I came across this post from about three years ago that seems to apply to my recent posts on tiny houses and simplicity. Take a look… I think it applies more today than it did even three years ago… Click on the image below to go there.
I dread to think about how our totally politicized Supreme Court is going to rule on the latest attack on affordable healthcare for almost ten million of us. Will they essentially make those folks walk the plank as Steve Sack shows in this editorial cartoon. It is widely known that most of the yahoos on the court vote primarily on their political alignment. The law and original intent just doesn’t seem to mean much to them.
I also see where the Republicans have recently come out with their budget proposals for the coming year. Take a look at that very little orange slice of the current budget pie to the right. That shows our current food stamp allocations. It seems that tiny slice is where they want to do the severest cuts. Part of their budget is to increase the dark blue area even more! They don’t think it is big enough yet. Please tell me how anyone can actually believe that they are serious about their budget proposal when they take the elephant in the room off the table for cuts???
Why does it seem that we are living in an upside-down world right now???
By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them — tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary. Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher. The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.
Government waste is one area where I pretty much agree with my Republican friends. I worked hard to pay my fair share of taxes to keep our nation in business and it makes me mad when I see so much of it is wasted. The chart above show that $36 billion was paid out to perhaps fraudulent Medicare billers in 2013.
I know that the total Medicare spending for that year was almost $600 billion and that makes the fraud about 6% of the total spending. Those folks in Washington probably deem that an acceptable level and in reality that might be right in that we would probably spend more than that to catch the criminals bilking the system. But to me it is more a matter of principle. It would almost be worth it to spend more than we save to catch the offenders.
The number two thing on the list is the Earned Income Tax Credit. I’m not sure how this credit is abused to the tune of $15 billion? It goes to families with annual income up to $51,000. The amount of the credit is dependent on the number of children in a family. Are families claiming children they don’t have? I don’t know.
The current gridlock and the Republican’s constant demands to cut all budgets, except the military of course, it is more likely that these abuses will increase rather than decrease in the coming years especially now that the GOP has control of congress. There seems to not be a government budget that they don’t want to cut. But again if the Democrats were in charge they would probably spend it on other things. How do we get ourselves out of this mess???? I think maybe the only answer it to keep voting the “ins” out of office until they get the message…
Can a capitalistic consumer driven society survive when so many have so little money to spend???
If nothing changes I guess we will soon find out the answer to that question…
Lord knows we spend hundreds of time more for our government than we even did in Will’s day so his words above are even more appropriate today. I am proudly a social liberal but at the same time I am a fiscal conservative. No, neither word insults me as is does many other around me these days. Being a fiscal conservative I want government to spend my money as frugally as I do and of course that is not what is happening today.
But being a social liberal I don’t want our representatives to save money by taking away things like food stamps from those who don’t get enough to eat and that is what the House conservatives are currently trying to do. They say they will get around to putting food stamps back together sometime in the future. Given their past performances “sometime in the future” could be decades away!
No, I don’t want them to take food out of people’s mouths in order to say money. It totally dumbfounds me that the conservatives, and the not so conservatives, in congress can’t see the mammoth elephant in the room when it comes to spending my dollars. It is widely recognized that those yahoos have thrown so much money at the folks at the Pentagon that they really can’t even figure how to spend it all. Why can’t they see all this useless spending when it is so obvious to so many of us?
One reason is because the Pentagon would then have to show its cards, some argue. That is, it would have to tell Congress how it would reallocate funds from its lesser priorities to its higher priorities, says Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), warned back in August.
“Once you show people there are higher- and lower-priority items in your budget, then the lower-priority items become the target, and they’re likely to get cut no matter what,” he says. Mr. Harrison is one who suggests that the Pentagon “would be wise to start planning.”….
Now that we are finally winding down Mr. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I hope the budgeters in congress take a serious look at our defense spending. The Department of Defense is the only department that has more than doubled during the last twelve years. I pray that President Obama will also live up to his pledge to begin stepping back from being policemen of the world. I am hoping that he will have the guts to take on the industrial/military establishment and put then into a peace time mode from a financial standpoint. That alone would go a long way to balancing our budgets.
During the later parts of my employment in the corporate world I was required to set up budgets on an annual basis. Part of the process of allocating the money was I was forced to give priorities to where my group would spend the dollars allocated to us. How the Department of Defense can get everything they want year after year is dumbfounding to me. What is even more dumbfounding is that they also frequently get money for projects they don’t even want.
I have no problems making sure that the boys and girls who make up the bulk of our military forces get a living wage but even there I hear that many are living below the poverty level! Much of the money seems to be spent on things related to cold war strategies.
I mourn the fact that so many in the GOP are more willing to put cuts on seniors and the poor rather than to reign back some of these unknown military expenses. Lets start these forthcoming budget talks by requiring the DOD to actually tell us where they spend all the money we throw at them. But, then again I doubt if they could even do that. Are we still buying $10,000 toilet seats. I wouldn’t be surprised.
But I am just a simple guy so what do I know….
“Fiscal cliff” this “fiscal cliff” that; I am really getting tired of all the rhetoric. It is almost as if some evil empire dropped the “fiscal cliff” viciously into our laps. This reminds me of all the gloom and doom associated with Y2K. Does anyone remember that one. That happened in 1999 when some wise guru decided that the world was going to end when the calendar turned to January 1, 2000. The reasoning was that computers would get the date confused with 1900 as we only use the last two digit in most of our year designations. Of course when the date actually happened it was as mundane as the year before. No the “fiscal cliff” wasn’t dropped down on us by some evil empire, it was a result of a big majority vote by those same folks in our congress that are so upset about it now.
I know that some of us have very short memories so I am going to give you a “history” lesson here less than two years old. The “fiscal cliff” is actually called the Budget Control Act of 2011. In July of that year our representatives in congress were hard at work trying to figure out how they could blame their opponents for the increasing deficits. Their solution, as usual, was for a committee to look into it. So they assigned their biggest thinkers to attack the problem. In order to give these guys an incentive they decided to pass a law of what would happen if they couldn’t come up with something that would get the votes.
Continuing on with our history lesson the super committee (now get ready for this) couldn’t decide on how to do it so the Budget Control Act of 2011 is scheduled to kick in next month. Both side are now very upset that they could have been so stupid to pass this law. The GOP says it will result in the end of the world if the job makers have to pay more of their huge incomes in taxes. The Democrats say it will cause millions of people to die in the streets. Both sides are screaming that our military will cease to exist if they must cut their huge over bloated budgets by ten percent! Here is what I have to say about all of that.
The world will not end; the super rich will go on being super rich; our military will hardly feel the effect as their budgets are many times more than they actually to keep us “safe”. We need a new moniker for the “fiscal cliff”. The best I have heard is to call it the “fiscal curb”. Yes, if we unknowingly step off this curb we might get a quick jolt but it would be nothing we can’t recover from and in the end it just might be the best thing to happen.
We need to somehow learn as a government to live within our means and to pay for what we need. This fiscal curb might just do the trick if our seemingly spineless representative have the guts to just let it happen.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….
Now that the national elections have finally played out there is much talk about the financial cliff. That is the mandated 10% budget cuts and letting the Bush administration tax cuts expire. It seems most of the media treats this event as some sort of catastrophe but in my usual contrarian ways I just don’t see it that way. Even though I am strongly a social progressive, I am also a fiscal conservative. So here is my take on this matter. Read more
I can’t understand why Ohio is supposedly one of the swing States in this election. They have gone from 48th in Job creations in 2008 to 4th in 2012. That is the most dramatic change of any State in the Union. Of course this is the result of President Obama giving loans to the auto industry which is a large employer in Ohio. I could really say the same thing about my home State of Indiana. It has gained much from those same loans but of course it is usually a solidly “red” State so sadly to say it is not on the fence.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced defense cuts of $487 billion over the next decade, as the United States seeks to move to a smaller, leaner and more agile force, putting a new strategic focus on the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
The Defense Department in January said that it would remove two of the four U.S. combat brigades stationed in Europe as part of its military restructuring.
In this blog, especially in the past, I have spoken often about our bloated military budgets gobbling up funds that could more wisely be spent on other things. It is one of my passions to see our Pentagon budgets get more in line with the rest of the world. So, when I ran across the following article it gave me hope that this gargantuan task is at least being started.
We put hundreds of military installations in Germany more than sixty years ago to prevent Germany from causing yet another world war. We later justified their existence by using them during the cold war with the USSR. It looks like there is finally some admittance that their existence is no longer necessary. $50 billion a year savings is almost 7% of the present budget. I will give credit where credit is due with this drawdown.
Now if the Pentagon generals and especially those in our congress will reduce their budgets a corresponding amount. Given past history on this topic that is very doubtful. Instead they will just end up spending, as the article states, that amount and even more someplace else. Once you get a certain amount of money it is hard to give any of it back….
But what do I know….
Warner and his colleagues in the Gang of Six are putting the debt-reducing plan produced by the Simpson-Bowles commission into legislative language (some 800 pages and counting, by Warner’s estimate). That legislation should be in final form within the next six to eight weeks, Warner said. The bipartisan commission, chartered by President Obama, offered a widely commended path to financial balance but has yet to be actually put down in legislative form.
In addition, Warner plans to spend some of his congressional recesses taking trips around the country, alongside Republican colleagues, to talk up the case for a big debt-reduction plan.
It seems that the Senate of old, meaning when compromise actually happened and addressed the needs of the people, has been reduced from one hundred down to six. That seems to be all that is left after the partisan bombs have cleared the landscapes.
One of the reasons that this compromise might actually be accomplished is the deadly fear of some that the pentagon budget might actually be cut ten percent if they don’t. The Pentagon has already blatantly stated that they won’t even consider such a reduction in their budgets. If the senate takes the Pentagon at their word then some type of compromise is going to have to happen. It seems almost impossible for these guys to sa “no” to the generals for any reason.
Wouldn’t it be nice to finally get back to something constructive in our political processes. But in reality I personally will be cheering for the 10% war budget cuts. I would like to see that as the beginning of many reductions in this area. If we keep at it maybe we can come to some parity with the rest of the world on military matters before the end of this century. Then we can finally start using our money for helping the citizens of this country.
But what do I know….
Being a history nut I like the old saying “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. The premise behind this statement is that we should know what got us into past problems so we don’t end up making the same mistakes again. I think this is especially true when it come to our country’s debt problems. So, that is what this post will be about.
First, let’s look at a graph showing the history of our debt. It is shown above. We were going along with only somewhat marginal increases in debt until the early 1990’s at that time President Bush (papa bush that is) raised taxes on some of us. Doing that caused him to fall out of favor with the stalwarts of his own party and therefore made him a one-term president. But it did slow the increase of debt. Then came President Clinton who tweaked the tax code in order to make them fairer. As a result of his actions the federal budgets were balance for several years and some of the national debt was actually paid off.
Then came President Bush (baby bush that is). The first thing he did when he came into office was to give massive tax cuts to the upper 10% of the country. At the same time he took us to war on two fronts. That would not have been too harmful from a monetary standpoint but he chose to take the wars “off the books” which resulted in directly adding them to the national debt. During his years as president the national debt soared. He also did his best to eliminate as much regulations as he could find. As a result of that action Wall Street and the banking community became very creative in generating false profits. These actions came crashing down during the last year of his presidency.
So in come the dreamer President Obama who had to take over all these problems from a failed president. He like almost all of his predecessors had to increase government spending in order to try to stabilize a failing economy. Doing this and not being allowed to restore the tax codes to where they were during our budget surplus years cause the debt limit to continue to increase as they had during the 2001 to 2008 years.
I could have gone back even further to the 1980s when President Reagan invented “trickle down economics” some called it “voodoo economics” that went something like this. The way to decrease the debt is to cut taxes in order to increase taxes. Only the most conservative of us bought into this mentality. Most believe that this policy was the beginning of the runaway deficit problems.
Ok, so this is my history lesson for today. I’m sure my conservative friend would have a few revisions to my version but that is how I see it. What can we learn from history about how our debt got to the point where it is. In my mind there are two basic lessons here. One is that if you want to increase spending you have to have a good reason and can’t say the spending doesn’t count (off the books). One good reason would be to prevent a total collapse of our economy. The other is that you must levy taxes/income in proportion to the amount you need to spend. Some seem to think that like Mr. Reagan you can increase spending (primarily on our war machinery in his case) and decrease taxes at the same time and somehow our debt would not be affected. I’m a pretty simple guy but even this didn’t make any sense to my back then.
But what do I know….
I am horrified by the priorities implicit in our national budget. Why would our leaders put people out of business, weaken food programs, deny college scholarships to prop up swollen military spending? American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) director of Public Policy puts forth the following answer:
Most politicians are afraid to touch military spending. Pentagon contracts and subcontracts affect almost every Congressional district. And no one wants to be the victim of an election-time ad campaign saying they’re soft on defense – that they are not patriotic.
Our nation’s safety net is being held hostage by politics and a wrong headed perception of what it means to be patriotic. It is not patriotic to allow the bloated military budget to divert funds from our communities. It is not patriotic to put all the borrowing necessary to maintain this gross inequity on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
Everyone should urge their congressmen and women to have the courage to stand up to this condition. We spend forty time more per citizen than any other country in the world on our military complex! Is it really unreasonable to only spend ten time more? We really don’t need to be the enforcer or policemen of the world. If we didn’t insist on having all the military power other countries would be more likely to share this burden. That extra $400 – 500 billion dollars per year we could save would go a long way in relieving our current deficits.
But what do I know….