Tag Archives: deficit spending

Article V Convention – Congress Will Not Act, So We Will

Growth-Of-United-States-Government-Debt

Government debt continues to amass at a dizzying pace. The federal government has displayed no discipline in reining it in and reestablishing a more sound fiscal footing for the future of the country. Our founding fathers, however, had the prescience to include in our Constitution the means whereby the states, and the people, could force the government to do what they have no appetite to do, to require a balanced budget.

Growth-Of-United-States-Government-DebtJust since 2006, federal government debt has shot from $6.7 trillion, to nearly $18 trillion. The largest segment of that spending occurred over the past six years with five years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion. Our government has been spending 60% more than it’s been collecting in tax receipts.

Those figures do not even begin to address our long-term debt due to non-discretionary entitlement programs. According to the General Accounting Office’s (GAO) 2013 annual report, unfunded debt including Social Security and Medicare is over $76 trillion, an increase of 8% over 2012 levels. Our national debt increases by an estimated $8.2 million per minute, and about $350 billion per month.

The GAO was explicit in its warning to the policy makers about our spending. They said in the very first paragraph, “GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable.”

Budget-chartFormer Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker, has been sounding the clarion call of economic disaster for the nation if spending is not reined in, and politicians refuse to deal with fiscal realities of unabated spending. He describes America as a “sinking ship” in a sea of our own debt. He points out that, “The US ranks near the bottom of developed global economies in terms of financial stability and will stay there unless it addresses its burgeoning debt problems,” based on the Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Something must be done before the dollar and our entire economic system collapses entirely due to our calamitous accumulation of debt. And the solution could be nestled in Article V of the Constitution. That Article declares how the document can be amended.

Debt-Ceiling-Cartoon“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”

That second option, referred to as an Article V Convention, or Convention of the States, has never been utilized. It’s been attempted before, but never to fruition. It was added to the document after four earlier attempts at language that would have opened the door to a full constitutional convention. The precise and narrow limitations of an Article V convention only allows for adoption of amendments, not a complete “con con” which could facilitate mischief in rewriting our founding document. In Federalist Paper 43 James Madison explained, “It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable.”

cg536b7ae12610aThis is validated by Nick Dranias, Director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, who has said, “Despite claims made to the contrary, the truth is that Article V does not provide authority for a foundational constitutional convention. The Founders specifically and repeatedly rejected efforts to substitute the current Article V language to allow for a foundational constitutional convention to be called.”

Currently there are active efforts to call an Article V Convention for at least two major issues: a Balanced Budget Amendment, and a National Debt Relief Amendment. Both are oriented toward forcing the federal government to get its fiscal house in order. The latter would disallow congress from increasing the federal debt without a majority of states approving an increase in the debt limit.

In order for such a convention to be convened, two-thirds of the states must pass resolutions calling for it, and then upon adoption of the specific amendments at the convention, three-fourths of the states must ratify. Therein lies the assurance that only viable and constitutionally sound amendments would emerge from such a convention.

Every citizen, and every state in the union has a stake in the solvency and fiscal stability of the nation, and should be actively embracing and supporting the Article V Convention process for these key issues. Hopefully an amendment will then be advanced for establishing term limits on congress, as well. Since Washington will not lead on these critical issues, it’s time for the people, and the states, to do so.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

Confederate Corner with George Neat June 18th – Obama waste, guns and free speech

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When: Tuesday, June 18th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Confederate Corner with George Neat on Blog Talk Radio

What: Yes there are Confederates north of the Mason-Dixon line, and George Neat is one of them. And we’re happy to bring his views to you in the “Confederate Corner” radio show.

For more information on George and his political views, please drop by the Confederate Corner at GoldwaterGal.com. (http://goldwatergal.com/goldwater-gal-media/confederate-corner/)

Tonight: George will be talking about Obama wasting money, Star Wars, and the liberals keeping up their war on guns and free speech. Of course there will also be a Soldier Salute, and a “nearly-infamous” Crack Pipe Moment.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Misinterpreting Obama’s Tax Mandate

Obama-tax-the-richI have written before regarding Obama’s legitimate claim to a mandate for raising taxes on the “rich.” He made no secret of his plan to raise taxes during the campaign and voters — who for the most part know they won’t be paying the increased taxes — thought it was a fine idea and re–elected him.

This is a bad situation nationally, but potentially a good situation locally. That’s because locally–elected Democrats appear to be falling prey to what Alan Greenspan called “irrational exuberance.” They’re interpreting Obama’s mandate for national taxes as permission to increase local taxes, too.

Four of our local Prince William County, VA Board of Supervisors have presented budget proposals for the next fiscal year. And try as I might to avoid stereotyping these worthy public servants, dang if the Democrats don’t want to raise taxes, while the Republicans want to cut taxes.

All we need to be just like Washington is Warren Buffett, plutocrat with a guilty conscience, standing in front of the government center begging someone to raise his taxes.

Here’s where local Democrats are making their big mistake. PWC doesn’t face a “fiscal cliff” or any other kind of precipitous drop–off, because county budgets must balance every year. Spendacrats nationally — both Democrats & Republicans — have fought a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Consequently we have obese government that borrows almost 50 cents of every dollar it spends.

Voters get much more government than they pay for, hence Obama’s mandate.

Local balanced budgets serve to inhibit Democrat tax increase fever; since taxpayers must pay for all the government they receive, the same year they receive it.

Local Democrats who forget this will give Republicans and conservatives an opportunity to begin our political comeback.

I outlined Republican Chairman Corey Stewart’s budget a couple of weeks ago. In a nutshell Stewart would cut the average property tax bill by $132 next year. He saves $941,000.00 by eliminating supervisor’s ability to make charitable donations to private organizations with our tax dollars.

Stewart also ends the practice of subsidizing individual supervisor’s entertainment preferences by cutting all “arts” grants. He eliminates funding for Legal Services of Northern VA, ending the odd practice of the county funding the same group that often sues it. And he cuts money for programs Richmond orders, but doesn’t see fit to fund.

Total cuts amount to $9 million.

On the other hand, Democrat John Jenkins wants to boost county spending by $19 million and increase the average property tax bill by $408 (average assessed value is $310,000, so individual mileage will vary).

Evidently Democrat Frank Principi wants to do everything Jenkins does plus more. (It’s hard to be specific, Principi does not put particulars on his website and his office refused to answer an email query.) Principi would raise property tax bills an average of $447, so he can stimulate county spending by $44 million.

Jenkins wants to continue to play Santa Claus for charities with tax money, fund “arts” groups that can’t make it on their own, serve as free entertainment director for seniors, fund all the groups that Stewart cuts and keep neighborhood libraries open six days a week, to name but a few.

But “arts” spending is naturally not what Jenkins emphasizes. Local Democrats are not into disarmament as much as national Democrats, so he concentrates on the additional tax money that will be used to hire 25 new police officers and 25 to 30 new fire and rescue employees, because who could be against paying taxes for public safety?

I like cops and have had excellent experiences with the fire department. But that doesn’t stop me from asking if these additions are needed, which is one reason I’m no longer a Democrat. From 2010 to 2011 overall crime in the county decreased 6.7 percent and violent crime decreased 20.7 percent.

Now I certainly don’t want to penalize success, and the department is doing an excellent job, so let’s look at overall calls for service, which are often a leading indicator of future crime increases.

Well, nothing there either. Since between 2010 and 2011 the call for service total was essentially unchanged. Meanwhile, population increased by about 11,000 residents. Simply matching population growth could justify the addition of almost 12 officers.

The department added two in 2011, so one could support adding an additional 10 officers at a cost of approximately $1.2 million — not 25 at a cost of $3.1 million.

The situation with fire and rescue is similar. Calls for service increased 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, as did the population. But you don’t add fire and rescue the same way you do police officers, because for every paid fireman there are two volunteers. Since total fire and rescue is three times that of the police department, it makes more sense to add seven firemen at a cost of $770,000, instead of 25 at $2.75 million. The total for both comes to about $2 million in additional spending.

Jenkins could pay for all of these new government employees without raising taxes a penny if he simply embraced some of Stewart’s cuts. But local, like national, Democrats are not in the spending cut business. So it’s no wonder Jenkins was an integral part of the board that doubled PWC spending between 2000 and 2006.

Government grows because politicians aren’t spending their own money. The money Jenkins and Principi want to spend is free, because it’s yours. The only restraint on Democrats is the fact property taxes are paid by all property owners. There are no “one percenters” to gouge and Democrats are unable to embezzle from the future by borrowing, the way they do in Washington, DC.

And that’s the difference between the Obama mandate and local reality.

Still, it’s always so amusing when a local Democrat expresses concern about a taxpayer’s pocketbook.

During a recent board discussion of legislative priorities, Principi wanted the state to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit, because he wanted to “keep more money in the pockets of our citizens.”

Evidently because if the state took the money, Principi wouldn’t be able to get at it.

Let Obama Leap Off the Fiscal Cliff Alone

Fiscal Cliff Cartoon Blog Version

The editorial cartoon on the left perfectly summarizes the political situation surrounding fiscal cliff negotiations. The lesson is Republicans will be blamed regardless.

CNN and Pew Research Center polls show a majority of the public will blame the GOP if the country goes over the cliff, even if Speaker Boehner fetches coffee for Obama during negotiations and compliments Michelle on her triceps.

To avoid this the GOP must start thinking strategically. That and take some very useful advice from two unlikely sources: Grover Norquist and Barack Obama.

Norquist urges Republicans to televise negotiations. This is a good idea that will allow the public to see just how intransigent Democrats are. While Obama warns House Republicans to get out of the way, which is exactly what they should do.

While the TV cameras are humming, Boehner should recognize the President built his campaign around raising taxes and voters supported that agenda. Boehner should explain that although Republicans disagree and believe Obama’s policies will plunge the nation back into a recession, if not depression, the people have spoken and Republicans will not obstruct him in any way.

Then — as Dante wrote about denizens of one level of the Inferno — we let Obama be himself with a vengeance. Republicans simply vote ‘present’ and, following the Obamacare precedent, the President’s socialistic, dangerous policy passes without a single Republican vote.

We lose tactically in the short run, but we win strategically in the long run. Negotiating minor cuts at the margin now not only won’t be a victory, it will allow Obama — and his Hallelujah Chorus in the media — to blame the failure of his fiscal policy on Republicans. That is impossible if Obama gets his way.

What’s more, bickering over petty spending cuts, discredits major cuts as a viable debt reduction strategy in the future. When these rounding–error cuts fail to make a difference, Democrats and the media will claim we tried cutting and it didn’t work.

Keep in mind Republican House leadership has a bad track record when it comes to negotiating cuts anyway. The last time we had a debt confrontation in 2011, Boehner came up with a total of $352 million in cuts. To put that in perspective, the amount represents one–tenth of one percent of the budget.

Whoop–tee–freakin’–doo. It would have made more sense to take the “savings” and buy lottery tickets. Last week’s Powerball jackpot was almost twice as large as the “cuts.”

And the wealthy job creators Obama’s tax increase will harm? I repeat, any Obama compromise means Republicans own the failure, because Obama didn’t get all he knew the nation really needed. And in the unlikely event he succeeds — and remember the media will set the bar remarkably low — Obama gets all the credit.

Some will object that House Republicans have just as strong a mandate as Obama, since they were elected, too. But that’s horse hockey. GOP congressmen were re–elected in gerrymandered districts designed to be impossible for Democrats to win. Obama won the entire nation and he’s right about his mandate, misguided as it is.

If recognizing the results of a democratic election is the proper policy in Egypt, it’s the proper policy here, even if the Socialism Brotherhood was the winner.

Holding out for miniscule spending cuts is simply negotiating the length of the rope Obama will use to hang Congressional Republicans.

There are only two instances where the GOP should fight today. One is opposing giving up Congressional debt ceiling authority in the future. The other is Boehner’s promise that if the Democrat Senate changes filibuster rules, all subsequent Senate bills will be DOA in the House.

Giving the President unilateral debt ceiling authority is like giving the Times Square homeless man a pair of boots and a credit card. No Congressional debt authority, along with rewriting filibuster rules, would cause long–term damage to the country and set a dangerous precedent.

Otherwise, let Obama own the agenda and own the responsibility. It will be impossible to blame Republicans for a result they did not in any way impede.

Our goal should be winning in 2014. It’s the asymmetrical strategy I advocated recently; and it is the kind of strategic thinking Republicans need to start utilizing.

Two years of short term pain will result in House and Senate gains that will allow Republicans to start reversing the course of Obamaism. Besides, I want to watch Democrats try to run in 2014 on a platform of “Osama’s Dead & So Is the Economy.”