“I think his testimony was not appropriate. I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House. “It was not appropriate. What he had to say was not the way it should have been said.” —Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader
That was Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md) trying desperately trying to explain one of the most bizarre “hearings” ever to take place in the US House of Representatives as comedian Stephen Colbert performed for a dumbfounded committee and a laughing public.
Bring in the clowns! There’s got to be clowns!
Just when the GOP seemed to stub its toe with a lame Pledge to America the Democrats saved them with a stunt so silly most observers were shocked into stunned silence until grizzly old congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the full House Judiciary Committee to which this subcommittee is attached invited Mr. Colbert to remove himself from the Committee Hearing Room.
Colbert appeared before the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) who chairs it. That Chairman Conyers intervened to tell Colbert to get the heck out was embarrassing to Lofgren as well as House speaker Nancy Pelosi who, according to a report on Politico, knew well in advance that Colbert would testify in character at the hearing but she did not block the stunt. That Speaker Pelosi later responded to the criticism by saying Mr. Colbert is an American and has an opinion on the issues before the committee only added to the snickering.
John Boehner wisely kept his mouth shut!
“It’s a mealy-mouthed sop to the tea party movement that is rife with platitudes and little on substance, I have yet to see one person who is wholly impressed with it.”—Andrew Ian Dodge, Maine state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.
That’s the consequence of raising expectations that the GOP has learned its lesson in the wilderness after being turned out of office four years ago. But while the TEA party movement is energizing the election process on both sides of the aisle, the Republicans have been thumped in their recent round of primaries because the independents who largely make up the TEA party movement just don’t believe many of these entrenched incumbents in reds states any more than they do the Democrats in blue states.
So the Pledge for America was designed to lay out a manifesto for what the GOP would do if voters just gave them another change. But instead of rolling out the Young Guns who symbolize the future of the party the GOP had John Boehner, the House minority leader—and would be speaker of the house—do the talking.
That was the sound of channel surfing as viewers and voters switched to something else. And then the comedians moved in with the ice picks to lay waste to the public relations gimmick. “Your fresh new ideas, sound slightly – I’m sorry, did I say slightly? – sound EXACTLY like your old ones,” said Jon Stewart slicing the GOP into minced meat.
This is not overconfidence by the Republicans that a landslide election result is already in the bag. This is worse—it is the voters’ worst fears that there really is NO DIFFERENCE between old donkeys and old elephants. That is why the TEA party has momentum.
So what should the GOP do?
Start fresh and dump the GOP leaders in Congress just like the Dems will surely do. Pass the leadership to the new generation of Young Guns with fresh ideas and a closer to Main Street sense of the public mood. Then republish the Pledge after fixing the missing or lame elements to demonstrate they mean business. The tea party contract calls for a balanced budget, repeal of the health care law, tax reform, an end to earmarks and a rejection of a cap and trade energy plan. That would be a good place for the GOP to say “ Me too!”
Did you know ObamaCare Imposes a 3.8% Capital Gain Tax on Home Sales?
I discovered this fact on a great site I highly recommend by the Tax Foundation. On it you will lots of information that will probably turn your face from blue to red by Election Day.
The Tax Foundation blog reports that the recently approved ObamaCare health reform legislation imposes capital gains taxes on some home sales made by married couples making more than $250,000 in adjusted gross income or $200,000 if single. The capital gain must exceed $500,000 if the house is your primary residence and a married couple or $250,000 if singles. Got a vacation house? No exclusion for that one.
There are plenty of people here in California and elsewhere who dream of once again having such equity in their homes—and if you ever get there the Federal Government will want 3.8% capital gains tax if you meet these threshold tests. But just like the alternative minimum tax the “gotcha” in this home capital gains tax is that the provision is NOT indexed for inflation meaning each year more and more people become subject to the tax.
What does this have to do with healthcare, you ask?
Only the chilling reminder that the Government is going to tax everything that walks, quacks and breathes, everything you sell, invest in or play with in order to pay for the aspirations of our politicians. And if you have anything left when you finish your bucket list—and kick that bucket—the Government will want that too.
Can you imagine anyplace else on earth where a spontaneous political movement like the TEA party could arrive on the scene with such intensity without serious repercussions? Whether you agree with the TEA party views or not this is a pure and perfect exercise of the constitutionally celebrated freedom of speech, assembly and petition.
Thomas Jefferson would love this.
Perhaps it is because after more than 234 years we have come to accept—and even welcome a little revolution now and then to shake up the status quo. A recent Gallup poll reports that Americans’ confidence in Congress is at the lowest level in decades.
“A record-low 36% of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the legislative branch of government, down sharply from the prior record low of 45% set last year. Trust in the judicial branch and trust in the executive branch also suffered sharp declines this year but remain higher than trust in the legislative branch.”
“Trust in the legislative branch was highest, at 71%, in May 1972, and remained generally high from that point to the mid-2000s. It then dropped to 50% in 2007, 47% in 2008, and 45% in 2009, all record lows at the time they were measured. This year’s 36% legislative confidence rating marks still another record low, and is the lowest trust level in any of the three branches of government in Gallup’s history.”
“Trust in the executive branch has shifted up and down with some frequency over the last four decades, generally in sync with movement in presidential job approval ratings. Gallup measured the lowest level of trust in the executive branch, 40%, in April 1974, in the midst of the Watergate scandal, which later that year resulted in Richard Nixon’s resignation. Trust was nearly as low in the waning years of the George W. Bush administration. Last year, the first year of the Barack Obama administration, trust in the executive branch shot up to 61%, but it has fallen back again this year, coinciding with the fall in Obama’s job approval ratings to below 50%.”
“Trust in the judicial branch of government is at 66%, down from last year but roughly in line with readings since 2003. Gallup recorded the highest judicial branch trust reading, 80%, in February 1999, at about the time the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice William Rehnquist was presiding in the U.S. Senate over the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.”
These people we have elected to Congress in the past are not bad people. But some of them have been there too long, have come to see their views as “righter” than those of their constituents, and more recently have seriously misread the public desire for a change in leadership at the top with public support for a sweeping intrusion into the lives of average Americans with breathlessly large expenditures of money we do not have.
The TEA party movement is a uniquely American way of telling our politicians—You are so busted!
The Democrats see this coming but the Gallup polls suggest the public is just as uncertain that electing the same old Republican team will produce a better result. That is why the TEA party movement has gained such momentum so fast. It is seen as made up of people more like us. It seems to reflect the “common sense, Main Street” values we hear about so much but see practiced in Washington DC so little. The recession has sapped our confidence and we don’t see the policies and spending deployed to restore the ship of state as working very well.
We long for a return to traditional times, traditional values, traditional economic conditions of growth that resulted in traditional jobs with benefits. Whether that toothpaste can be put back into the tube is uncertain but candidates who promise to try to do so are favored this year over those who are seen as part of the problem.
So Jefferson’s revolutionary spirit first writ large in the Declaration of Independence and then embodied in our early government lives large again today. But it is the other genius of America that is more lasting and arguably more important—the ability of America to reinvent itself, to adapt, to grow into tomorrow. From the early lessons of de Tocqueville that ability to imagine a future better than the past and live into it has separated America from every other nation on earth.
It is why today 234 years later people still clamor to come to America—to live the American Dream. And no one has ever been shot in the back trying to escape America because no one can imagine the need to do so.
There is much we need to fix in our country but the lack of confidence in our Congress and our disappointment with our President’s job performance are serving Jefferson’s genius well today 234 years later offering a little revolution and a continuous process of reinvention.
Celebrate it—-and make sure you vote!
Once upon a time in a land not far away from our memory, we experienced an extended period of economic growth. We actually manufactured things here in the US instead of importing them from China. We built homes by the subdivision instead of tucked them into some odd-ball sized inner city space. We needed mobility so we built the interstate highway system. We sent men to the moon and imagined entirely new ways to communicate with each other. I’m describing, of course, the post WWII America that gave rise to the baby boomers and the technology revolution they created.
We needed energy to run that America and we built power plants that were fueled with coal because we had plenty of it and it was cheap. Yes it polluted the air and over time we got progressively more serious about cleaning it up with new rules and better technology.
And then the world turned upside down with oil embargos, energy crisis after crisis, the Fuel Use act which prevented using natural gas and then the Natural Gas Policy act which encouraged it, the Energy Policy act which allowed wholesale power competition and then the emergence of renewable energy from wind and solar since Three Mile island scared us off from building more nuclear plants and inflation and regulatory delays made them prohibitively expensive.
We went from being optimistic and growth focused to pessimistic and constraints focused.
Fast forward a decade and we’ve reached a middle ground where we’d like to manufacture things in America AGAIN to create jobs, but we’re worried about global warming (or climate change or climate disruption depending upon how Al Gore explains the latest meltdown of his Inconvenient Truth) so today we focus on optimization and venture capital is being thrown at smart grid and its assorted technology disciples to conquer this middle kingdom.
Coal has not gone away but we don’t build as much of it anymore. Nuclear power has not gone away and we plan to build one new nuke in the South if the Japanese will build the containment vessel, the Chinese will let us into their AE queue, and the NRC will stick with the plan approved instead of changing it constantly whenever some group gets nervous.
Living in a scenario driven by optimization around green goals is a wonderful place to be if you can get there. But the costs are high because the technologies are new. Wind and solar are plentiful but intermittent and need back-up and besides the wind blows in places far removed from the markets we need to serve and the transmission lines are not always adequate to the task. And then there is still the Chinese quest for market share buying every commodity they can for domestic use, building export capacity to drive down prices just enough to discourage US manufacturing competitiveness in wind turbines, solar panels and many other products which as an intended consequence reduces industrial demand enough to discourage building the kind of baseload power plants with cheap domestic coal we used to build.
The question is are we getting the energy future wrong?
- Lower Average Energy Costs with Baseload. If we want to manufacture more things here at home and create jobs we will need steady or lower energy costs. The kind of energy costs we got from building baseload generation in a market environment where the incremental costs of new capacity brought down the average costs for all.
- Improve Efficiency through Competitive Market Forces. We’ve learned that wholesale competition for power generation is great at driving out the excess costs and driving up the capacity factors and efficiency of the plants. In a study we did of divested old power plants in the last decade we found that the improvements in the way the divested coal plants were operated produced enough efficiency gains to power 25 million typical American homes for a year. Similar improvements were found in the divested nuclear plants.
- Create Competitive Market Conditions for Manufacturing and Job Growth. There is much the US can do to restore its competitive market position and create jobs—driving up taxes and the costs of doing business are not among them. When we get serious about growth again we can get our groove back. The recession has officially ended but the pain continues, but America seems ready for changes in tax laws, investment policy and a focus on growth and job creation to create those competitive conditions.
There is nothing wrong with adding renewable energy, smart grid, efficiency and other technologies and strategies to our energy mix. But they are not sufficient to get the job done without tax and investment policies and certainty in our regulatory conditions to attract investment, restore economic growth and create jobs.
Our policy should focus on bringing down the average cost of doing business and that includes lower average energy costs. The only way to achieve that is through economic growth to increase energy demand with the baseload energy and competitive market policies (not un-sustainable dependence upon subsidies) to achieve it.
The place to start is creating a ferociously attractive market in off-peak energy use to jump start manufacturing and production again and then sustain that with the baseload resource to live into our long term economic growth strategy of getting our groove back.
That was the general reaction to the latest UCLA Anderson economic forecast predicting “very sluggish growth” for a slowly recovering economy into the 2012 election season. The forecast for California was no better saying it would be a long, slow, slog to gain back the 1.3 million jobs lost in the recession let alone generate growth beyond that loss. UCLA forecast the national unemployment rate will be 9.7 percent by 2010 year-end and 9.5 percent in 2011. For California today’s 12.6% unemployment rate is expected to fall slowly and average 12.2% for 2010, but will not fall below double digits until 2012.
Remember, if voters approve Proposition 23 in the Fall 2010 election, California’s AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act would be suspended until unemployment falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. You can bet its proponents will be campaigning for the measure saying California’s AB32 is a “jobs killer”.
UCLA senior economist David Shulman said there were two reasons for the slow recovery.
- Our Economic Balance Sheet is a Mess. The UCLA “balance-sheet hypothesis” done two years ago, is similar to the University of Maryland and Harvard University results finding that” recoveries from the bursting of debt-fueled financial bubbles are invariably slow and are associated with high unemployment rates and rising government debt.” Meaning quick recovery is not likely.
- Too Much Policy and Tax Uncertainty. “The recovery is being exacerbated by an extraordinary increase in policy uncertainty, which is amplifying the usual economic uncertainties associated with recessions.” So businesses are unsure that investment, new hiring or purchasing new equipment makes sense given the uncertainty over tax rates, and the looming costs for new environmental, energy, financial, labor and health care policies the Government is imposing.
“As time passes the economy will naturally heal and the policy uncertainties will resolve themselves to allow growth to return to a 3% path, causing unemployment to begin a long-awaited downward trajectory. We forecast that these more ebullient trends will become noticeable by 2012.” —-David Shuman, Senior Economist, UCLA Anderson Forecast
Uncertainty has a way of sapping our confidence leaving us with that ‘deer in the headlights’ feeling that discourages the very actions most needed to break the cycle. The economy needs to grow again to pull the US back into sustainable growth mode. But the actions of the government are having the opposite effect and every day consumers are receiving rising health care premium notices, notices of changes in bank fees and credit terms, reports of dismal housing sales and falling home values even at record low rates—and then there is the unemployment rate looming over us like a falling sword.
The result is a TEA party where the punch is spiked, the crowd is surly and the politicians are running for the exits or being thrown out by the crowd. While the results of the 2010 election season are increasingly the sum of the fears of incumbent politicians in both parties, the change it is bringing helps to turn our civic attitude from uncertainty to empowerment once again and this is good.
The genius of America has always been our ability to adapt and change—to reinvent ourselves, to live into our future rather than be shackled to our past. What we’re proving to ourselves all over again is we still can do it.
Change WE can believe in is turning our uncertainty into certain action, not necessarily the way our leaders want, but the way we want to put America back to work.
YES, We Can!
While the politicians in Washington and elsewhere try to figure out what the TEA Party is and how it affects them, America seems to have already made its judgment. The answer:
Those TEA Party people are just like me! And I’m mad as hell at the direction of the country too.
The Republicans in Congress hoped the TEA Party would help them swamp the Democrats boat and restore the Republican majority—-but they are learning the hard lesson that America often sees little difference between the two parties actual behavior once they are in the majority.
Election 2010 is one of those ‘a pox on both your houses’ near death experiences for both political parties as incumbents on both sides of the political aisle get washed overboard. Democrats are getting fired for doing a bad job. Republicans are getting fired for being too much like Democrats.
Thomas Jefferson must be cheering from his grave over this glorious rebellion.
But the GOP brass in Washington reacted to Christine O’Donnell’s defeat of long time Delaware pol Mike Castle with shock and shot back—don’t count on any help from us, sister! They call her a flaky candidate who cannot win—and worse risk the Republican win they expected from Castle to help take control of the Senate.
There is one problem with the GOP logic. O’Donnell beat Castle 53% to 47% for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. Castle’s problem with the voters of very blue Delaware was he voted for almost all of the Obama agenda the TEA Party members are railing about including ObamaCare and Stimulus programs.
If The Democrats agenda can’t win in deep blue Delaware they are in deep, deep trouble. And Castle got “fired” by Delaware Republicans because he behaved too much like the Democrats they are disgusted with and voted for their agenda.
Panic has set in not just on the Democrat side of the aisle but the GOP side too. The prospects of cheering crowds sweeping the good ole boys of the GOP back into power are giving way to the cold, stark reality that the young guns are at the door and the TEA Party faithful are right behind them locked and loaded to take back the country.
Call it a generational change, call it a rebellion, call it a great awakening—-the President’s bluff has been called and he has thrown away his aces in an audacious gamble that is failing. Maybe the President hopes that if he loses Congress to the good old boys of the GOP in 2010 he could blame them in 2012. But the independents that supported him in 2008 are moving in droves to the TEA Party.
The risk to the nation is that at a time when we crave stability and adult leadership we might just get angry, impassioned, but inexperienced leaders in Congress who act first and think about the consequences later. Or we could get good old Main Street business people who know how to make payroll, live within the budget, read the bills they are asked to consider BEFORE they vote on them, make common sense decisions to serve their Country then go home to go back to work.
What a concept!
Scenario Signpost: RELOAD
This is a signpost for the Reload: America’s New Industrial Revolution Scenario. The plot line of that scenario is a major swing in electoral focus toward restoring America’s economy and job creating potential by reindustrializing the US and expanding domestic energy production to support it.
Turning around America’s economy requires reloading America’s domestic energy productive capacity to fuel job growth. North Dakota is leading the way in unconventional oil and gas production.
The North Dakota Department of mineral Resources released its monthly oil production report for July setting a new monthly production record of 321,042 barrels of oil per day. The record has been broken each month in 2010 and is up more than 100,000 barrels per day from a year ago.
All this production is from the Bakken Shales a thin play running through North Dakota, Montana up into Canada. Since it was difficult to access using convention oil drilling methods, plays like these are only now becoming commercially practicable using horizontal drilling techniques along with hydraulic fracturing of the rock with liquids to release the oil and gas deposits.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that the US portion of the Bakken made up of North Dakota and Montana together can deliver a total of 425,000 barrels of oil per day given current production and rail capacity and in July they were actually producing 385,000 barrels per day or 90% of its capability. TransCanada announced it will begin shipping oil out of Bakken for transport to the Gulf Coast. Combined with other capacity additions production is expected to rise to more than 1 million barrels per day by 2020.
Scenario Signpost: RELOAD
Continued expansion of domestic oil and gas production from unconventional sources is a signpost of America’s New Industrial Revolution Scenario. The main plot line of this scenario is a growing consensus that restoring America’s competitive advantage and security requires expanding both domestic energy production and bringing manufacturing back onshore to reindustrialize the American economy.
“Green jobs are key to our future, right now, China is taking every possible step – many of them illegal under international trade laws – to ensure that it will control that sector. America can’t afford to cede more of its manufacturing base to China.” — Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers
That was the press message from the United Steel Workers as they asked the US Government to file an unfair trade complaint against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as permitted by Section 301 of the treaty. The focus of the union complaint is China’s push into the clean and renewable energy sector of wind turbines and solar panels. The union says China is taking clean American manufacturing jobs by heavily subsidizing the production of cheaper wind and solar equipment and exporting it to the US at prices that make American made alternatives uncompetitive.
In fairness, this is not a new position for the USW or other unions. They have alleged that world trading regimes have caused the decline of America’s manufacturing base. European unions and manufacturers have made similar arguments. This same argument over solar panel prices hit the fan in Spain and then Germany where their own feed-in-tariffs (paying above market prices for solar and wind energy to attract producers) backfired because they attracted Chinese producers who offered lower prices for their equipment than Spanish or German firms and thus slurped up the lion’s share of the feed-in-tariff subsidy money and sent it back to China.
The EU was outraged that the Chinese would intrude in their efforts to subsidize their own manufacturers and undercut the locals to win the bidding on solar projects and wind turbines. Remember this happened just as Greece was melting down and thus was used, in part, as an excuse to reduce or eliminate the unsustainable feed-in-tariff subsidies blaming the Chinese.
Capitol Hill Meets Main Street
Here in the US the story is similar. The renewable portfolio standards adopted by the states and the pressure from Washington to do more to reduce emissions and grow market share for renewable energy has utilities scrambling to procure energy to meet those goals. Many utilities are near achieving those existing RPS targets so pressure is building to raise the RPS goals much as California is trying to do with its 33% target.
Meanwhile, the Bakersfield Effect of angry ratepayers waving their utility bills and demanding answers from regulators and politicians about why these policies are driving their rates through the roof. California even has Proposition 23 on the November 2010 ballot to suspend its AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act implementation until unemployment falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. Bills to enshrine the 33% RPS goal into California law failed to pass this legislative session just ended. So 20% is the legally mandated goal and pushing beyond it is much tougher.
Utilities are under a regulatory obligation to add renewable energy to their power supply portfolio to meet these RPS goals but also satisfy a prudency test of ‘least cost, best fit’ standard of procurement care. Tough to do when the costs are going up. So along comes China with a growing manufacturing base for wind turbines and solar panels to compete against GE and other manufacturers who have sought to dominate the markets in renewable energy just as they did for gas-fired combustion turbine power plants.
Main Street Loves Low Prices
The Chinese offer low prices, almost always lower prices than American or European manufacturers and begin winning more of the deals. The Chinese also are investing in building American market share by buying the energy management and services firms needed to install and maintain all this equipment further irritating local vendors.
Are the Chinese subsidizing this manufacturing of wind and solar panels—absolutely.
The EU and US virtually demanded it remember in the aftermath of the Kyoto Protocol and the build up to Copenhagen by accusing China and other developing countries of failing to do enough to control greenhouse gas emissions. China responded that it was poor and just building its economy and could not slow its economic growth to clean up its environment UNLESS the US and EU were willing to pay it to do so faster by imposing restrictions on our greenhouse gas emissions while letting China off the hook.
This was the essence of the Kyoto Protocol and you know how well that worked. COP15 failed utterly because the world has wised up to the inconvenient truth about the game being played by the developing world to use the treaties and the political correctness of global climate change to enact the mother of all income redistribution regimes. But I digress. . .
The USW object to growing Chinese market share in the US for clean energy business seeing that as a threat to the growth of manufacturing here. The problem with that argument is that battle is already lost. China is driving down the cost of solar panels and wind turbines to grid parity prices and that is a wonderful thing. It means that soon utilities will be able to install this clean energy equipment without the necessity of subsidies from our own government.
The union believes in the promise of millions of clean energy jobs resulting from this shift to a clean energy policy subsidized into the mainstream by the Federal Government and ordered by the states in their RPS targets. These jobs are neither real nor promising. Roofing companies across America are adding solar panels to their inventory and using their existing work forces to install them in order to stay in business during the recession. American manufacturers like Dow are working overtime to design and build new roofing shingle systems with embedded thin film solar technologies to reduce the installation cost and thus compete head to head with older PV panel installation by offering a better product.
The trade complaint may be useful politics but it is wasted time and bad economics. Regaining America’s competitive advantage does indeed involve rebuilding our manufacturing prowess in strategic areas important to the nation. The unions can play a vital role in making that happen and in so doing probably win new members. But the prescription is not tariffs and trade restrictions it is reforming the tax structures, overhead and other costs which chip away at America’s ability to compete by building the newest technologies the world needs while commoditizing the old.
The real fight with China worth having is over access to Chinese markets on level playing field terms so that American manufacturers of new technologies can enter those markets and compete just as the Chinese do in American markets. The measure of that level playing field is a better balance of payments relationship that enables both sides to win through fair trade.
Thomas Friedman wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times recently entitled “Superbroke, Superfrugal, Superpower?” He hit on all my hot buttons about the profound consequences of America’s diminishing competitiveness in the world and why we must turn that around fast. He talked about the role of America as the world’s sole superpower and why there is no logical replacement for us on the world stage today. He talked about the need to set priorities and make choices that live into our values.
That really is what this election year is all about isn’t it? Setting priorities and making choices about what we want our country to be like for our children. The economy suks and so does our attitude about how it’s going. But this testing of our values and resolve may prove to be just what we needed to wake up to the slow slide we have been on for some time.
This is not a commentary on either the Democrats in power today or the Republicans who were and may be again. We had grown complacent. We bought into a globalization theme that has sapped our strategic strengths and we spent too much time apologizing for America’s successes. We fought wars no one else would fight and we saved—or tried to save—countries that the world might have been better off without.
But something happened to us as a result of this great recession. We woke up! Sat up and said wait a minute, we don’t like what is happening to America. This is not about blaming someone for the problem—it is about fixing it.
That’s where we are now and all of our politicians are rightfully running scared because we want change WE can believe in. And that does not mean going backward either. It means we are ready for a fresh start and are in the midst of defining what that requires and who best to lead us back to competitive advantage. The TEA party movement is the political equivalent of an IED unleashing America’s pent up anger and frustration wreaking havoc when it goes off but causing us to play smarter defense and then take offensive action to deal with our real problems.
Thomas Jefferson would love this volatility and “little bit of rebellion” alive in America today. He saw the ability of the people to shout “Wait a Minute” as the singular best feature of the system of checks and balances embodied in the Constitution.
If what we want as Americans is to ‘get our groove back’ economically, politically, globally we need more than income redistribution through stimulus spending we have today or the Republican alternative of redistribution of essentially shifting America’s economic engine overseas through complex financial transactions and tax manipulation that make Wall Street rich but create little value except in the “flip and churn” of transactions.
This is the Thomas Jefferson rebellion our political class on both sides of the aisles fears. It is that we are coming to take back America seeing its promise as more than the sum of its debts. We are ready for change, but we want it our way this time.
Principles of an Insurgent Recovery
- STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DO NOT HAVE. Calls for additional stimulus spending are landing with a thud because the previous rounds have not produced a satisfying effect. The uncertainty created by the impact of rising spending and deficits has business sitting on its cash and biding time instead of investing, hiring and growing the economy faster.
- SHOW ME THE ROADMAP. Business wants to see where the economy is going and what the government will do—and how much it will cost. When that is known they can decide whether to invest in America or not. What everyone wants is certainty in uncertain times. Not everything can be fixed quickly, we know. But we want as few surprises as possible and we need to know the Government has adult supervision.
- GET OUT OF MY WAY SO I CAN GROW MY BUSINESS. The cumulative costs of ObamaCare, higher tax rates, regulatory costs in finance, energy, environment, health, state taxes to cover deficits and the fear of looming inflation are job killers. The best way to restore confidence is to create an economic and political foundation that encourages economic growth—that rising tide lifts all boats.
How to Get from Here to There
This is the hard part isn’t it? And the added problem is we mistrust both parties with majorities because they tend to revert to their worst instead of looking out for our best interests. So my formula for getting our groove back includes the following:
- VOTERS TO POLITICIANS: A POX ON BOTH PARTIES. WORK TOGETHER OR ELSE! We should elect as many non-incumbents who seem reasonable not ideological as we can this November. Congress needs more Main street people and fewer professional politicians. Throw out the leadership of both parties and start over. Elect a Republican majority in the House but with many insurgent TEA party members to give the old guard fits. Retain Democrat control of the Senate but not 60 votes so they must compromise. The President is entitled to propose his agenda but majority control of both houses by either party just leads to too many opportunities for bad behavior when we want checks and balances to require both parties to work together or face our wrath in 2012.
- VOTERS POLICY ROADMAP FOR WASHINGTON: GET IT DONE OR ELSE! Here is what we want a bipartisan effort to deliver for us by the 2012 election:
WE WANT A FAIR, FLAT TAX SYSTEM. We want it simple, easy to understand, no loopholes, few deductions and no need for an army of accountants and lawyers. We want everyone to pay something. No alternative minimum tax, no double taxation, low capital gains tax, and corporate rates lower than competing countries. The goal is to turn America into an investment magnet for the world to jumpstart investment, entrepreneurship and job creation.
ROLL FEDERAL SPENDING LEVELS BACK TO 2008. Un-appropriate all unspent stimulus money using it to reduce the deficit. Stop spending money we don’t have and reset the budget base to pre-stimulus levels across the board—and we mean it! Force a zero-based competition for available new spending and a public vote on the ranking of priorities. Ban all earmarks. Give the President line item veto authority or impounding authority to manage spending to revenue. We want this done before the 2012 election.
FIX ENTITLEMENT SPENDING. Repeal ObamaCare entirely and substitute reforms aimed at introducing interstate competition into healthcare and lowering costs by the 2012 election. Make individual healthcare premiums tax deductible just as group plan premiums to create a level playing field for coverage. Means test other entitlements so the resources are spent on those most in need and put other cost savings or reform ideas on the table by 2012 election to be decided after that election for long term reforms.
When we get these things back on track we’ll focus on our global leadership role during the 2012 election. Listen up Congress, what part of get this done don’t you understand?
There ends the rant. Damn, that felt good.