spending

Thelma and Louise discuss the fiscal cliff

No, wait...it's Dora and Peregrina in an earnest tête-à-tête whilst simultaneously having coffee and their hair done (bet you didn't know you could do that at the Queen Diner—don't let the health department in on it.).  

Are you frustrated by the all the fiscal cliff talk?  So's Dora.  As always, the old gal makes a lot of sense.

 
 
 
 
 
Going Over the Cliff
 
“Are you happy with the direction the Republican Party is taking on the fiscal cliff?” my friend Peregrina asked me as we had coffee at the Queen Diner in Dryden. I had to admit I am not.
 
We agreed that a status quo election in which the popular vote split almost in the middle and which gave continued control of the House to the Republicans by a large margin was no mandate for the President’s radical income redistribution or grow government schemes.  Contrary to media claims, the Republican Party is not dead or even moribund.  About two-thirds of the states have Republican governors.  Even residents of the City of Ithaca have a Republican representative-elect now.  Yet, the Republican Party is suffering from a kind of sickness in which many Republicans neither speak out proudly for our basic principles nor vote on election day.
 
Now I’ve been a registered Republican since I turned 21, 67 years ago, and was eligible to vote (yes, they made you wait until 21 back then).  The main thing I like about the Party is its fiscal conservatism though that has been much lacking among some Republicans of late.
 
Ronald Reagan, bless his soul, said that he had not left the Democrat Party, it had left him.  I’m now beginning to feel the same way about the Grand Old Party (GOP).  In Washington, numerous “Republican” office holders have been talking compromise on basic fiscal principles.  Compromise works when the other side is genuinely interested in reaching a viable solution, but you can’t negotiate with people like the President who think it must be their way “or the highway.” Merely kicking the problem down the road or supplying our ever growing government with more funds just won’t work nor can we keep borrowing forty cents of every dollar we spend.
 
You can’t solve an overspending habit by borrowing, you have to do it by tightening your belt, Peregrina agreed.  Imagine a family, she suggested, that makes $60,000 a year but spends $100,000 every year.  How?  By borrowing money from banks, maxing out credit cards, and using friends and relatives year after year.  Sooner or later, the house foreclosed, bankruptcy filed, overspending must stop.
 
So, I’ve voted for Republicans only to see that when they get to Washington they get infected with “going along to get along” and to see them abandon the basic Republican principles of smaller government and lower taxes.  Sadly, they no longer feel willing to stand up and speak out for fiscal sanity.  They become “me too” Democrats, always wanting to spend more and to solve all problems with government “solutions.”
 
There is no such thing as a free lunch.  Common sense says that whatever we spend must be paid for by someone.  The taxing the rich mantra espoused locally by such voices as Barbara Lifton just cannot work.  Why not?  Because the rich just aren’t rich enough.  The tax increases sought by the President from successful people would only bring in about forty billion dollars a year, enough to run the government for little more than a week. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan lowered taxes and found lower taxes actually mean higher government revenues and prosperity for the American people.  Franklin Roosevelt raised taxes during a depression and got a longer depression. Yet the class warfare advocates continue to assault success and make it more difficult though the revenue that can be raised is merely politically symbolic and not meaningful.  They ignore the facts and follow a false dream.
 
But the problem isn’t revenues, it is spending.  Government is simply too big.  Some Republicans go to Washington to cut its size and end up increasing it.  That won’t do.
 
So, what must happen?  Statist Republicans and taxing Republicans must be given fiscally conservative and committed primary opponents.  We must confront our Republican office holders and let them know they will have internal party opposition if they persist.  We must get them to adhere to principle.  Or, we Republicans must turn to and work with the more committed Tea Party folks in trying to take back the Republican Party.
 
 
 
 
UPDATE:  I guess great minds really do think alike  wink
 

Pastoral Poverty

A piece in the Times today illuminates the divide in Middlefield between farmers and people who have moved into the rural town.  It might reflect some on Dryden, too.

The dispute has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and has often set people who live in suburbs or villages against the farmers and landowners who live outside them. The discord is compounded by hard times on both sides and by communication online giving everyone instant access to limitless information confirming their point of view...

Like many farmers, [Jennifer Huntington] sees the drilling opponents as largely comfortable urbanites in an area increasingly home to retirees and second-home owners who know nothing about the economics of farming and little about the safety of drilling.
“This land and my family are my life,” Ms. Huntington said. “We probably use three to four million gallons of water to feed my cows. I’m not going to spoil something I need to make my living and for future generations to come.”

Proponents of fracking say that many farmers are on the verge of losing their property.

“The term we use is pastoral poverty,” she said. “You have farmers trying to hold on to land that’s been in their family for 100 to 200 years. People like the landscape, but it’s people living in poverty who are maintaining what they like to look at.” ...

Many drilling proponents, meanwhile, say the professionals and retirees drawn to the area have become antigrowth fanatics...

* * *

The crowd of about 120 was quiet and polite at the candidates’ debate at the Dryden Fire Hall last Wednesday.  I spent my time watching the body language in the crowd. The anti-fracking polemic of Linda Lavine got a chilly reception based on the crossed arms, shifting of positions and shaking heads.  Maybe it was the intensity that was off-putting, or maybe they’ve heard just about enough about drilling.

The strongest reaction I saw was in favor of attracting business and spreading out the tax base of the town.  While the town tax rate hasn’t gone up, assessments have and people see their tax escrow payments going up alarmingly every year.  A bunch of new businesses are going in just up the road in Cortlandville... but we won’t see any benefit from sales tax revenue across the county line.

The budget talk is complicated, and seems to disintegrate into a he-said, she-said battle of jargon.  A few things stood out... a lot of money spent on consultants for an unloved zoning proposal, a bunch more people working in the planning department, a move by the town board to bypass the tax cap passed by the state.   Recreation used to be done by volunteers.

The next candidate debate will be in Varna on Tuesday, closer to Cornell and the anti-fracking epicenter.  

Elevation matters

The middle ground for its own sake isn't it.  What we need is to stake out the moral high ground.  A great column by Arthur Brooks in today's WSJ:

The battle over the debt ceiling is only the latest skirmish in what promises to be an ongoing, exhausting war over budget issues. Americans can be forgiven for seeing the whole business as petty, selfish and tiresome. Conservatives in particular are beginning to worry that public patience will wear thin over their insistence that our nation's government-spending problem must be remedied through spending cuts, not by raising more revenues.

But before they succumb to too much caution, budget reformers need to remember three things. First, this is not a political fight between Republicans and Democrats; it is a fight against 50-year trends toward statism. Second, it is a moral fight, not an economic one. Third, this is not a fight that anyone can win in the 15 months from now to the presidential election. It will take hard work for at least a decade.

While Brooks immediately goes on to cite some statistics—it's what we conservatives tend to do—he doesn't waste much time getting to the crux of his argument: that the kind of "tectonic" structural change that is necessary 

...will only succeed if it's accompanied by a moral argument—an unabashed cultural defense of the free enterprise system that helps Americans remember why they love their country and its exceptional culture.

Brooks points out that Adam Smith's greatest book was not The Wealth of Nations but

..."The Theory of Moral Sentiments," a defense of a culture that could support true freedom and provide the greatest life satisfaction.

Free enterprise advocates, Brooks says,

... speak privately about freedom and opportunity for everybody.... [but s]adly, in public, they always seem stuck in the language of economic efficiency.

Brooks' recommendation? (emphasis mine)

If reformers want Americans to embrace real change, every policy proposal must be framed in terms of self-realization, meritocratic fairness and the promise of a better future. Why do we want to lower taxes for entrepreneurs? Because we believe in earned success. Why do we care about economic growth? To make individual opportunity possible, not simply to increase wealth. Why do we need entitlement reform? Because it is wrong to steal from our children.

Read the whole thing.

The unbearable endlessness of indebtedness

Cartoonist Bob Gorrell made good use of M.C. Escher's drawing of Moebius-strip-like hands to portray the endless cycle of debt we're in.

Feeling like one of Escher's ants?

Me, too.

Time to fire up the old hypocrisy meter again

From Chrissy the Hyphenated:

2011_07 13 Obama the Despicable

Not to be outdone for sheer, unmitigated hypocrisy, Mitch McConnell (at Reuters, via Michelle Malkin):

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell proposed a "backup plan" on Tuesday that would allow a divided U.S. Congress to raise the U.S. debt ceiling with just the votes of Democrats.

The complicated legislative maneuver would avert an imminent default and let Republicans wash their hands of the politically toxic issue.

As outlined by McConnell, President Barack Obama would formally request an increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which Congress would reject through a "resolution of disapproval."

Obama would then veto that resolution and send it back to Congress. If Congress failed to muster the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto, the debt ceiling would effectively be lifted by the amount Obama had requested.

Obama and congressional leaders have failed so far to come up with a budget deal that could pass both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Or maybe it's just McConnell as Charlie Brown:

Pathetic.

Insanity or Cloward-Piven?

Either way, it's not a good thing.

Click on to embiggen, as they say (via Moonbattery).

At Investors.com:

...According to The Hill, Democrats are so frustrated with President Obama's "passivity on the economy" that they're actively working on a fresh stimulus package that would include significant new spending on roads and other infrastructure, paid for by closing various tax loopholes...

[....] The classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. At the moment, that seems a fitting description for the Democratic Party's economic agenda.

Snow job

Stephen Moore wrote in the WSJ last week:

Perhaps there can still be a happy ending to this sad tale of U.S. decline. If there were ever a right time to trade in the junk heap of our federal tax code for a pro-growth Steve Forbes-style flat tax, now's the time.

What would prompt Mr. Moore to make such a preposterous suggestion?  Only this:

Media reports in recent weeks say that Senate Democrats are considering a 3% surtax on income over $1 million to raise federal revenues. This would come on top of the higher income tax rates that President Obama has already proposed through the cancellation of the Bush era tax-rate reductions.

If the Democrats' millionaire surtax were to happen—and were added to other tax increases already enacted last year and other leading tax hike ideas on the table this year—this could leave the U.S. with a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%. That's more than double the highest federal marginal rate of 28% when President Reagan left office in 1989. Welcome back to the 1970s.

Read the rest for "the math behind that depressing calculation." 

This morning at Heritage:

The House GOP last week issued a proposal to spur job growth, including reducing regulation and taxes and promoting free trade – essentially aimed at making it easier for businesses to grow, thereby growing the economy and reducing unemployment. And, like clockwork, the left went on the attack claiming that it’s nothing more than “old ideas, fancy new clip art,” while the Times described it as “more of the same ‘fixes’ that Republicans always recommend no matter the problem.” Ironically, though, the left is calling for more of their same ideas – “government help” must come to the rescue, the Times says.

And how do they plan to pay for it? Higher taxes to finance more spending, with “a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%.” The government needs to stay home. Brian Riedl explained why government intervention to boost the economy doesn’t work:

Removing water from one end of a swimming pool and pouring it in the other end will not raise the overall water level. Similarly, taking dollars from one part of the economy and distributing it to another part of the economy will not expand the economy.

Amazing how many people are snowed by the kind of "logic" Riedl is referring to.

Urge Hanna to vote yes on HR 3...

...the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has announced a vote on this bill on or around Wednesday, May 4. 

From Library of Congress/Thomas:

5/2/2011 Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 237 Reported to House. Rule provides for consideration of H.R. 3 with 1 hour of general debate. Previous question shall be considered as ordered without intervening motions except motion to recommit with or without instructions. Measure will be considered read. Bill is closed to amendments. The amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the report of the Committee on Rules 112-71 shall be considered as adopted. All points of order against provisions in the bill, as amended, are waived. 

This major piece of legislation would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition of federal funding for abortions. Despite what some politicians and the media have reported, there is no permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal funding of abortion. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of most abortions, is an annual appropriation fight since the amendment expires at the end of every fiscal year. 

Unlike the recent Planned Parenthood debate, there is no "women's health" excuse to hide behind. This is about taxpayers and direct abortion funding—nothing else.

Congressman Hanna's contact information:

DC office: Phone: 202-225-3665, Fax: 202-225-1891
Cortland office: Phone: 607-756-2470, Fax: 607-756-2472
Auburn office: Phone: 315-252-6700, Fax: 315-252-6709
Utica office: Phone: 315-724-9740, Fax: 315-724-9746

Related: Suspects accused of causing a fetus to die or injuring it inside the womb at any stage of development would face separate criminal charges under a law North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed.

But, as Sister Toldjah writes,

...it’s kinda interesting that – once again – we have a law on the books here in the states that essentially says that if the baby is unwanted and the mother goes to an abortion clinic to terminate “the problem”, then it’s not a crime. But if the baby IS wanted and is harmed by a violent offender, it is considered a crime.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the law will go onto the books later this year. But it’s worth pointing out that “is it a baby or not” is in the eye of the beholder, depending on whether or not the unborn baby is wanted...

Just sayin'.

Government Gone Wild

Meet my new best bud, Blaise...Blaise Ingoglia.  Dis guy seems real familiar to me—half da guys I grew up wit were "Blaise," and da otha half were Dennis, Pat, or Tom.  But I digress.

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