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Budget and Debt

Why I’m Not Freaking Out About the Budget

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Congress is about to pass a budget. I call it a “Paul Ryan Special.” This budget lets the government spend money for four months. It expires in September.

The budget is horrible. Republicans are spinning a few “wins” in the budget, but that’s a terrible argument. It’s like telling a terminal cancer patient, “but your blood pressure’s pretty good.”

Here’s the thing: you cannot control Congress. You can only control what you focus on and what you do next. That’s it. That’s all anyone can control.

Sure, you can influence people. If you capture their attention, bypass their critical thinking, and trigger their subconscious mind. That’s how you influence. But you cannot control. What they do next is up to them. What you do next is up to you.

I’ve learned that making fun of Paul Ryan on Twitter does no good. He’s not reading my tweets.

I’m, instead, focusing on improving my work. If I improve my work, the economy might grow. If the economy grows, people will give Trump credit. If Trump gets credit for the economy, he’ll get more positive attention by September. If Trump has positive attention in Congress, he’ll have more influence over Paul Ryan and Democrats.

People want a vibrant economy. People want to choose between several good job offers. No one wants to feel trapped in a low-paying job they don’t like. People want options. You want options.

I can’t fix the economy myself, but I can do my job better. And that will make my company and its clients better. If enough other people do the same, the economy will grow.

The other thing people want is safety. People want to be safe. What good is a great job if you get shot walking into work?

If President Trump makes America safe again, he will earn more positive attention. With more positive attention, his influence in Congress will increase.

I can’t do much about safety, but my kids can. I have two sons in the Navy and one who will soon be a firefighter. They keep us safe. I can choose to support them and their careers. That’s how I can make America safer. It’s not much, but it’s in my control.

You, like me, hate this 4-month budget. But I’m not freaking out. It’ll be over in four months. That’s about the same amount of time that Trump’s been in office. See how time flies?

It will be okay.

 

Reagan Gives Trump’s Budget TWO THUMBS UP!

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President Donald Trump delivered his budget and a message for Congress.

Since I’m lazy, I’ll quote Time magazine.

First, the President’s message to Congress:

“I urge the members of Congress to remember that last November the American people’s message was loud and clear. The mandate for change, expressed by the American people, was not my mandate; it was our mandate.”

Then, the analysis:

The President’s meaning was unmistakable: the public wants deep cuts in both spending and taxes, and any legislator who tries to keep the ax from falling risks putting his own neck under an ax at the polls. But the warning did not prevent opponents in and out of Congress, some of whom had initially seemed stunned into silence by the vigor of Trump’s budget blitz, from recovering their voices. Though Trump still seems likely to win a great deal of what he wants, it will only be after a fight in which some of his specific proposals could be substantially reshaped.

Actually, I played a trick on you. I replaced Reagan with Trump. Time’s article is about Ronald Reagan’s first budget, submitted 36 years ago, almost to the day. The quote was Reagan’s, too.

For those pesky NeverTrumpers, Trump’s budget was another nail in their reputations’ coffins. In his first budget, Trump goes further than Reagan ever did. Though Reagan campaigned on ending the National Endowment for the Arts and Corporation for Public Broadcasting, he never pursued those ends. Reagan’s promise to close the Department of Education never happened. His campaign criticism of the EPA led to only minor reforms.

But Trump takes his promises even more seriously than the Gipper. Think about these highlights:

  • DEFENSE: $52 billion increase.
  • HOMELAND SECURITY: $1.5 billion for The Wall.
  • FOREIGN AID: 28% cut.
  • EPA: 31% cut.
  • HEALTHCARE: Repeal and replace Obamacare with something that works and keeps costs down.
  • TRANSPORTATION: Air traffic control privatized, budgets cut.
  • AGRICULTURE: 21% cut.
  • LABOR DEPARTMENT: 20% cut.
  • CRIMINAL IRS: $239 million cut.
  • COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: 16% cut.
  • SHUT DOWN AND ELIMINATED:  Public Broadcasting Corporation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Chemical Safety Board, the United States Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for National Community Service and the African Development Foundation.

That, my friends, is the most conservative budget in American history. The last vestiges of NeverTrump can slink back under the mossy rocks from which they slithered.

Ronald Reagan, were he still alive, would stand up and applaud this budget. He would thank Donald Trump for picking up where he left off.

It feels good to be on this team, doesn’t it?

We are WINNING AGAIN!!!

 

Two US House Members From Missouri Want to Protect Your Bank Deposits. You Can Help.

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“Over my dead body.”Ann_Wagner_t670

That’s how Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-MO) described her opposition to any attempts by the US government to seize retirement accounts or bank deposits.

Here’s the full quote: “I am solidly behind this resolution and over my dead body will the USG ever raid our personal savings or retirement accts!!”

Thank you, Ann, for that unequivocal statement on the matter.

Billy Long’s HR 129 To Protect Retirement Income and Bank Deposits

And thanks to Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) for introducing House Resolution 129 (HR-129). Here’s what Long said of the bill, via The Hill:

The government should not tax people’s private savings accounts, which they have already paid taxes on, especially for the purpose of funding more bailouts. I was shocked by the news that some countries might be considering these kinds of taxes, and I think Congress should say that this kind of tax won’t happen in America.

It’s a shame that a member of Congress would even have to say that, isn’t it?

Obama’s Budget Calls for Caps on Retirement Income

The Obama Administration wants to cap retirement savings at $205,000 a year. In other words, Obama believes no one should make more than $205,000 a year in retirement. No one, no matter how hard they worked, whether they invented the personal computer or the world’s largest social network, should enjoy the fruits of their retirement. From ZeroHedge.com:

Obama plans to set a limit of how much one can spend per year on retirement through tax-preferred retirement plans. As it turns out, according to the Obama administration it is only fair to spend a total of $205,000 in nominal dollars per year on retirement, but not more.

Tax-Consuming Federal Retirees Exempt

Except maybe retired federal workers.

According to USAToday, at least six retired federal workers make over $200,000 a year, siphoned from taxpayers. Another 2,100 make more than $100,000 in retirement.

Some 1.2% of federal retirees collect six-figure pensions. By comparison, 0.1% of military retirees collect as much. The New York State and Local Retirement System pays 0.2% of its retirees pensions of $100,000 or more. TheNew Jersey retirement system pays 0.4% of retirees that much. Comparable private figures aren’t available.

Anyone who said of Cyprus, “this couldn’t happen in America,” was wrong. Obama’s already planning it.

Here’s What You Can Do

First, please contact Billy Long and Ann Wagner and thank them for defending your retirement and bank savings. Politicians rarely hear “thank you” from constituents when they do the right thing. They are people, after all. Positive feedback works, and expressing gratitude will make your life better.

Next, encourage your members of Congress to fight Obama’s money grab. His entire budget is study in media-manipulation and wealth destruction.

Finally, forward this post 3 friends who live in Missouri and ask them to thank Billy and Ann, too. Try a snail-mail letter or phone call instead of an email if you really want to stand out.

Ann Wagner’s District Office
Billy Long’s District Office
Ballwin Office301 Sovereign Court
Suite 201
Ballwin, MO 63011
hours: M-F 9-5:00pm
Phone: (636) 779-5449
Springfield, MO Office
3232 E. Ridgeview St.
Springfield, MO 65804
(p) 417.889.1800
(f) 417.889.4915

 

Joplin, MO Office
2727 E. 32nd St. Ste. 2
Joplin, MO 64804
(p) 417.781.1041
(f) 417.781.2832

Here’s What Happens Now That Boehner’s “Plan B” Went Down In Flames

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Now that Boehner’s “Plan B” strategy has blown up like a poisoned dog, here’s what Boehner will do.

Remember this chart from last month? It shows strategic options from John Boehner’s point of view:

Let’s Be Honest About Republican Options On The

Yesterday, Boehner tried to land about halfway between the top and bottom quadrant on the left, shown here

Fiscal Cliff Plan B Position

Now that Plan B has been rejected, Boehner’s choices are limited to these:

  • Adjourn and hit the fiscal cliff
  • Cut a deal that will earn most Democrat votes and enough Republican votes to pass

My guess is that Boehner feels betrayed by the 40 or so Republicans who refused to vote for Plan B. In reality, he brought it upon himself by purging the committees of fiscal conservatives. (Anyone who thinks some of this isn’t payback is deluding himself.)

Further, Boehner knows that if he can’t get enough GOP votes to pass an extension of Bush tax cuts on everyone making less than $1 million, he has no chance of getting more Republicans vote for a  bigger compromise. 

Therefore, the only way the House can pass a fiscal cliff bill is to win a bunch of Democrat votes.  Since Democrats know this, they can hold out for whatever Obama demands.  Boehner, who doesn’t want to get blamed for failing to reach a deal, will go along and he’ll bring enough Republicans to pass it.

Fiscal Cliff Likely Deal

That means Obama gets pretty much whatever he wants.  That’s my prediction.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Boehner could also reach a deal with 40 or so Democrats by moving the extension down to $400,000 from $1 million.  From a purely strategic point of view, Democrats would be foolish to make that deal. It would undermine Obama and give Republicans their second-best outcome.  (Remember, by second-best, I’m speaking strategically. I’m not saying a compromise is the second-best policy outcome.)

With most of the Blue Dog Democrats gone, I don’t see Boehner picking up enough Democrat votes. They know they can dictate the terms, and they probably will.

Sure, Boehner could join the conservatives and pass a bill that permanently extends the Bush tax cuts completely.  The Senate will ignore it, we’ll hit fiscal cliff, and the next Congress will deal with it. This would be the best policy choice, but, in Boehner’s mind, it would be the worst possible strategic move.  (Again, I’m saying Boehner’s right, but I think this is how he sees it.) Plus, having been humiliated by conservatives on Plan B, Boehner is unlikely to join them now.

Now, go read Erick Erickson’s excellent explanation of why Boehner’s thinking is wrong.  (I disagree with only one point of Erick’s. He thinks Boehner and the GOP will let us hit the fiscal cliff; I do not, as explained above.) Following Erick’s lead, here’s the best policy outcome:

Fiscal Cliff Best Policy

 

What do you think Boehner will do?

 

P.S. Please don’t scream at me that I’m pulling for a compromise or I want Obama’s $1.6 trillion tax hike to pass. If you’re tempted to do so, read this entire piece again carefully.

Don’t Expect Boehner To Play The Black Knight

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The GOP didn’t really have a plan in place in case it lost. It certainly didn’t have a plan for getting snotclobbered. And if you try to spin Tuesday’s results as anything less than a good old-fashioned ass-kicking, you’re deluding yourself.

Black-Knight

Republicans Got Creamed

I know Michelle Malkin found 20 things that went right on election night, but there about 60 million things that went wrong. Let’s take a look:

  • Obama was re-elected handily in a terrible economy with American prestige at its lowest level since Carter’s administration
  • Republicans lost ground in the Senate despite a huge number of open seats and unpopular Democrats (McCaskill)
  • Stupid comments by Senate candidates set back the pro-life movement 20 years
  • In Missouri, Republicans lost every statewide race except Lieutenant Governor
  • Liberal ballot initiatives dominated
  • Conservative turnout was low except for Evangelicals
  • Conservative mega-donors broke the bank on this election and came up less than empty

Boehner Told House Republicans There Will Be No Fiscal Cliff Fight

Considering all this, it comes as no surprise that John Boehner told House Republicans that there will be no death match over the Fiscal Cliff.

Their party lost, badly, Mr. Boehner said, and while Republicans would still control the House and would continue to staunchly oppose tax rate increases as Congress grapples with the impending fiscal battle, they had to avoid the nasty showdowns that marked so much of the last two years. (source: NYTimes)

That’s a bitter pill for Tea Partiers and conservatives, but it’s probably unavoidable.

Mitt Romney and many other Republican candidates for federal offices campaigned without any big ideas for people to champion. They made the election about policy differences, and the status quo won.

You can say that bitter fights over debt and budgets are part of that status quo. You’d be missing the point, which is this:

The only card in Boehner’s hand is shutting down the government. Voters—even some who voted for Romney—would see that as a repudiation of the election and the people, not of Obama. Boehner would look like the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

There’s a chance, of course, that Obama would cave and hand the Republicans a victory. But there’ a good chance the subsequent unemployment, the stock plunge, the recession, and the starvation horror stories would land squarely on Republican shoulders. (Do you think media would see an Obama capitulation as anything but statesmanlike sacrifice to help the most vulnerable?)

Republicans simply won’t take the chance that 2014 will be a referendum on government shutdowns by a party that just got its ass handed to it on Nate Silver platter.

Game Theory and History Help Explain

Here’s a SlideShare I’ve put together to explain the Republican position. I looked back at Reagan’s 1981 budget battle with Congressional Democrats.

Pay attention to how that battle turned out. (Best viewed full screen)

Bottom Line: The Republicans cannot choose a strategy first. They must force Democrats to make the first move.