The Haphazard Blog

Tag: congress

Why Didn’t Congress Listen to David Walker?

by on Jan.30, 2010, under Politics

David Walker was the head of the Government Accounting Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008. I will assume that he is somewhere between left and center on the political scale since he was appointed by Bill Clinton. The political leanings really shouldn’t matter since this person does not set policy, they only review financials. David Walker was vocal (and continues to be) that the U.S. is on a course for bankruptcy. He was saying this before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before the economic melt down. Before we added trillions of dollars to the national debt.

Now, when the majority of people in Congress talk about fiscal responsibility they are just a bunch of hypocrites. They are all presiding over the continued destruction of the U.S. budget. The Republicans have essentially forced the Democrats to write a bill that removes virtually all of their objections from last summer yet they will not vote for it. The Democrats have successfully sold out to special interests. When President Obama tells us that their healthcare bill is supported by doctors, nurses, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, that is just another way of saying that none of them are going to be adversely affected.

The goal here is reform and a reduction in costs. Medicare is already destroying state budgets (who are unable go to China to get more money i.e. print money) and will eventually bankrupt the federal government. I don’t expect anyone to happily hand over money/profits, but how else do costs come down? If everyone directly involved is happy, then it’s more than likely the rest are getting the short end of the stick.

There is a disconnect when President Obama talks about reform and thinking long term when you look at the bill. They used some trickery talking about the impact of the bill on the budget. They provide a 10 year cost, but you have to dig a little deeper to see that they are booking revenue to spend on the bill immediately, but the actual reform wouldn’t happen until 2013. So with a 3 year head start, the bill will still a $1T deficit after 10 years.  A long term plan would have a surplus after 10 years. If the plan adds to the deficit, then it is just making things worse. If it does nothing, then the current problems remain unchanged.

The bill is nothing more than giveaways to the healthcare industry and tax favors for unions. The healthcare industry is going to get millions of new customers. Millions more with insurance. Millions more seeing doctors and getting procedures. Millions more buying prescription drugs. The unions get a pass on taxes on their super-expensive health insurance. “Reform” is great when you just need to make things worse for the long term.

The entire system is corrupted and slanted in the worst direction if you’re at all concerned about the majority. Everyone is lining up to get “theirs” while they still can. At this rate, when it all comes crumbling down, it will take a very long time to recover. I predict one of two things. It will be worse than the great depression. The government will have no money and all the people who got theirs will leave this country or it will be a twisted parallel of the Wall Street melt down where the United States is too big to fail. The major difference being that every Country that bails us out will be a lot smarter than the government was with Wall Street. Every condition will be tilted in their favor and they’ll do their due diligence.

Getting back to David Walker. He’s been making the rounds on TV lately because he has a new book out now. Everything he says makes sense to me. Our national debt is quickly closing in on GDP. It hasn’t been this bad since the early 1950s. There needs to be a fundamental change in the mindset in Washington. President Obama needs to block bad bills regardless of where they come from, including healthcare. Congress needs to start doing what is best for the Country, not the special interests that cut them campaign checks. The American people need to get involved and elect people who will put what’s best for the Country ahead of their ambitions. It’s a monumental task given how entrenched everyone is, but without it, disaster looms.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , more...

2016 Olympics

by on Oct.02, 2009, under Politics

There is an awful lot of glee that Chicago didn’t win the Olympics today. It’s silly that so much of it is simply because President Obama supported it and went to Munich to make the case.  How many of these people were chanting U-S-A! at rallies within the last year? Now they cheer when the United States is knocked out of the running for the Olympics. The first to declare others are unpatriotic and somehow this isn’t? Completely disingenuous, and I wish I could say it was surprising.

Here’s a thought. Instead of making it all about President Obama you support a completely valid reason to not hold the Olympics here. Hosting the Olympics is getting more and more costly. Unless it is done smart and makes use of much of the existing infrastructure, there is going to be massive debt that will be paid for decades after the Olympics are long gone. Chicago, or any city in the United States, really does not need the international spotlight. The primary beneficiary of the Olympics in Chicago would’ve been politicians getting a very large national stage and private corporations profiting from the actual games and the myriad of projects required to prepare the city for the games. The taxpayers, both locally and nationally (I’d expect some type of federal stimulus to help fund this), would’ve borne the cost of it.

This is really the main reason politics, especially at the national level, drives me nuts. There is so much disingenuousness when they speak. This would never happen since the people who would actually need to make it happen are the ones that would be affected, but in an ideal world, “we the people” would vote in the people who would fundamentally change the way congress operates.

  • Term limits (1 for Senators (6 years) and 2 for Representatives  (8 years)) to reduce or eliminate conflicts between legislating and securing money for re-election
  • Reduction in salary to the average salary in the United States as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted for inflation annually ($43,362 in 2005). They represent their constituents and should be paid more like their constituents.
  • Eliminating political action committees (PACs). PACs are ways for companies to get around (somewhat) election contribution laws. In addition to being able to contribute to candidates, they can campaign for them as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidate.
  • Further reducing the per-person yearly contributions. The gap is still rather large between a typical small donation and the maximum limit of $2,300 ($4,600 per couple). If the limit is lower, there is less of an incentive to cater to high money donors and more of one to reach individual constituents.

I think actions like this would tip the scales back to the people away from lobbyists and special interest groups. I’m sure they’d find other creative ways (jobs after their terms end?) to try and push their influence, but it would be nice to start somewhere. When you have Senators admit so freely that they let lobbyists write legislation and there is little outrage, I think it’s evident that “we the people” are more than likely going to get the short end of the stick while a minority benefits the most.

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...