Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Man's Patriot, Another's Radical

Talk about polarization! I call her a patriot, others would dismiss her as a conservative radical. You choose for yourself after you listen to her.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is outraged by the secretive spending appropriation in the Obamacare legislation that was passed last year. She's calling on the unholy alliance of Obama, Reid and Pelosi to apologize to the American people for the deception.

In case anyone is keeping score and actually cares about the Constitution, appropriation bills must originate in the House -- the People's House -- where duly elected representatives of the people of the United States of America get to decide what is spent, how much, and on what.

When Obamacare was passed through both houses of Congress along party lines with the Democrats in the majority in both houses, however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously said, "We have to pass this legislation first to know what's in it," and that is exactly what happened.

It was cobbled together hastily in the dead of night in both houses of Congress without anyone (or very few, Pelosi herself apparently) knowing what was in it.

Ronald Reagan, fifty years ago, presaged what would happen. Said he:

"Back in 1927, an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program. ...

"One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

"Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this. Under the Truman administration, it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this." (Radio address on socialized medicine, 1961).

You can bet when the House passes this next continuing resolution for the next two weeks of enough funding to keep the government running temporarily, Bachmann is not going to go quietly into the night without a fight over $105 Billion being stripped out -- "clawed back" as she puts it.

On a related topic: There are Big Issues facing America right now. Tax revenues in the states are simply not available to fund public union pension and healthcare plans. The tried and true principles of tax and spend are outdated. As a nation and in the several states, we are spending more than we are bringing in. That is nuts, and it will change either voluntarily or because gravity is still the predominant law of the universe. What goes up (spending) must always come back to earth. It's not a question of if this is going to happen, only a matter of when, how much and how hard will the landing be?

Yes, the states have made promises to public unions, and yes they are in default on those agreements. Yes, the unions have won concession after concession through their collective bargaining muscle from the politicians who come and go. What is going on in New Jersey and Wisconsin, not to mention Ohio, Indiana and other states like Illinois, is nothing more than the profligate spending habits finally coming back to bite, and bite hard. It's time for the unions to step back, take a moment to reflect on the gains they have made in the past, recognize these are desperate times and begin to back away and be responsible under present conditions.

Since 2008 and the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market and the onset of the "Great Recession" as it is now being called, there is not a segment of the economy that has not suffered. Historically, unions represented both public and private sector workers. They were able to negotiate and protect their workers from egregious practices of some powerful businesses that had abused their privileges and exploited labor. They succeeded so well, in fact, that companies like General Motors were decimated and went bankrupt. Of course, to blame their gross mismanagement solely upon union contracts is simplistic, but the benefits granted to unions were so magnanimous they have now damaged the entire U.S. economy. It's simple math, really: Not enough tax revenue to cover expenses among the several states. Millions of jobs formerly held by Americans are now outsourced to China and India. Why? Labor unions, doing their darnedest for their workers pushed the cost of labor too high. If you're management and you're beholden to shareholders, you have no choice but to seek lower costs anywhere you can find them to boost profits.

In this sense capitalism is brutal. It is not a cradle to grave entitlement plan like we see in smaller European countries where "we take care of our own." In Sweden, for example, 10 million Swedes love their socialism and it seems to work on some level. Pit that solution against over 300 million Americans, and the blankets on the entitlement bed just aren't big enough to cover everyone.

Class warfare has always part of the political debate in this country. This is nothing new. The haves against the have nots is always an interesting discussion to follow, but it is pointless now. We're in crisis, a political crisis of gridlock and a funding crisis begging immediate attention.

America must pay its bills. China holds well over $1 Trillion in U.S. debt. We are well over $14 Trillion in total debt, and the President who once adamantly opposed raising the debt ceiling as a freshman senator, is now warning that unless he gets what he's asking for in a higher debt ceiling America will default on its obligations to its creditors. After all his bluster over the issue, Obama then proffered a laughable budget calling for another Trillion to be spent in this fiscal year's budget with minuscule spending cuts. This after ignoring the recommendations of his own blue-ribbon bi-partisan debt and spending commission appointed by him to study what to do about the spending problem.

That is insanity and utter irresponsibility in light of the current conditions. Then Obama condescendingly lectures to Wisconsin to uphold its obligations to the public workers' union. To which Wisconsin's governor shot back, "Better get your own house in order, Mr. President, before you start giving me advice."

I have been quick to criticize spending in the Bush administration, but the magnitude and the audacity of what Obama has done pales into insignificance by contrast.

People say China might just call our bluff and unload all their U.S. paper. Reality, however, suggests they'd have to find another place to park it -- not as easy as it looks. However, America really has no choice now. We are at another crossroad and we must choose which road to go down. Straight ahead is no longer possible because it is unsustainable. We've got to come up with a short-term and a long-term spending reduction plan that puts Congress in "a straight jacket" as Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and others are advocating. That includes a Balanced Budget Amendment that allows for exceeding well-defined limits with a super (2/3) majority from both houses of Congress in the event of national emergency. It also means public unions must and will be compelled to back down on their demands to keep the states solvent.

I am continually amazed at the liberal agenda. Despite fiscal reality, they continue to scream, "Tax the rich!" to bring down debt. Taxation crushes economic expansion. Corporations and rich folks are like water running downhill to seek lower tax rates wherever they can be found. Exporting jobs and production facilities to business friendly states like Utah, or overseas, is the only way decision makers can respond when taxes continue to rise. The flight from California and Illinois is emblematic, not to mention what happened to the once proud Motor City, Detroit.

Debt and spending reductions in the states and in the federal government is JOB ONE. America is watching. If Congress can't get its act together in the next two years, the unrest and unwillingness of the voters to continue doing business as usual with its elected representatives will bring further changes in 2012.

And you can take THAT to the bank.

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