How Red Flag Laws Can Be Misused

The American Thinker posted an article today about a move during the Obama administration to deny gun rights to veterans and senior citizens.

The article reports:

The Obama administration’s idea of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill was based on a bizarre and discriminatory definition of who might be mentally unstable. In 2013 it was reported that the Veterans Administration was sending letters to vets warning them that they might be declared mentally incompetent and denied their Second Amendment rights unless they could prove otherwise:

The contempt by the Obama administration for our Constitution and our rights has reached a new low with news the Veterans Administration has begun sending letters to veterans telling them they will be declared mentally incompetent and stripped of the Second Amendment rights unless they can prove to unnamed bureaucrats to the contrary…

“A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2),” the letter reads…

While mental health is a factor in the current gun control debate and recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere have in common the questionable mental state of the shooters, to single out returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan this way is unconscionable and unconstitutional.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, the Obama administration would have liked like to make our Social Security records part of the background check system. The move would have stripped some four million Americans who receive payments though a “representative payee” of their gun rights. It would be the largest gun grab in U.S. history.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

The article concludes:

Keeping guns out of the hands of the truly mentally unstable is a worthy goal, but it should not be used as a cause for disarming veterans who carried a weapon in defense of their country or seniors who might need some assistance in paying their bills.

They deserve the presumption of innocence, and sanity, every bit as much as Vester Flanagan. Stripping away their Second Amendment rights in the name of mental health would be a gross injustice that would not make us safer, but would merely create millions of unarmed victims for the next shooter with an agenda.

We need to make sure that American citizens understand our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is there to limit the rights of government–not the rights of citizens. If we want to preserve our republic, we have to continue to fight to protect those rights our Founding Fathers codified in the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.

About The Taxes You Pay On Your Social Security

In the past few days I have been getting notices on my phone to sign a petition to end taxing Social Security. I normally support smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes, but in this case, I want to keep taxing Social Security. I want to keep taxing Social Security until the federal budget is balanced. Who do I hold responsible for the unbalanced budget and the increasing debt? The voters. I will explain.

There are a lot of factors that went into my deciding that Social Security should be taxed (despite the fact that the money has already been taxed once). I will attempt to list them here. The majority of today’s Social Security recipients are the baby boomers. Those born in 1957 or before are now eligible to collect Social Security. In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18, and those people born in 1957 began voting in 1975. The gold standard ended in 1973. Up until that point, budget deficits were running between $1 billion and $23 billion.

I want to focus on the baby boomers. We were the generation that ‘had it all.’ We were the ‘me generation.’ Our parents had come through the depression and World War II and enjoyed the prosperity of the 1950’s. We were consumers. As adults, we began the serious use of credit cards. We took out student loans to send our children to college. We were seriously into instant gratification. We were idealistic–we wanted to end poverty. We also wanted to end communism. We tried to do both at once and spent money we didn’t have. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the deficits grew rapidly. We continued to elect people who helped them grow. We complained when they grew, but continued to elect people who overspent. We are the ones currently collecting Social Security. We deserve to be taxed on it because we are the ones who elected the people who have run up the deficit.

So who is responsible for the rapidly growing federal debt–the voters. Don’t talk to me about the money or lobbyists in politics–if your Congressman is voting against your interests because of lobbyists, it is your responsibility to vote him out of office. When the Republicans caved on repealing ObamaCare, they deserved to be voted out of office. We need to keep voting people out of office until we get what we want.

I would love for Social Security to be tax free, but let’s put people in Congress who will control spending first!

There Will Always Be Some Excuse Not To Prepare For The Future

Somewhere along the line, our students have been taught that because of climate change, the world is going to end before they reach a ripe old age. Somehow the idea that the earth’s climate goes through cycles is not mentioned. Also not mentioned is the fact that in the past the earth’s climate has changed drastically, and we are still here. Remember, they have found plant fossils deep under the ice in Greenland. Aside from the destruction of the scientific method, what our children are being taught also has real-world consequences.

Marketwatch posted an article yesterday with the following headline, “Young people blame climate change for their small 401(k) balances.”

The article reports:

Lori Rodriguez, a 27-year-old communications professional in New York City, is not saving for retirement, and it isn’t necessarily because she can’t afford to — it’s because she doesn’t expect it to matter.

Like many people her age, Rodriguez believes climate change will have catastrophic effects on our planet. Some 88% of millennials — a higher percentage than any other age group — accept that climate change is happening, and 69% say it will impact them in their lifetimes. Engulfed in a constant barrage of depressing news stories, many young people are skeptical about saving for an uncertain future.

“I want to hope for the best and plan for a future that is stable and secure, but, when I look at current events and at the world we are predicting, I do not see how things could not be chaotic in 50 years,” Rodriguez says. “The weather systems are already off, and I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to be a little apocalyptic.”

It’s a fairly safe bet that Social Security will not exist by the time she is old enough to retire, so if the world chooses not to end before then, she will be up a creek without a paddle.

The article lists other consequences of what our children are taught regarding climate change:

Mental-health issues affecting young adults and adolescents in the U.S. have increased significantly in the past decade, a study published in March in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found. The number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 reporting symptoms of major depression increased 52% from 2005 to 2017, while older adults did not experience any increase in psychological stress at this time, and some age groups even saw decreases. Study author Jean Twenge says this may be attributed to the increased use of digital media, which has changed modes of interaction enough to impact social lives and communication. Millennials are also said to suffer from “eco-anxiety,” according to a 2018 report from the American Psychological Association, with 72% saying their emotional well-being is affected by the inevitability of climate change, compared with just 57% of people over the age of 45.

The article concludes:

Similarly, Rodriguez said that, even without the threat of climate change, she likely couldn’t afford to save for retirement — and might not need to. Because she comes from a Latina family, she says culturally it is expected she would move in with family in old age and not have to pay as much in retirement costs.

“Both of my parents are immigrants. I did not grow up in a culture of professionalism. I graduated with thousands in student loans — I have never made enough money to save for the future,” she says.

Although she does not save money for retirement, Rodriguez does take action for the future: she’s taught herself to garden (“in case of a total collapse of the food system,” she says) and invests in learning hands-on skills like mechanics and bike repair.

“It’s kind of my own version of retirement,” she says.

Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial Takes On Investing,” recommends preparing for retirement no matter what you believe will happen, referencing the Y2K phenomenon, when some people sold their belongings and made other rash choices in the belief that the world would end with the dawn of the year 2000.

“Even if you have a defeatist mind-set about the future of the planet, it’s better to prepare as though you, and the planet, will survive into your retirement years because the alternative is also bleak,” she said. “Failing to properly plan for a future means guaranteeing yourself a more difficult life.”

The baby boomers survived hiding under their desks in case of nuclear attack and the Vietnam war. We grew up to be tough old birds (with a few exceptions). I don’t think the problem here is the teaching on climate change–I think the problem is raising children without the moral foundation our country was built on. I also think parents need to let their children fail occasionally. Everyone shouldn’t get a trophy.

We Need To Celebrate This

Issues & Insights posted an article today about the change in the number of Americans dependent on Government since President Trump took office.

The article includes a chart showing the change:

Here are some of the highlights listed in the article:

Disability. The number of workers on Social Security’s Disability Insurance program has sharply declined as well. It went from 88 million in January 2017 to 84.9 million as of May. That’s the lowest it’s been since August 2011.

…Medicaid. Enrollment in Medicaid also has dropped sharply since Trump took office — despite the fact that Virginia decided to expand its program under Obamacare, which added some 300,000 to its Medicaid rolls over those years.

As of this March, the total number of people on Medicaid and CHIP — the health insurance program for children — was down by 2.5 million.

Obamacare. The number enrolled in Obamacare has declined every year since Trump took office as well, and is now 1 million below where it was at the end of 2016.

Welfare. The number of those collecting welfare — either on the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or what are called “separate state programs” — has dropped by more than 800,000 under Trump.

The article concludes:

In a less biased news media world, the decline in government dependency would be front-page news.

Instead, when they’re acknowledged at all, these enrollment drops are treated as bad news by the Left, which treats any declining benefit programs as a problem that needs to be fixed — usually by expanding these programs. Thus, you have every Democratic candidate for president talking about trillions upon trillions of new benefit programs, which are designed to ensnare as many as possible in the net of government dependency.

They have it exactly backward. The goal should be to have zero people collecting government benefits — because they are gainfully employed and don’t need them. Anything else should be treated as a failure.

One of the reasons that it is so difficult to shrink government programs is that in addition to the people they serve, they provide employment for government workers. These workers understand that if assistance programs shrink drastically, then there will be fewer staff members needed to oversee the programs. It is definitely a reverse incentive to cut dependence on the government.

How Your Tax Money Is Spent

The Daily Signal posted the following today:

Obviously we have some work to do. The question that comes to mind is why do we always hear that Social Security is running out of money but we never hear that the Welfare State is running out of money. I think it is truly time to examine the bureaucracy that support each. I suspect we could save some serious money there without hurting the people who truly need government assistance.

What Is This Actually About?

On Friday, Breitbart posted an article about the debate over one of the questions that is supposed to appear on the 2020 Census.

The article reports:

Republican lawmakers are working with Democrats to ban the 2020 Census from asking United States residents whether or not they are American citizens.

In March, President Donald Trump’s administration announced they would put the citizenship question back on the census. It has not been included since 1950. For seven decades, all residents living in the United States have been counted on the census but have not been asked whether or not they are American citizens, making it impossible for the federal government to know the size of the citizen population versus the immigrant population.

The article explains why this question is significant:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has noted the citizenship question on the census is necessary to further implement congressional apportionment based on the citizen population rather than the current rules that base state representation on the total population — including ocitizens, illegal alien residents, legal immigrants, and nonimmigrants on visas.

Should congressional apportionment be based on the number of American citizens in each state — which is only possible through asking the citizenship question on the census — Democrat-strong coastal areas with large foreign populations like California and Florida could lose representation, while states with small foreigon populations like Wyoming and Ohio would likely gain representation in Congress. Such a rule change would shift power from coastal states to the heartland of the country, Breitbart News reported.

Keep in mind that there are some serious philosophical differences in the politics of the elites in Washington (combined with the elites in coastal America) and the average American living in the mid-west.

Congress has been discussing illegal immigration since the 1980’s. Why hasn’t the issue been resolved? It’s a matter of viewpoint–the Democrats see illegal immigrants as future citizen voters–the corporate Republicans (the non-conservative, country-club Republicans) see cheap labor.  Until we elect Congressmen who are willing to see the problem of having millions of people in the country who are not contributing to Social Security or taxes yet are receiving government benefits, we will continue to have the problem of a large population of illegal immigrants. They do not have the right to represented in Congress–they are not citizens,

The question belongs in the 2020 Census, but I sincerely doubt it will be there.

 

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.

Preventing The Fleecing Of The Middle Class

The American tax code is a tribute to the effectiveness of lobbyists and big campaign donors. The loopholes in the code for people who make a lot of money are numerous. Even with loopholes in place, the rich pay a lot of taxes. As I have previously reported, The top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. These numbers come from actual IRS data.

However, it seems that when it comes to eliminating loopholes, it’s always the middle class loopholes that go away.

Breitbart posted an article today about Congress‘ latest effort to take away a middle-class tax break. Because of a certain lack of faith in the future solvency of Social Security, many employers offer employees 401k retirement plans. Aside from allowing middle-class families to save for the future, these programs provide a place to put money so that it will not be taxed during the highest earning period of the employee. It will be taxed later at retirement when traditionally a person’s earnings are lower and generally taxed at a lower rate. Congress was evidently planning to alter the current system.

Breitbart reports:

“There will be NO change to your 401(k),” Trump tweeted. “This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!”

House Republicans were considering a plan to slash the amount of income American workers can save in tax-deferred retirement accounts. Currently, workers can put up to $18,000 a year into 401(k) accounts without paying taxes on that money until they retire and withdraw money from their savings. Proposals under discussion on Capitol Hill would set the cap lower, perhaps as low as $2,400. The effect would be a huge tax hike on middle class workers.

The plan to lower the cap on 401(k)’s would not have had an effect on long-term government deficits. Instead, it would have raised tax revenue now but lowered it in the future, since the retirement savings would already have been taxed. But taxing the savings would have had an impact on household budgets and may have discouraged workers from saving, increasing their future dependence on government benefits.

Let’s cut spending to ‘pay for’ tax cuts. Actually, if taxes are cut, economic growth should increase to a point where there is no loss of revenue. During the 1980’s, after President Reagan cut taxes, government revenue soared. Unfortunately, the Democrats who controlled Congress at the time greatly increased spending, so the government debt increased rather than decreased. Generally speaking, lowering taxes increases revenue–people are less inclined to look for tax shelters.

The Laffer Curve works:

Congress needs to keep this in mind while revising the tax code.

 

Where The Social Security Money Goes

We have heard all sorts of horror stories that Social Security will go bankrupt if the benefits are not cut. We have heard stories that the younger people paying in will never see a penny of their money. We have heard stories of benefits being limited for those Americans who actually saved for retirement. We have heard very few stories of how the Social Security Administration spends the money it has.

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted a story about how some of the money taken in by the Social Security Administration was spent.

The article reports:

The Social Security Administration billed taxpayers $32 million for work conferences, according to a new audit.

The inspector general for the agency reported that just over 300 conferences cost taxpayers roughly $100,000 each in travel, meals, and lodging expenses during a three-year period.

The audit found that the agency mostly complied with federal reporting requirements to disclose conferences that cost $20,000 or more. The inspector general did find two instances where those conferences were not reported, because initial cost estimates fell below the $20,000 threshold.

Another reason to drain the swamp. How much of the money spent could have been used to shore up the program or provide Cost of Living Allowances for senior citizens?

 

How Much Does It Cost?

Charity is a wonderful thing when it is voluntary–not so much when it is coerced. Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article that illustrates how charity can be coerced.

The article reports:

Amnesty for illegal immigrants like a program proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton would require an immediate tax hike of $1.2 trillion, a $15,000 hit on every household in America, according to a new analysis of immigration reform.

…”The findings in the report indicate that if amnesty for illegal immigrants were enacted, the government would have to raise taxes immediately by $1.29 trillion and put that sum into a high-yield bank account to cover future fiscal losses generated by the amnesty recipients and their children,” said Robert Rector, Heritage’s senior domestic research fellow.

“To cover the future cost, each U.S. household currently paying federal income tax would have to pay, on average, an immediate lump sum of over $15,000,” he added.

So why is the Democratic Party so intent on amnesty? There are a number of reasons. The most obvious is to create an underclass of Democratic voters. The demographics of the Democratic voter have changed in recent years as the party has moved dramatically to the left. People in the working middle class are no longer willing to blindly follow the Democrats–they have watched Democratic politicians take bigger and bigger chunks of money out of their paychecks to support social programs that do not reduce poverty and do destroy families. The legalization of unskilled illegal aliens would create a permanent underclass to replace the middle class voters.

But there is also another reason. Our politicians in Washington have not always represented us well. They have avoided the hard decisions in order to be re-elected. One of those hard decisions is the reform of Social Security, which is rapidly going bankrupt. One reason for that bankruptcy is the lack of new workers coming into the workforce to support the payments to retirees. One of the reasons for the lack of new workers is the number of babies that have been aborted since 1973. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than one million babies have been aborted every year since 1975. Some years the number has been as high as 1,500,000, some years it has been about 1,000,000. These are workers who would have been entering the workforce over the past twenty years that would have kept Social Security solvent. An influx of workers that were formerly under the table would fund Social Security for a few more years. By the time the new workers retire, the current members of Congress may no longer be in Washington to be held accountable. Congress would rather kick the can down the road than solve the Social Security funding problem. Amnesty is one way to do that.

More For Me But Less For Thee

Yesterday Fox News reported that President Obama has requested an increase in the appropriations for expenditures of former presidents, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service published Wednesday. In other words, he wants an increase in the amount of money allotted to him to pay for his retirement.

Meanwhile, in October of last year, The Washington Post reported:

Tens of millions of seniors will see no annual cost-of-living adjustment in their Social Security checks in 2016, the government said Thursday, unwelcome news that also will flatten benefit payments for retired federal workers and service members.

It is only the third time in 40 years — all of them during the Obama administration — that the Social Security Administration has not increased its payments. The raises are tied to the consumer price index (CPI).

Lower gasoline prices have kept the CPI low. At the same time, medical costs for senior citizens are going up, but for some reason, the increase in Medicare expenses for seniors did not get factored into the equation.

Also, USA Today reported in January of last year:

The plan calls for Congress to create a hybrid system that includes a smaller defined-benefit pension along with more cash-based benefits and lump-sum payments. A significant portion of troops’ retirement benefits would come in the form of government contributions to 401(k)-style investment accounts, those familiar with the report told Military Times.

Specifically, the proposal calls for automatically enrolling each service member in the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, an investment account that accrues savings. Individual troops will be responsible for managing their accounts, and the money is typically not available for withdrawal without penalty until age 59.5.

The proposed change to military retirement makes my blood boil. Our military relocates their families approximately every three years, puts their lives in jeopardy, and makes unbelievable sacrifices, and the government wants to change the rules of the contract they signed up under. Military benefits for retirees and their families have already been cut in terms of their healthcare. Changes have also been made to the commissary system that have made it less economical for our military to shop there. Budget cuts have already been made at the expense of our military.  Any further changes should not apply to those currently serving.

At any rate, before we raise the retirement benefits of our Presidents, we need to consider our military and our senior citizens. Our past Presidents seem to do very well with speaking fees, and I am sure they will find a way to make ends meet. For further information, check the net wealth of the Clintons before and since they occupied the White House.

The Answer To Social Security Is In South America

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about the success of private, personal retirement plans in Chile.

The article reports:

In 2012, the Chilean government invited a group of journalists to the South American country to show off its innovations — language programs, new uses for llama fur, greenie aquaculture, microfinance, quake-proof skyscrapers and the world’s most powerful telescope.

But there was one thing missing amid all these new ideas: recognition for Chile’s most spectacular innovation, the one that made the country’s development into a first-world country possible.

That concept? Chile’s 35-year old private pension program, which a new report confirms is working spectacularly well.

Sergio De Castro, the dean of Santiago’s Catholic University, became Finance Minister of Chile in 1976. He began a free market revolution in the Chile. Jose Pinera designed and implemented the profoundly innovative private pension system, which up until then had never been tried — and which was copiously praised Milton Friedman?

The article further reports:

Pinera, who was Chile’s labor minister in 1978, knew that the idea of private pensions would have to be sold to the public. Economic ignorance was widespread, and he utilized the most important media outlet of the day, radio broadcasting, to give five-minute talks for the citizens on savings, ownership, control, responsibility and wealth building — which are the pillars of the Chilean Model — and have as their ultimate reward a comfortable retirement, which Chileans now do.

His daily broadcasts led to sign-ups for the new private pension option that went well beyond expectations. At the time, Chile’s leaders had expected 4% of the population to sign up, but got 25% right off the bat.

I am somewhat convinced that the problem in America is not economic ignorance–it is people who are wrongly informed on the subject of economics.

So what were the results:

A Wharton professor, Olivia Mitchell, recently went down to Chile to sort the complaints out, and found that there was nothing to complain about — the system worked exactly as advertised, creating wealth and providing a dignified retirement for millions of people well beyond what the state could accomplish and, in fact, a much better one than Americans get with Social Security.

We need a leader with the courage to copy what has already proven successful rather than continue with the current ponzi scheme that we call Social Security.

 

Where Does Your Tax Money Go

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article showing some of the details of President Obama’s proposed budget.

The article includes the following chart:

This chart illustrates the fact that 70% of all the money the federal government spends will be in the form of direct payments to individuals.

The article reports:

In effect, the government has become primarily a massive money-transfer machine, taking $2.6 trillion from some and handing it back out to others. These government transfers now account for 15% of GDP, another all-time high. In 1991, direct payments accounted for less than half the budget and 10% of GDP.

…Where do these checks go? The biggest chunk, 38.6%, goes to pay health bills, either through Medicare, Medicaid or ObamaCare. A third goes out in the form of Social Security checks. Only 21% goes toward poverty programs — or “income security” as it’s labeled in the budget — and a mere 5% ends up in the hands of veterans.

The fact that so much of the federal spending is going toward direct payments makes it very difficult to cut the budget. Rather than cut these payments, the government is forced to cut programs it is actually constitutionally required to fund, such as defense.

The bottom line here is simple. We need to elect fiscal conservatives to Congress. We have reached the point where Democrats and establishment Republicans are no longer fighting over cutting spending–they are simply fighting over who will control the out-of-control spending. It is time for a change. It is also time to understand that Democrats and establishment Republicans will be working against that change.

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Silencing The Opposition Before 2014

I have written a number of articles about the IRS and the Justice Department targeting of conservative groups and their donors. It seems to be a way of life under the Obama Administration. (Use the search engine at the top of the page if you are curious to see who has been targeted and when.)  Evidently Governor Cuomo has decided to follow the example being set by the White House.

NewsMax is reporting today that James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, a group based in New York has been served a subpoena by the Board of Labor asking for every single financial transaction over the last three years.

Mr. O’Keefe is considering relocating to New Jersey because of the harassment he has experienced in New York.

The article concludes:

O’Keefe said among the documents the New York State Department of Labor is demanding to see by next week are general ledgers, journals, caches, pay roll records, checks, stubs, and copies of Social Security returns.

“Like I said, I’m happy to comply with all this stuff, it’s not my first audit, I’ve been audited nonstop for the last three years but it gives us pause. We’ve got to take a step back and look at what’s happening to our country right now,” O’Keefe said.

“I’m a journalist, OK, and I’ve decided to maintain a small nonprofit. When you look at the corruption in the state of New York, when it comes to the pension funds have been robbed and the state university system, all the stuff that’s going on, I wasn’t going to look into these things but now I think I am.

“The American people need to know that they think this is just standard procedure, [but] it’s politically motivated and it’s got to stop.”

James O’Keefe has done a good job of uncovering corruption in our government from ACORN to voter fraud. Any state government that was interested in honest, transparent government should be glad to have his organization in the state. If he is being harassed and driven out of the state, there is probably something in the state that those leading the state do not want exposed. New York needs more of James O’Keefe and less of Andrew Cuomo.

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America Needs To Learn The Lesson Britain Just Learned

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about what is happening to the British workforce–it is growing and unemployment is going down!

The article reports:

A record 3,100 people every day are finding work as Britain’s jobless total falls at the fastest rate in 17 years.

The number of unemployed tumbled to 2.32million – falling by 167,000 between September and November, the biggest drop since 1997.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate is now at 7.1 per cent after falling faster than any economist or the Bank (Bank of England) predicted.

…In an unusually political statement, the Bank also said the Coalition’s benefits clampdown may have pushed more people into looking for work, rather than continuing to rely on State handouts. It said: ‘A tightening in the eligibility requirements for some State benefits might also have led to an intensification of job search.’ 

Meanwhile, Congress in America is debating extending unemployment benefits.

Statistics have shown that people collecting unemployment insurance tend to intensify their search for work as their unemployment benefits begin to run out. Extending unemployment or increasing welfare benefits does not encourage people to join the work force–it destroys motivation. In most cases, it is simply more fun not to have to get up and go to work every morning. When the government subsidizes not working, more people don’t work. I am not saying that we should end unemployment or welfare, but we should put enough restrictions on both to prevent generations of America who have not grasped the concept of working for a living. America needs to follow the example of Great Britain.

 

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What Spending Cuts?

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line about the omnibus spending bill recently passed.

The article states:

…Which illustrates, for the umpteenth time, a point I have made over and over: budget/spending deals that purport to dictate spending many years into the future are a joke. No Congress can bind a future Congress. When a Congressman tells you that a purported ten-year deal cuts spending in the “out years,” grab your wallet and run. The out years never come.

***Because the defense cap was lower in 2014 under the original Budget Control Act, defense spending does not meaningfully increase from 2013 enacted levels. Nondefense spending, however, receives an increase that is 10 times larger than defense. The 5 percent rate of growth of nondefense spending is almost three times the projected 1.7 percent rate of inflation (see table below).

Spending Chart 02

As you can see, the budget does not decrease–it increases! Then why is the only actual cut the decrease in the cost of living adjustment (COLA) to military retirement?

The article concludes:

The other point that emerges from these spending numbers is that discretionary spending is relentlessly being squeezed out by entitlements. The real constraint on the growth of both defense and non-defense discretionary spending is the explosion in entitlements–Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and now Obamacare. With the Democrats vowing to fight to the last ditch to resist any sort of entitlement reform, and with federal debt having risen to more than $17 trillion–another budget-crusher as soon as interest rates rise again–there is simply no money for the social spending boondoggles that the Democrats would dearly love to finance. I suppose we should count our blessings.

***This paragraph is taken from a Senate Budget Committee report.

 

 

 

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The Positive Impact Of Sequestration

On Sunday, Stephen Moore posted an article at the Wall Street Journal about the positive aspects of sequestration. The bottom line in the story is that because of sequestration the federal government is shrinking.

In fiscal 2013, the sequestration will save the government more than $50 billion.

The article explains the potential future impact of sequestration:

In other words, Mr. Obama has inadvertently chained himself to fiscal restraints that could flatten federal spending for the rest of his presidency. If the country sees any normal acceleration of economic growth (from the anemic 1.4% growth rate so far this year), the deficit is on a path to drop steadily at least through 2015. Already the deficit has fallen from its Mount Everest peak of 10.2% of gross domestic product in 2009, to about 4% this year. That’s a bullish six percentage points less of the GDP of new federal debt each year.

Discretionary spending soared to $1.347 billion in fiscal 2011, according to the CBO, but was then cut by $62 billion in 2012 and another $72 billion this year. That’s an impressive 10% shrinkage. And these are real cuts, not pixie-dust reductions off some sham baseline. Discretionary spending as a share of the economy hit 9.4% of GDP in fiscal 2010 but fell to 7.6% this year and is scheduled to slide to 6.4% in Mr. Obama’s last year in office.

There are still major problems with entitlement programs going broke (I would like to repeat myself here and say that Social Security is not an entitlement program. If you are going to call it an entitlement program, just give everyone the money they have paid into it over the years and stop payments.). Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will eventually have to be reworked in order to make them viable, but I seriously doubt that will happen under a Democrat president. Partial privatization of all three programs would extend their viability, but would need politicians willing to take a political risk for the good of the country. Right now that’s not what we have in Washington.

 

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Counting The Real Cost Of The Immigration Bill

I suppose it is necessary to begin this article by saying that I support legal immigration. I think we should make it easy for educated, hard-working people to enter this country without jumping through hoops and spending excessive time and money. However, we have nothing to gain by welcoming people who will be a burden because they do not have the skills to hold down a job and support themselves. At that point immigration becomes another load on an economy that is struggling to move ahead.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today detailing the cost of the immigration bill currently under consideration.

The article at Power Line reports:

The Heritage Foundation has released its long awaited study of the cost to American taxpayers of legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants. The study, available here, estimates the cost at $6.3 trillion, at a minimum.

…The bottom line is that current illegal immigrants would receive around $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services over the course of their lifetimes, and would pay about $3.1 trillion in taxes. Hence, a net fiscal deficit of $6.3 trillion.

The numbers used in the calculation include such things as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, public housing, public education, and community services such as police and firemen.

Again, I strongly encourage changing the legal immigration system to make it easier for hard-working people who want to work to come to America. I just don’t want to open the gates wide for people who will only add to the financial burden of the country.

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Is The Goal To Solve Problems Or To Punish The Rich?

The Hill posted an article today about the budget proposal expected to come from President Obama in the near future. One aspect of the budget will be to limit how much ‘the rich’ will be able to keep in their individual retirement accounts.

The Obama Administration says that this proposal will add ‘fairness’ to the tax code. The provision is expected to raise $9 billion in ten years. At this point, I would like to point out that the current budget deficit is approximately $16 trillion dollars, and the projected annual deficit for 2013 will probably be in the neighborhood of $1 trillion dollars.

Let’s look at this concept of ‘fairness’ for a moment. How is it fair to continue to take money away from people who earn it and give it to people who don’t? How is it fair to punish someone who has worked hard and been successful for their efforts and success? Who has decided that we need ‘fairness?’ In 2009, the top 1% of earners paid 36.73 percent of the taxes (according to the National Taxpayers Union). How is that fair?

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The Unintended Consequences Of Accountability

This article has two sources, an article in the U.K. Telegraph posted on March 30 and an article posted at Real Clear Politics yesterday.

As the British government struggles to keep pace with the expenses involved in providing a safety net for its citizens, some government programs are being phased out and combined with other programs. One of the programs under scrutiny is the sickness benefit program.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary. is attempting to combine dozens of different out-of-work benefits into a single payment with the aim of ensuring an individual is always better off working than collecting benefits. As part of that process, there is an assessment of the people on the sickness benefit program to determine whether or not they are fit to work. Some 878,300 people on that program decided to come off the program rather than submit to the assessment. We need to learn from this experience.

The article at Real Clear Politics looks at disability payments in America:

In 1960, when vastly more Americans were involved in physical labor of some kind, 0.65% of workforce participants between the ages of 18 and 64 were receiving Social Security disability insurance payments. Fifty years later, in a much healthier America that number has grown to 5.6%.

In 1960, 134 Americans were working for every officially recognized disabled worker. Five decades later that ratio fell to roughly 16 to 1.

I am sure that in most cases disability payments are warranted. In fact, I am sure that everyone who is disabled does not necessarily look disabled. I can think of one example in particular where a person received severe neck damage in a work-related car accident and on some days appears to be perfectly normal. On other days, that person can barely move. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting which days are which. However, I do think there are people among us who would rather ride in the wagon than help pull it. The problem is that at this point we have too few people pulling the wagon and too many people sitting in the wagon.

Government workers have no incentive to cut disability payments–their jobs depend on administering these programs–if you cut the programs, you might have to cut the number of administrators. Government spending has become like the hamster on the exercise wheel–it keeps moving (and growing) but nothing is actually being accomplished.

If we are serious about ever balancing the federal (and states) budget, we need to take a serious look at who is receiving payments from that government and what the basis for those payments is. Until we are willing to help people enter the workforce instead of helping them enter generations of dependency on government, we will not solve our financial problems.

The Response To The State of the Union Address

For those of you who are not in shock by the fact that Marco Rubio actually took a drink of water, here is the video and some highlights from his speech Tuesday night.

The speech and video are posted at the Daily Beast. The video is also on YouTube. Here is the video:

A few highlights from the speech:

But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.

…This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs.

Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity.

…This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.

And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried.

More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back.

More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.

…And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place.

But his favorite attack of all is that those who don’t agree with him – they only care about rich people.

Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy.

The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.

And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security.

So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.

Senator Rubio concludes:

This dream – of a better life for their children – it’s the hope of parents everywhere. Politicians here and throughout the world have long promised that more government can make those dreams come true.

But we Americans have always known better. From our earliest days, we embraced economic liberty instead. And because we did, America remains one of the few places on earth where dreams like these even have a chance.

Each time our nation has faced great challenges, what has kept us together was our shared hope for a better life.

Now, let that hope bring us together again. To solve the challenges of our time and write the next chapter in the amazing story of the greatest nation man has ever known.

Thank you for listening. May God bless all of you. May God bless our President. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

The reason that a lot of the media has focused on Senator Rubio’s drink of water is that they don’t want you to hear the wisdom in the speech.

 

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The Facts Beneath The Noise

It’s time for both parties to threaten the American people with doom and gloom–the debt ceiling has been reached, and Washington wants more of our money. The President is saying that Social Security, the military and the veterans won’t be paid (notice he never says that he and Congress won’t get paid), and the Republicans say they are not raising the debt ceiling until someone shows some fiscal restraint. Good luck with that.

Heritage.org posted an article this morning that does actually shed a little light on what is actually at stake underneath all the rhetoric.

The article at Heritage.org reminds us:

“Suggesting that the United States might default on its debt is factually wrong and shameful behavior on the President’s part,” Heritage’s J.D. Foster, the Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy, said yesterday.

The U.S. is not going to default on its interest payments, Foster said, and “this assurance rests not on congressional action to raise the debt ceiling, but on the simple fact that the Treasury has far more than enough funds to pay all interest as it comes due.”

The President stated that raising the debt ceiling was not an increase of spending but simply the paying money due from past spending. He compared the Republicans in Congress to someone who eats dinner and refuses to pay the check. Just for the record, the Republicans did not support much of the spending he is referring to. The excessive spending is due to the fact that the Senate has not passed a budget since 2009 and is using the bloated baseline of the 2009 Budget (when the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives) in continuing resolutions. Since the Senate has not passed a budget, there has been no serious Congressional debate on cutting spending since 2009. The President is essentially asking the Republicans to pay for the Democrats dinner!

At any rate, default is not an issue–it is a red herring. I suspect that if the President and Congress were not going to get paid until a deal was worked out, we would have a deal rather quickly. Stay tuned. It might not be a bad idea to get out the popcorn!Enhanced by Zemanta

The Coming Age Of Fiscal Sanity

Michael Barone posted an article in the Washington Examiner on Saturday entitled, “History suggests that era of entitlements is nearly over.” Wow. Is that a promise? Mr. Barone points out that you can actually divide American history in 76-year periods.

The article points out:

It was 76 years from Washington’s First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.

The article points out that the reason for change in each 76-year cycle was that the original arrangement became unworkable. We are now more than 76 years away from the passage of the Social Security in 1935. The entitlement society is in the process of going broke, and people are beginning to look for alternatives to big government programs. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

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Borrowed From A Friend On Facebook

Alan Simpson, the Senator from Wyoming calls senior citizens the Greediest Generation as he compared “Social Security ” to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats. Here’s a response in a letter from PATTY MYERS in Montana … I think she is a little ticked off! She also tells it like it is! This goes for both the Democrats and the Republicans and is right on the money!!! (so to speak)
————————————

“Hey Alan, let’s get a few things straight!!!!!

1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole (teat) for FIFTY YEARS.

2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.

4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and “your ilk” pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age, 67. NOW, you and your “shill commission” are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now “you morons” propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because “you idiots” mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal our money from Medicare to pay the bills.

6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you “incompetent b*******s” spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt. To add insult to injury, you label us “greedy” for calling “bulls***t” to your incompetence. Well, Captain Bulls***t, I have a few questions for YOU:

1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?

4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bulls***t, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the “greedy” ones. It is you and your fellow nutcase thieves who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers.
And for what? Votes and your job and retirement security at our expense, you lunk-headed, leech.

That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic, political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.

And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a b****h. NO, I did not stutter.

EVERYONE!!!

If you like the way things are in America delete this.

If you agree with what a Montana citizen, Patty Myers, says, please PASS IT ON!!!!

P.S. And stop calling Social Security benefits “entitlements”. WHAT AN INSULT!!!!

I have been paying in to the SS system for 45 years “It’s my money” – give it back to me the way the system was designed and stop patting yourself on the back like you are being generous by doling out these monthly checks!”

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A Concise, Honest Statement About The Fiscal Cliff

Yesterday Real Clear Politics posted a video and transcript of a statement made by Senator Tom Coburn on Face the Nation.

This is the statement:

SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OKLAHOMA): The characterization is no matter where we raise taxes, what’s going to happen wit the money? We’re going to grow the government with it. We’re not going to reduce the deficit, because we refused to solve the bigger problems like saving Medicare, insuring Social Security Disability (SSI). We’re not going to use that money to do anything except continue to grow the government.

So, the characterization is that we’re wanting to protect — what we’re wanting to do is to make sure we have a dynamic economy. And I have no problems, I’ve been out there for a long time with saying those who are making more ought to contribute more, but where does that money go? And what do you do with the money? Do you do something with the money that will actually get us further down the road and fix our ultimate long-term problem, which is we’re bankrupt? And we went off the cliff two years ago when we covered 90% of our debt-to-GDP? And by the way, if you actually look at it the way every other country [does], our debt-to-GDP right now is 120%. Not 90%, not 100%, it’s 120%.

So, if you look at that, what’s ultimately going to happen — one last fact, the average Greek citizen‘s debt, for their country, is $36,000; we’re at $51,000 per person in this country. We’re becoming Greece, and we have a government where we’re willing to pay the taxes for 65% of the cost of it. We need to change that. We need both, we need to do both.

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