A Few Observations From The Polls

I have visited my local voting place twice today. Don’t worry–I didn’t vote twice–my husband was handing out information, and I went to provide food and moral support. While I was there, I picked up some literature from the Democrats and investigated the talking points on their local website.

This is what I learned.

Their website states:

Democrats are standing up for the American Dream: an economy and government that works for everyone, not just the few.

Found on their Twitter page:

Hi kids, this is your Mom. Remember to vote on 11/6. If Trump cuts my Social Security and Medicare I’m moving in with you!

Both these statements are totally misleading.

The American Dream is more accessible to everyone under President Trump than it was under President Obama, a Democrat. According to a Western Journal article posted December 18, 2017:

The national unemployment rate for black Americans, ages 16 and over, is the lowest it has been in 17 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In November 2016, the unemployment rate for black people was at 8 percent, and in November 2017 that rate dropped to 7.3 percent — a percentage not seen since the months of September, October and November 2000.

As reported by CNS News, black unemployment rate during the Bush and Obama era’s fluctuated between 7 and 17 percent.

BLS data also shows that labor force participation among African-Americans rose from 61.9 percent in November 2016 to 62.2 percent in November 2017.

Unemployment rate for the Hispanic demographic fell from 5.7 percent to 4.7 percent — the lowest it’s been in 44 years, while the unemployment rate for whites and Asians hovered around 3 percent, roughly the same as one year prior.

About Social Security cuts–none of us can predict the future, but we can draw conclusions based on past behavior. This is the chart showing Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) to Social Security in recent years:

I know that it’s only a coincidence that one of the biggest increases in Social Security occurred in 2011, a year before the 2012 election.

As far as Medicare is concerned, the statements are also misleading. The Republicans are not the ones who have cut Medicare. Medicare funding was cut to fund ObamaCare. On August 13, 2012, Forbes Magazine reported:

You wouldn’t know it from listening to the Obama campaign, but there’s only one Presidential candidate in 2012 who has cut Medicare: Barack Obama, whose Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare by $716 billion from 2013-2022. Today, the Romney campaign reiterated its pledge to repeal Obamacare, and promised to “restore the funding to Medicare [and] ensure that no changes are made to the program for those 55 and older.”

If any of the above is news to you, you need to reconsider where you are getting your news. If you were already aware of the above information and voted Democrat, then it is obvious that facts will not get in the way of your opinion. Facts are such inconvenient things.

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article with the headline, “Fun with the Fed: Inflation is low, but the cost of living is up.” Meanwhile, CNS News posted the following graph yesterday:

Price of Ground Beef Hits All-Time High in November

It is hard for anyone who has been in a grocery store in the past year to believe that inflation is low.

The Washington Examiner reports:

From July to August, the “Core Consumer Price Index” did not move. That means zero inflation, if you use the measure of inflation the Federal Reserve uses when setting monetary policy. But core CPI omits volatile prices like food and energy. If you have a family, you’re probably pretty aware that food and utility bills are a big factor.

The result: The inflation measure that guides Fed decisionmaking has little resemblance to the inflation measure that guides family budgetmaking.

This is another example of the government manipulating numbers to get the desired result. Any resemblance to what is actually taking place and what the government is reporting is purely coincidental.

The Washington Examiner lists some of the price increases in the last year that impact families trying to live within their budget:

Food at home is up 2.9 percent.

Electricity is up 4.1 percent and gas bills are up 5.8 percent.

Coffee is up more than 50 percent from last year.

The article reports:

The net result is that life has gotten considerably more expensive for me since this time last year. I’m not saying this ought to guide our monetary policy. I’m just saying that core CPI doesn’t track the cost of living.

Further Information On The COLA Cuts To Military Pensions

As someone with a family member in the military, the cuts to the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) on military pensions hit close to home. Not only are they the ONLY cuts made in the budget agreement, they also represent a broken promise to our military troops. One of the best articles I have seen on the subject is posted at Allen West’s website.

The article reminds us that the four retired senior officers — three generals and one admiral–who supported the cut would not be impacted by the change in the rules. However, there are some retired senior enlisted men who are impacted who are speaking out.

One of those senior enlisted men shares the story of a friend who landed a high-paying job with a defense contractor in the same field he worked in on active duty:

But several years later, the company went bankrupt, and Hoynes, a former chief operations specialist, found himself jobless. Now Hoynes and his wife must rely on his $1,600-a-month military retirement pay (after taxes, health care and insurance payments) and her small retail salary to pay the bills.

If the cost-of-living adjustment reduction to military retired pay included in the Bipartisan Budget Act goes into effect in December 2015, the retired chief, now 50, stands to lose as much as $55,000 in retirement pay over his lifetime.

This is obscene simply on the facts, but it is even more obscene that it represents a broken promise to our military.

Allen West also points out:

There are close to 350,000,000 Americans and 840,000 have to be sacrificed to support the legislative budgetary process? That’s two-tenths of a percent. All over $6 billion? You mean to tell me that lawmakers in Washington DC — Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray specifically — could not find $6 billion dollars elsewhere? Hmm, will one of them explain to retired Chief Chip Hoynes and his wife that a Member of Congress only needs to serve 5 years to earn 70 percent retirement, for life (since it goes to the spouse upon death of the Member)?

This needs to be corrected as soon as Congress resumes. Otherwise the Republicans who signed on to this deal should be quickly voted out of office.

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We The People Need To Act

On Wednesday, MilitaryOneClick.com posted the following:

Making it in the MilLife®

Grassroots Efforts to Repeal Bipartisan Budget Act

Jan 15 2014

Published by Karen

A provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) that reduces working age retirees’ annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by one percentage point until the age of 62 has evoked outrage in the military community. To date, over 250,000 MOAA suggested messages have been sent to Congress on this issue alone.

Leading the grassroots efforts is the #KeepYourPromise Alliance. The alliance started on December 14, when various military organizations pulled together a grassroots campaign stating “enough is enough” to the continual military benefit cuts targeted by legislators seeking to balance the national budget. MOAA participated in a Twitter Town Hall that took place on December 16, quickly generating over 44,327 tweets. A second Twitter Town Hall and Facebook Spreecast took place on January 7th generating almost 10,000 tweets and nearly 6,000 Facebook views.

“MOAA strongly supports the groundswell of grass roots activities currently serving and retired military families are taking part in to voice their outrage about the COLA cut in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act,” MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret) said. “They also correctly surmise that this step is only the beginning, and that if they don’t speak up now, more attacks on the All-Volunteer Force will surely be easier to accomplish.”

To join the social media action, visit and “like” the MOAA Spouse on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @MOAA_MilLife.

– See more at: http://militaryoneclick.com/grassroots-efforts-to-repeal-   bipartisan-budget-act/#sthash.8nlRIYv8.dpuf

The omnibus budget bill passed by the House and the Senate is a breach of contract with the American military. Our military has been fighting wars overseas for the past twelve years–this is how we reward them. It is a shame that the only budget cuts in this budget are to military retirement–there are no other budget cuts until later years, when Congress will probably repeal them.
It’s time for Americans to speak out on behalf of our military. There should be some serious outrage about this bill.
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The Personal Impact Of The Budget Deal–One Person’s Story

Somehow because of the size of our government and the amount of money taken from taxpayers to run it, we sometimes forget what some of the spending represents. Every now and then it’s a good idea to look at a story that illustrates where the money goes and why. Here is a story that explains one aspect of government spending.

Stacy Huisman posted an article at Militaryspouse.com recently. The article explains how the recent budget deal will impact her husband’s retirement pay and her family. The money cut from his retirement pay was the money they had planned to use to pay for their children’s’ college education. Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It illustrates beautifully the price our military families pay when one of their family members serves in the military.

There are a few aspects to the cut to retirement pay. First of all, that retirement pay was promised to our military when they signed up–they earned it. It was assumed that the cost of living increases in that pay were included in that promise. There is also the aspect of the price military families pay for having a family member in the military for twenty or more years. One on my own granddaughters is in fifth grade. She started attending her third elementary school in six years in September. Another granddaughter is in third grade. She is attending her second elementary school in three years. That is a high price to pay. She is living near her grandparents (my husband and I) because we chose to move to be close to her family–not because her family had a choice as to where they would live.

The thing that really bothers me about the budget deal is that military retirement was cut, but civil service retirement was not cut. Public sector workers make more than private sector workers to begin with. The public sector workers are now required to contribute a small amount to their pensions–something private sector workers have been doing for years, but they are still better compensated than the private sector.

The chart below is taken from a 2010 post by the Congressional Budget Office. As you can see, unless you have an advanced degree, it pays to work for the government.

 

The budget did not need to be cut at the expense of our military–there was enough pork in the public sector to avoid breaking a promise to those military families who serve our country.

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