday lead to yet another taxpayer-funded bailout.”

Just think what difference it would make if we had a few more Republicans in the House (and Senate) actually acting like Republicans.  Well I’ll say one thing, there were many today who did, and I thank God for them.