Tag Archives: John Boehner

Okay, Let’s Talk About Jobs


Well, as I mentioned in my last post Bank of America is planning to lay-off thirty thousand employees over the next couple of years. This news was announced with stunning irony, on the same day that President Obama sent his recently announced “American Jobs Act” to Congress. So, the talk in politics is all about jobs. What can Congress, or the President really do to create jobs in this country? The answer is. . . not much.

All the talk is about the record of job creation a person has. Rick Perry is touting the economic success “he’s had” in Texas. Mitt Romney is taking shots at him about it, and all the Republicans are blaming President Obama for the economy. John Boehner gave a speech today in Detroit basically outlining the fact that congressional Republicans aren’t going to work with the President. Unless, of course, he does whatever they want. Their ideas are the same tired ideas they’ve had for years, but I will deal with that later.

There is an idea that is more broad and it needs addressed. The American public has a huge misconception about the role of government in the economy. We talk about a President’s record of creating job, but the truth is that president’s don’t create jobs. Unless, they require the government to hire more people. George W. Bush, for example, created the job of Secretary of Homeland Security. President’s can only provide incentives, like tax credits and tax cuts, for employers to hire more people, but that won’t work.

Take a look at it this way. I’m CEO of the Worldwide Widget Corporation, J. Pierpont Finch. We sell two million widgets a year that are produced in two factories employing 100 people. The accountants come to me and say if we build a new factory and hire 50 more people, we’ll get a tax credit. What would you do? If your smart you’d go to the sales team and ask, “If we build a new factory how many more widgets can we sell?” If they say there is no more demand for widgets, you would be crazy to spend the money on a factory and employees that you don’t need. You would be throwing money away. Yes, the government is going to reimburse you for some of it but then your stuck with a factory that is a drain on your profit.

Now, if the sales team comes to you and says, “If we build a factory and hire some people we can sell one million more widgets and our profit will grow 50%.” What would you do? You’d build the factory, and I bet you would do it even if you weren’t getting a tax credit. You’d build it because it is good for Worldwide Widgets.

The President and Congress have no actual role in that decision. Only one thing does, and that is demand. The economy isn’t a physical thing. It is the compilation of all of the uncountable transactions that take place between people and business every day. The mood of the masses drives the economy. President Bush issued rebate checks to American taxpayers. If you filed a tax return you got a $600 check if you were a single person and a $1200 check if you filed jointly. That could stimulate the economy, but only if people spend that money. If the public puts it in their savings for another day, it doesn’t do anything until that other day.

That means that people are the economy. We make it succeed or fail, grow or retract. Capitalism is built on people spending money. That’s why consumer confidence is so important. If we believe the economy is going well and we can afford to spend money, then things will be okay. Christina Stein wrote an interesting article about this at the Kansas Free Press.

I’ve said before that the best way to stimulate the economy would be to eliminate taxes on the poorest people. Poor people are unique in that they are the only group of people who spend every dollar they have. The middle-class, and the wealthy don’t do that. They can afford to have a savings or a retirement account. If you give poor people more of their paycheck, a lot of money will immediately be returned into the economy.

The real truth about the economy is that it hinges on the behavior of people. Presidents don’t control that. Congress doesn’t control that. If you vote on the state of things now, you are voting for the wrong reasons. We need to be voting for the person who is thinking about the future. We need to look at a candidates vision, intellect, and drive. We need to take our eyes off of today and think about tomorrow, and pick the right person to lead us there.

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Stand Your Ground, Mr. President


After scanning the news one particular thing stuck out at me. We can’t borrow anymore money. That’s correct the U.S. has reached its debt limit. Apparently due to some fancy accounting we are still paying our bills, but only for a few months. The President has called for the debt limit to be raised. Treasury Secretary Geithner has warned of dire economic conditions if it is not. The general consensus among economists and most politicians is that this must happen. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal even said:

“The first sign that a debt crisis has arrived is that bond investors lose confidence in a government’s ability to pay its debts – and by that point, it is usually too late to avoid severe disruption and economic pain.” Rep. Ryan’s Budget Proposal Pg. 21

Defaulting on our debt will certainly cause investors to lose confidence. So why hasn’t an increase passed it? Republican’s want more spending cuts.

The debt ceiling debate is driving me crazy. Speaker John Boehner is out calling for spending cuts equal to the increase in the debt ceiling. That’s ridiculous and impossible. We can’t cut spending by the amount the debt ceiling will need to go up. If we did it wouldn’t be long before we completely defund the federal government. The possible implications of not raising the debt ceiling are huge. Everyone seems to agree that if the U.S. stops paying its bills the effect on the global economy would be catastrophic. The result in this country would be unimaginable. The worst part is that John Boehner isn’t against raising the debt ceiling. He’s just against it when a Democrat is President. Not that his hypocrisy doesn’t exist across the aisle. Democrats are eager to raise the debt limit now, but they were more that happy to complain about it just a few years ago. For his part, Mr. Boehner has voted to raise the debt ceiling multiple times in the past. A number of these votes are hard to find, because under House rules some legislation is passed without anyone’s vote being recorded. How’s that for open government? It is record that in 2002 and 2004 (when President Bush was in office) he voted to raise the debt limit. He voted that way because it was necessary and John Boehner isn’t a lunatic. At least I hope he still isn’t. I should note that President Obama is calling for a raise in the debt limit, but when President Bush sat in the Oval Office, then Sen. Obama, along with many Democrats, voted against the increase. He now says that was a mistake. It was.

When it comes to budget deficits, debt limits and other things involving money, the reality is that it’s all politics. This is a non-partisan issue being used for partisan gain. Do you want evidence? We’ve had a budget deficit for 10 years. Republican’s just got angry about it when a Democrat was in the White House. Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling a number of times in the past decade. Republicans supported it all of them until President Obama took office. Democrats were against them at that same time. Then a magical thing happened. On Jan. 20th, 2009, President Obama was sworn in and everybody changed sides. It’s like everybody was suddenly persuaded by the other side’s point of view. If only one argument had been so compelling, we wouldn’t have this stalemate. Unfortunately, both sides were so convincing we just ended up right back where we were. Sentences like that make me wish there was a “sarcasm key” on your standard QWERTY keyboard.

This should not be an argument. We have to pay our bills, and bickering over some arbitrary limit imposed on the government nearly one hundred years ago is childish. I like that the debt ceiling brings public attention to our national debt. It’s important that we pay attention to what we are spending. Using that attention to promote a drastic partisan agenda, however, is irresponsible. John Boehner seems to think that spending isn’t getting enough national attention. We’ve been talking about spending for months. There are groups in both the House and the Senate working on budget compromises. Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled the Republican ideas for reducing the deficit weeks ago. President Obama released his proposal shortly thereafter. THIS ISN’T ABOUT THE BUDGET. This about whether or not we will live up to the commitments we have made. The budget should be a different debate, and it is a debate we are having.

That’s why I believe the President should stand his ground and not give in. For what might be the first time in his Presidency, he’s in a game of political “chicken” and he doesn’t need to flinch. Everybody knows that this has to happen. Yes, some of the new Tea Party supported members of Congress may be clamoring for spending cuts. I think that why Boehner is out causing a ruckus. In the end, the establishment of the Republican party will make sure our economy doesn’t collapse, and will continue the spending debate as they prepare the next budget.

The vote over the debt ceiling shouldn’t even be big news. It would be to the political advantage of both parties to quietly pass it instead of engaging in such obvious hypocrisy. If they don’t get what they want enough of them will still vote for it that the increase passes. Republicans just want the best political advantage they can get going into the next election. They will look at swing districts where a Republican is the incumbent, and a no vote will be popular and those members will vote no. They will look at districts where a Democrat is the incumbent, and a no vote would be popular and special interests will make huge ad buys in the 2012 election.

We have to raise the debt limit and we all know it. So, John Boehner can raise a ruckus about spending. Democrats and Republicans can hope that the public ignores how hypocritical they have been on this issue. Republicans will jump on any notion of conciliation from the White House. If the White House doesn’t give them the chance, they will still pass the debt limit increase.

Stand your ground, Mr. President. This is one fight you’re going to win.

A Special Thank You


I’ve been using my Netflix subscription to re-watch the TV show “The West Wing.” If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is easily one of the most well written shows in television history. It had a great cast, and was all around good drama. I was supposed to receive the final disc of the second season last weekend. It never made it. I was lazy and didn’t get around to reporting it to Netflix until the middle of this week. They kindly shipped me another disc and it was supposed to arrive today.

So yesterday, I’m listening to the news and all the talk is about a government shutdown.
Congress and the President can’t make a deal. The Tea Party wants to defund everything, Democrats would rather do nothing and stuck in the middle is me, and you, but mostly me waiting on a DVD.

If they had not come to an agreement, the government would stop working. The Post Office is a part of government. In fact they are the part of government that brings my Netflix DVD’s to me. All day yesterday I was worried about a shutdown of one of the more important things in my life; “The West Wing.” It would be sitting in a dark post office not half a mile from my house and I would have no way to reach it. It was a terrible feeling.

However, I awoke today to the greatest of news. A deal had been reached. The government stayed open. This afternoon my disc arrived. Today we will answer the persistent question, “Will President Bartlet run for a second term?”

It is therefore necessary to extend my thanks. Thank you President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Sen. Reid for finding a solution. Thank you to the Tea Party Republicans for taking fewer spending cuts than you wanted. Thank you to Democrats for allowing cuts you did not want. For the next 2 1/2 hours I will be watching show about American government. A show where, in general, the government functions a lot better than any of you allow in reality.

Today’s Breakfast: Healthcare Rehash


So the House decided to repeal the healthcare law. Great use of the people’s time and money, but it happened so let’s talk about it for a minute. My humorous side is real unhappy about this. Mostly because they called it “The Repealing the Job-Killing Healthcare Law Act.” That’s just a ridiculous name. First of all, it’s a little early to call it “Job-Killing.” Second, the Law Act part seems redundant. Third, what do Republican’s hope to possibly gain from this stunt.

As soon as John Boehner said this was going to happen, Democrats got real excited.  The get a second chance to record all the sound bites about wildly popular parts of the bill. Democrats came down with healthcare Tourette’s. Everybody was talking about “no more preexisting conditions, no more dropped coverage.” They even brought out people who are excited because they can keep their kids covered to age 26.

All Republicans did was say it was a government takeover. Obamacare is socialism. Americans like a lot of this bill though. The only thing people really seem to have a problem with in the bill is the mandate to buy insurance. Republicans are challenging that across the U.S. The real problem is that they aren’t opposed to individual mandates. They came up with them. It had broad support from Republicans in the 1993 healthcare law that President Clinton failed to pass, and in the Wyden-Bennet bill in 2008. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues, the problem is purely partisan.

I think that’s where Republicans lose. Sure, they will fire up the base. Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachman will go on a rampage. Sean Hannity’s head might just explode. The real issue is that House Republicans are saying we have to repeal everything. So they want insurance companies to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They want insurance companies to discriminate against those who already have medical conditions. If Republicans were saying they wanted to repeal the mandate, it would still be hypocritical, but it wouldn’t be such blatant politics. They want the grand showmanship of total repeal, because they don’t care about healthcare. They care about winning, and they think this is the easiest way to do that. They are banking on the idea that Americans won’t do their homework. Rank and file Republicans and Democrats won’t. They will vote with their party because they always do. Those of us who choose to be independent of the parties must do ours. It’s important that people realize that these issues are much more complex than either side wants you to think about.

The individual mandate may seem wrong, but insurance is a tricky business. If they are going to cover everyone who walks through the door, someone has to pay. It takes the monthly premiums of a whole bunch of people to pay the monthly cost of cancer treatment for one person.  If we want insurance coverage when we need it. We have to be willing to pay for it when we don’t.  In other countries it is considered a civic duty to be insured. If Americans felt that way we would all be better off.

As Americans we tend to cling to our freedoms in the most peculiar way.  Opponents of the mandate have said it suppresses their freedom. They should be able to choose to be uninsured.  For virtually everyone that’s just crazy. No one who has any common sense would choose to be uninsured unless they were filthy rich. I must admit that I was uninsured for a long period of time once in my life. I was in my early twenties, and I will readily admit that I had no common sense. As a nation we have to act with some common sense. If we believe that people should be able to afford health insurance then it will take the work of the government and the insurance industry. The American people must also be willing to pitch in.

The biggest hurdle is thwarting the business lobby. The law requires companies to provide insurance or face penalties. Business doesn’t like that.  You would have to be crazy to think that this week’s repeal measure doesn’t have something to do with Republicans shoring up support among Big business. There is a ton of cash in business and they want it when the next election rolls around. With all the money corporations put into our campaigns, it’s fairly amazing that any elected official was willing to vote for the healthcare bill. This is why the right has taken to opposing Obama so passionately.  I’m not even sure how many people who yell about fiscal responsibility realize that Obama’s first budget brought the budget deficit down for the first time in nearly a decade. The healthcare bill is projected to reduce the deficit by another one hundred billion and change over the next ten years. The right-wing business community doesn’t want people to realize. So they have funded Tea Party rallies across the nation pointing the finger at Obama, and stirring the fear. People say the Tea Party is about fiscal responsibility, and the rank and file may be. The people running the show don’t give a damn about fiscal responsibility. They are playing on the fear of white America. They are people from Citizens for a Sound Economy, and Americans for Prosperity. Both groups with ultra right-wing agendas formed by billionaires to protect their own money. If a business friendly president gets elected the Tea Party will disappear, because those who organize them will have gotten their way. That’s why the Tea Party didn’t exist for the 8 years of record-setting deficits under Pres. Bush. That’s why they fought the stimulus but not TARP. The people may feel that they are pushing for fiscal responsibility but the ones with power are using them for their own agenda. We should be scared. They know how to win elections. Pick an issue, this time healthcare, make people afraid of it, and tell them whose to blame for it. That way the healthcare law will be repealed and they aren’t on the hook to give health insurance to their employees.

I know there are people out there who genuinely have paid attention to the issues and oppose healthcare reform. I know there are those at Tea Party rallies who are seriously concerned with the national debt. Those could be valid viewpoints, but it is a stretch to believe that the repeal this week was a genuine attempt to do what’s right. Total repeal doesn’t make sense. There are good parts to the bill. We need to keep those and tweak other things to make them better. As an example, every President takes up education reform. Since Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 60’s it has been regularly modified and reauthorized. In 2001 it was passed as No Child Left Behind.  A lot of people didn’t like a large part of NCLB, but no one is talking about repealing it. It wasn’t all bad and a total repeal would be of great detriment to our nations schools. We will once again try to fix the problems and enhance the strengths of the bill with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible education to our children.  We need to approach healthcare reform in the same manner. We need genuine discussion and modification to make healthcare in this country better.

We need less political grandstanding

What Are We Afraid Of?


The United States is reaching a new crossroads. We have seen this before. Our country was formed at a crossroads. We had the choice to remain allied to Great Britain or to forge our own destiny. We had the choice to split apart or remain unified during the Civil War. During the two World Wars we had the choice to stand and remain neutral or join the fight. After World War II we could have remained aloof to aggression in the world or we could defend those who could not defend themselves.  In the early 1990’s, a ruthless man invaded a foreign country. America rose up and convinced the world to defend against that aggression. We drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. At that time Pres. George H.W. Bush made a decision not to invade Iraq and topple Hussein. It was an act of restraint that is rare in history. The American public needs to learn that lesson. It is that restraint that stops the worldview that America is out to conquer countries for the resources we need. As other countries rise economically, we will be held accountable if we do not act with restraint.

Much has been said of the rise of China in the world. It has been suggested that this is bad for the United States. I heard a brilliant piece of analysis today that contradicted that. On the weekend edition of NPR’s “All Things Considered” host Guy Raz spoke to former Pentagon official P.M. Barnett. He said we shouldn’t be afraid of the rise of China, India, or European countries. As he explained, in the first fifty years of the 20th century, countries like China, Japan, India, Korea, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia, among others, engaged in wars that killed 100 million people. After World War II, the global community came together and developed the U.N. The United States took the lead in establishing free trade. Together we set up a system that allowed for all countries to rise in power and wealth, without global wars. When the Cold War ended we saw the last major threat of world war. Now people in the U.S. are scared because other countries are gaining power, influence and economic strength. We are scared because the system we worked to put in place was wildly successful.

The U.S. cannot hope to be the sole superpower in the world. We shouldn’t want to be. We should increasingly try to see all people in the world as one. Instead of being afraid of the Chinese we should be excited about their strengths. We have enjoyed our status at the top of power, but we must admit that we cannot be at the top forever. If the Earth is to survive humanity, it will be through the cooperation of nations.  Pres. Obama’s new economic advisor,  Gene Sperling, said in a speech that “a rising tide should raise all boats.” He was only talking about the U.S. economy. At some point that will need to be true of the world economy.

China tested the prototype of their first stealth aircraft. It was huge news in this country, but why? We have dozens of stealth aircraft. I saw the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter in person when I was a kid. Our B-2 Stealth Bombers conduct bombing raids in Afghanistan from Whiteman Air Force Base. Whiteman is in Missouri. We can fly a plane around the world, drop a bomb on something and fly it home. The U.S. doesn’t spend more on its military than any other country. We spend more money on our military than every other country combined.

In a time of economic need, we need to look at our desire for world power. Other nations have had unprecedented world power and after they lost it, they have endured. Is it really necessary to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the Defense Department. John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House, said that he would consider cutting the defense budget. We will see if that is true. In the end we need to ask ourselves only one question. What are we truly afraid of?