About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's Resolution To Make - & Keep

Last week USA Today reported there are 42 million registered Democrats, 30 million registered Republicans, & 24 million people who identify themselves as Independents.  This is just another indication that we are outnumbered.
I have repeatedly pointed out that every lover of freedom should find & convert @ least three statists to vote for anti-statist candidates in whatever level (local, state, presidential) election they are comfortable with in 2012.  This means finding & supporting candidates who will make a mindset change in the way our people think not necessarily only the ABBO (anybody but BO) idea but far greater than that.  We have to eliminate the slow burn toward socialism not just concentrate on one election no matter how terrible the outcome of that election might be in the short run.
Friedrich Hayek dedicated his classic book The Road To Serfdom "To The Socialists Of All Parties" & we have a plethora of socialists in both major parties today – we need to rid ourselves of them starting with BO.  In an analogy to the housing market we have to clear the houses needed to be foreclosed before the housing market can turn around.  We also have to clear out the socialists @ every level before we can return to the excellence of our founding.
Because of the business cycle the economy may be starting to temporarily improve – if your washing machine broke down several years ago you may have to go buy a new one if you are tired of washing your clothes in the nearby stream.  But neither the business cycle or total thrift will return our economy to the needed prosperity & certainly none of BO's policies will either.
The above graph indicates that our work may be getting harder as some parts of the economy pick up just in time to help BO – note the sharp recent upturn in consumer confidence. 
Now I am not favoring a rotten economy just to get BO defeated by a Republican candidate who may be every bit as bad as BO or one who only slows the burn to socialism.  But I do know from the above listed statistics that every one who reads these messages should make & keep a New Year's resolution to go out & find & convert @ least three statists (relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.) to vote for anti-statist candidates if we are to have any chance @ all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ron Paul's Turn In The Hostile Anti-American Media's Barrel

Ron Paul got his turn in the subject barrel after he moved into the lead in the polls before the Iowa caucuses.  Last week Congressman Paul gained much notoriety by supposedly walking out of a too-tough CNN interview that questioned so-called incendiary racial remarks made in twenty year old newsletters that were published under his name such as Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.  At the time of most of these publications Dr. Paul had left Congress & was practicing medicine – a practice that includes being an obstetrician and gynecologist during the 1960s and 1970s, delivering more than 4,000 babies.

Although Dr. Paul has repeatedly disavowed the controversial remarks in these newsletters you can judge for yourself the validity of the claims by clicking on the CNN edited version of the entire interview that was shown on CNN (130,695 views on the internet plus the hundreds of thousands who saw it on CNN) & comparing it to the total unedited version (22,305 views on the internet).

Please notice how the edited version actually shown on CNN only focused on the incendiary matters that will have very little if any effect on your life if Congressman Paul is elected president – this is an example why I stopped watching the Communist News Network years ago.  Compare that to Congressman Paul's answers in the unedited version regarding regulating lobbyists' rights to petition the government, the description of how a declaration of war works, & why he would have used the principles of Letters of Marque & Reprisal after 9/11 to go after the Islamic fascist terrorists. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Response - 2011 Christmas Card

Returned from Cleveland on Friday from the funeral of Carol's mother to find much support from those of you who knew of my mother-in-law's death including the message below & the home made Christmas card from a long time member & dear friend who I hope to see more often.
---Joy To The World Christmas Greeting---
Doug, the video was delightful! I've posted it to my 40+ Facebook friends.

Attached is this year's Christmas card, drawn by my husband Ed, who is an illustrator as well as an author. The expression on the baby's face is inspired by the expression on our son's face, who smiled from the moment he entered this world. So often, depictions of Mary and her Child are, understandably, solemn. Ed captures the Mother and Child's mutual joy.

May you and Carol and all the good people in this group have a most joyous Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

Thanks to a very long time subscriber for sending along this beautiful Christmas card & to NJ Senate candidate & great friend Anna Little for sending this latest Flash Mob video.  Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hitch's Faith

On Friday I read in The Washington Times that Christopher Hitchens died on Wednesday night @ the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, @ age 62, of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer.
The last time Carol & I saw Hitch was when he debated Tony Blair in Toronto in 2010 over whether religion is a force for good in the world – some of the meanest lowest people I know hide behind religion portraying themselves as good when they are anything but.
Hitchens was an atheist & his presentation the night of the debate won over the audience on this topic over the Catholic convert former Prime Minister Tony Blair – an excellent debater as we all surely know.
"I love the imagery of struggle," Hitchens wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. "I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient."
Hitchens became an American citizen on his 58th birthday in 2007.  Although he could tolerate seeing the American flag burned (it clearly identifies our enemies – both foreign & domestic - as I have written many times myself) Hitchens wrote that he would take an American flag stamp off an envelop & turn it right side up if he had inadvertently put it on upside down. 
It was people like Christopher Hitchens who made me think quite some time ago, that when you look @ all the wonders of the world, that it really takes more faith to believe in atheism, like Hitch did, than to believe in God.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Shopping Message

Click here to hear the subject message sung by the ACLU Choir – no, not what you are thinking.  It is the American Christian Life United Choir.

The song has a good message – do not financially support enemies of America.  For instance, why would anyone buy The NY Times?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Responses - Ron Paul's Consistency

Thanks to everyone who responded to the original subject message. 
For the record Ron Paul is now in a statistical dead heat for first place in Iowa & is either 2nd or 3rd in NH depending on the poll.  This gives America a chance to return to the excellence of our founding documents.  Make the most of it.
Responses to the video of Congressman Paul's compilation of remarks from the last debate ranged from "Doug: Very very enjoyable. . .thank you" to "Ron Paul knows more about money and finances than the other three I mentioned combined" to "Ron Paul has my vote hands down... it is up to him to keep it that way... and I believe he will... and I'll be watching...Merry Christmas to you and Carol my friend."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ron Paul's Consistency

As a follow up to the last message re the chance we would be taking by overlooking, accepting, or forgiving the inconsistencies of Newt & Mitt I have pointed out several times that only Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, & Gary Johnson, of the current Republican candidates, have life long consistent positions so you know with a high degree of confidence what they will do if elected.  Click here to hear a compilation of Ron Paul’s answers in last Saturday's debate as an example of Congressman Paul's consistency.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Overlook, Accept, & Forgive Means Taking A Chance


The above tabulation shows the overwhelming congressional support that Mitt Romney has gathered in his bid to be the Republican nominee.  The establishment old guard really wants Mitt – seems they think it is his turn.  But with Newt Gingrich's excellent performances in the last several debates propelling him into a commanding lead in many polls Mitt has once again run into a problem. 

The problem for Newt is that we still keep hearing about his baggage that will supposedly weigh him down if he is the GOP nominee in the general election.  Although I too am impressed with Newt in these debates I made the observation in a recent posting that in order to not be fooled again, like our country was by BO in 2008, it is best to contrast catchy one liners from debate performances (or even the entire debate performance) with years of an actual record.  By this standard the only three unblemished believable candidates are Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, & Gary Johnson.

So with the above in mind I looked up some of Newt's baggage on issues for the purpose of showing what has to be overlooked, accepted, &/or forgiven by the electorate before they take a chance & vote for him.  If the recent polls are correct it appears that many primary voters already are forgiving the points below – the next month will tell.  This is not meant in a mean spirited way & is certainly not an endorsement for Mitt who has every bit as much baggage as Newt, if not more.

The list below is specific for Newt but many similar flip flops pertain to Mitt also - socialized medicine, carbon taxes, abortion, & second amendment rights off the top of my head.  Massachusetts based Democrat strategist Mary Ann Marsh summed up Mitt when she said "I have followed Mitt Romney for 17 years & he has been on every side of every issue during that time."

Is there a difference between Newt, Mitt, & BO in the not very long run?  Look @ the record below & then decide if the current GOP front runner will make the difference we need in returning our country to its founding excellence.  Has he or any one else earned your vote?

---Newt's Baggage---

1.  Support of TARP - Troubled Asset Relief Program

Newt switched from originally being against TARP to supporting it after some businessmen & Bernanke & Paulson convinced him to endorse it.  Click here to hear Newt's account.

2.  Libya Reversal

Click here to hear two very different but each just as authoritative positions on Libya.  Newt speaks just as authoritatively on every issue in the debates as he did on both positions presented in the video.  

3.  Global Warming – Climate Change

Click here to see the famous video with Pelosi.  Please notice they are sitting on a love seat - not a couch.  Newt has called for more federally funded climate research & a range of tax credits for renewable energy investments.  

4.  Freddie Mac

In April 2007 Newt advocated Fred's business model only now to say he warned the company of big problems ahead (after collecting $1.6 million in fees over a ten year period.)  Newt said he thinks "there are times you need government to help spur private enterprise & economic development....It is not a point of view libertarians would embrace but I am more in the...Theodore Roosevelt traditions of conservatism."  Comparing himself to TR was exactly what BO did regarding himself in Kansas on December 6.  A distinction without a difference?

5.  Socialized Medicine – The race away from it

Mitt claims that Newt repeatedly favored the individual healthcare insurance mandate idea long before RomneyCare was instituted in Massachusetts.  BO claims that ObamaCare is modeled after RomneyCare.  Newt now says the individual mandate is unconstitutional.  Who is right?  More importantly - are all of them wrong?

6.  Ryan Budget Plan

Although I don't agree with all of it because it is too timid Paul Ryan's budget plan has been the most courageous proposal in years.  It contains one of the true ways to properly modify Medicare & change the mindset of this country for the better.  Since it passed the House (not the Senate) last April Mr. Ryan has been booed @ his own town hall meetings.  Newt originally criticized it as "right-wing social engineering" – he then changed his mind.  Click here to hear Charles Kauthhammer discuss this & the individual mandate  – better overlook Charles' prediction in the video since Newt is now the front runner.

7.  The FairTax

Newt certainly knows the details of the FairTax & yet does not openly support it the way Mike Huckabee did (does) or Gary Johnson does.

I highlighted Newt in a posting dated April 14, 2010 entitled FairTax The Litmus Test when I wrote "The country is crying for the FairTax as so many people remain unemployed or underemployed. I meet them every day & my heart breaks when I consider the opportunity for life they are missing & the selfish lecherous tendencies of our elites who care nothing for 'We The People.'

"Take your pick from John Boehner to Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich & everyone in between & you have to wonder why they are not for the FairTax. Or do you?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Primary Kick-Off Points

The meeting in Bernardsville on Sunday night (attended by many in this readership from NJ & NY) produced many excellent ideas re how to remove statist candidates from office @ every level & to prevent new ones from being elected in 2012.  It will take work though.  The primary process officially starts right after the first of the new year so it is not too early to prepare especially in NH & SC where we have many subscribers.

Prior to the meeting several people told me they were disappointed because they have seen no difference in governance with the Tea Party candidates in office referring to the 87 freshman House Republicans.  Of course the reason is because 66 of them abandoned ship within three months of the start of their first term choosing to stand with the old guard establishment Republican leadership. 

Senate Tea Party candidates like Rand Paul have been more steadfast in fiscal responsibility than their House counterparts.  I have patience in trying to build a larger coalition on the senate side that will work with Tea Party stalwart Jim DeMint but obviously the phony House Tea Party freshmen must be voted out along with the House leaders who are really only big government types that are looking out for their own self-interest – not yours or the country's.

Specific points from the meeting that I urge everyone to use:

1. Among your acquaintances, friends, or family members find & convert (including people who may not normally vote) @ least two, preferably three, statists to vote for anti-statist candidates in whatever level (local, state, presidential) election they are comfortable with in 2012.  Since this is really not a new request from me many subscribers have already told me – "I have to see my neighbors."  This is a challenge – finding three such voters may not be easy but positive results provide our best chance of changing the mindset in America & equalizing the numbers game.  See #2 below for a suggestion re how to do this.

2. Write your own blog & supply it to statist friends or use ReturnToExcellence.net as you see fit.  I have found that even the most far-left-wing statists will become more libertarian if they read this blog with an open mind for a few months.  They may not see eye to eye with the majority of the readership on every issue but they do see some of it.  Consistent messages over a period of time has produced positive results before & if it doesn't just a simple "maybe this isn't for you" will suffice & then move on.  Just passing on clever conservative messages with no commentary from you to your statist friends will not cut it – this actually turns statists off because it shows no real effort on your part.

3. Find a candidate & dedicate yourself to work for the best one @ least one afternoon or evening to help their candidacies in the primaries.  Carol & I have worked for Mike Huckabee, Dave Corsi, Mike Agosta, Anna Little, & Jim Gawron  in the past – once you get started it becomes easier than you might think.  Several of you told me you did this in 2010 - I think of those who worked for Scott Brown in Massachusetts & local candidates in Illinois. 

If any of the above is important to you or you just want a chance to defeat BO & like minded statists @ every level of government then please dare great enough to follow the above points or provide an alternative that I will be only too happy to present to a very energized readership who want to help.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The American Economy - Mixed Or Mixed-Up

As a follow up to the last posting entitled The Poverty Deception I thank our SC businessman for providing this link for the video that was presented to him by one of his local Tea Parties.  The video illustrates that living standards around the world are a function of economic liberty.  Common sense isn't it?
John Goodman wrote in 2008 that Professor "Friedman believed that capitalism confers its greatest benefits on people @ the bottom of the income ladder.  People @ the top would have done well under any system.  It is people @ the bottom who are most liberated by markets."
Mr. Goodman may very well have based his remarks on Professor Friedman's writings in one of his classics – Free To Choose – where the Professor wrote "Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to obtain levels of living never dreamed of before.  Nowhere is the gap between rich & poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer or the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate." 
If I may be so bold (humbly) to paraphrase Professor Friedman – the rich do not exploit the poor – the poor come along for the ride of an enriched life in America.  If you don't believe me just look @ the list of comforts of what is considered poverty in America presented by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation in the last posting.  No where in the history of the world has the poor in society benefited or lived so well like they do in America.
Now even with all of this said, it is important to realize that @ no time in Professor Friedman's adult life did we have a totally free economy in America.  We had as Susan Lee wrote a quarter of a century ago "A mixed economy - an economic system that falls somewhere between a totally free market & a government directed one; that is, an economic system that has characteristics of both capitalism & socialism....the United States has a more equal portion of both."
Now just imagine the unlimited possibilities & potential of human endeavor if we could only find a presidential candidate who would return us to the excellence of our free market founding.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Poverty Deception

Thanks to a subscriber to ReturnToExcellence.net for providing this video concerning those living in so-called poverty in America.  Many of you may be surprised to learn the small difference between your standard of living & many who fall in the government's poverty classification. 
As a supplement to the video I present the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector's stats & facts about people defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
  • Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
The problem starts with poverty being defined by the government as a function of income not wealth.  This provides the deception for how many of the over 47 million people in America collect food stamps.  The Census Bureau's poverty figures measure only pretax income & therefore does not include such non-cash benefits like food stamps & subsidies for housing or rent, or the cash benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or entitlements like Medicaid.  As an illustration, the Census Bureau says that if the value of the federal EITC offered to working poor families was included in the poverty figures 5 million people would have been lifted out of poverty in 2004 & the number of children in poverty in 2007 would have been cut by 2.4 million.  It is important to realize that many people reading this message could manipulate their incomes so that they would fall under the government's definition of poverty & collect benefits accordingly.
The above photo provides an excellent example of the poverty deception.  The cost of the bowl of soup @ the homeless center or having MO serve the government funded meal costs the people in the photo nothing.  His Black Berry cell phone costs about $500.
I encourage everyone to click on to A Comparison Of The FairTax Prebate To The Earned Income Tax Credit To A Negative Income Tax To The Flat Tax – a piece I originally wrote in 2009 that shows how four programs attack poverty through tax systems. 
Poverty should be eradicated wherever we find it – but to solve the problem we should start by asking those in real poverty to explain how they got there & what they are doing themselves to get out of it before we plunge in individually or through some government program.  We should have a different approach for those who manipulate the system to live like leeches on the rest of us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

America Bookended

BO's anti-American plans have been obvious ever since he entered the national scene & lord knows I have tried to expose them with facts & common sense reasoning every chance I get.  This posting focuses on the problems BO has caused (& is causing) people between 50 & retirement age & the two bookends of our society - seniors & young people, neither of whom have any relief in sight for what ails them.  BO has isolated & made bookends out of these latter two groups & plans to compress our societies' decay using both of them with people between 50 & retirement age being the most immediately affected.
Looking back @ recent history many pundits have been wondering if something like Japan's lost decade (no economic growth) that started in 1990 could happen here.  Well for starters Japan's lost decade is now exceeding two lost decades by my count.  With America's jobloss & jobless economy starting in 2008 we are already well over three years into a lost decade of our own.  Time moves on relentlessly for unemployed & underemployed people over 50 who have less & less time to financially recover before the time they would like to retire on their own terms with sufficient retirement income.
I know many people over 50 who have lost their jobs – people who will never work again @ the level they once knew unless BO is thrown out of office in 2012.  How dignified is it for people who made $50,000 to $70,000 per year &, after months on end of being unemployed, now have jobs that pays between $20,000 to $25,000 per year?   Now long time subscribers know I do not hold these people blameless in letting their skills deteriorate so that they now compete in trying to make a living with people in China who make pennies a day.  The point is that thanks to whatever wealth they may have accumulated over the years it will now be spent down as asset principal is needed to be added to their meager wages to make their reduced ends meet what ever standard of living they can throw together – pitiful isn't it? – but in accordance with BO's design.
Now for BO's attack on seniors & youth.  
1.  Seniors who rely on CD interest income for even a portion of their income (like a little extra spending money) have been victimized by the Federal Reserve's artificial manipulation of interest rates to virtually zero.  This damage to seniors has the beneficial effect for BO that the cost of all of his massive record borrowing is minimized – but @ the expense of savers.  Occupy The Fed is more justified by seniors than OWS ever was in lower Manhattan by people who never knew why they were there.
2.  The poor education & training systems (high school & college) in this country have caught up with America's youth – CUNY reports that "almost four out of every five freshmen who arrive @ its community colleges with a high school degree require remediation in reading, writing, & mathematics" – sounds like the three "Rs" with no hickory stick. 
No entrepreneur is going to hire someone who can not add value to their enterprise.  Accordingly, over 14% of the 42 million people aged 25 to 34 (compared with 10.6% in 2000) are forced to live in their parents' homes because they cannot support themselves.  See graph below.  A further breakdown of these stats reveals that 19% of men 25 to 34 & 10% of women 25 to 34 are forced to live with their parents – for those 18 to 24 it is 60% men & 50% women.  This means that 5.9 million young people aged 25 to 34 who by the laws of the jungle should be living on their own have not really started to create their own wealth while in the meantime their parents wealth is deteriorating as the parents support the unemployed youth of America.  Put another way BO has cheated today's youth that falls in this category (& more important to parents – much of tomorrow's youth because it will not get better) out of one quarter to one third of their lifetime earning power - wealth that will never be available to them to spend down decades from now.
By the Fed keeping interest rates artificially low seniors are forced to spend down their wealth (no matter how meager).  BO's purposely dreadful economy keeps young people who can't find jobs from literally moving out of their parents' homes.  Both phenomenons, coupled with what is happening to people between 50 & retirement age as explained above, keeps BO moving forward with his ideology of a government dependent society.
The two book ends – seniors & youth - of course squeezes the shrinking middle class.  As current seniors die out they will be replaced by a far poorer group (the aforementioned portion of people over 50 with no or poor jobs) who has already spent down a good portion of whatever wealth they had.  This obvious government dependent society progresses until today's youth becomes the pauper seniors of tomorrow. 
BO's plan is as plain as the nose on your face & yet only one in five holds him responsible for the hard times described above according to the most recent WSJ/NBC News poll.  Thirty four percent still blame Bush & 36% blame Wall Street Bankers meaning that OWS has been successful in deflecting responsibility away from BO thereby making our job that much harder yet.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thanksgiving Day Present From A Patriotic Painter

Thanks to our SC businessman for passing on this link of a very inspirational & patriotic painter that makes a great Thanksgiving Day present.  Carol told me it took her breath away - before she heard the song.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Response & Silver Lining - Jim DeMint's Thirty - A Start

Great response to the original subject message - " Doug - You have just put your finger on the problem we have before us next November. Whichever Republican candidate becomes the contender against BO next year, should he/she win the election, the probability of any real change in fiscal policy will be as stalemated as now unless the body of the Congress also drastically changes as well.  I can't see our current Congress agreeing with the policies of any of this group of candidates.  As for Ron Paul, he is on the right track in cutting out whole Departments but some of his other ideas won't fly. We're in for a tough time at best but in my mind, having BO for another 4 years is not an option.  I wonder, did anyone believe that the so called Super Committee was really going to come up with a plan?  The people on that Committee were chosen because they were fixed on their party's agenda so the outcome was preordained.  It was doomed to fail.  I think this was part of BO's strategy. That will give him another reason to blame the opposition just in time for his campaign to gear up."

The writer is absolutely correct that the entire Super Committee charade & most importantly having the automatic spending cuts go into effect after the 2012 election was exactly BO's strategy.  Please read the op-ed below from the WSJ by Phil Gramm & Mile Solon that shows how the GOP may have outsmarted BO in this regard.

In summary, provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 included by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan triggered portions of the dormant Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill from over 20 years ago.  A clean sweep of the House, Senate, & Presidency by the GOP paves the way, under provisions of this old bill, for the start of de-funding of ObamaCare beginning in early January 2013 – right in line with the provisions of the Budget Control Act that BO insisted upon.  If intrigued read on – & then back this to the hilt.

The Budget Sequester's Silver Lining By PHIL GRAMM AND MIKE SOLON

Barack Obama has made it easier for the next president to begin the repeal of government health care.

Uniting a divided Congress around a major deficit-reduction plan was never going to be easy, but it is virtually impossible when the incumbent president campaigns instead of governs and seeks to divide the nation based on how much money people make.
As markets and the media conclude that the congressional super committee on deficit reduction is likely to fail, public attention is increasingly focused on the "draconian" across-the-board cuts that will ensue. A little refresher course on the size of these cuts in the context of the spending spree that occurred since 2007—when the Democrats took control of Congress—is in order.
More importantly, it's time to look at the fine print of the 1985 Gramm-Rudman Act, which was revived by this year's Budget Control Act, and the final chance it might give to the next Congress and the next president to do the job right if this president and this Congress fail.
The super committee and the threatened across-the-board cuts were created by the Budget Control Act, which converted the debt ceiling agreement between the president and Congress into law on Aug. 2. It required that debt increases be fully offset by spending cuts over the subsequent 10 years. The first debt limit increase contained in the Budget Control Act capped and reduced total spending by $917 billion. The second debt limit increase will require an additional $1.2 trillion reduction to be accomplished either by the super committee or by automatic across-the-board spending reductions called a sequester—a budget-control mechanism from Gramm-Rudman. 
If the super committee fails to agree on a budget plan, or if the plan is rejected in Congress or vetoed by the president, the combination of the reduction in spending already made ($42 billion in fiscal year 2013) and the potential sequester ($68 billion in 2013) would reduce 2013 spending by $110 billion, with $16 billion coming from nondefense mandatory spending and the rest split between defense and nondefense discretionary spending.
Across-the-board cuts are clearly inferior to rationally setting priorities, but they'd be far from debilitating. Spending has grown so fast in the last five years that even if the cuts are triggered, total spending in 2013 would still be a whopping $3,582 billion—32% more than projected by the Congressional Budget Office in January 2007. Even after adjusting for inflation, real nondefense discretionary spending would be up $41 billion, or 7.6%, and real defense discretionary spending would be up $77 billion, or 13%.
While a sequester would not be the end of the world, even for Washington, happily there is another chance to get this right. When Congress passed the Budget Control Act setting up the sequester process, it also repealed the expiration dates in Gramm-Rudman, bringing back to life provisions enabling the president and Congress to propose alternatives after the sequester is ordered. Gramm-Rudman never intended across-the-board cuts to be used for anything other than a prod to action and an impetus to force hard decisions lest the dreaded sequester be unleashed on the programs Congress cherished. We also knew Congress would do the right thing only after it had exhausted every other alternative, which would take time. So we gave Congress and the president a few last-chance opportunities, after the sequester was ordered, to come to their senses.
When the Budget Control Act brought Gramm-Rudman back to life, the final alternatives to the across-the-board cuts were restored, allowing the president to submit a resolution reordering the Department of Defense sequester to shift reductions among defense accounts. This resolution is highly privileged, and while it can be amended, it cannot be filibustered. This option—when combined with the unilateral power the president already has to protect defense personnel accounts from the sequester, and the ability of the president and Congress to reduce other spending in lieu of defense spending—should be sufficient to protect our effort in the global war on terrorism.
But the most important Gramm-Rudman provision revived by the Budget Control Act provides that 20 days after the final sequester order, the majority leader in either house of Congress may proceed to consider a joint resolution that can "modify" or "provide an alternative" to the sequester order. Such a resolution can be amended only with relevant amendments, debated for only 10 hours and can't be filibustered.
As is always the case with complex legislation, there will be parliamentary debate as to whether the revived Gramm-Rudman process applies to this particular sequester, based on the frivolous argument that the sequester does not require various reports to be filed prior to the cuts going into effect. The old Gramm-Rudman sequesters were triggered by the filing of such reports. Republicans will argue that the reports are a technicality and that the intent of the Budget Control Act in explicitly bringing Gramm-Rudman back to life when it employed the sequester as an enforcement device is clear. Democrats will likely argue that the sequester following the failure of the super committee is so unique that the Gramm-Rudman post-sequester procedures do not apply. But given the clear intent of the Budget Control Act, their argument will be weak.
President Obama insisted that if the super committee failed, the sequester cutting $68 billion in 2013 had to occur after the 2012 election, in the next administration. As written, if a sequester is triggered, it would occur on Jan. 2, 2013. If Republicans win a majority in the House and Senate, they could use the provisions of the revived Gramm-Rudman Act to replace or modify the 2013 sequester with entitlement reforms or other changes in discretionary spending. Their plan could not be filibustered and would pass with a simple majority vote. The savings achieved would be in effect for only one year.
The resulting empowerment of a new Republican Congress and president would be profound. Rather than having to first adopt a budget, delaying real action until the summer or fall of 2013, a new Republican Congress could de-fund ObamaCare immediately and begin to reform entitlements for a year during which they could adopt a budget and use reconciliation to make these and other reforms permanent with a simple majority vote.
In his effort to put off the difficult decisions of governing until after the election, President Obama has made it possible for a new Republican Congress and a new Republican president, not tied to the mistakes of the past, to begin the repeal of ObamaCare and restore fiscal sanity the moment the new president's hand comes off the Bible on Jan. 20, 2013.
The super committee should write a good plan now if it can do so, but it should not take a bad deal that could hurt the economy and further Hellenize America's debt crisis. The committee members should bear in mind that help is just an election away.
Mr. Gramm was co-author of Gramm-Rudman and a U.S. senator from Texas from 1985-2002. Mr. Solon contributed to the passage of Gramm-Rudman as a staffer for the House Republican Study Committee.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jim DeMint's Thirty - A Start

The last two messages re our elected reps lack of fiscal responsibility & budget gimmicks caused me to check the details of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that became law yesterday.  I also received responses from two more Ron Paul leaning supporters such as "Hi Doug:  I believe it is too early to unconditionally commit to a candidate. However, I am leaning toward Ron Paul. The national media, on the other hand, is engaged in an organized anti-Ron Paul campaign. I was upset when I learned Ron Paul received only 89 seconds of air time during the last 90 minute debate. Muzzling a candidate during a national debate is reprehensible."
It may be early for us in NJ but for people in Iowa, NH, & SC it is pretty close.  We have readers in NH & SC so for them the time is closer than you think to make a choice.  BTW – Ron Paul's first 30 seconds in the last debate was the best answer of the night – all about the Constitution & having Congress declare war rather than answer questions about whether or not the President should invade places like Libya. All of the others bit.
The other Ron Paul leaning response was "Maybe you can explain this to me?  In WWII, it took us about 4 years to win the war against powerful foes.  Now we are fighting a war against inferior forces - and this war has been going on for years.  Look at the money saved, if we were not in this war."
The answer of course is that we fought in WWII to win.  Since Vietnam our war efforts have been more about building schools & trying to win the hearts & minds of people who hate us.  In Iraq we see our boys killed by IEDs with signs on them that say "made in Iran."  We should either fight to win or come home so that the citizens have the same chance of dying @ home as the troops who are fighting with one hand behind them do overseas. That approach may change the way we fight.
With re to the CR – this latest temporary spending measure was passed one day before the government would have shut down @ midnight tonight.  This CR will keep the government funded until December 16.  The CR was passed as part of a larger spending bill, known as a minibus (as opposed to omnibus), that funded the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the Transportation Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others through September 30, 2012.  The CR was necessary because Congress once again failed to complete its full budget appropriations process.
Now the handful of fiscally responsible Members of Congress (led by Jeff Flake (AZ) & Steve King (IA) in the House & Jim DeMint (SC) in the Senate) once again fought against this type of measure.  The good news is that the size of the good guys appears to be growing.  Can barely believe it myself.  Jim DeMint famously said a few years ago that he would rather have 30 senators like him that 70 like Specter.  I hope he has this base to build on.
Of course establishment old guard Republicans like Boehner, Cantor, & McConnell all voted for the CR (we have got to get rid of these guys as quick as we can) as did Brown (MA), Collins (ME), Graham (SC), Kyl (AZ), Snowe (ME), & Murkowski (AK).  It was very encouraging that Lankford (OK), Noem (SD), & Ryan (WI) voted the right way.  Freshmen Tim Scott (SC) & Tim Huelskamp (KS) continued their show of fiscal responsibility. Most disappointing to me is Jerry Moran (KS), Allen West (FL), & of course Rob Woodall (GA) – all of whom voted with Boehner again.
To save my NJ neighbors some time Frelinghuysen, Lance, Runyan, LoBiondo, & Smith all continued to vote against you.  Check the lists below to see how your elected reps voted – I hope you are pleasantly surprised.  If so please let them know because the pressure is immense for them to go the other way.
---- House NAYS 121 ---

Barton (TX)
Brady (TX)
Broun (GA)
Burton (IN)
Clarke (NY)
Coffman (CO)
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Franks (AZ)
Gingrey (GA)
Graves (GA)
Griffith (VA)
Hastings (FL)
Herrera Beutler
Huizenga (MI)
Johnson (IL)
King (IA)
Kinzinger (IL)
Lee (CA)
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Murphy (PA)
Poe (TX)
Price (GA)
Ross (FL)
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Scott (SC)
Scott, Austin
Walsh (IL)
Wilson (SC)
Young (IN)

---- NOT VOTING 14 ---

Bishop (GA)
Brown (FL)

Senate NAYs ---30
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kirk (R-IL)
Lee (R-UT)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)

Response - Beware Of Spending Cut Gimmicks

The spending cuts, if any, discussed in last night's subject posting will go into effect in January 2013 – not the start of fiscal year 2013 which is October 1, 2012 - just one month before the presidential election.  The timing of January 2013 is bad enough for our elected reps but October would just about be suicide.  I corrected this date on the blog & also clarified that any Medicare cuts would be to providers only – not beneficiaries.  Of course how do you cut doctors & hospitals & not affect beneficiaries?  A distinction without a difference.
Before beginning tonight's message please note that Congress has approved a CR to keep the federal government funded until December 16 – whoop de doo.
I present below one response from a long time subscriber who is an obvious Ron Paul supporter.  I know that we have strong supporters of many candidates in our readership.  I invite all of you to provide a write-up of the pros & cons that influenced your support.  I personally know of our supporters for Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Marco Rubio (for VP with anyone as President), & believe it or not BO.  I hope people will participate & that it will be educational for us all.
I have made the observation that in order to not be fooled again, like our country was by BO in 2008, it is best to contrast catchy one liners from debate performances with years of an actual record.  By this standard the only three unblemished believable candidates are Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, & Gary Johnson.  Many of you have told me that you don't know who Gary Johnson is or anything about him.  I have been thinking of presenting a write-up about him – a great man who cannot get into the debates.  Maybe that is all we need to know about him.
---Response From Ron Paul Supporter---
Ron Paul proposes $1 trillion of spending cuts in the first year – not ten years.  He would cut the structural size of government by closing five cabinet departments – Education, Commerce, Energy, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development.  It is nonsense to even consider cutting $1.2 trillion or any amount over ten years.  First - you can't strap future congresses with fake cuts you make now.  So it's Ron Paul that would demonstrate that we are serious about fixing our fiscal house and he is ignored by the media.  His son, Senator Rand Paul, explains that if we were to freeze federal government spending for the next ten years, we would save $9 trillion and not the mere $1.2 trillion goal of the unconstitutional Super Committee.  Again you can't bind future congresses and so this is a solvable problem but as of right now it seems in 10 years we will have an additional $9 trillion on top of the $15 trillion national debt we just passed this week.
Our elected reps do not have the spine to do what's right for our country - no character or integrity.  That is really the problem and it's very sad.  They are feckless.