The “crisis” of the fiscal cliff continues to dominate the news. The coverage, as usual, is unbalanced and naive. The media and the President think that taxes are the issue. They are an issue, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient to fixing our governmental insolvency.
Tom Lester weighs in with his opinions on the fiscal cliff and how Congress should handle the issue:
I listen to the rhetoric from Barack Obama and John Boehner regarding the continuation of the Bush tax cuts, spending cuts and the fiscal cliff and wonder why the Republicans even participate in this charade. Each side is attempting to “win the hearts and minds” of the public using the media to sway the public to their approach. The most egregious wrong is that the Federal government spends too much for which it demands that the American taxpayer cover with an ever-increasing tax burden.
Conservatives are at a disadvantage playing this game in public. They have two entities against them — the liberal socialists and the left-leaning media. Both are ideologically opposed to any conservative view regardless of how logical or reasonable it might be. Both demagogue whatever conservatives present. Their volume and repetition serve to demonize and destroy whatever competing ideas are presented. The deck is stacked against conservatives in the public arena.
We all are Monday morning quarterbacks in some fields. Allow me the privilege of being one here. My recommendations to conservatives in this so-called fiscal cliff battle would be to stop dealing with the press. We saw what happened the last go round and know that a similar outcome is shaping up again. Here is my advice:
Get off the airwaves! Don’t debate issues on radio or television shows where you lose before you start. When queried for commentary, simply say we are doing the business of the country, taking our responsibilities for maintaining and controlling the purse strings seriously. We are discharging that responsibility logically and reasonably through the bills we pass in the House.
- Pass bills through the House and send them on to the Senate. Bills should be separate in the sense that entitlements, discretionary spending and continuation of the current tax rates represent three bills. It’s not likely that Harry Reid will allow a vote to be taken much less ever bring them to the floor. So what!
- As each bill is passed and before it is sent to the Senate issue one concise statement to the public regarding the amount of money that is saved by the bill and that the bill represents the best that the House can provide. Failure to address and pass it in the Senate is the responsibility of the Senate.
Invariably a reporter will ask something like the following, “Are you going to allow the Bush tax rates to expire for everyone?” The response should be that it’s now out of the House’s hands and in the hands of the Senate and President. The Senate and President, no longer the House, must now exercise responsibility. “But will not the Sequester go into effect without your efforts?” Again, “it’s out of the House’s hands, we have made our best effort.” If the country goes over the fiscal cliff, that decision was made by the White House. The House has done its duty.
When the issue of responsibility is raised, the opportunity should be taken to explain responsibility in its full sense. Is it responsible to have unemployment continue at its present rate for so long? Is it responsible to have a continuing stagnant economy? Is it responsible to pass an $800 billion stimulus package and have no discernible results to show for the expenditures? Is it responsible to pass a bank bailout of 2,700 pages that has further stymied lending and commercial expansion? Is it responsible to have passed $2.3 trillion healthcare legislation in the middle of a prolonged bad economy? Is it responsible to have passed the auto bailout and after four years only about half has been repaid? Is it responsible to have allowed the national debt to surpass $16 trillion? Is it responsible to have bailouts for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and others? Is it responsible for the Fannies to return to zero-down (subprime) loans knowing that taxpayers with continue to have to bailout these bankrupt entities? Is it responsible to make no comments for over three months on the attacks in Benghazi which took four American lives?
The bottom line is that we [the House] are all for being responsible and that is why we have taken this stand regarding stopping this fiscal madness. The future of this country deserves an honest effort not the usual political gimmickry.
Mr. Lester’s position may appear strong to some, but I am not one of them. Politicians of either party owe it to the country to be responsible, not to conform to some politically expedient action out of their own self-interest. When a policy is foolish and dangerous to the survival of the country, it would seem that any true representative of the people would not support it. Unfortunately, in the cesspool of politics that we know as Washington, DC few have either backbone or principle.
Republicans have no obligation to co-operate with the president, especially when his policies are destructive. Nor should they participate in the perpetuation of the fantasy that government can forever provide goodies beyond what it can pay for. Republicans (and Democrats) should not continue this fraud on the American public. Our economy and the very continuation of the country is at risk.
I would stand firm on not raising tax rates, under any circumstance. The problem has nothing to do with taxes being too low. Further, raising taxes is likely to diminish rather than increase government revenues.
Taxes should be off the table, regardless of what Simpson-Bowles and other political hacks suggest. The truth behind the fiscal cliff and our insolvent government was stated nicely by Jeffrey Dorfman (University of Georgia economist) and relayed by George Will (my emboldening):
“spending is the main culprit” because: Today federal revenue is $2.67 trillion (slightly less than “the Clinton equivalent”) and spending is $3.76 trillion, so we are spending $987 billion more than we would be if we had just increased Bill Clinton’s last budget for inflation and population growth.
The fiscal cliff is a recurring symptom of the sickness that is Washington. It reflects the greed and dishonesty of our politicians. These clowns only know spend, spend, spend; tax, tax, tax and re-elect, re-elect, re-elect. Their behavior is reprehensible but will not change so long as they are able to spend beyond what they collect.They have virtually destroyed the Constitution which protected the country from their ravenous behavior for about a century. Lacking Constitutional constraints politicians have damaged the economy’s ability to grow. Unless stopped, they will plunder the citizenry until the economy collapses, bankrupting the nation and the government itself.
The debt ceiling legislation is a silver bullet if enough in the political establishment are willing to use it. The House can prevent any rise in this ceiling. I would settle for them to accept substantial spending cuts as a pre-condition for raising it enough to get us through the next year. Then, more spending cuts! No tax rate increases. No gimmickry. It would not bother me if they categorically stated there will be no debt ceiling change, period!
If this sounds harsh to you, then you don’t understand the serious condition this country is in. The Constitution, de facto, is over. The debt ceiling is the only control remaining on a runaway Democrat Party and its ideologue President. It is the only thing that stands between us and the complete and utter destruction of the country. Facing up to the problem now will produce great pain and suffering, but nothing like we will face otherwise. We risk losing everything if this problem is not addressed harshly at this opportunity.
Leviathan must be stopped before it destroys everything and everyone that we love. It is that serious! Markets will eventually destroy the country and government if this problem persists much longer. Rebuilding from the ashes might provide an opportunity to return to the principles of The Constitution but it also provides the potential for a demagogue to arise and confiscate whatever freedom and wealth the nation has left. This latter possibility should frighten everyone because it would ensure pain and the loss of liberty for several generations. Better we face the music now than risk complete and utter destruction in the future.
We were once that “shining city on a hill,” a beacon for the rest of the world. Our way of live was unsurpassed. Our streets were thought to be “paved with gold.” Freedom and liberty provided these features and they are being removed. With them go the exceptional lives we were provided by our ancestors. Our glory days are ebbing away.
Politicians must draw a line in the sand right here and now. They must do what is right rather than what is in their political self-interest. That means a plunge off this fiscal cliff unless the president is willing to dramatically cut spending. The country needs this tough love in order to return to reality. Facing up to the problems now will enable the country a reasonable chance to avoid death.
I do not expect our politicians to do the right thing. Our grandchildren have every right to spit on our graves for what we allowed to happen to what was once the greatest country on the face of the earth.