By Frank Hill
|'What Are You People Doing To America?'|
1) The 'No Tax Hike', 'Big Government' Hamiltonian Federalists
2) The 'More Taxes', 'Huge Government Monolith' Hamiltonian Super-Federalists of Today
There really is not a 'small government', 'limited government', 'fiscally responsible' major political party in America today, is there?
Let's look at the video-tape of the past 12 years or so...
1) The Republican 'Golden Chance' from 2001-2007
Republicans had their golden chance to lower federal spending and break the back of the upward parabolic arc of federal spending, mostly in Medicare and Medicaid, during their virtual total control of the White House, Congress and the US House of Representatives from 2001-2007.
What did they do instead?
The GOP and President George W. Bush:
1) passed massive tax cuts....twice;
2) passed No Child Left Behind (federal mandates without funding mechanisms to pay for it);
3) eliminated PAYGO in the federal budget process (so they could pass their favored tax cuts);
4) passed Medicare Part D, the Medicare Prescription bill which now has $16 trillion in unfunded liability staring us in the face; and
5) engaged in two wars overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time without raising taxes to pay for it or cutting spending elsewhere in the budget to make them at least 'budget-neutral' to some degree.
Other than that, the GOP was 'great' on fiscal discipline and budget balancing, right?
Republican truculence against any spending cut or reduction deal that included any tax hikes or reductions in deductions,exemptions and loopholes has not stopped the growth of federal spending one iota has it?
The last 12 years has proved this 'starve the beast' strategy first advocated by Alan Greenspan and now Grover Norquist to be totally ineffective against higher spending, higher deficits and more national debt.
It simply has not worked, has it? We will give you $16 trillion reasons, as in accumulated national debt, to agree or else, well:
'The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results'.
(commonly attributed to Albert Einstein but he was too smart to say such a thing)
On top of that, President George Walker Bush 43 vetoed. only, two. appropriations. bills. during. his. entire. two. terms. as. President!!!
Only 1 when Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats took over control of the House from 2007-2009 for his last two years in office.
What happened? Did the President and Karl Rove forget where the veto button was in the Oval Office for 8 straight years?
Water over the dam. Can't cry over spilled milk. Or accumulated debt of about $5 trillion from 2001-2009. Right?
The Republicans lost their claim and title to being 'small government, balanced budget fiscal conservatives' long about 2003-2004 (we saw it unfold with our very own eyes) just like Coca-Cola tried to boot away its brand image long ago when they came out with 'New Coke'...and it bombed.
Republicans have succeeded when it comes to 'no more tax hikes'.
Republicans have failed miserably when it comes to: balancing the budget; reducing debt; cutting spending; reforming entitlements, getting rid of wasteful spending; reducing the size and scope of the federal government.
And that is where the problem is. Failure to control spending while cutting taxes opened the door to massive increases in the national debt under GOP rule.
America can not survive massive amounts of debt being piled up without cessation any more than Greece or Spain can. It catches up to every nation in history who has ever tried it and when their debt-holders start making decisions for them in terms of policy and decision-making, that is when things turn ugly fast.
Republicans are still trying to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again which is why so many former Republicans have officially registered as Independents/Unaffiliateds.
'Lost Republicans' some call them. Like 'Lapsed Catholics', we suppose.
1.6 million registered Independents here in North Carolina and increasing at a 8% per annum rate.
Hence, the reason why current Republicans now in office are now officially the 'No Tax Hike/Spend More Money/Incur More Debt Hamiltonian Federalists' of today.
2) The Democrats 'Golden Chance' With 'Hope and Change' from 2009-2011
Democrats had their 'golden chance' to be fiscal budget heroes in 2008 when the American people elected now-President Barack Obama to lead them in the White House in a new age of 'transparency', 'cooperation', 'bipartisanship' and yes, believe it or not:
'I will cut the federal deficit in half in the next 4 years!'
Well, either President Obama is not very good at math or he just really never meant to cut the budget deficit in the first place, did he?
Washington is more divisive than ever. The federal debt has been mushrooming under President Obama's leadership to where it has added on $5 trillion in JUST 4 YEARS!
So much for 'Hope and Change', huh?
If there were ever a gold medal for fiscal imprudence and mismanagement under a President, President Obama would get it. He has only vetoed 1 spending bill in his term.
The only reason why President Bush doesn't look so bad as a fiscal manager is because President Obama has come along and out-done him!
President Obama is the very same President who set up the Bowles-Simpson Commission in the first place!
When Messrs. Simpson and Bowles came out with their recommendations late in 2010, President Obama ran away from them 'like a scalded dog' as Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is fond of saying.
President Obama has shown no signs of signing Bowles-Simpson when and if it passes Congress. Or even supporting it publicly.
We think Mitt Romney understands the severity of our intertwined budget and economic troubles enough to where he would sign it as the first step under his first term the White House.
Democrats somehow magically and mystically believe that 'more taxes will solve everything (...and the band played on)' as The Temptations sang about long ago.
It won't. They could try to confiscate all the wealth of every rich person in America today, make them poor and destitute and put Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on welfare...and we would still have trillion-dollar deficits in the future due to Congress' over-spending addiction and imbalances.
Democrats have never seen a federal spending program they want to cut...unless it is in national defense for some reason. Their idea of 'balancing the budget', apparently under the 'leadership' (sic) of Senator Harry Reid, is to never pass a budget in the first place!
After all, if you never pass a budget, how can anyone say 'you didn't balance the budget!'
'Mr. Majority Leader of the US Senate: You haven't done anything to arrest this exploding spending problem!'
Hence, the reason why President Barack Obama leads the modern-day 'Hamiltonian Monolithic Super-Federalist Party' in America today.
Thousands of former 'conservative democrats' have fled the modern Democrat Party and registered as Independents as well. (see this link to see how many white Southern Democrats are still left in the US Congress. From a high of 61 in 1983 to 15 today to perhaps less than 7 after this upcoming election)
Democratic registrations in North Carolina have been dropping at about a 5% clip along with the Republican registrations for years now.
Where do they go? They sign up as Independents or Unaffiliateds. 25% of the official voter registration here in North Carolina but probably more like 30% of the effective registered voting population.
Just like you should do if you are fed up with the childish pranks and tactics of both sides now.
3) So what does this have to do with Simpson-Bowles or Bowles-Simpson, whatever you want to call it?
If you are an Independent because you are fed up with such dilatory tactics as we have seen over these past 12 years, and you want your federal tax dollars to be spent more effectively and efficiently, you should call or email your Representative in Congress or Senator and tell them you will not vote for them in November unless they promise to vote for Bowles-Simpson.
If you are an Independent who is sick and tired of the childish games these politicians play on a daily basis when they focus on someone's tax returns from 10 years ago or what someone did or did not do in college (who cares?), then you will call or email your Senator or Representative and tell them to vote for Simpson-Bowles or else you will not vote for them this November.
Because Simpson-Bowles is the only plausible option out there today that has ANY chance of:
1) reforming and rationalizing our income tax system any time soon;
2) reducing and reforming entitlements (which are swamping us as a nation like the tsunami that hit Japan last year) and
3) is ready to be voted on and passed this year, not next year or the year after or when elephants fly and/or the roosters come home to roost
Here is a very simple and short summary of the Bowles-Simpson plan.
Here are the six basic tenets of the plan:
- Serious cuts and reductions in domestic discretionary programs.
- Reduce personal income tax rates to 8%, 14%, and 23% and eliminate all deductions, exemptions and loopholes. (2 other options include deductions but have higher rates to compensate)
- Enhanced focus on medical cost care reform.
- Mandatory program spending cuts.
- Social Security reform; raise retirement age to 69 by 2075.
- Budget Process Reform
We think the retirement age should rise to 69 by the year 2025 at the latest. We think the PAYGO budget mechanism worked and worked well to force budget discipline and trade-offs and should be re-instated in perpetuity.
We disagree with the setting the cap on federal spending at 21% of GDP. Congress will always spend to whatever cap is imposed. Set it at 20%, 19% is better.
But guess what? There is no provision saying federal spending can't be 19% or 18% or even 15% of GDP even under a cap of 21%!
Fiscal conservatives just have to sell the virtues of smaller Jeffersonian government and more freedom better and get more of them elected so they can pass such spending reductions through Congress and then get a President to sign them into law.
Just like the Founders planned it.
Nothing in politics is 'perfect'. The Founders didn't want it that way either. They felt, as did my former boss and mentor, former Congressman Alex McMillan, that the best legislation was one where everyone went home 'not happy about it in its entirety, had heartburn over certain aspects of it, but each got a major goal accomplished' in the process.
There are enough things in Simpson-Bowles for EVERYONE to agree with today and get started on this road back to normalcy and confidence that America can actually solve its own problems unlike Greece or Spain.
Guess what? There is nothing else out there right now that even comes close to being able to pass the House or the Senate and go to the White House where we hope President Obama will think enough about this nation instead of his political agenda and sign it into law.
NOTHING got done under 6 years of total Republican rule from 2001-2007 to reduce the rate of growth or size of government or the national debt.
NOTHING got done under the 2 years of divided rule under W and the Democrats from 2007-2009.
NOTHING has gotten done over the past 3.6 years under President Barack Obama's leadership, the Democratic Senate and the Republican House on the budget, spending, debt or even taxes. (Watch out for the fiscal cliff of December 31, 2012 at midnight when everything turns back into pumpkins)
That is an accumulated 12 years of 'getting nothing done!' on the most pressing national issue we face: the exploding burgeoning federal budget, deficit and debt.
Our national debt is now over $15 trillion now heading to $16 trillion. When are you going to get nervous enough about this to call your Senator and Congressperson?
If you are opposed to Bowles-Simpson, you are simply opting for the status quo, which is not great in case you haven't noticed.
You are, in essence, not the 'small limited government person' you think you are if you are a 'conservative'.
You are, in essence, not the 'fiscally responsible' person you think you were in the mold of Bill Clinton or something.
You are for: 'More spending. More debt. More trouble down the road'.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Isn't it about time our elected leaders act like 'leaders' and 'statesmen' for a change instead of some Romper Room kids throwing Play-Doh at each other and holding their breath while having a temper tantrum?
If you don't like something in this bill, you can tell the next Senator or Congressman who represents you to repeal or reduce whatever part of Simpson-Bowles you don't like next year.
But it has to be passed first.
Before it is really too late.
(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).