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Monday, October 26, 2009

Promises made, Promises broken

In August of 2008 at a town hall meeting in Chester, VA, presidential candidate Barack Obama said the following on health care reform - "I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies — they'll get a seat at the table… We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies."

Fast forward to October of 2009 and in a small room in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, behind closed doors, a final Senate bill is being written. The only people around the so-called "big table" are Senator Reid, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Max Baucus, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebeilus plus a few aides all looking to replace our current health care system, which makes up one-sixth of the economy. If they have their way, we will end up with something so destructive and that will raise premiums, create new taxes, ration medical care, and eventually put private insurance out of business. What happened to the doctors, nurses, insurance and drug companies, and most importantly, the bipartisanship the president campaigned on? Oh, I know he’s president know and doesn't have to follow through with his campaign promise.

For a president who campaigned on the issue of transparency, this is just another campaign promise broken. The American voter is becoming skeptical if he can keep any campaign promise. He promised to post bills for five (5) days on the web before signing. It’s a promise he keeps breaking bill after bill. So far 11 bills have been signed into law and not one of them has made it to the World Wide Web.

In regards to health care, the president made several promises. He said "we have to enlist the American people in this process" but when we tried to voice our opinion at town hall meetings we were called names. He said "I would welcome input" but hasn't invited the GOP to the White House since April. He said "if you have better ideas please present them" but every amendment proposed by the Republicans has been turned down or is stuck in committee. He said "the public will be part of the conversation" but then let his Sr. Advisor and leaders in Congress insult those who disagree with them. He said the Clinton's made one huge mistake and that was they took "all their experts into one room and then they closed the door. They tried to design the plan in isolation from the American people." Sound familiar?

Representatives Brian Baird (D-WA) and Greg Walden (R-OR) have been trying to get a petition signed by lawmakers that would "force a vote" on an amendment that would require a 72 hour viewing process. So far, nearly every Republican had signed the petition but the democratic leadership is discouraging its members doing the same.

Rep. Baird warns of the democrats desire to hide bills from the public. He says "Democrats know politically it's difficult to defend not doing this… The public gets this. They say we entrust you with the profound responsibility of making decisions that affect our lives, and we expect you to exercise due diligence in carrying out that responsibility."

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered a similar amendment in regards to the health care bill. This amendment required the actual legislative text sent to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate and for the bill to be posted on the Senate Finance committee website. The amendment was defeated along party lines with the exception of Senator, Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who sided with the Republicans.

Americans have become skeptical of the "need" this White House and Congress have to pass bills quickly with little time for debate. Michael Franc, president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation said “The American people are now suspicious of not only the lawmakers, but the process they hide behind to do their work."

This Congress has refused to give the proper legislation to the CBO so they can have the proper amount of time to analyze. They have rejected any and all measures that would save us from their president’s broken promises on health care. If common sense still existed, then Congress would start over allowing both sides to the bargaining table.

If health care reform doesn't constitute a need for transparency, then I don't know what does. This president promised to run the "most transparent White House in history." where’s the transparency, Mr. President?

Friday, October 9, 2009

What are they smoking in Oslo?

Perhaps the committee felt sorry for Obama after his "hometown" of Chicago lost its 2016 Olympic bid to Rio or perhaps they are happy that he is on course to destroying the United States of America? Whatever the reason, if you're like me when you heard the news that the President had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, you asked yourself - for what?

The nomination process ended just 12 days after the president was inaugurated. The committee said they decided to issue the citation to the president "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future." So???

The president is so determined to be liked around the world that he is forgetting that his real focus should be on his own country. Unemployment continues to rise, people continue to worry about losing their job, people aren't spending as much which hurts the private sector, nations around the world are thinking of replacing the US dollar as the international currency, he continues to want to spend money we don't have which will bankrupt us, and the list goes on and on. Let's just say if this road continues, he may very well not win the ultimate price from the citizens of the United States -reelection.

Awarding this prize to a man who had been in office for 12 days only makes the committee look even more ridiculous than before. Remember the Saturday Night Live skit where they made fun of the president for his record so far? Here's a recap - he's done NOTHING (except spend money)! He's fighting to wars and can't get a climate bill through Congress which is controlled by his own party.

The president should have turned down this award. Afterall, the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded for what one has acomplished not what they promise. It appears that the committee chose to give the prize to Obama simply because he is not Bush. He could have said that while he is grateful for the award, he hasn't done the things he wants to accomplish and therefore can't accept the award. The award comes at an interesting time. The president is debating whether to follow through with General McCrystals' request for an additional 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan. The question is now that he is the winner and the committee is looking to him for "peace", will he send the troops needed to get the job done or will he make us retreat?

Reaction around the world is mixed but even the Times of London declared that the committee's choice makes a mockery out of the award. Lech Walesa, former Polish President who is also Nobel laureate, said the president hasn't made any contributions and that it was far to early to award such a prize.

I hope there is enough duct-tape to keep the president's head from growing any bigger.

Monday, October 5, 2009

America needs a stimulus bill that will create jobs

In 2008, Larry Summers, now chief economic advisor to President Obama, said that any fiscal stimulus bill should be "timely, targeted, and temporary." Mr. Summers wrote that to be timely a stimulus bill should be "based on changes in taxes and benefits that can be implemented almost immediately." The stimulus bill should be targeted to "those with low incomes and those whose incomes have recently fallen for whom spending is most urgent." Finally, the stimulus bill must be temporary and have no impact on the deficit after one year. Increased deficits, Mr. Summers wrote, will only lead to rises in interest rates and undermine long-term growth. However, since it was signed into law February 17, 2009, the economic stimulus bill hasn't been timely nor targeted and I doubt it will be temporary. Economist Milton Friedman once said "there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program."

In the 224 days since the stimulus bill was signed into law, we have spent $98 billion or 12 percent of the $787 billion. At this rate, it will take the federal government around 1,800 days to spend the entire bill. Ironically, this will put us way past the 2012 presidential election.

President Obama told us that if we passed the stimulus bill we would not see unemployment go above 8 percent and that we would "save or create" 3 million jobs by putting "people back to work." However, since the bill was signed, the economy has lost an additional 2.2 million jobs and the unemployment rate is now at 9.8 percent.

America needs a real stimulus bill. A bill that doesn't pay back the unions and interest groups that helped President Obama get elected. The current stimulus bill simply increases the size and control of government by putting money into the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists at the expense of the private sector. We need a bill that will create long-term permanent jobs, not temporary "shovel-ready" projects and provide tax cuts for businesses.

So what would a successful stimulus bill look like? First, tax cuts must be at the heart of any new bill. Americans believe that tax cuts spur economic growth and create jobs. With a $12 trillion economy, any tax cut must be bold enough to actually work.

Second, a true stimulus bill must be rooted in economic freedom for the American people. An economy centralized in Washington only brings about corruption and political favoritism that we see today. In order to have sustainable, long-term economic growth, we must provide small businesses with pro-growth policies. We can't just simply cut taxes but we must also reign in government spending and fiscal responsibility. An amendment requiring the federal government to balance their budget would be a great start to achieving this.

Third, in order to help businesses, we should implement cuts in Social Security and Medicare taxes. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is proposing a 50 percent cut in these tax rates. Small businesses would have more money to hire people or invest and employees would see an immediate growth in their take home pay allowing them to spend more in the private sector.

Fourth, the United States has the second highest combined corporate tax rate in the world at 39.1 percent (Japan has the highest rate at 39.5 percent). In order to entice foreign companies to invest in the Untied States, we must lower this rate to a more competitive advantage. Currently, Ireland has the lowest corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent.

During the 1990's, President Clinton and the Republican-controlled House showed us that in order to have economic growth you must have both pro-job and pro-investment tax cuts. The more jobs the private sector creates, the fewer number of people receiving welfare payments or unemployment benefits. By controlling spending, they were able to balance the budget for the next four years.

This is one time when history should repeat itself.