Playing Politics With The Department Of Homeland Security Does Not Make Us Safer

This post is based on two articles–one in the U. K. Daily Mail today and one at a website called yesterday.

The Daily Mail reports:

“A video released by the Department of Homeland Security urging people to report anything suspicious has caused outrage by characterising white middle class Americans as the most likely terrorists.

“The promotional video is part of Homeland Security’s $10million ‘See Something, Say Something’ programme as they believe it will help curb random acts of terrorism by individuals.

“But the controversial video has angered some Americans due to the fact all the actors who play the would-be terrorists in the video are white, and the people who report them are either black, Asian or Arab.”

This is either polical correctness run amok or lack of knowledge of what the actual threat is.  It is unfortunate that these are the people entrusted by the public with the duty of protecting the American public from terrorism.  We can do better than this.

Dealing With Budget Myths

Jeff Sessions’ website posted a statement Congressman Sessions made before Congress yesterday detailing some of the problems in reaching agreement on the debt ceiling.  Some excerpts from the statement:

First, I would like to address the myth that the president has a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. The only plan the White House has ever put on paper is his February budget, which doubles our national debt.

The president has never put a single spending cut plan on paper and he has no proposal to slash the deficit. If he does, it’s a closely guarded secret. And if such a secret plan does exist it should be made public this very afternoon. I’d like to see it. I’m sure millions of Americans feel the same.

We also have no debt plan from Senate Democrats. In fact, they haven’t even passed a budget in 813 days.

As of now, there is only one debt limit plan on paper. Only one plan available for public scrutiny and review. That’s the plan we are debating today: cut, cap, and balance. It cuts spending immediately, it caps it so it doesn’t go up, and it requires the passage of a balanced budget amendment to ensure Washington ends the deficit spending once and for all. The American people do not trust Washington to pass some grand budget deal with tax hikes that never go away and spending cuts that never materialize.

They are wise to the gimmicks and accounting tricks. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation requiring 7 days to review any bill increasing the debt limit.

In fact, Washington Democrats are resisting cut, cap, and balance because they know there’s no gimmick or accounting trick to get around it.

If this becomes law, Washington will have to end the spending spree. There will be no other option. These are the responsible choices families, cities, and states make every year.

In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley oversaw an across-the-board cut of 15 percent from the General Fund in the current year because of a constitutional prohibition on deficit spending. For next year, he has proposed cuts of up to 45 percent for some state agencies. Unlike the federal government, our state is legally obligated to live within its means.

Another myth I’d like to address is the idea that our current budget crisis is the result of two wars and a tax cut. Let’s consider that claim. The total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, over the entire last decade, is $1.3 trillion. Again, that’s over the last decade. This year alone the deficit is expected to be $1.4 trillion dollars. War costs represent only 4 percent of total outlays over the last ten years. The total amount of money spent since the president took office is $8.5 trillion dollars. By the end of his first three years in office we will have added $5 trillion to our gross federal debt. We are borrowing almost half of what we’re spending every single day. In the last two years, non-defense discretionary spending has soared 24 percent. The stimulus package alone–enacted into law in a single day in 2009–cost more than the entire war in Iraq. Annual spending when President Bush took office was less than $2 trillion. Today, it’s almost $4 trillion. It will be almost $6 trillion by the end of the decade.

There is only one honest answer to the question over why our debt is rising so fast: out-of-control domestic spending.

Another myth that’s circulating which I’d like to address concerns the budget summary from the Gang of Six. The authors of the summary claim that their approach would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion. But my staff on the Budget Committee can only find $1.2 trillion in reduced spending, along with a tax increase of $1 trillion. Where does the other $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction come from? Chairman Conrad, one of the members of the Gang of Six, even says the outline has a $1.5 trillion tax cut. But this is compared against a baseline that assumes a $3.5 trillion tax increase. It’s just an accounting gimmick. The real cost of the tax changes could be an increase as large as $2 trillion.

This is why we need more than a handout–we need legislative text.

I realize that is a lot to read, but it is the best summary of where we are now that I have seen.  I know there are reports that a deal is in the works, so the facts on the ground may change quickly.  I understand that the Republicans only control one half of one house of the government.  I also understand that according to the surveys I have seen, two-thirds of the American people support spending cuts–not tax increases.  Two-thirds of Americans also support not raising the debt ceiling, which I think is a bad idea.  I understand the frustration that would cause people to be against raising the debt ceiling, but I don’t believe that that is the answer.  I don’t expect a perfect deal, but I am looking for immediate spending cuts.  Just as an additional bit of information, the federal deficit at the end of 2008 was $10,024,724.  As of the end of 2010, the federal deficit was $13,561,623.  That is considerable growth in two years.

One thing to remember in this debate is that the government brings in about 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in tax revenue.  President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have a goal of increasing the federal budget from the 20 percent it has averaged in the past to 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.  Unless taxes are significantly increased, which may or may not increase revenue, that is not a workable long-term business plan.

Places Spending Can Be Cut

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today noting some places where spending might be reasonably cut.  He points out that although the current converstaion seems to be focused on Social Security and Medicare, there are other prorgrams that have grown totally out of control and need to be looked at. 

Mr. Hayward points out:

“The four largest federally funded poverty programs–Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, and supplemental income programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit–cost $650 billion last year, compared to $451 billion for Medicare.  The real problem is not the high spending amounts per se, but the way they have expanded willy-nilly beyond the ranks of the truly poor, which has run up their price tags beyond where they ought to be.  Some states offer benefits up to 200 percent of the poverty line, and Obamacare includes subsidies for people up to 400 percent of the poverty line–people ordinarily called “middle class.””

These programs need to be reexamined not only for their eligibility requirements, but also to evaluate the success of the program.  Programs that do not do what they were designed to do need to be scrapped.  The only thing that seems to be immortal in today’s world is a government program.

A Little Fuel For The Fire

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about the departure statistics of federal employees.  It seems that the way the majority of federal employees leave their jobs is through death. 

The article points out:

“The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes.

“The 1,800-employee Federal Communications Commission and the 1,200-employee Federal Trade Commission didn’t lay off or fire a single employee last year. The SBA had no layoffs, six firings and 17 deaths in its 4,000-employee workforce.

“When job security is at a premium, the federal government remains the place to work for those who want to avoid losing a job. The job security rate for all federal workers was 99.43% last year and nearly 100% for those on the job more than a few years.”

Federal workers make more than their private sector counterparts.  This chart is from a website called

Average Wages

Would you leave a job that paid twice as much as anyone else would pay you?

The Debate Continues…

ABC News reported yesterday that Senator Harry Reid will schedule a cloture vote on the Republican Cut, Cap and Balance Bill on Saturday.  The article goes on the explain that there is no chance of the bill getting through the Senate.  I tend to agree with that statement–if the bill had any chance of passing, Harry Reid would make sure it never came up for a vote.  What the vote on cloture will do is put Senators on the record as to who is actually serious about cutting government spending and who is not.

Dan Henniger in today’s Wall Street Journal posted a column about the debate on the budget ceiling.  Mr. Henniger points out that the root of the debate has to do with the size of government:

“What Republicans and ideologically independent voters want is a GOP candidate willing–and more importantly, able–to engage Barack Obama frontally and in detail over the future of the spending commitments embedded in the events of the past three years and the past 70 years. Mr. Obama wants spending to rise to 25% of GDP to support those commitments for the next 70 years. Until we settle this and the taxes it implies, everything else a candidate may propose, such as devolving power away from Washington, is beside the point because it won’t be possible.”

Part of the Cut, Cap and Balance Bill includes the statement:

“We need statutory, enforceable caps to align federal spending with average revenues at 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with automatic spending reductions if the caps are breached.”

I don’t know if any of the principles in Cut, Cap and Balance will make the final cut, but in listening to the debate, a few things stand out.  Spending cuts go against the grain of most Congressmen serving in Washington.  Even if spending cuts are promised, if there is not a mechanism to ensure that they occur, they will not happen.  We saw that principle at work during the Reagan years–the Democrats promised spending cuts and tax cuts–the tax cuts happened, the spending cuts never did.  Unless the spending is capped as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, government will continue to grow and spending will continue to spiral out of control.

I am concerned that any budget cuts promised in the compromise that is eventually reached will never happen.  Budget cuts scheduled for more than two years away, somehow disappear as the time for them draws near.  All we can do is hope that there are enough grown-ups in Washington to see the severity of the budget problem and be willing to deal with it.  I am not sure there are.

Where Does The Money Go ?

On Sunday, the New York Post posted an article giving the readers some idea of where the money goes. 

The article asks the question:

“…just ask yourself this simple question: When did it become the primary function of the federal government to send millions of Americans checks?”

That is an interesting question.  The article points out:

“The feds now borrow 43 cents of every dollar they spend.  Under Obama, outlays have soared to nearly a quarter of GDP (the historical average is just under 20 percent) — and once ObamaCare starts to fully kick in around 2014, it will only rise.”

The article also reminds us of the history of Medicare.  When Medicare began in 1966, the cost was $3 billion.  Congress predicted that by1990 it would cost about $12 billion, allowing for inflation.  The actual figure was $107 billion.  The future unfunded obligations of Medicare total at least $36 trillion.  This is typical of government programs–they never get smaller and they rarely stay within the bounds of their estimated cost!

The article further points out:

“Yet the president and the Democrats still refuse to put meaningful spending cuts on the table–and refuse completely to deal with the entitlement monster.  Even though they know the numbers don’t work, they’re trying to lock in Obama’s sky-high spending as the new normal–and then up the ante.

“The debt-ceiling cage match is the culmination of the Democrats’ 75-year-long fight to establish a voting bloc of dependents under the false flags of “compassion” and “social justice.”  It’s sapped out strength, created a welfare mentality and, if unchecked, will reduce us to a nation of aging, resentful beggars with eyes cast permanently toward Washington.”

That statement pretty much covers the situation.

Some Random Thoughts On The Current Budget Debate

Overspending by the government is not a new thing.  In October of 2009, posted a list of 50 examples of government waste.  Please follow the link and read the list.  In October 2010, posted a plan to cut $343 billion from the federal budget.  The link provides a very specific list of cuts that can be made in 2012 to reach that number–something Congress (other than Paul Ryan) has been willing to do.

Last night the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.  The bill passed 234 to 190, with five Republicans voting against the bill and nine Democrats voting against it.  The article posted at Hot Air quotes Paul Ryan:

“”The House of Representatives continues to advance serious solutions to get our budget on the path to balance and our economy on the path to prosperity.  The Cut, Cap and Balance legislation passed today cuts $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade, locks in those savings with enforceable caps on spending, and forces Washington to finally live within its means with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“”The coming debt crisis is the single most predictable economic disaster in the history of this nation. Unfortunately, the White House refuses to put forth a credible plan to solve our spending problem, and Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in over 800 days. I remain hopeful that responsible leaders will work with us to advance specific solutions that uphold our solemn commitment to leave the next generation with a stronger, more prosperous nation than the one we inherited.””

Michele Bachmann voted against the bill stating that the only way she would be willing to raise the debt ceiling would be if it included a full repeal of Obamacare.  Paul Broun of Georgia also voted against the bill because he had made a pledge to his constituents that he would not raise the debt ceiling.

The article at Hot Air also points out that this is the second Republican budget proposal this session, while the Democrats have not passed a budget in more than 800 days–they are happy just to criticize Republican ideas rather than come up with their own ideas.

Realistically, I don’t think Cut, Cap, and Balance will get past the House of Representatives.  What the bill does accomplish is to make clear what the goals of the Republicans are in regard to spending and debt.  Even if the bill never sees the light of day in the Senate, the fact that the bill exists will give voters a clear choice in November 2012.

The Dangers Of Failing To Assimilate Immigrants

I am in favor of legal immigration.  My family is made up of people from at least four countries and three major religions.  I am glad they all came here and managed to get together and form my family.  There are family stories of extreme poverty and also stories of major successes.  There are things we can be proud of and things we would rather not talk about, but we are all Americans.  We have family traditions that go back to our roots, and we have family traditions that are totally based in American traditions.  But we are all Americans and we believe in this country and the laws of this country.  That is part of what makes America one country.

Britain has a problem.  According to a CBN News report dated Sunday, a group calling itself Muslims Against the Crusades is proposing that two towns in Yorkshire and one in East London be turned into states ruled only by Islamic law, entirely outside British common law.

The article reports:

“Some government officials in the towns also agree that the Muslims Against the Crusades proposal doesn’t represent the wishes of most of the Muslim population there.

“Still, Christians are fighting the proposal, saying Islamic law isn’t compatible with Britain’s Christian heritage and values.

“Last month, Baroness Caroline Cox introduced a bill into the House of Lords to protect Muslim women from abuses under Sharia law.

“”In Britain, we have a country where many people have died to protect the democratic freedoms enshrined in our laws and our culture,” Cox said.

“”And we have now allowed an alternative quasi-legal system to develop in our land, which is fundamentally incompatible with those democratic freedoms and where many citizens, especially women, are suffering as a result,” she said.”

Currently there are 751 Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones in France–these are zones in France that the French state does not control. They range from two zones in the medieval town of Carcassone to twelve in the heavily Muslim town of Marseilles, with hardly a town in France lacking in its ZUS. The ZUS came into existence in late 1996 and according to a 2004 estimate, nearly 5 million people live in them.  This information is from an article at Daniel written in November 2006 and updated in January 2010.

Is this the direction western civilization is headed?  Can western civilization survive going in this direction?

Who Actually Needs To Eat Their Peas ?

Yesterday Holly Robichaud posted a column in the Boston Herald which beautifully listed the scare tactics currently being used by Democrat lawmakers to try to take more of your money.  Holly lists six myths the Democrats are using in their quest for more money.

The myths:

1.  If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, Social Security checks will not go out.  I reported at on July 14th:

“”The responsibility of the Social Security Administration per se, my boss, Commissioner Astrue, is to in fact determine how much in the way of benefit payments people are supposed to receive,” Goss said. “We send that information actually over to the Department of the Treasury. They are the ones who actually send out the payments, whether it’s electronic funds, transfers, or check.””

Just for the record, even without raising the debt ceiling, there is enough money coming into the treasury to pay social security checks.

2.  Republicans are unwilling to negotiate.  The Republicans have laid numerous specific plans on the table.  The only specific plan laid out by the Democrats was the President’s budget, which was so bad it was voted down in the Senate 97 to 0.  The President has also stated that he is unwilling to sign a short-term solution.

3.  Medicare is being cut for seniors.  Just for the record, there are $ 500 billion cuts to Medicare in Obamacare.  No Republican plan cuts Medicare for anyone over the age of 55.  The Republican plan is to restructure it for younger people in order to prevent the program from going broke in the very near future.

4.  The national debt is Bush’s fault.  It is true that President Bush did not control spending–but if you look at spending during the Bush years, you will notice that it increased dramatically when the Democrats took over the House of Representatives.  Technically, spending comes from the House of Representatives.  President Bush and past presidents created $10 trillion of the debt–President Obama has created $4 trillion in just three years.  It’s the spending, stupid!

5.  Republicans are playing politics with the debt ceiling crisis.  The Democrats have not passed a budget in 810 days.  Instead, they have simply been criticizing all of the Republican proposals.  Who is playing politics?

6.  Taxes need to be raised.  No, they don’t.  They might need to be revised, but this is not the time for that.  It really is the spending.  The only sector of the economy that has grown in this recession is the government.  Government employees now make about 150 % of what people in the private sector make.  It’s the spending, stupid!

I just want to post one picture of government spending.  Do you think there might be room for cuts here?

It’s time to take another look at how the government spends OUR money.  We need to remember that it is our money–not the government’s.  We earned it.  We are obligated to give a small amount to the government for their expenses, but we are not obligated to support unnecessary government bureaucracies.


Misplaced Sympathy Used For Spin

I don’t consider myself an unsympathetic person; however, I do believe that most of the time people should suffer the consequences of their own behavior.  I may be a minority in that belief if the following story is any indication of current thinking.

Today Charleston’s Post and Courier posted a story about how the new requirement for identification in order to vote in South Carolina may disenfranchise some voters.  The example they cite is Everett Garlington, a resident of West Ashley.  Mr. Garlington has a problem that will prevent him from voting under the new law.  He lost his driver’s license.  He could get a replacement, but because he owes $160 to the Department of Motor Vehicles because of turning in license plates late, he can’t afford to get a new license.

The article goes on to explain that requiring voters to identify themselves is discriminatory, etc.–the usual arguments.  Those protesting the requirement for identification compare this requirement to activities of the KKK and other racist groups.

The article reports:

“Representatives from several opposition groups said Monday their immediate goal is to petition U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to strike down the law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.”

Now stop and think a minute.  There are a few obvious questions I would like to ask at this point.  If Mr. Garlington is still driving, is he breaking the law?  If he pays the fine that he incurred, he gets his license back, and the problem is solved.  The problem is not the law–it is the fact that Mr. Garlington owes a fine he has not paid.  If he did not have a license, he would be eligible for a free identification card, and he would be able to vote.  We live in a country where identification is needed to do certain things–buy cigarettes and alcohol, board an airplane, buy certain cough or allergy medication, etc.  Would the writer of this article have us believe that the majority of poor residents in South Carolina do not smoke, drink, buy cough medicine or fly airplanes?   Seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Quote Of The Day

Said by Tre Hargett, Tennessee secretary of state:

“I think that nothing could disenfranchise an eligible voter more than finding out that ineligible voters are voting.”

This quote is taken from an NPR article on voter identification cited in a Hot Air article today.  In reporting on the drive for voter identification, NPR has pushed the Democrat Party line–“…minorities, students, the poor and disabled — those most likely to vote Democratic — will be hurt the most.”  I would just like to mention that if any of those minorities, students, or poor and disabled smoke, buy alcohol, or ever get on an airplane, they need a photo ID.  Certainly voting is as important as those activities.  Supporters of voter identification laws say the rules are needed to ensure honest elections.  After what we have seen with bogus voter registrations in some of our major states, I agree.

A Taste Of Things To Come

Fox Business reported today that more that 400 companies have sent a letter to Congress urging repeal of a $20 billion medical-device tax scheduled to go into effect in 2013.  This is one of many taxes scheduled to go into effect after the 2012 election–the purpose of the tax increases is to attempt to pay for Obamacare.  The companies are asking for a repeal of the 2.3% excise tax on medical-device manufacturers. 

There were two letters–one to the House of Representatives and one to the Senate.  The letters stated:

“We believe that implementation of this $20 billion excise tax will adversely impact patient care and innovation, and will substantially increase the costs of health care.”

One of the things to remember when we hear complaints about the cost of drugs and medical devices in America is that a very large percentage of what we pay goes to research and development of new drugs and devices.  If we intend to keep moving forward in medical science, we need to allow the companies developing drugs and devices to reap the rewards of their research and development.  Like it or not, profit is a strong motive–it works.  To impose higher taxes on medical device manufacturers will increase the cost to the consumer (tax hikes on corporations are always passed on to the consumer–the companies never pay them!).

The best solution to this problem is twofold–first repeal the tax, then repeal Obamacare.

Creating A Crisis To Enable A Power Grab posted an editorial about the double standard being applied to the government-sponsored gun running operation (Operation Fast and Furious) that was going on at America’s southern border and the Iran-Contra scandal. 

The article points out:

“As if “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” weren’t bad enough, we now learn of “Operation Castaway,” run out of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Tampa field division. It’s another operation that allowed guns to “walk” south of the border, this time to Honduras, using similar techniques and tactics.”

At least Iran Contra was done with the idea of supporting freedom.  In Operation Fast and Furious, the guns have gone to the Central American MS-13 gang and to the drug cartels. 

The article points out:

“The real purpose, we have stated and still suspect, was to advance the administration’s push for gun control and the stripping of law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights through “common sense” restrictions on private gun ownership by creating chaos and fomenting violence with the guns provided.

“Indeed, it did not take long for ATF to announce a new gun-control mandate — the requirement that gun store owners in the border states of Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico make a special ATF report for multiple long-gun sales, the same type of weapons the ATF was freely providing to the worst of the worst.”
Before President Obama was a Senator, he worked as a community organizer.  The guidebook for community organizers is Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”  President Obama has brought the principles of this book into his presidency.  Two of these rules have been followed in Operation Fast and Furious:
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
The events (out of control gun shipments to Mexico and Central America) were set up by the Obama Administration.  The cure, expanded gun control, was to end the threat of ‘guns gone wild.’  The goal from the beginning was to curtail gun sales and gun ownership in the United States.  That is not a positive step toward freedom–ever.
The investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has been stalled from the beginning.  The article reports:
“…the Department of Justice is stalling on any cooperation with Rep. Darrel Issa’s House Oversight Committee. The only information ATF has provided freely has been to potential witnesses, giving them, according to, access to a shared drive on its computer system so everyone can compare notes and get their stories straight.”
It’s time for the press to do their job and expose this scandal for what it is–a government-created crisis set up to allow an end run around the Second Amendment.

It Really Is The Spending, Stupid !

President Obama called for ‘shared sacrifice’ in his weekly address yesterday.  How about shared success?  If you punish success, how in the world do you expect people to aspire to it? 

This is a quote from the speech:

“We shouldn’t put the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of folks who’ve already borne the brunt of the recession. It’s not reasonable and it’s not right. If we’re going to ask seniors, or students, or middle-class Americans to sacrifice, then we have to ask corporations and the wealthiest Americans to share in that sacrifice. We have to ask everyone to play their part. Because we are all part of the same country. We are all in this together.”

The wealthiest Americans are paying their part.  The richest 20 percent of Americans paid 68.9 percent of federal taxes, and the top 1 percent paid 28.1 percent.  There are also figures that show that about 50 percent of Americans pay no taxes at all (including General Electric–which did not break the law, but used the loopholes available).  I am not in favor of ‘raising taxes on the rich.’  I am in favor making sure everyone pays something–even if it is $100 a year.  Meanwhile–it’s the spending stupid!


The United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea

The Law of the Sea Treaty (UNCLOS) is back.  On July 13, the Washington Times posted an article by Kim R. Holmes reporting that Senator John Kerry is asking the Senate to approve the treaty because it would give the United States ‘new rights and advantages.’  This is simply not true.

The treaty was first put together in 1982.  In 1994, U. S. negotiators signed an amended agreement, but it was never ratified by the Senate. 

Supporters of the treaty say that it will give the United States ‘new rights’, but the United States already has those rights under international law. 

For example, the article points out:

“Unfortunately, it does not. What “rights” it recognizes already exist in customary international law. Treaty supporters claim ratification will give the U.S. additional rights to oil, gas and minerals in the deep seabed of its extended continental shelf. But the U.S. already has clear legal title and rights to the resources of its continental shelf (even though the current administration bans drilling there).

“Similarly, the treaty’s navigational provisions offer nothing new. Yes, the U.S. Navy says UNCLOS might improve the “predictability” of these rights, but does the Navy’s access to international waters really depend upon a treaty to which we are not even a member? The last time I checked, the U.S. Navy could go anywhere it wanted in international waters.”

The treaty creates an unaccountable international bureaucracy ” to redistribute the wealth of the deep seabed and the extended continental shelf.”  This does not sound like something we need to ratify. 

The article points out:

“Were the U.S. to join, it would have to share with “developing” nations any royalty revenue generated on its continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile mark. The International Seabed Authority would decide just how these revenues are distributed. The U.S. by itself would have no veto over its decisions.

“Consensus often works against U.S. interests in the U.N. General Assembly, and it would do so in this international body. Imagine how a U.N.-like body with a “right” to distribute U.S. revenues would behave.”

I am not ready to go on record as saying that this is a step toward one-world government, but it does seem as if the establishment of a new international bureaucracy is not a good move for those of us seeking to preserve our country’s sovereignty.   If you look at some of the decisions made lately by the United Nations, it is frightening to even think of the U.N. creating an administrative body that will supersede the laws of the member countries.  Do you trust the organization that just named North Korea as the head of its Disarmament Conference to control the world’s wealth that comes from the sea?

Passing Laws That Ignore The Problem

On July 12, Peter Wallison posted an article at the Wall Street Journal concerning the causes of the financial meltdown that the country recently experienced.  Peter Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and was a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission who dissented from the majority report.

Mr. Wallison is reporting on a new book which refutes the government commission’s conclusion that the “greed on Wall Street and faulty risk management at banks and other financial firms” were responsible for the collapse of the housing market. 

Mr. Wallison reports:

“With the publication of “Reckless Endangerment,” a new book about the causes of the crisis, this story is beginning to unravel. The authors, Gretchen Morgenson, a business reporter and commentator for the New York Times, and Josh Rosner, a financial analyst, make clear that it was Fannie Mae and the government housing policies it supported, pursued and exploited that brought the financial system to a halt in 2008.”

So why is the government commission telling us a different story?   James A. Johnson, a Democratic political operative and former aide to Walter Mondale, became chairman of Fannie Mae in 1991.  At that point Fannie Mae became political–aligning itself with those in Congress who wanted to make homeownership possible for people who had not previously able to obtain mortgages.  This is a great goal, but when put in practice causes problems.

The article reports:

“”Under Johnson,” write Ms. Morgenson and Mr. Rosner, “Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among banks whose loans the company bought. . . . Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the financial crisis of 2008.””

The above information does not appear in the government commission’s report.  The commission also heard testimony that by 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S. (27 million loans) were subprime or otherwise risky, and that 12 million of these loans were on the books of the GSEs.  Somehow that was overlooked in the conclusions drawn.

The article explains why the Dodd-Frank Act did not address the problem of Fannie Mae:

“The principal sponsors of that Dodd-Frank Act, former Sen. Chris Dodd and former House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank, were also the principal supporters and political protectors of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the government housing policies they implemented.

“It is little wonder then that legislation named after them would place the blame for the financial crisis solely on the private sector and do nothing to reform a government-backed housing finance system that will increasingly be seen as the primary cause of the devastating events of 2008.”

To add to the problem, on July 9, I reported ( that Eric Holder’s justice department has asked banks to relax their lending standards.  Because we did not properly address the problem the first time, we are destined to repeat our past mistake.

Is This A Stimulus Program That Would Create Income And Jobs ?

This article asks a question.  I do not have an answer.  I just want to show both sides of the story and provide some food for thought.

The article is based on two articles–the first from (Long Island) Newsday yesterday, and the second from CBS News on Thursday.  Both articles have to do with a voter referendum on August 1 concerning a new coliseum for Nassau County, New York.

The article at Newsday reports that Camoin Associates, a Malta, N.Y., consulting firm that advises municipalities on economic development, has given a report to Nassau County stating that if the New York Islanders Hockey team fails to renew its contract in 2015, it could cost the county 2,660 jobs and nearly $104 million in annual earnings and approximately $8 million a year in tax revenue.

The Newsday article gets to the heart of the matter:

“Nassau residents will vote Aug. 1 on whether to borrow as much as $400 million for a new hockey arena and minor league ballpark. Islanders owner Charles Wang has threatened to move the team if a new arena is not built.”

The article at CBS News states:

“The  Nassau Interim Finance Authority said Thursday that if a referendum to $400 million to renovate the Nassau Coliseum passes, it would likely result in a 3.5 to 4 percent average property tax increase.”

The article at CBS News also states:

“Desmond Ryan of the Association for a Better Long Island said there were too many unanswered questions to support the renovations.”

There are a lot of good points on both sides here.  Charles Wang originally made an offer to the county that was privately paid for, but included development in addition to the coliseum renovation.  His proposal would have impacted his cash flow in such a way that his private funding of a new coliseum or renovations was a good business move.  The county turned it down.  The question is not whether or not the coliseum needs renovation–it does.  The question is who should pay for it.  Because the county turned down private funding, their only option now seems to be public funding. 

I understand the argument that the renovation will raise taxes, and I hate to see that happen to anyone–the problem is that when taxes go up, they rarely go down.  If the referendum goes through and taxes are raised for the coliseum, what are the chances of them going down when the predicted revenues from the new coliseum are collected?  One the other hand, if the referendum is not passed and jobs and revenues are lost, wouldn’t everyone’s taxes go up to make up for the loss of revenue?

I meant what I said–I don’t know what the answer is.  I hate to see the county rather than a private businessman rebuild a coliseum.  Who owns the coliseum after the country rebuilds it?  I also hate to see people lose their jobs, the county lose the revenue, and people’s taxes go up to make up the difference.   I hope the voters of Nassau County have more insight into this situation than I do!

An Interesting Vote In The Senate

John Hinderaker at Power Line reported yesterday that forty Republican Senators voted to sustain a point of order brought up by Senator Jeff Sessions objecting to the Democrats being in violation of the Congressional Budget Act.  According to the Congressional Budget Act, appropriations bills cannot be passed when there is no federal budget in place.  The Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. 

The article reports:

“The implication of today’s vote is that it will be hard for the Democrats to get the necessary 60 votes for cloture on any future illegal spending measures. The federal government has now been operating contrary to law for more than two years without a budget.”

It’s time for transparency and fiscal responsibility to make an appearance in Washington.

Some Odds And Ends About The Debt Ceiling Debate

This is going to be a rather disjointed article about two separate aspects of the budget ceiling debate.

The first link is to an article at the American Thinker about how the government actually spends its money.  The article gives examples of things that the government could skip paying in order to fund Social Security and veterans (Obama has threatened to delay those checks if the debt ceiling is not raised).  These are some of the items:

ObamaCare                                                                       $1.5 trillion

Planned Parenthood (annually)                                        $330 million

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac                                                 $145 billion

Amtrak                                                                              $1.9 billion

Unspent Stimulus/ War Chest                                           $60 billion

National Endowment for the Arts                                   $133 million

National Endowment for the Humanities                        $140 million

The Post Office                                                                 $1.0 billion

Vacant Federal Properties                                               $25.0 billion

Medicare Fraud                                                               $47.0 billion

National Broadband Coverage Map                             $350.0 million

Federal Employee Flight Upgrades                              $146.0 million

Beach Re-sanding                                                              $3.0 billion

Payments Not to Use Land (conservation)                      $2.0 billion

International Abortions/Population Control               $650.0 million

Libya Kinetic Military Action                                    $750.0 million

Consumer Protection Bureau                                      $329.0 million

United Nations                                                                $6.4 billion

NPR/Corporation for Public Broadcasting                 $451.0 million

Renewable Energy Tax Credits (mostly wind)                $6.9 billion

Tax Credits to IRS employees/Others                        $513.0 million

Federal Weatherization Programs                                    $5.0 billion

99 Week Unemployment Benefits                              $100.0 billion

Total                                                                       $1.9 – 2.0 trillion

It seems to me that there are a few things here that might be closely examined with the idea of saving money.  Anyway, these are some of the places your tax money goes.

The second part of this article has to do with telling the truth.  This is a very simple example of why all of us need to be paying attention to the current debate. 

The Hill reported today that:

“Obama said, citing “poll after poll” showing Republican voters, as well as Democrats, believe in taking “a balanced approach” — including both increased revenues and spending cuts in a plan to cut the deficit.”

Rasmussen Reports reported yesterday that:

“Just 34% think a tax hike should be included in any legislation to raise the debt ceiling. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% disagree and say it should not.”

At least most of the American people understand that the problem is the spending–not the lack of revenue.  It is unfortunate that the President is either not aware of that or is lying about it.

Social Security And The Debt Ceiling

This article is based on two articles.  The first was posted at Hot Air yesterday; the second was posted at yesterday. 

The Hot Air post concerns the testimony of Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, during a Budget Hearing in Congress yesterday morning.  Mr. Goss was asked by Kansas Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp why Social Security checks might not go out August 3.  Representative Huelskamp pointed out that even under the debt limit the nation has enough money to cover the interest on its debt, Social Security payments, and more. 

The article reports:

“Goss confirmed the decision to send out Social Security checks (or not) would, indeed, be a Treasury Department (a.k.a. the administration’s) decision.

“”The responsibility of the Social Security Administration per se, my boss, Commissioner Astrue, is to in fact determine how much in the way of benefit payments people are supposed to receive,” Goss said. “We send that information actually over to the Department of the Treasury. They are the ones who actually send out the payments, whether it’s electronic funds, transfers, or check.””

The article at points out that the fact that the President is threatening Social Security payments if the debt ceiling is not raised further confirms the fact that there is no Social Security fund. 

The article at reports:

“Wait! What happened to Social Security’s “guarantee”? You know, the iron-clad assurance of Social Security benefits in exchange for paying into the program your whole working life? It’s something Democrats constantly talk about, particularly when attacking Republicans who propose privatizing the program.

“As Nancy Pelosi once put it: “Social Security has never failed to pay promised benefits, and Democrats will fight to make sure that Republicans do not turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble.”

“The AFL-CIO warned in 2005 about “President Bush’s plan to replace Social Security’s guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts.” The AARP describes Social Security as “the guaranteed part of your retirement plan.” Etc., etc.

“Turns out, this “guarantee” is a lie.

“In 1960, the Supreme Court ruled that workers do not have a legal right to their Social Security benefits.”
We can’t stop the scare tactics being used by the White House in the debt ceiling debate, but at least we can be aware that those threats are not only bogus, but they also reveal the fiscal irresponsibility that has run rampant in Washington since the 1960’s.

Some General Information On The Debt Ceiling Debate

Michael W. McConnell, who was assistant general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981-1983 and is not a professor of constitutional law at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, posted an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today.

In his article Professor McConnell explains:

“But the absence of any written budgetary documents and the closed-door nature of the negotiating sessions make it impossible to tell which side is being “serious” and which side is being intransigent. Instead of specific proposals, scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and open to examination by press and public, we get vague generalities about “trillions” of dollars in supposed savings based on who-knows-what changes in policy.”

He cites the ‘rules’ that according to law should be governing the current discussion on the budget and the debt ceiling.  According to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which Congress enacted in 1974, the president must submit a proposed budget “on or before” the first Monday in February.  The CBO (Congressional Budget Office)  has until February 15th to score the budget.  President Obama did submit a budget–it was defeated in the Senate 97 to 0.  In April, the President made a speech proposing a new plan, but with no specifics.

The Budget Act requires the House and Senate to hold hearings on the President’s budget proposal.  By April 1, the House and Senate must adopt the President’s proposal or put forth an alternative.  By April 15, Congress must adopt a concurrent resolution embodying a congressional budget.  Appropriations bills must stay within this budget or be subject to a point of order.

The House of Representatives has passed a budget.  The Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. 

The Budget Act was designed to make the budget process transparent and prevent the neverending vague negotiations we are currently enduring.  We have no idea what the President’s suggestions are, and the only idea we have of the Republican position is from the Ryan budget, which the White House and the mainstream press have labeled unacceptable. 

It’s time to get back to following the rules and bringing the process out into the open air.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Whose Children Are They ?

ABC News posted an article today about Harvard University child expert Dr. David Ludwig’s recent statement that some parents should lose custody of their severely obese children.

The article reports:

“Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children’s Hospital Boston and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, shared his divisive idea in an opinion piece that ran in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday: that state intervention can serve in the best interest of extremely obese children, of which there’re about 2 million across the United States.”

I agree that childhood obesity is a problem.  However, I disagree that even the threat of taking children away from their parents is the answer.  There are a lot of factors in play here.  Some obesity may be inherited, some may be the result of poor eating habits, some may be the result of disease, some may be the result of lifestyle issues (too many video games–too little exercise), and some may be the result of some of things that are routinely injected into America’s food supply.  Taking children away from their parents addresses very few of these issues.

To me, the important part of this article is the idea that taking a child out of his/her original family because he is considered obese is even possible.  The article at ABC relates the story of a family whose child was removed from their household because of being obese.  The child was returned to the family after two months–she did no better in foster care.  The young girl was later diagnosed with a genetic predisposition.

I am not willing to let the government take children away from families because of obesity.  The idea that foster care is better than a family because a child is obese is just horrible.  If you want to control obesity in children, put gym classes back in the schools and encourage an active lifestyle.  That’s not the total answer, but it would help.

Relationships Are Complicated–Especially In Politics

I need to say up front that I have always loved Ed Koch.  I probably disagree with him on everything politically, but I sincerely like him.  I think when God designed Ed Koch He said, “I need to design the perfect person to be Mayor of New York City.  He may not do a perfect job, but he will reflect the spirit of the city.”  That’s why I like Ed Koch.  I also respect him.  He has spoken out in a principled way on numerous occasions when what he had to say was not popular–but he spoke out anyway. 

Yesterday the New York Post reported that Ed Koch has stated that as a protest against President Obama’s policies on Israel he is considering voting for Bob Turner, the Republican-Conservative candidate for ex-Representative Anthony Weiner’s House of Representatives seat.  Mayor Koch stated that he would vote for Bob Turner if Turner backs Israel and opposes Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security cuts.

He urged Jewish New Yorkers and those who support Israel to vote Republican in the special election in September.  Mayor Koch is hoping that seeing a strong Republican vote by Democrats might cause President Obama to change his treatment of Israel and reestablish the special relationship America has had with Israel in the past.  I see no hope of that at all, but I admire the effort. 

There is only one logical reason that the Obama administration has treated Israel so badly–it has to do with Iraq and Afghanistan.  The country supplying arms to Iraq and Afghanistan and fomenting chaos in those two countries is Iran.  I honestly believe that President Obama came into office with the idea that he could charm Iran into bringing peace to the Middle East.  I think he felt that he had to abandon Israel to do this, but eventually, his policies would bring peace to Israel.  I think this idea is pure science fiction, but if you believe that you can charm anyone into cooperating with you, this is something you might attempt.  Remember that President Obama, as near as any records of his past that have been made public, has never really been challenged as to what he believes and what he is doing.  As a community organizer, he was in charge and no one argued.  I don’t know if dissenting opinions are allowed in the Obama White House.  I rather doubt it. 

What the President does not seem to understand is the role of radical Islam in the Iranian government.  When the radicals took over Iran in 1979, they pledged to set up a world-wide caliphate under Sharia Law with Iran as a major player and Iraq as its center.  Those goals have not changed.

I admire Mayor Koch for his statement of principle, but I doubt any actions he takes will have the desired result.

I Have The Feeling I’m Watching A Child Threaten To Hold Her Breath Until She Turns Blue

Yesterday, posted an article by James Pethokoukis about exactly what happens if the debt ceiling is not raised.  The article included this chart:

The chart illustrates a number of things.  Note how much more the government is spending than what it actually takes in.  Note also that interest is a major part of government’s monthly expenses.  One simple way to lower monthly expenses is to bite the bullet–cut overall spending and begin to pay down the debt in order to decrease interest payments.

The article answers a number of questions about what will happen if the debt ceiling is not raised.  Here are two of them:

Q: What happens on August 3 if the debt limit is not increased?

A:  …  Using August 2010 spending and receipts as a proxy, the Treasury will probably take in $5-$10 bn in revenue on August 3, leaving insufficient revenues to make Social Security payments partly unfunded even if all other spending is deferred. Since the Treasury has carried a minimum cash balance of about $20 bn since 2009, and currently carries a balance of $74 bn, Social Security payments might still be made by drawing down the Treasury’s cash balance.

Q: Are Treasury interest payments at risk?

A: We do not think so. … There are two basic reasons that interest payments should not be called into question: First, if the August 2 deadline is missed, it is very difficult to see the debate dragging to August 15, when interest payments are made, since we doubt there will much congressional appetite for a protracted lapse in borrowing authority.  … Second, the Treasury is likely to prioritize payments. While the sharp fiscal contraction that would result from prioritization would have negative short-term economic consequences and would be difficult to implement, it nevertheless seems likely if necessary.

Please follow the link to the article.  The article is one of the clearest explanations of what will happen if an agreement is not reached that I have seen.

The Hand Revealed

CBS News posted a story today with the headline, “Obama says he cannot guarantee Social Security checks will go out on August 3.”  He is, of course, talking about what will happen if the Democrats and Republicans do not reach agreement on raising the debt ceiling.

Some thoughts–you mean Social Security checks are paid out of the deficit?  What happens to all the money collected in taxes for Social Security?  Isn’t there more money being paid in every week when people get paid?  So how could the debt ceiling be a problem for Social Security?

The article reports:

“Mr. Obama told Pelley (CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley) “this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out.””

The word I would use to describe that statement I am not willing to write on my blog.  This is an outright lie and it is blackmail.  If the Republicans do not stand up to this, not only are they stupid, there will be a third political party.  Any American who is paying any attention at all to what is going on in Washington should be deeply offended by this statement.