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Friday, July 29, 2011

Opinions, Opinions and More Opinions

"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." — Thomas Jefferson

I consider myself above average in intelligence and knowledge. No, I am not a scholar, but I have been educated in the fields of civil engineering, land surveying and business. In the totality of my 55 years working in these fields I missed only one month of employment during the period when my wife and I relocated from Ohio to California in 1962.

I have never taken a penny of government money for unemployment, disability, food stamps, government grants, student loans, school lunches, WIC or aid to dependent children. My three children were the dependents of my wife and I and we paid for everything they did. We sent them to private Parochial school because we did not believe in the government run schools and wanted them to receive an education that was based on morality and a belief in Jesus Christ. However, we did pay an enormous amount (and still do) in property taxes to support our failing government schools. We owned our own homes for 47 years and never missed a mortgage payment or went into default.

We supported my parents for twenty years until they both passed away by having a large enough house for them to live with us. All or our children graduated from a college preparatory private Parochial school with two of the receiving baccalaureate degrees, one in surveying engineering and photogrammetry and the other in history. My son also received a master’s degree in information technology. My both daughters never had a child out of wedlock, used drugs or got into trouble with the law. Since their graduation from college or high school they have worked, earned a living and paid taxes

For the last 35 years of my career I owned or was a partner in a middle-sized civil engineering and land surveying firm. I and my partners were able to grow our firm to over 800 employees before I retired. That meant we supported 800 families, provided them income to pay for 800 mortgages, car payments, school tuitions, vacations and food. We provided our employees with health care and contributions to their 401k. In 2005 we were mentioned in the Engineering News Record as one of the best firms in the United States to work for.

For 55 I paid income taxes and disability insurance. As a business owner I paid unemployment insurance and our contributions to social security and Medicare. For 42 years I paid my personal contributions to Medicare without ever missing one payment.

I never went to college, but did attend numerous classes at extension colleges in civil engineering, project management, business and finance, writing, German and photography I obtained certification as a highway engineer and land surveyor through a two-year correspondence school while I worked every day and studied at night while I helped raise our young children.

When I became of voting age I was a registered Democrat and voted for Democrats. I considered myself a moderate liberal who believed in national defense, the space program, civil rights and programs that would help the poor. Over the years, as I traveled the world and began to see the failings of these social programs, I began to transform to a conservative. I also did not agree with the Democrats constant adherence to abortion.

Baptized, raised and married as a Roman Catholic I now consider myself a Christian with no affiliation to any organized denomination. I do, however, find my religious beliefs more in line with the Baptists, especially on issues like abortion and gay marriage.

For the past twenty or so years I have supported conservative candidates usually Republicans) and fifteen or so years ago I changed my registration to Republican so I could vote for the more conservative candidate in the primaries. I wanted to have a voice in who the Republican nominee would be. I have studied American history, understand the Constitution and read some of the Federalist Papers. I am a devotee of Bastiat, Hayek, von Mises, Hazlitt, Smith, Friedman and Ayn Rand. I believe in the free market, small federal government the Tenth Amendment, free speech, fiscal and personal responsibility, our Founders, American exceptionalism, our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, balanced budgets, school choice and liberty. I also believe as George Washington said; “To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." Or as the Roman author Publius Flavius Vegetius said some fifteen hundred years ago; “Si vis pacem, para bellum.

I do not believe in social or economic justice, the welfare state, socialism in any form, fascism, Marxism, one world government, the UN, a living Constitution, pacifism, illegal immigration or abortion.

I write all of this personal history and beliefs as a preface to what I am about to say in my following post. I believe it will help the reader understand where my opining stems from. We are all a products of not only our education, but of our life experiences and observations. As the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero said; “Rational ability without education has oftener raised man to glory and virtue, than education without natural ability." I believe my life experience has enhanced my rational ability to the point where I can claim that one’s academic pedigree does not outweigh the validity of my argument. You can read more about me in my autobiography Footsteps on the Land.

Over the past week I have heard numerous and conflicting opinions on the solutions to our debt ceiling crisis. I have heard about various plans ranging from Cut, Cap and Balance, the Harry Reid Plan, the Boehner Plan, the Penny Plan to Obama’s no plan. As a rational American I am confused as to what plan I should support if any. I have heard conservative politicians and pundits who I agree with and support take varying positions on these plans. Some say take the best deal you can get. Others say don’t vote for any plan that does not contain a balanced budget amendment. Still others say Republicans should not be intransigent as they will suffer the blame and Obama will win.

Obama and Geithner claim the will be a crisis on August 2nd and we will not be able to pay seniors and our military. Many others say we take in about $200 billion each month from tax revenues and the service on our debt is $21 billion and Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and military payments amount to another $124 billion and we have enough money to service these mandated entitlements. Click here to see how much is spent each year on what.

I cannot decide who the worst negotiators are, Republican leaders or House conservatives.

John Boehner’s plan couldn’t get the votes last night so Boehner had to agree to add language conditioning a vote on a balanced budget amendment — an amendment House Republicans said could not pass so there was no reason to pursue Cut, Cap, and Balance. The vote will now be today.

Note: while writing this post the House just passed the Boehner Bill 3.0 with 26 Republicans voting no. The bill went to the Senate where Harry Reid’s Democrats just voted to table it by a vote of 59-41. Now Reid and his Democrats will gut Boehner 3.0 and put their own words in and the debt ceiling will be raised and we will all suffer.

The vote now is all about fear and messaging — fear of blame and a very weak message. In fact, the House will send a weaker message than Cut, Cap, and Balance. It’ll also get less votes in either House than Cut, Cap, and Balance.

Last night on Sean Hannity’s show, Senator Rand Paul said around a dozen Republican Senators will vote against Boehner’s plan. And they must. Because if they do not, I have a sneaking suspicion that Harry Reid will strip out the balanced budget amendment language and the second vote on the debt ceiling, send it back to the House, and get it passed with a hundred Democrats. House Conservatives who don’t like the plan, but are willing to trade their vote for a balanced budget amendment are about to be force fed the plan they don’t like by Harry Reid and all with their help.

Frankly, the House Republicans have turned this vote into a cult of personality vote. It is not about saving the Republic, fighting Obama, or cutting the debt. And you remember that when they vote for it.

John Boehner has convinced House Republicans that they are both getting a good deal and that if it fails, Boehner himself is in jeopardy. (keep in mind Boehner is elected in his Ohio district not by a national election) So House Republicans will vote for the plan, see the Senate either kill it or butcher it, and then be stuck. It’s all about John Boehner now — nothing else.

To console themselves, Boehner is going to give House conservatives their balanced budget amendment language and then have them do the very thing they promised they’d fight — fund ObamaCare.

Yes, you see that’s the dirty little secret glossed over by everyone. John Boehner’s plan contemplates ObamaCare’s continuation. And House Republicans will sell their souls today for a balanced budget amendment that the Senate will strip from the plan in the best case scenario.

I think the House Republicans are the worst negotiators, but imagine if John Boehner had been half as aggressive with the Democrats as he has been these past 24 hours with House conservatives.

Oh, and I still don’t think anyone can answer this question: if the House GOP only controls one half of one branch of the federal government and has no power, why the hell do they keep throwing plans against the wall hoping something will stick? Do they have Stockholm Syndrome?

House conservatives should vote no.

A balanced budget amendment is worth fighting for. A balanced budget amendment is worth holding the line for. But it is not worth being fooled into voting for a plan by it including a BBA on a subsequent debt ceiling vote knowing with 100% certainty that not only will Harry Reid strip it out in the Senate, but that your own leadership will sell you out on when it comes back to you. Your symbolic vote — and it is a symbolic vote — will be used to play you as a fool.

Hold the freaking line. The negotiating hand improves once you move past fear of the unknown.

Oh, and while you are at it, get rid of the deficit commission that you know good and well will raise taxes. It is only as strong as its weakest link.

The lies and distortions have gotten so outrageous in the past few days that I simply must get up on my soapbox one more time and try to clear up a few of the biggest piles of malarkey. (Some of you may prefer a stronger word for what’s being thrown around.) Here are the latest “Big Four” that got my goat.

There is no August. 2nd deadline

I know; it’s hard to believe. All we’ve heard for months is economic catastrophe will befall us if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Tuesday.

But where did that date come from? It was plucked out of thin air by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. It has no basis in fact, in law or in any accounting data anyone can present. The big spenders in Washington simply picked a date at random with which to frighten the American public.

Even Geithner admits that “technically” the government ran out of money two months ago. He says he used “extraordinary measures” and “accounting maneuvers” to delay the crisis as long as possible. But if he could do it for eight weeks, why not nine? Or 10?

Obama threatens to stiff seniors and vets

This one really has me steamed. Two weeks ago, the President told CBS News, “I cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. …this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans’ checks, these are folks on disability and their checks.”

All of which,is a big, fat lie. (Click here if for more information on one.) If Social Security checks go out late, it will be because Barack Obama and his henchmen wanted to frighten our senior citizens and disabled vets out of their wits. (And frighten them into voting for him again in 2012, I should add.)

Can you think of anything this man has done that’s more despicable? (Well, OK, I’ll admit that killing a bunch of innocent civilians in Libya and other places is also pretty bad.)

There is plenty of money to pay our debts

The latest figures I could find show that the government expects to take in about $173 billion in revenue in August. Interest payments on Treasury securities for the month come to about $21 billion. We can pay every penny we owe and still have $151 billion left for other things. Not everything the Democrats want to do, I’ll admit. Not even everything they’ve already authorized. But so what?

It’s time to do what every family in America has to do when the money runs out, folks. Cut spending.

It’s all the Republicans’ fault

This may be the biggest whopper of them all. It wasn’t the Republicans who ran up those gigantic deficits. Barack Obama has forced our government to borrow more money in the past two years than any prior President did in eight.

Yet he wants you to believe that everything would be hunky-dory if it weren’t for those troglodytes in Congress. Is there anyone in America who actually believes this? Besides a few leftist university professors and some community organizers, that is.

Please remember that as President of the United States, Barack Obama was legally required to present a budget to Congress a year ago. Let me also remind you that back then, he had a solid Democratic majority in both houses. He could have gotten virtually anything he wanted passed. Why didn’t he? Remember that on Valentine’s Day of 2010 he did present a budget and the Senate rejected it by a vote of 97-0.

Oh, and here’s a kicker you probably don’t know: According to a law passed way back in the days when Jimmy “Killer Rabbit” Carter was President, Obama’s budget had to be balanced.

Yup, even I forgot about this one. Section 7 of Public Law 95-435 declares, “Beginning with fiscal year 1981, the total budget outlays of the Federal Government shall not exceed its receipts.”

This has been the law of the land for 30 years, ladies and gentlemen. It’s never been repealed. Of course, I’ve got to admit it’s never been obeyed, either. That’s another objection I have to a Balanced Budget Amendment. If the big spenders in Washington won’t obey this law, what makes you think they’ll obey another one that says essentially the same thing?

In yet another speech filled with lies and deception, our Dissembler in Chief declared last week that “Congress has run up the credit card.” Who told it to, Mr. President? In fact, who insisted on all of that additional spending? May I respectfully suggest, sir, that for the answer you look in a mirror?

The President keeps trotting out his lament about corporate jets and how awful it is that our country allows this “tax break for the rich.” Apparently, this canard plays well in Peoria, so he uses it again and again.

Here’s how petty the President is being. If businesses weren’t allowed special deductions for the depreciation of those jets, government tax revenue would go up $3 billion. Or to put it another way, Obama’s deficit just for this year would be slashed from $1.4 trillion to — are you ready for this? — $1.397 trillion. That’s really impressive, isn’t it?

If the Democrats could do this 1,000 times, the Internal Revenue Service would collect an additional $300 billion in taxes. That is about one-third the deficit Barack Obama has incurred for this year.

Barack Obama is one of the most divisive, dishonest and mean-spirited men to ever hold high office in this country. And considering the competition, that’s saying something.

So what if we run out of money?

The bean counters tell us that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the government of the United States won’t be able to pay about 44 percent of the bills coming due next month.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I’m serious. Think for a moment about what would happen if this country went a month with the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Interior, Agriculture and a bunch of others doing nothing, because they didn’t have the funds?

I think we would quickly find out we don’t need them. And that this country is a richer, freer, more prosperous place without them. Private industry would create millions of new jobs. Profits would go up. So would tax revenue.

Ask some of the oldsters out there what happened at the end of World War II. Millions of soldiers returned home, ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work. Thousands of factories that were busy making war material turned their attention to making consumer goods. And this nation rode a wave of prosperity, innovation and job creation that lasted for decades.

I think the same thing would happen again, if the bloated, oppressive bureaucracy our politicians have created were shut down or at least drastically trimmed.

As a fellow writer put it, wouldn’t you relish the prospect of “thousands of government employees, people with perfectly productive minds, some of them quite brilliant, making the change from parasites to producers?”

Sure you would. We can dream, can’t we?

Obama really just wants to avoid having to go through another battle before Election Day. His rejection of the Boehner Plan has nothing to do with the markets or the economy. It is purely political.

He’s desperate to avoid having to face this issue again. He’s lost ten points in job approval over the battle so far and he wants to get out of town before he loses more.

So the Republican message to Harry Reid is simple: If you want more debt authority so that it takes us to the end of the year, come up with more cuts. Not phony cuts in military spending but real cuts scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Boehner Plan, as passed tonight, may be a good start. If a government shutdown eventuates because Reid won’t put up extra cuts or because Obama wants to punt this issue until after the election, then they will incur massive blame from the voters.

And remember one thing: Obama has no choice. He can’t let default take place for two reasons: 1) It would make him look weak and hurt his presidency dramatically; and 2) It would be evident that the shutdown is not the disaster he has been predicting and he would be caught crying “wolf.”

Republicans should sit back, after passing the Boehner Plan and make the Democrats and the president come to them. Obama is stuck and Republicans should take advantage of his lack of maneuverability. They already have the key concession: Reid agreeing to a cuts-only approach. With that concession in their pockets, they should play a waiting game that Obama cannot match.

Always remember that no matter how much the public may not like intransigence by House Republicans, it is Obama who is suffering by this issue. If Obama and Boehner turn off the public by their fencing and maneuvering, so be it. Obama is running for president and Boehner is not. Boehner can afford to take the hit. Obama can’t.

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