Thursday, July 31, 2008

Politicians Just Don't Get It!

You and I have an income which is generally fixed and determined by our earned income. We have a budget that is composed of both fixed and variable expenses ... and if we're lucky, a line item somewhere for a bit of savings. We have to work within that budget or risk bouncing checks, and experiencing repossessions,and foreclosures ... or worse, legal actions that could land us in jail. If it looks like we'd have a deficit, we cut back on our spending and/or go out and get a second job. The point I'm trying to make is that we actually work to earn additional income to cover any projected outlays beyond our budget.

It seems that politicians can't comprehend those principles. What applies to us should apply equally to them, but that just doesn't seem to be the case. Over the last 8 years, it's become quite apparent that they believe they have an inexhaustible wallet from which they can frivolously waste taxpayer monies on every little pet project they can think up, as well as continue wasting it on a war that most of us believe we NEVER should have started in the first place. Whenever they want to spend more money, they don't have to go out and get another job or two, they just raise the debt ceiling and then begin spending more money. Since Bush and his cronies took office, they've
raised the debt ceiling 5 times and they're looking at raising the debt ceiling again before the end of the year:

  • 06/28/2002 S. 2578 Public Law 107-199: Increased from $5,950 Trillion to $6,400 Trillion
  • 05/27/2003 H.J. Res. 51 Public Law 108-24: Increased from $6,400 Trillion to $7,384 Trillion
  • 11/19/2004 S. 2986 Public Law 108-415: Increased from $7,384 Trillion to $8,184 Trillion
  • 03/20/2006 H.J. Res. 47 Public Law 109-182: Increased from $8,184 Trillion to $8,965 Trillion
  • 09/29/2007 H.J. Res. 43 Public Law 110-24: Increased from $8,965 Trillion to $9,815 Trillion
  • Proposed: H.J. Res 92 would increase the debt ceiling to $10,615,000,000,000.00 (Introduced 6/5/2008)

According to GovTrack.US, H.J. Res 92 is scheduled for debate, though I haven't seen anything yet that might indicate when it would come to the floor for that debate and vote.

If that news isn't bad enough, the Washington Post recently reported that, "the federal budget deficit will grow to a record $482 billion in the fiscal year that begins in October, ..." Keep in mind that that's just the currently-proposed budget! If out-of-control earmark spending continues at its rampant pace, deficit spending will rise well beyond $500 Billion, requiring yet another increase in the debt ceiling.

If you've been listening to what McCain and Obama are proposing in terms of new and additional spending, whoever is elected will need to significantly raise taxes as well as raise the debt ceiling to make it through just 2009, let alone the rest of his term. Though McCain claims he'll not raise taxes, he'll soon find that there is no other way to get past the legacy of debt left behind by the Bush Administration. Obama has been careful not make such a claim and, in fact, has indicated he would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, thus automatically increasing taxes. But, given the current financial strain on family budgets, that action alone could do serious harm to many families' abilities to live within their budgets.

from Treasury

I want a better choice! As I see it, this election is just more of the same old politics. Republicans want more of the same failed policies that have doubled the national debt over the last eight years and generated record budgetary deficits. Democrats want to introduce massive social programs for which there is no available budgetary slack to fund them. Once again, I find myself faced with making the same old choice of having to vote for the lesser of the two evils.

I yearn to vote for a real leader who could lead us down a different path ... one with some common sense ... one who would take a hard look at government spending and start slashing wasteful and unnecessary programs and spending from the budget ... one who would spend no more than 90% of what it takes in from taxpayers and who would use that excess 10% to pay down the national debt. I also want to see someone on the ballot who doesn't just do something because it's politically expedient, but who develops a comprehensive strategy for handling problems we're facing as a nation. Here are just three examples:

  • Energy is more that just oil. We need an energy 'strategy' that also includes wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear. I'm getting real tired of all the folks (especially Sen. Ensign) talking about drilling our part of the hemisphere into the equivalent of swiss cheese in pursuit of oil, oil and more oil. As the business jargon goes, hey ...' think outside the box' folks. We need to wean ourselves off using oil and ethanol to propel our vehicles. We need to shift to propelling vehicles with something like natural gas, electricity, and/or air. However, as a nation, we don't have infrastructure to support that, and we never will until we can find leaders who are willing to lead us down that path.

  • Health care is another concern. Well, just maybe 'health care' needs to be a regulated industry, like utilities are. If you have insurance, you've probably noticed that a hospital or a lab will charge let's say, $30-40 for an X-ray, yet your insurance company has negotiated a $7 fee for that X-ray, so the hospital/lab accepts $7 and writes off the difference. If you don't have insurance, you end up paying the full $30-40 fee. Well, maybe there should be regulated 'reasonable & customary' fees that're equivalent to what insurance companies typically pay for services instead of creating government sponsored "comprehensive health care plans" as are being proposed by the democrats. If fees were regulated and caps were placed on malpractice awards (so doctors could actually afford malpractice insurance), maybe more folks could actually afford health care.

  • With the vast numbers of baby-boomers reaching full retirement age within the next 3 years, social security is destined to become a major budgetary issue. For years now, the government has been financing a significant portion of the national debt by 'borrowing' from the Social Security Trust Fund (if you want to call it that ... it's all just a bunch of creative bookkeeping entries). Social Security trust funds are only 'invested' in a special type of Treasury bond (an IOU of sorts) that can only be issued to and redeemed by the Social Security Administration. The money to repay those special IOUs comes from current taxes. In ten years (2018), when S/S begins paying out more than its taking in from payroll taxes, the government could be in the position of having to pay S/S benefits with IOUs unless they significantly increase taxes. And, that's not going to go over well at all.

Like many other Americans, I'm getting tired of the rhetoric. I'm looking for some leadership. I desparately need our next President to set national strategies, and work dilligently at getting all branches of our government to contributing to achieving goals. We need someone in the White House who is willing to cut unnecessary programs, governmental bloat and unneeded agencies. We need a leader who will help our nation become energy independent and governmental representatives who are fiscally responsible in the use of taxpayers' monies.

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