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Government Solves Nothing with Fiscal Cliff Deal

To kick off the New Year I was hoping to send a fond farewell to Senator Joe Liebermann, a true statesman in an era of partisan radicals, but with the government choosing to fix nothing with their fiscal cliff deal, a goodbye send off for the retiring CT stalwart seems shallow. But ironically, there is probably no better way to write a tribute to Joe Lieberman than by highlighting the disturbing failures of our government on the fiscal cliff deal. It is really troubling to think that the biggest financial problem our nation has is not our debt or deficit, it is Congress.

President Obama and Congress were unable to make a deal to avert the fiscal cliff; Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell came to a deal that does nothing but kick the can down the road. It raises taxes on families with incomes over $450,000 per year–which we needed–but does nothing to cut spending–which we needed so much more. This failure perfectly illustrates what our nation has become. The era of moderate deal makers, like Sen. Liebermann, is now over; the fiscal cliff failure was the closing ceremony. Olympia Snow, Joe Liebermann, Richard Lugar, and Daniel Inouye were some of the last of a dying breed–the breed that governed.

In 2012 the biggest fear during elections was the primary race. State governments have so thoroughly gerrymandered districts that we have only? 35 “swing districts” left in the entire nation, down from 103 just 20 years ago. The solution to this is simple. Use the California style voting system. If every state voted to institute this system, in which redistricting is not done by a partisan legislature, and the top two vote earners go to the general election, no matter the party, we could get some political sense into Congress. For now, Congress is more worried about getting re-elected than fixing our problems.

Joe Lieberman was not. He left the Democratic Party after losing a primary because he was not extreme enough. For those of you who do not speak French, that means he was not crazy. He was a problem solver, not a party hack. The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 and very nearly the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2008. I did not always agree with Sen. Liebermann, but in the age of zero compromise, he was always admirably pragmatic. The 112th Congress was not.

What better way for the most unpopular and unproductive Congress in history to give us the finger as they walk out the door than refusing to solve the fiscal cliff? This deal is an embarrassment to Congress, and an embarrassment to the United States. The rest of the world laughs at us. We are proving to our creditors that the only way we can pay our loans is with more debt. With close to 40% of the budget being borrowed and added to our children’s ransom one has to wonder how much longer this can go on. Europe scolds us because we first have to cast the beam out of our own eye.

Worst of all, China, our largest creditor, may not accept this much longer. The Chinese national television–which is essentially a statement from the Chinese Government–warned us this week that it is time to fix this. Congressmen have to stop worrying about re-election, and start fixing problems. Politically unpopular solutions, they say, have to stop being avoided. China said it best; we “simply cannot live on borrowed prosperity forever”. What will it take for Congress to get serious? When will China say enough is enough? If they cut off our line of credit we would dream for tax increases and spending cuts. Instantly we could lose 20% of our federal programs! Going off the fiscal cliff would have been better for us than the deal just reached. We need solutions, and we need them now; instead, Congress and the President insult us and continue to leverage our nation’s stability. We need more legislators like Joe Liebermann.

At least 4 times in the last four years we have had the opportunity to take a big step, first, the Republicans refused to give up revenue, and some great deals were scrapped. Now, after the election victories Democrats refuse to budge on entitlements, and deals continue to be scrapped. When President Obama could have–should have–been working on a compromise to solve the fiscal cliff he was meeting with business leaders, labor groups, bankers, and people who responded to his tweets rather than the Congressional leaders. I guess he missed the memo that his campaign is over, and he won the election.

Unfortunately this political atmosphere silences people brave enough to step outside the politically popular; people like Joe Liebermann. We need more can catchers, not can kickers. Any other person in America would have been fired for missing as many deadlines as Congress. The markets are watching, our lenders are watching, the world is watching, and hopefully we will all be watching too. But if Congress stands by watching much longer we may run out of road.


–Matt Young

1 January 2013

Why the People are to Problem

Last week Patriotslog published an article about the new California voting system in which I stated why I believe that the people, not the government are the biggest problem in this country. There has been feedback from readers wondering why I feel this way? If I had to say why the people are the problem in one sentence it would be the old saying that we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want it all, and we want it now. An article titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” makes national headlines as if that statement is a revelation; as if that should shock some people or create a grassroots political movement that demands change. Guess what? Nobody can have it all, no matter who you are. The idea that we think we should, or even that we can at all, is the fundamental root of the problem. Read the rest of this entry

Taking Congress Back From Wall Street

$1,331 per minute. No, that is not Mitt Romney’s average earned income; that number is much smaller. Nor is it the rate of growth of the federal deficit; that number is much bigger. In fact this number is nearly as frightening as the federal deficit when one considers the implications. So what would you do with $1,331every minute? If you said throw it away lobbying government and forking out campaign contributions, well, that would make you crazy. Unfortunately, that would also make you Wall Street.

According to Global Exchange’s Elect Democracy effort, the Financial Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector has given $4.2 Billion combined in lobbying and campaign contributions in just the last 5 1/2 years. $879 million alone has gone directly into campaigns to re-elect the same cronies who allowed Wall Street to hold the economy for ransom, then negotiated with these capitalism terrorists using your money and my money to pay the ransom. Now we should unshackle Wall Street? Before FDR put in banking regulations the financial sector had a collapse an average of every six years. Guess how many years it took for this collapse after Congress deregulated the financial sector? Apparently our esteemed representatives on Capitol Hill are not intelligent enough to connect the dots. If you said six, you are smarter than your Congressman. Read the rest of this entry

The Road Not Taken; Deficit Reduction

Comic Illustration of National DebtThroughout our nation’s history, Americans have found the courage to do right by our children’s future.  Deep down, every American knows we face a moment of truth once again.  We cannot play games or put off hard choices any longer.  Without regard to party, we have a patriotic duty to keep the promise of America to give our children and grandchildren a better life.
                 Our challenge is clear and inescapable:  America cannot be great if we go broke.  Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs, and our workers will not be able to compete successfully for the jobs of the future without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our backs.
                Ever since the economic downturn, families across the country have huddled around kitchen tables, making tough choices about what they hold most dear and what they can learn to live without.  They expect and deserve their leaders to do the same. The American people are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together not pull apart, and agree on a plan to live within our means and make America strong for the long haul. Read the rest of this entry

Payroll Tax Extension

$160 billion. To the government this is spare change, it amounts to roughly a mere 1.1% of the deficit the government has built. To American citizens, $160 billion means an extra $1000 for most families. That is how much money the new pay roll tax cut President Obama and the Congress have been bickering over for the better part of a month will save Americans. Most agree that the cut needs to be extended, though not all believe so. Predictably, the conflict has been over how to pay for the tax cut. Even more predictably, Democrats argue that the tax needs to be paid for by implementing a surtax on those making over $1 million; Republicans abhor this idea, arguing that spending cuts can be implemented to offset the revenue loss. The deadline for the extension is New Year’s Eve, when the current tax cut expires. If no deal is reached the payroll tax will increase 2% to the normal level of 6.2%. This week the Senate, unable to forge a deal to extend the cut into next year, passed a two month extension of the current cuts, giving them time to have a holiday recess and be able to continue the debate when they return, in hopes of passing a real extension for the entire year of 2012. The House voted on the Senate two month extension yesterday, and it was defeated in a partisan vote; Republicans against the short term extension and Democrats for it. This was surprising to many considering the right wing hatred of taxes. It was widely believed, particularly by Democrats, that House Speaker John Boehner (Rep, OH) was intentionally delaying a vote on the two month extension because he was aware that many republicans supported the bill and that a vote would lead to it passing. The House Republicans claim they want to create a long term deal before the deadline and not “kick the can” another 60 days. Read the rest of this entry

It is Time for America to Re-finance

The revenue problem: Why Republicans need to agree to higher taxes.

“We have a spending problem, we don’t have a problem because we tax too little.” Those now famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) words bellowed from the mouth of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell have been heard time and again by any American with an interest in the future of our nation. The standoff on Capitol Hill between democrats and republicans over the debt ceiling was an ugly one. The effects of this battle may be felt for years to come, it is yet to be seen.  While I saw myself leaning more toward the GOP side of the debate, I still do not feel like a winner. National media has been largely portraying this as a victory for Republicans, and, though I am not Republican, you would expect me to feel satisfaction knowing that, in this instance, the side I happened to agree with more “won.” My one word hiatus from the sense that our congress did something right: taxes. I could not agree more with McConnell; the senator from my home state, that we absolutely have a spending problem. In fact, the break-neck spending started by President Bush has only been accelerated by the Obama administration. However; I could not disagree more with McConnell when he insists that we do not have a revenue problem. The more we spend, the more we must take in: that is simple economics seeming to be ignored by Republicans in Washington. Read the rest of this entry

Politics or Policies: Which Really Matters in Washington?

26 July, 2011

Last night we witnessed a prime time heavyweight bout between the President of the United States of America, and the Speaker of House, played out for the nation and world to see. President Obama was relentless in his attack of the Republican Party; even going as far as making an attempt to paint the image that the massive debt incurred was mostly the fault of the Bush administration, which he inherited; only admitting that his party too was to blame for “some” of the debt. On his blissful canvass of imagination, President Obama left out the storm cloud looming overhead, when he failed to tell Americans that the spending in the first three years of his administration already had nearly surpassed the enormous level reached in the eight years under our nation’s previous top executive. We heard him twist the perception of the citizens of this great nation, whose tax dollars it is that Washington keeps spending, into believing that the republicans were doing nothing, and would do nothing, as America comes dangerously close to defaulting on our debt. Republicans, according to our President, were refusing to work with him, or the house Democrats to find a solution. According to the democrats, the GOP refused to cut military spending, or raise the debt limit– two acts which certainly do need to be accomplished at this time. More times than I care to count, I heard the blame shifted to republicans.

When speaker Boehner took the soapbox, we heard the exact same sad song. The other party was to blame, and the other party was not going to allow a deal to be accomplished. Our Speaker repeatedly criticized our President, and attempted to shift all the blame on him and his constituents. Speaker Boehner even went as far as to say that the President, even in this dangerous situation, only wants a blank check so he can add even more to his record setting national transactions. Read the rest of this entry

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