Tag Archives: social security

USA-Communism

We Defeated the Communists, and Then We Became Them!

My oh my!  Recently, there has been no shortage of world-wide events that have distracted our government from taking care of domestic issues.  There was hurricane Harvey, hurricane Irma, and now, once again tearing through the Caribbean, hurricane Maria.  These were catastrophic to the United States, and they totally destroyed some small Caribbean countries.   Last week, there was a ‘bucket bomb’ that exploded in a London subway.  And, much like an infant with a broken rattle, we can always count on Kim Jong-un to fire another missile anytime he thinks he is not getting enough attention on the world stage.

Because of these major events, not much attention has been given to our domestic problems. Obama Care has not been repealed or replaced.  The tax codes have not been revised.  And, have you recently heard any news referring to the federal budget?  This got me to wondering.  How is the federal government currently spending our money?  It is our money, isn’t it?  More importantly, how has the government spent our money in the past?  So, as a matter of personal interest, I have decided to compare our 2016 federal budget to the 50 year earlier, 1966 federal budget.  This was not an accidental choice, as I graduated from high school as a wet-behind-the-ears, know-it-all eighteen year old in 1966.  And, yes, I can still muster up enough memory to remember the era.  Let me set the stage.

1966

1966 was just over 20 years after the completion of WWII.  There were no shortage of veterans from that war.  They were our parents.  We fought an on-going war in Korea.  Because of what was called the ‘domino theory’ we sent military advisors to a country called South Viet Nam.  Eisenhower began this program, Kennedy expanded it, and Lyndon Johnson turned Saigon into the  twenty-third largest American city.  Little did we know in 1966 that Viet Nam would ultimately cost us over 57,000 American lives.

Our WWII ally, Russia, was now our dreaded enemy.  They became the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which was comprised of Russia and all the countries it decided to keep in its ‘sphere of influence’ after WWII.  The majority joined unwillingly by the use of Russian military force. We had NATO, and the USSR had the Warsaw Pact.  They built the Berlin wall and shot anyone that tried to cross it.  Winston Churchill dubbed this policy of isolation as the ‘Iron Curtain.’

In 1962, we had a little dust-up in the Caribbean called the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The USSR wanted to install nuclear warheads and missiles in Cuba.  US versus USSR.  Kennedy versus Khruschev. Good versus evil.  Eagle versus the bear.  Democracy versus communism.  According to all historical accounts, it was the closest the world has come to a nuclear holocaust.

In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated.  (I was hoping I would find out who was responsible before I died, but time is running out!)

On the domestic front, the ‘baby boomers’ were entering the workforce.  As a high school graduate, there were three life choices available:  go to college, get a job, or get drafted.  That was pretty much it.  The economy was booming because there was a war to fuel it.  Just about anyone that wanted a job had a job.  As eighteen year olds, we could not wait to move away from home and become independent.  We never moved back home.

With these events as a background, how did our government spend our money?  Our GDP in 1966 was $4.12T.  The total government receipts were $689B.  Our total outlays were $708B.  (Yes!  We dealt in billions and not trillions!)  Our deficit that year was $19.5B.  Ah yes, don’t you long for the good old days now?  42% of all revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 20% and corporate taxes accounted for 23% of revenues.

On the spending side, 43% of all funds were spent on national defense.  But here is the biggie….medicare and general health spending was only 2% of the budget that year.  Spending on social security, unemployment and labor in 1966 was about 23% of all outlays.

In raw numbers, the Dept. of Defense got $298B, Health and Human Services got $30.1B, Social Security Administration got $109B, Treasury got $61.9B and NASA got $31.2B.  The Treasury received their money largely to pay the interest on our $1.74T national debt.  Of course there are other departments, but these are the largest and pertinent to this blog.

2016

Now we fast forward 50 years to 2016, the last year of the Obama budget.  There were only two budgets put forth by the Obama admistration in his eight years as POTUS.  Harry Reed, the senate majority leader, promised not to bring a budget to the senate floor and the ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  In 2016, the government took in $2.99T in tax revenues.  (Yes, we got to the trillions!) 49% of these revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 33% and corporate taxes accounted for 9% of total revenues.  The national debt now exceeds $16.7T!

The sources of revenue did not change substantially in 50 years.  But how the revenues have been spent have significantly changed.  Remember that the defense department accounted for 43% of the 1966 budget?  Well, even with all the shenanigans going on with terrorism and wars, the 2016 budget only spent 15% on the defense department.  Wow!  Where did that money go?  The 2% of monies spent on medicare and general health spending in 1966 now consumes 28% of the spending.  Spending on social security is now 37% of the budget as compared to 22% in the past.   Entitlement programs now consume 65% of our national budget!

The raw numbers are staggering.  The Dept. of Defense now spends $515B.  The Dept. of Health and Human Services goes from $30.1B to a staggering $995B!  The Dept. of Treasury goes from $61.9B to $484B!  Much of this is to pay the interest on our growing, inflated national debt.  Not to be outdone, the Social Security Administration received a nice bump, going from $109B to $866B!  NASA, on the other hand, had its 1966 budget of $31.2B reduced to $17.2B in 2016.

I need to provide a small history lesson at this point.  Do you know what the original responsibities were of the federal government?  Why the federal government was founded?  It was founded for two reasons; national defense and international trade.  End of list.  It is astounding how the federal government got to its present size.  Back to the blog.

There are some logical explainations for these large differences in these federal budgets.  In 1966, the huge ‘baby boomer’ generation entered the work force.  They worked.  They paid taxes.  They paid into the social security fund.  In 2016, guess what?  The ‘baby boomers’ aged.  They retired and they began collecting the social security in which they paid for after about 50+ working years.

In 1966, there wasn’t any government provided health care program.  We never expected a federal health care program.  But now look at what is happening.  Obamacare happened, and it has pretty much been a mess ever since.  Everyone agrees it needs to change, but we can’t get two people in a room of 100 senators to agree on how it should change.  Personally, I think the federal government should get out of the health care business altogether, but the proverbial cat has been let out of the bag.  Unlike the old days of 1966 where we did not believe in such a thing as a free lunch, we have people perfectly capable of working that expect a free lunch.  In 1966 we were raised under the mantra that, ‘you ate what you killed.’  Now our national conscious is that everyone should eat, even if they haven’t done one thing to feed themselves.

As amazing as it is to see the differences in our budgets after 50 years, it appears this is outdone by our expectations as to what the government owes us in entitlements.  Most of these entitlements did not exist 50 years ago, and yet we survived.  This is borne out by a Health and Human Services budget that is over 30 times larger than in 1966.  (Think ‘welfare’)

During the Cold War, we spent trillions of dollars to defeat those socialistic Communists.  Russia has turned from its socialistic/communistic society.  You remember socialism/communism.  That is the economic and political theory that advocates the means of production, distribution and exchange should be regulated by the community (government) as a whole.  Our electorate has seen fit in the last 50 years to elect officials that institute welfare programs that we can’t afford,  with money we don’t have, for people who should not receive them.   We have given up our independence.  Now, with our dependence on our federal government, we have taken the place of the former USSR.   Have we become the New Socialists/Communists?

It gives a whole new context to the motto, ‘Land of the free……..’

GOP

Midterm Election Results – Who are the Real Winners and Losers?

I, Grandpa T, am taking full credit for the Republican victories in the November 4th midterm elections!

OK, I did not have anything to do with it.  But if Al Gore can claim inventing the internet, Barrack Obama can claim you could keep your old health insurance policies and George H.W. Bush can claim “no new taxes,”  I should be able to get at least a little credit for this election.

There are no shortage of articles being published or ‘talking heads’ on TV giving their assessments of what went right and what went wrong for both parties.

This article is about an outsider’s opinion as to who are the winners and losers.

Winner – Republicans

If you are going by sheer numbers alone, the Republicans had a great election.  There were 51 new Republican candidate winners and 17 new Democratic candidate winners.  This would be considered a rout if it were a football score:  51-17.

I view this impressive victory as being similar to an oreo cookie.  The top layer represents the existing 113th Congress.  This Congress, the Congress with the lowest approval rating since ratings were initiated in 1974, still has until January 3, 2015 to reign mayhem upon the public.   There are already rumors about ‘ramrodding’ some Democratic nominations while the opportunity still presents itself.  The POTUS, with the prospect of a Republican-controlled Congress after the first of the year, has publicly stated he will initiate immigration reform using the Executive Action excuse.  No doubt this will be done to make that new Congress look mean and evil for not wanting to grant amnesty to about two million illegal aliens.   As of this writing, the Washington ‘three ring circus’ will still be functioning for about another eight weeks.

The middle layer of the oreo cookie is the impressive number of Republican victories.  The Republicans gained thirteen seats in the House of Representatives and won enough senatorial seats to take control of the Senate.  The greatest achievement from gaining control of the senate?  Getting rid of Harry Reid as the House Majority leader!  Harry Reid – the person who has single handedly stonewalled democracy by using his status as the ‘gatekeeper to hell.’  Nothing was presented to our US Senate for either debate or vote, unless Harry allowed it.  (A reported 382 bills, passed by the House of Representatives, are allegedly sitting on his desk!  He will not bring them to the Senate floor for consideration!)  He said in 2008 that while he was Senate Majority leader, no US budget would be discussed, approved, or voted on.  He is a man of his word.  Not one budget has been approved for the largest economy in the world for all of Obama’s term of presidency because of Harry.  I was hoping he would lose his position as senate minority leader.  But Harry, ever diligent, always thirsting power, has decided he wants to continue as Senate Minority Leader, no doubt hoping for a comeback in 2016.  If you want a person to point a finger at for the fact that the 113th Congress has been ineffective, Harry would be a damn good target.

The bottom layer of my oreo cookie is that we are now an ‘instantaneous’ society.  Everything has to be quick (ie texting, email, microwave ovens, Instagram) and the results have to be quick.  By the way, Grandpa T has no idea what Instagram is, but the very name implies instant!  We have become a society that does not allow any grass to grow under our feet.  We won’t wait that long.  So, we will now expect the new Congress, that Congress we just voted into Washington, to provide us with instantaneous results in exchange for our votes.  There is only one major flaw with these expectations for the new 114th Congress.  They all get sworn in, find their offices, get their pens and pencils in the right slots in the right drawers, hire their staffs, find housing, get their kids in school, meet their peers, and then get to work.  How long do you think it takes to get acclimated as a newbie in Washington, D.C.?  Lets say, for the purposes of argument, that it will take six months to become fully acclimated.  Reasonable?  So now that they are all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to legislate everything that is good and honorable for the good of the old United States of America, what happens next?  WE BEGIN ANOTHER ELECTION CYCLE!  Unlike Great Britain, which allows only 6 weeks for election campaigning (how heavenly would that be?!), our 2016 election year will begin early – especially since it is a presidential election year.  This campaigning will be long, expensive and distracting.  My point to all of this?  How much can we really expect these people to accomplish in the midst of the upcoming election campaigns?  The onus will be on the Republicans to perform regardless.  Thus the bottom layer of the oreo cookie.

Loser – Democrats

We are all familiar with the numbers and the results.  What we don’t take into consideration is that a promising younger generation of democrats got defeated and may never run for office again.  The downside to all of this?  We are stuck with the old democrats:  Hilary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi…..the list can go on and on.  I can remember when the accusations were that the Republicans were a bunch of fat-cat, cigar smoking, greedy rich guys.  Now that mantra is more befitting for the reigning democrats than for the republicans.

Winner – United States of America

Here are some of the demographics concerning the 68 new members of Congress.  Twelve have had prior military experience, nine Republicans and three Democrats.  (This is a far cry from the 70s when 80% of all Congressmen had prior military service!)  Thirteen of the newly elected Congress members are women, representing 20% of those elected.  Four of the newly elected are black women, three of whom are Democrats and one is a Republican.  Forty-one percent of all those new Congressmen are under the age of 50.

But here is what impresses me.  I am totally impressed by the character and demeanor of some of these incoming Congressmen.  I have heard the following three winners speak on TV, without teleprompter, and I have to say I am very enthusiastic about each of them.

The first person is Joni Ernst who was elected as the first female federal representative from Iowa.  What a woman!  She is a combat veteran having served 14 months in Kuwait.  She is currently a LTC in the Iowa National Guard.  What people do not know, as the media did not cover this, is that LTC Ernst was in uniform two days after winning the election, as she had to make up drill days lost during the campaign.  She believes in and supports a balanced budget amendment, free-market health care, gun rights, partial privatization of Social Security accounts and protection of accounts for seniors.  She opposes both cap and trade and a federal minimum wage.  It’s almost like she reads my blog!  She is educated, personable and very articulate.  If she sold stock in herself, I would be an investor!  I predict she will be a political ‘bright star’ in the future.

Another person that I have been extremely impressed by is Mia Love, the representative elect from Utah’s 4th congressional district.  She is a black woman of Haitian descent.  Interestingly, she was raised a Catholic but converted to the Mormon religion.  Her political beliefs are for fiscal discipline, limited government, personal responsibility, domestic energy exploration, gun rights, and is pro-life.  My infatuation with Ms. Love began when some ignorant reporter asked her if she got elected because ‘she was black.’  Her response?   “I did not get elected because I was black.  I got elected because I represent the values of the people of the State of Utah.”  Kapow!  Another ignorant reporter that got cut off at the knees.  Ms. Love is also educated and articulate.  I predict a ‘bright star’ in her future as well.

Tim Scott won his first term as the Republican senator for the State of South Carolina after being appointed in 2013 by the Governor to fill the vacated seat of Jim DeMint.  Did I mention that Tim Scott is a black man?  Mr. Scott previously served as US Representative for the first congressional district.  This made him the first black representative from South Carolina since 1897!  Senator Scott supports a balanced budget amendment, repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, and an immigration policy similar to that of the State of Arizona.  He, like the two others that impressed me, is both educated and articulate.  If you hear him speak, you can’t help but be dazzled.

I believe that both Love and Scott are going to be political nightmares for the Democratic party.  Why?  Because they, as well as some of the other newly elected black Congressmen, present a far better, more promising role model for black society than the old gang of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters.  With the Democrats continually using ‘class warfare,’ ‘rich versus poor’,  and other discriminating rhetoric to pander their ‘us versus them’ mantra, the last thing the Democrats want to see is successful, articulate, conservative minorities!

I am optimistic, that with the elections of Love and Scott, America may have grown up and decided that they will not vote for someone just because of the color of their skin.

Martin Luther King said it best: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Senator Scott and Ms. Love have both aced the character test.  America Wins!

Political-Ads

Mudslinging and Misinformation – An American Political Art Form

Have you noticed the direction that political ads have taken?

Recently, Grandma P and I visited our former home state to attend a wedding.  In that state, the political races are a little closer than in our current home state.  The political ads ran 24/7!

The mudslinging!  The accusations!  The character “assassinations!’   Those were just the political commercials running on Cartoon Network!  Holy Crap!  If even 25% of the accusations are  true, all of these candidates should be in prison, not in Washington, D.C.  (Now that is a unique concept!)

I hate election season.  It wrecks my television viewing!  I miss my commercials for expensive cars, body lotions, perfumes, and soda drinks.  They don’t stand a chance against the venomous, biased ads run by political candidates.

What really gores my bull is the misinformation spewed during these commercials.

If you have read any of my blogs, you know that they have a conservative tone.  What really, really upsets me about most of the liberal candidate advertising is the continuation of the ‘class warfare’ element.  Being ‘rich’ is being pandered as being synonymous with being a ‘crook.’  It is being used as a 4 letter word by the Democratic party.  The inference is that if someone is ‘rich,’ those evil people got there by nefarious means, and no doubt on the backs of the poor!  Those ‘rich’ people obviously achieved everything they have by using the backs of the poor as their stepping stones to success.  (Interestingly enough, the Democratic candidates in our former home state are out-spending the Republicans approximately 3:2.  Apparently there is a lot of money available to ‘buy’ votes.)

As stupid as that last paragraph sounds, it is the underlying tone of much of the liberal advertising.  Never mind hard work, getting an education or taking chances in the business world – it is all for naught, because the government will take care of you.  You can have what those ‘rich’ scoundrels have without the effort.  You are entitled to what they have!  Why work for it?

The reason I find this upsetting is that this attitude contradicts the spirit in which this country was founded.  Independence – to do or achieve what you want without government intervention.  Freedom – to be all you can be.  Responsibility – to yourself and to your family to ensure the continuance of freedom and independence.  The liberal agenda seems to be to cast aside these founding principles and, instead, adopt the assurance that you can feed at the bountiful udder of the government teat.  That cow will eventually go dry!

Here are some examples of specific claims I saw in some of these advertisements.

“Candidate X wants to privatize social security.”  This was presented by a 30-something as if the world would end if Candidate X got reelected.  Have you polled anyone under 40 lately about the likelihood of them receiving social security?  I have.  I can assure you that everyone that I have talked to about this does not believe social security will be available once they reach retirement age.  The smart ones are preparing for that eventuality by saving and contributing into their retirement accounts.  Wow!  What a novel idea!  These people are taking responsibility for preparing for their own future retirement.  According to the liberals, these people need to be eradicated, or at least reprogrammed.  Of course, the liberals also like to scare the bejesus out of the elderly by convincing them that social security could be taken away tomorrow.  This will not happen.  That 30 something that was castigating candidate X should have been jumping up and down for joy, as should all the younger members of our society.  Privatization would mean that you could keep all your money and invest it as you see fit!  Again – individual responsibility.  It takes discipline to save.   Yes, it could be taxed to fund the existing social security system until its termination.  But, I believe, most of the younger generation would accept that as a tradeoff.

Why won’t it happen?  Privatizing social security takes the money out of the hands of the people that covet it most – the government of the United States.  Yup, ever since the Johnson administration and the burdening cost of the Viet Nam war, all presidents have used social security funds to balance the federal budget.  This worked well when there were 20 workers for every retiree. We are now down to 3 workers per retiree with the skids greased to get to two workers per retiree.  What started out as a supplemental income became a permanent retirement plan, with most people convinced to not save because ‘Uncle Sam’ will take care of them.  It has become a Ponzi scheme that cannot be funded permanently.  So what do you think of candidate X now?

Here was another observed advertisement.  “Candidate Y accepted campaign monies from companies that outsource American jobs to foreign companies.”  On the surface, this would sound like another nefarious act on the part of Candidate Y.  Let’s string the unpatriotic bastard from the highest tree, just like they did to cattle rustlers in the old west!  But wait just a darn minute, buckaroo!  Before I slap my trusty steed, Old Blueballs on the butt and leave Candidate Y swinging in the breeze, let’s think about this for a second.  If you were to check the labels on the clothing you are now wearing, how much clothing would you be wearing if you only wore ‘American made’ clothing?  If you were to rid yourself of all computers and televisions in your home that are not  American made, how many would you have?  Here is my wild guess as to the answers to the two previous questions: You would be standing nude, looking at a blank wall!  Most of our goods are foreign made.  In the 80s, I bought a new Cadillac.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was assembled in Canada!  I was further surprised to learn that half the nuts and bolts on that car were ‘American’ sizes and half were metric.  I found that out when I had it serviced.  Most large American manufacturers have a foreign facility.  We are dependent on these foreign goods.  It is safe to say that  practically every candidate that accepts campaign funds from a large company is also accepting funds from a company that has outsourced labor to a foreign country.  Of course, we could always lower our world high corporate tax rate from 40% down to the world average 22%, but that would mean reducing federal spending.  This has been done previously, and it resulted in increased tax revenue because of the higher revenues received from a lower unemployment rate.  It stimulated the economy.   That would be a smart move on the part of Congress, so don’t expect to see it anytime soon.

The most venomous ad I observed went like this; “Candidate Z supports tax cuts for millionaires!”  There we go again.  Go get Old Blueballs out of the stable,  because we got another galoot to hang from a tall oak tree!  Those darn millionaires got there on the backs of the poor and they are not paying their fair share of taxes!  Get the rope!  Maybe we should delay that execution for just a moment.  In 2010, the top ten percent wage earners paid over 70% of the total amount collected in federal income taxes.  The remaining 90% bore just under 30% of the tax burden.  Forty-seven percent of all Americans paid hardly anything at all – a fact that got Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into political hot water during the  2012 political campaign.  In 1986, the top ten percent wage earners paid 55% of the total federal taxes.  In 1986 there were just two tax rates – 15% and 28%.  (Ahhhh, the good old days!)  Now there are seven income tax brackets, ranging from 10% to nearly 40%. (So much for simplifying the tax codes!)   Now someone needs to educate me as to how the top ten percent wage earners, those people paying over 70% of the federal government taxes, are not paying their fair share?  Their tax burden has gone up 12% since 1986!  Maybe Candidate Z deserves not to be hanged today.  He probably understands that if we decrease government spending, maybe those darn millionaires do deserve a tax break, getting us back to the tax rates of the ‘good old days.’

Of course, no election campaign would be complete without referencing Obamacare.  I am against this plan simply because it was forced onto the American public by a Democratically controlled Congress that had not read the act or put any forethought into its administration.  It was a hair-brained Democrat scheme to purchase votes, once again trying to get the masses onto the seemingly endless government teat.  So far, Obamacare has appeared to do more harm than good.  Its overall administration has been a disaster.  It proves once again that private enterprise, not the federal government, is more efficient at administering large scale programs.

So there you have it.  Our upcoming midterm election – that time of year when television revenues are going through the roof because of political advertising, and ad agencies sink to an abyss of lost ethics by making their candidates’ opponents look like political derelicts and crooks.

What don’t we see in any of these ads?  Spending cuts.  Established sunsets on all welfare benefits.  Term limits.  Drug testing for present and future welfare recipients.  Corporate tax reductions.  Income tax reductions.  A flat income tax.   Social security/retirement revision.  Somehow, none of these very important items makes the final cut in any of these ads.

I can’t wait until the elections are over so I can get back to my favorite ads.

Go vote!  Or as the Bayou Mauler, editor at large, would say, “Geaux vote!”

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”  Plato

Fiscal Cliff

Government Gridlock – Costing our Country its Future

Anyone with two eyes, two ears, and an IQ higher than a turnip knows that our federal government is having budget difficulties.  It is because of the Great Recession.  It is because of lost revenues due to a high unemployment rate.  It is because of rampant spending on the part of our elected officials.   You would think that with all the press given to the “fiscal cliff” and to the negative effects of reaching that cliff, our federal representatives would be feverishly working to balance our budget to avoid our great nation from falling off that cliff.  So are they?

Here is a simplified synopis of how the budget planning process is supposed to work.

Since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Senate and the House are supposed to pass budget resolutions in the spring.  These budget resolutions set the framework for taxation, spending and other fiscal considerations for the coming year.  They also lay out general plans for the next four years.  If the budget resolutions differ, the Chambers are to hammer out a compromise.

Budget resolutions are policy plans.  They are not appropriations bills, or spending bills, which actually allocate monies for specific purposes.

If a budget resolution does not pass, the federal government does not go dark.  In the absence of a budget resolution, appropriations bills will continue to allocate money.   (This last sentence is the weakness in our system, which allows a bad situation to get worse!)

This all brings us back to the question: What are our federal representatives doing about balancing our budget?  And when was the last time that a budget was approved?…………tick………………tick…………………tick…………  Time is up!  April 29, 2009.

In 2012, not one single annual appropriations bill has was brought to the Senate floor!  The U.S. House passed seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills that year and sent them to the Senate for consideration, according to the status report by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.  The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved 11 of the 12 spending bills and sent them to the full Senate for consideration.

So what happened?  It actually sounds as if some of our federally elected officials were indeed working at attempting to provide a budget.  Read on……………

None of the bills approved by the House or the Senate Appropriations Committee were ever brought to the Senate floor for a vote.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who decides which bills will be considered, told reporters on July 10, 2012, that no spending bills were likely to be approved in 2012 due to an ongoing dispute with House Republicans over how much the federal government should spend.  No fooling?

True to his word, Reid so far has not brought any of the annual spending bills to the floor since that statement in July, necessitating the short-term budget measure to keep the government running for another six months.  This also means that there are not any four-year plans provided for future budget planning.  There is no shell of a federal budget, much less a framework for future budgets.

Everyone who knew we did not have a budget for almost four years, raise your hands.  Yup, that’s what I thought.  I had no idea either.  I haven’t heard much about this in the media.

I know I have higher aspirations for the people who are elected to oversee the welfare of our country.  And what do they do?  They are playing patty-cake politics at our country’s expense.  It would be fair to assume that this group, regardless of political party, are flying by the seats of their pants (or skirts) and that they really do not have an original thought or plan to get our country out of this financial mess.   One person, a man from Nevada who won his last election by 40,000 votes, has decided that because those mean, vicious Republicans want to cut spending, he will circumvent the debate and compromise process by not introducing budget bills on the Senate floor.  Why, exactly, are these people in Washington?

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not just a Democratic party issue.  There have been other times in our nation’s history when the Republicans did not pass a budget when they were in the majority.  But I must admit, the Democrats have been overachievers in not getting a budget approved since 2009.   We have had three years without a budget, and we have an excellent chance of extending the record.

The irony of all of this, is that our country is still on the brink of the financial cliff.  The fiscal cliff was going to hit on January 1 of this year.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I expected the gutless wonders we have elected to Congress to postpone making any decisions.  They did just that, and now the new cliff date is March 27, 2013.  I suspect that when that date approaches, they will again delay by passing temporary appropriations bills to keep the country running.  All of this without any permanent solutions for what are becoming huge permanent problems.  Social security, Medicaid, Medicare, defense, unemployment; all of these issues need to be addressed, as this country cannot afford to continue on its present path.  Let me be perfectly clear.  We need to reduce spending!

Suffice it to say that if the US military operated as inefficiently, ineptly and with as little direction as our present Congress, we would still be fighting the Civil War.

So what has been accomplished thus far in facing the realities of the pending fiscal cliff?  For one thing, the POTUS (President of the United States)  asked for and received higher income taxes on higher income wage earners.  You certainly heard his continuous promotion of class envy by using the word “rich” like it was a dirty four letter word during the presidential debates.  Congress approved this increase at the end of last year, mostly hitting families with a combined household income of over $450K per year.  In their infinite, but vanishing, wisdom, Congress also complicated the IRS tax codes by making federal income tax a four-tier process, with a number of caveats at each level.  So much for trying to simplify the tax codes.  The Republicans relented  and approved these increased tax measures on the assumption that the other end of the shovel would be spending cuts.  But now, after getting the increases, the POTUS and the Democrats are balking at any spending cuts.  And of the cuts that they may actually approve, 50% come from the Defense Budget, which is about 22% of our federal budget.   At the same time, the Democrats are trying to preserve all the social welfare programs, which consume well over half of our federal budget.   Stay tuned as to how this will all flesh out.

Last night, Grandma and I attended an investment seminar with a guest speaker from Washington, D.C.  He offered his insight into our inability to compromise and to do what is best for the country.  His theory?  He says that the United States political picture is currently divided into thirds: 1/3 Republicans, 1/3 Democrats, and 1/3 Independents.  The Independents are in the middle, expecting compromise.  The other two parties have gone respectively to the extreme left and extreme right to hold onto the political base that got them elected.  The result of all of this is that the two extremes are our federal representatives.  Gridlock ensues as both sides are too far apart to consider compromise.  Like Nero, they are fiddling in Washington, while the country burns.  I blame both sides.  We need leadership more than ever from people who are incapable or unwilling to lead.   Most people do not want to face the reality that we may all have to sacrifice some, to protect the whole.  In this case, the “whole” is the United States of America.

Originally, I was going to do a post on welfare.  During my research on the welfare programs in the US, I ran across this information as to how our government if functioning in Washington.  The verdict?  It is not functioning for the benefit of the country!  It is working overtime to gain reelection.   I am both appalled and irritated by how our country is being managed.  I must be naive, because I expect more from supposedly smart leaders.  Much of these problems would not exist if we had term limits.  It is obvious that too many selfish, egotistical people feel comfortable “nesting” in Washington.

The next post will be on welfare programs in the US.  These programs are at the heart of possible budget cuts.

Have you talked or written to your Congressman lately?  If the silent majority (the common sense people) do not make themselves known, we become abetters by allowing our government to continue on its present course.

PS:  On Saturday, March 23, the Senate passed a budget for the first time in about four years with a vote of 50-49.  This budget will not be implimented, as it is to diverse from the budget passed by the House.  Stay tuned for more gridlock and ineptness.