Kicking the Can, Killing the Country

VC note: This article comes from Karen Kwiatkowski, Republican candidate for the 6th district House of Representatives seat of Virginia.  It is the second one she has submitted to me.  The first can be found here.  As always, I welcome pieces from elected officials and candidates and hope to showcase more in the future.

After the predictable drama of which political party or faction should be blamed for what spending, the debt limit was again raised for the 11th time this century, by $2.1 trillion, or nearly 15%.   This increase adds to the nearly $15 trillion the US already owes to international banks, foreign countries, and American investors.  This new total debt, potentially $17 trillion, does not count the $62 trillion in obligations for unfunded domestic entitlements, specifically Social Security and Medicare.

The outstanding debt burden of this nation will soon rise to a staggering $77 trillion.   Oh, and the Congress agreed to cut a $100 billion per year over the next ten years, starting after the next election, they promise! Whew!  Maybe Congress does need a vacation now, after all their hard work!

The latest debt ceiling deal will include new taxation, and it is interesting that the true fiscal hawks in Congress are being excluded from the “SuperCongress” being set up to “solve the problem.”  Too bad no one wants to read the Constitution, which clearly limits federal government functions, and presumably its need to tax, borrow and spend.

The Republican Party itself seem happy, and why not? This spending and taxing behavior has marked Republicans for decades, with massive increases in borrowing and spending experienced under Nixon, Reagan, and both of the Bush presidencies.  Ronald Reagan, a favorite source of modern conservative quotes and references, oversaw a rise in the annual spending deficit increase from $79 billion to $212 billion in his first term – and the Reagan years added $1.9 trillion to the federal debt. This trend line is symbolic “tea” for the Tea Party, and conservatives, liberals, libertarians, constitutionalists and independents all share a concern about overspending and what it means to our children and grandchildren.

The Democratic Party is just as guilty – they point to Reagan as an awful tax cutter – but in fact Reagan oversaw a drastic 65% increase in the annual tax load.  In order to push through a three-year tax cut, he cooperated in the largest tax increase in American history up to that time.   It is easy for a politician to just say, “Give me more!” but because our hard-earned and harder-to-keep money is already skimmed by government at or above 35%, most actively avoid paying taxes.  Big corporations hire lawyers, accountants and move their headquarters overseas.  The rest of us make sure we are at the lowest bracket possible, and we avoid hiring full time employees – all in order to avoid even small increases in taxation.  Our own behavior trumps the politicians demand for more, and more.

What about a balanced budget amendment?  Mr Goodlatte’s naiveté on this issue is either astounding or he is a really slick politician.  Congress doesn’t want balance – it’s way too painful, and they will easily override the low bar set in the language of the proposed toothless amendment.  Beyond that, states that strive and compete for ever larger federal handouts would never support a federal balanced budget.  They know it would be an end to the gravy train, and would create additional and even unbearable federal tax burdens on their citizens.

Because the Balanced Budget Amendment says nothing about lifting unfunded federal mandates, states themselves could actually go broke if they ratified such an amendment.  Incidentally, 32 states are already insolvent, and are currently borrowing money from the Federal Government to pay unemployment insurance.  Well, maybe the Congress didn’t know about this little structural problem.  In any case, three-quarters of the state legislatures and governors do know, and they will oppose any honest balanced budget amendment. The solvent states are already angry for being asked to help bail out their insolvent neighbors, and they too will rightfully oppose a federal balanced budget that will view well-managed state coffers, like Virginia’s, as cash cows.

So how do I really feel?  Like most Americans, I’m angry at Congress for its inability to manage our money.  Like most Americans, I hold Congressmen and most politicians in high contempt.

How about this solution:  Stop spending money you do not have.  Renegotiate any current debt you can, don’t borrow any more, and deal today with needed changes in the entitlement system such that our aged social security and Medicare dependents are seamless cared for, and young people are free of these classic Ponzi schemes, where money from millions of younger workers is immediately disbursed to thousands of past investors.  Let interest rates rise to a market-determined level, so Americans and others can actually save and invest in America, and to deter more irresponsible government borrowing.

When a country is on the road to financial collapse, it can get either stay on that road and face ruin, or it can turn onto a new road towards a more positive and accountable future.  Congress whined, fussed and argued, and last week, once again, they chose to accelerate towards the cliff.  Thelma and Louise couldn’t be prouder.

“Conservatives” in Congress – Are They For Real?

VC note: This article was written by Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, resident of Shenandoah County, Virginia, and Republican candidate for the 6th district Virginia House of Representatives seat.  It arrived in my inbox a few moments ago with a request to have it posted on this site.  Given that I believe voter education is extremely important, I will almost always feature articles from our elected officials and those seeking office.  Thanks to Mrs. Kwiatkowski for sending it to me.  I hope you all find it enlightening.

“Conservatives” in Congress – Are They For Real?

While we wait to find out if Mr. Obama’s “national credit card” will long endure, many conservatives in the House and elsewhere are hoping that they can come out of the debt ceiling debate looking like constitutionalists.

Unfortunately, the cuts they’ve proposed thus far don’t cut very deep.  We should all be wary of current Cut, Cap and Balance proposals – setting standards based on today’s unbelievable levels of government consumption and waste would be a major mistake for the country, our children and grandchildren.

What about reining in that “national credit card?”   And what about the real cuts conservatives should be proposing, and are not?   Think about:

  • Foreign aid!  Why isn’t foreign and security aid to already wealthy and/or well-armed countries on the table?  While all recipient governments seem to expect it, it’s not fair to talk about cutting social security benefits or next year’s COLA for retirees when we keep the foreign aid spigot wide open.
  • Military streamlining!   Apparently, nothing in the military budget can be cut, even though it seems to leak money from all corners, including millions in indirect payments to the Taliban.  It’s not about almost 11 years of war in Afghanistan, or hundreds of Americans who have died or been mentally and physically maimed in that conflict.  It is about ongoing fraud and waste and a lack of clear DoD strategy that should not be rewarded by unlimited cash flows from Washington.
  • USDA and EPA grants and subsidies! Where are these programs are being cut  – even the 6th District’s long desired elimination of the ethanol subsidy is just “talked about.” Who fights against unneeded and counterproductive subsidies?
  • Congressional salaries!  A lonely proposal last February by Representative Giffords to reduce Congressional pay by 5% for a short time has languished for lack of interest.   Why haven’t federal salary and bonus reductions, and a federal hiring freeze been put on the table?
  • Obamacare!  Healthcare reform funnels more private resources into deep government ruts.  Why isn’t the widely unpopular Obamacare part of the cut list?
  • Big business and big bank bailouts and subsidies!  The Government Accounting Office (GAO) just  reported that the Federal Reserve made available (on the backs of our children and grandchildren) $16 trillion during 2008!  The current administration has placed even more on the “credit card” than did his predecessor.  This insanity should stop!
  • How about defunding the TSA, and cutting the DHS budget!   My goodness, people might actually want to take chance on a commercial flight during a TSA “holiday.”

The list could go on and on, and small savings add up to conservatism.  Freedom, too.  Why don’t we do something really radical, like letting the U.S. Constitution serve as a guide to federal spending?   Instead, we have a 6th District representative who has voted for more out-of-balance and unconstitutional budgets in his nearly 20 years we can count, all while telling stories about how “conservative” he is.

The U.S. visa lottery legislation sponsored by Mr. Goodlatte is typical and instructive.   To most 6th district voters, it sounds like a reduction in immigration – but the proposal he backs doesn’t actually reduce anything.  Instead, it converts Green Card Lottery with the just as costly to manage Employment-Based Green Card, authorizing the same number of 55,000 new visas each year – only this time to those foreign-born graduate students who have an advanced degree and are sought by a U.S. employer.  I support the free market in labor, in goods and services.   But at a time where 1 in 5 American men, including many with advanced degrees, are currently unemployed and under-employed, it seems a bit misleading of the 6th District Representative to advocate ending the Visa lottery as a way to appeal to anti-immigration sentiments and job-seekers at home.

This bait and switch routine reminds me of Mr. Goodlatte’s recent sponsorship of a bill that will maintain a 100-mile Federal zone north of the Mexican border to “enforce” border security (H.R. 1505).  Sounds good, if you don’t care about the private property of ranchers that may be included for federal rough-riding under “USDA” control through rancher participation in CRP, CREP, EQUP and CSP programs.  Sounds good, unless you believe, as I do, that the constitution requires we defend our actual borders.

I wonder, along with many in the 6th District, “Are the conservatives in the House of Representatives for real?”

Radtke On The Debt Ceiling

In my previous post on Monday, I wrote about the horrible prospect of shattering our current national debt ceiling of over $14 trillion.  There is no doubt that our nation is in serious trouble.  We cannot afford these record deficits and any attempts at spending cuts under this current Congress have been laughable at best thus far.

A few moments ago, I received an email from the Radtke campaign regarding her thoughts on this issue.  I’m glad to see that she and I are of a similar mindset.  As I’ve stated, we cannot spend our way to prosperity.  I haven’t found anything from the other candidates on this issue either on their websites or elsewhere, but I hope whomever we elect will work diligently to curb this outrageous spending.

In case you didn’t get the memo, I’m giving an open invitation to all the Senate campaigns; I welcome any and all information that any of you care to send.  Email me something interesting or something I agree with and, chances are, I’ll write about it.

Getting back to the main focus of this article, although I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is simply unfair to burden future generations with our current irresponsibility.

So here are Jamie Radtke’s thoughts:

Yesterday the U.S. government reached the federal debt ceiling of $14.294 trillion. The Washington Establishment consensus seems to be that we must raise the debt ceiling and increase the limit on the taxpayer credit card to as much as $16 trillion by some proposals.

There is an expression – “when you are in a hole… stop digging” – but the Washington Establishment and career politicians seem determined to dig us all the way to China. Congressional Republicans should refuse to raise the debt ceiling and should instead take the actual step of balancing the budget.

I have been traveling all over the great Commonwealth of Virginia and something I hear consistently is: don’t raise the debt ceiling and let’s live within our means. People outside of the Washington Establishment are feeling the effects of an irresponsible government every time they fill up with gas or buy groceries. The spending insanity must stop.

It is wiser to make the hard choices now, before the debt crisis explodes and wreaks uncontrollable havoc on our economy. Standard & Poor’s downgraded its credit outlook on the U.S. to “Negative” and has already warned us that business as usual spending approach cannot continue.

The real problem is finding leaders with the backbone to stop the immoral spending. Instead of actual cuts, current career politicians ‘promise’ cuts. However, we saw last March that Congress’ ‘promises’ are meaningless. During the budget negotiations the ‘promised’ spending cuts shrank from $100 billion to $353 million.

So it has fallen to a handful of principled conservatives in the House and Senate to tell Congress and the President: It’s time to stop digging!

Spending Our Way To Prosperity

As the federal government rapidly approaches its debt limit, powerful lawmakers and bureaucrats are suggesting that we increase that ceiling as to allow the government to go further into the red.  Now, I’m sure that just about every American knows that the federal government doesn’t merely suffer from some minor credit problem.  After all, how many other industrialized nations have a debt clock to keep track of the gross irresponsibility of their leaders?  Why is it that we have allowed our elected representatives to go $14.29 trillion into debt?

Speaking of that matter, do you have $129,105 sitting around to give to Washington?  No?  Well, that is how much you owe.  Given this information, why are there not daily mass protests in the streets as our legislators spend, not only our future, but the future of our children and their children as well?

Consider your own personal finances for a moment if you will.  Imagine that your spending vastly outpaces your income.  Worse yet, all of your credit cards are maxed out and you only pay the interest on your debt, not the principle.  What is the solution?  Although a wise person might suggest that you seek a credit councilor and get your problem under control, D.C. takes a different approach.  They think that we simply need a higher credit limit or a new credit card.  Although we know such behavior leads to personal ruin, for some reason we have allowed our President and members of Congress to be completely negligent stewards of taxpayer money.  When the government spends our money on foolish and unconstitutional endeavors, we ought to be upset.  However, the time for being merely upset is over.  Given that the government spends money that they don’t even have to the tune of over $14 trillion, we have devolved into a state of crisis.

The solution to this problem is relatively easy, although admittedly not without pain and hardship.  Rather than raise the debt ceiling again and again, we must drastically slash spending, payoff our debts, and balance the budget once and for all.  Every department, agency, and program has to be cut, and many eliminated entirely.  Republicans and Democrats alike have been spending our money like drunken sailors.  Enough is enough.

In a speech back in 1996, President Bill Clinton famously stated, “the era of big government is over” while also calling for a balanced budget.  Back then the deficit was only about $6 trillion.  Unfortunately, Clinton was wrong.  No, boys and girls, big government is alive and well and growing larger by the day.

Maybe we too should take a page from Washington and personally borrow to finance all of our wildest hopes and dreams.  After all, according to their model, we must be able spend our way to prosperity.  Oh, don’t you worry.  We won’t have to pay for any of it.  Put that big-ticket item on my unborn child’s tab.

Although I’m aware that it is merely wishful thinking, I’d like every American to write this simple message to their Representatives and Senators:  you vote to increase the debt ceiling and we vote you out of office.