September 12, 2005

Guns and Butter; Partie Deux (Part Two)

I have a confession to make; I read the Wall Street Journal both the dead tree version and the online version. I guess that makes me a capitalist toadie. Or maybe a Capitalist Running Dog! Or perhaps a member of the bourgeois with pretensions of becoming rich someday.

Well, OK, I am all of the above. What is more, I'd love to see all of the world equal or exceed that. Of Course, I know that that won't happen, but I can dream can't I. Well, for the nonce at any rate. Next week I'll be 59, perhaps a little late for riches, unless I win the Texas Lotto.

But all that aside, I'm upset with my president. I'm upset with congress, I'm upset with the whole idea of the way the federal dollar is being spent. Misspent perhaps.

I've been having a series of conversations with my beloved Uncle. In a recent e-mail, he noted that he used to be a Republican; back when the Republicans stood for fiscal restraint, good business principles etc. Can't fault him for that. I choose to stay in the Republican Party and work for change within, I'm NOT one happy camper at this moment.

Congress is spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors - in fact, I think maybe the afore mentioned sailors do better. The President seems disinclined to reign them in, and has yet to veto a single spending bill. NOT ONE!!!! And that scares the hell out of me. The recent transportation bill is a good example. As I told my Uncle, it was so loaded with Pork that I understand the Armour Company was thinking of purchasing it.


congressional Pork.png Can't you just see it, Canned Congressional Pork [Note, no Armour Star Products were harmed in the making of this photograph.] But, I digress. The transportation bill contains funding for a bridge in Alaska, essentially going to somewhere where no one except a few local inhabitants want to go. Yet, it is spending, jobs, etc. But, good lord people!

John Fund writing in the Wall Street Journal wonders if President Bush has the huevos to do what FDR and Truman did; Cut spending when a national crisis occurs. Now, some of you may be offended by my use of the word uevos meaning testicles or balls, but I'm from Texas and that gives mhe a certain amount of freedom, plus, being an author of this blog I claim a little artistic license AND, I'm ticked off.

Fund states:

With almost no debate and with precious few provisions for oversight, Congress has passed President Bush's mammoth $62 billion request for emergency Katrina relief. House Speaker Denny Hastert says the final total will "probably [be] under the cost of the highway bill" that Congress passed last month with a pricetag of $286.4 billion.

Despite such sums, there are few calls for offsetting cuts in other programs, apart from antiwar opportunists who see in Katrina a chance to undermine the Iraq effort."

Moreover, he is absolutely correct. The majority of those who are calling for spending cuts have also voted in the large pork measures that we have been seeing over the Bush presidency and the last years of the Clinton presidency and are only now calling for cuts because they think it will score political points in the fight against the fight as it were. Actually, these folk don't give a damn about spending, they just want to torpedo the war fighting in Iraq and, as a result, the people of Iraq and perhaps the whole middle east.

Fund goes on to say:

Neither the White House nor Congress appears to be in any mood, for example, to revisit the highway bill's 6,373 "earmarks," or individual projects for members, worth $24.2 billion. Alaska's Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has bragged that the bill is "stuffed like a turkey" with goodies for his state. It includes $721 million for Alaska, including a $2.2 million "bridge to nowhere" connecting the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) to an airport on Gravina Island (population 50). Another bridge, in Anchorage, has a $200 million price tag and is considered such a marginal project that even the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce opposes it.

Families hit by any disaster realize they have to reassess their situation and change their circumstances. There was a time when the nation acted the same way. After Pearl Harbor, the country sprang into action to win the war against Japan and Germany. But it realized that the old way of doing things wouldn't do. Dramatic changes in government policy resulted."

Did you get that, FDR a Democrat changed government policy to face a new reality. Here's what he did according to Fund: He cut spending.

Wow, did that resonate with anyone, he CUT SPENDING. According to Fund:

Less well known is FDR's decision to slash non-defense spending by over 20% between 1942 and 1944. Among the programs that were eliminated entirely were FDR's own prized creations. By 1944, such pillars of the New Deal as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration and the Work Projects Administration had been abolished. In 1939 those three programs had represented one-eighth of the federal budget. Roosevelt and the Congress of his day knew what to do in an emergency."
Fund states that Truman did the same thing during the Korean war.

I've noted in past posts here and made some "modest" suggestions as to how to remedy the situation.

1. Cut Taxes on Corporations, because when you increase corporate taxes, the corporations only pass along those taxes to the consumers who do not need any more outgo of their own pocketbooks.

2. Tax Wealth, not Income. I would be willing to bet that the Soros and Kennedy types would squeal like stuck pigs then.

3. Perhaps cut the tax rate on income to a flat tax, but tax all personal income. For those below an agreed on poverty level, they will get a refund.

4. Abolish federal withholding. When each taxpayer has to make a monthly “tax deposit” to cover their income taxes, the outcry will go up demanding fiscal responsibility.

5. Abolish deficit spending and any congressional trick used to pass a spending resolution without having to do the work necessary for a real budget, tie specific deficit authorizations to national emergencies such as natural disasters (Florida Hurricanes, Terrorist Attacks, War, etc., etc.)

6. Abolish all federal spending on anything that is not in the national interest (this alone would eliminate 90% of the pork methinks, though I’m not sure of that).

7. Set time limits on entitlements and require a “sunset review” one year before the limit arrives. Only if the entitlement is truly needed may it be continued.

Now, I have no idea at all if these steps will work, but they are based on fairly sound principles, and the laughter of the tax and spend-a-holics at the Laffer curve be damned. EVERY TIME taxes have been cut, revenues have gone UP.

Mr. President, I'm really ticked off at you for not vetoing some of these crap spending bills. It's time to not just mimic some famous democrats (remember your support of JFK's tax cuts), but to incorporate some principles of FDR and HT and cut spending so that we can afford what we really need. Oh, and do it now!

/rant!

Technorati Tags: politics, Current Events

Posted by GM Roper at September 12, 2005 08:33 PM | TrackBack
Comments

i've been saying all along that Bush has perveted the values of true conservatives...nice to see that awareness is crossing party lines.

And a premature happy birthady to GM (let us know when you qualify as an old fart :) ). I suspect you have all the riches you require.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 13, 2005 12:20 AM

Jim, you missed the point entirely (well, you ARE a democrat) the point isn't that Bush perverted the values of true conservatives, the point is that the Republicans in congress have gone on a power trip and spending spree and so far Bush hasn't had the juevos to call them on it.

Would you say that St. Jimmy of Carter "perverted" the Democratic values because he was incompetent? Or that JFK, LBJ and WJC perverted the Democratic values because they were hedonists? (actually, those are the democrat values aren't they? ;-)

Posted by GM Roper at September 13, 2005 07:13 AM

What point did I miss? Congress is doing what it always has done...layed on the pork and all the trimmings. It's the Presidents job to take out red pencil and trim the fat, ans Bush has failed miserably at that. Hey, I realize the last time we saw a balanced budget was during the Clinton presidency, but wouldn't you agree that (at least once upon a time) a balanced budget was a true conservative value? Hell, even Grover Norquist would agree with that.

A balanced budget is ultimately the responsibility of the dude in the oval office. Guess he's a little too busy sharing happy meals with China to realize that.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 13, 2005 08:29 AM

I somewhat agree with Jim that Bush is not the fiscal conservative that I would like him to be. He just gives in to any spending programs as if fighting them takes too much political capital. If Bush proposes a 10% increase in spending and the Democrats propose a 20% increase, then the Democrats say that Bush is slashing program spending by 50%, even though both are increases. So, why waste time arguing over something for which you're going to catch grief and eventually lose, except that it's real money.

On G.M.'s proposal to stop withholding taxes so that people would really feel the tax pain as they write their checks...that would work, which is why it isn't done. The withholding tax was passed as a temporary measure during WWII to increase cash flow even if it didn't increase tax rates. That temporary measure is still going 60 years later.

People are so stupid that if you ask them how much they paid in taxes when they file their tax returns, some will say nothing because they're getting a refund. They fail to look at the line that says "Total Taxes", and they think that the government is giving away something to them with a refund. To them I say, "IT'S YOUR OWN MONEY, STUPID!"

As we learned in Econ 101, you can't have guns & butter without consequences. I heard that Paul Volker will retire in January. At that point, it's possible that inflation will rev back up.

Posted by Woody at September 13, 2005 10:33 AM

Woody, Is this a test? I do believe you mean Alan Greenspan vice Paul Volker, eh? Volker is in the mode of putting the UN and all the bandits therein for the corruption they have been practicing lo these many years.

Do note this when they ask for your money for UNICEF cards.

Regards,

Tad

Posted by tad at September 13, 2005 01:04 PM

I remember while growing up reading the Republican Party's advertisments denouncing RED INK! in capital letters. But the Barry Goldwater was defeated in 1964, and we got guns and butter, followed by national indigestion.

We now see in Congress a ongoing breakdown in party discipline. You know, watching our Congression representatives load up on pork, expecting someone else to eventually pay the bill, reminds me of the looting scenes in New Orleans after most of the police abandoned their post and some even joined in. And in Congress, the Speaker and Senate leaders have abandoned their posts, and the "Police Chief" (Mr. Bush) won't buck the tide.

Guess who's ultimately going to be paying for the damages caused by looting in New Orleans? Similarly, if our leaders keep running up the debt and we don't hold them accountable, someone else (the World Bank?) at some point is going to step in and take it out of our hides, just like in Argentina and many other countries -- and we will have lost a huge amount of our freedom and our place in the world.

Where is the true leader who will take charge, provide a vision, and rally our nation to sacrifice -- someone like Lt. Gen Honore. Mr. Bush certainly seems determined to shoot himself in the foot (Link via Martin Kramer).

Posted by civil truth at September 13, 2005 01:05 PM

By the way, I read the whole WSJ essay yesterday and found it to be one of the best analyses I've seen a long time.

I've always felt it inconsistent that our leaders (of both parties) keep talking of a "War on Terrorism" but have utter failed to call upon our nation as a whole to make sacrifices, as we had done in every previous war prior to Vietnam and LBJ. John Fund has finally shouted out that the emperor has no clothers. Will we take up the cry? Or will we party on while the water level rises in the engine room of our sinking ship of state?

Posted by civil truth at September 13, 2005 01:12 PM

Thanks, Tad. Of course, I meant Greenspan. It was a senior moment.

Your suggestion about the UNICEF cards is interesting. On Halloween, instead of "Food for Oil" it can be "Candy for Corruption." Kofi can dress up and take two buckets--one for the kids and a bigger one for himself.

Posted by Woody at September 13, 2005 01:26 PM

Only in Texas would they spell `heuvos' `jeuvos'. D@mn Texans just have to be different.

GM, I'm not trying to be totally contrarian to your point about Congress. Our so called representatives from both sides of the aisle get away with this type of unfettered spending because they CAN.

We really do need another William Proxmire type to hold their feet to the fire. He did it best.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 13, 2005 04:12 PM

I enjoyed Proxmire's Golden Fleece Awards.

Posted by Woody at September 13, 2005 04:38 PM

The pork is cooking big time in Congress, and this Hurricane relief crap is adding more fat to the frying pan. I am upset too GM. SO much so that I wrote to my reps and asked them to NOT be a part of this.

Posted by Raven at September 13, 2005 06:08 PM

I knew, I just KNEW that HUEVOS looked funny. My bad, corrected.

Posted by gmroper at September 13, 2005 08:36 PM

"People are so stupid that if you ask them how much they paid in taxes when they file their tax returns, some will say nothing because they're getting a refund."

Woody, there's a sniglet for that. It's called "intaxication". def: that euphoric feeling you get when you receive your tax refund, until you realize it was your money in the first place.

It's the same story no matter what party runs the White House. A President wants a certain program and his opposition in Congress holds him hostage over it until he grants them pork chops. And you're right in the manner in which they do it. The opposition wants a 20% increase, they get 10% then they tell the press about the wonderful social program the President "doesn't care about" and that he cut funding. This is how they gain political capital and both sides do it.

It's not about the American people. It's about a bunch of politicians trying to keep their jobs by making a minority of special interest people happy. That they do it by lying is nothing new. Disgusting? Yes. Reagan spent like a mad man too. We had a surplus with Clinton because look where he cut the most funding. The military. If I sold my gun collection, I'd have extra money too. And he raised taxes. We had an unbelievable dot com boom that helped also and falsely inflated our economy at the end of his term. He wasn't doing so hot until then. Clinton had some good points, but it wasn't the "wine and roses" scenario people seem to remember.

Posted by Oyster at September 14, 2005 07:51 AM





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