The movement to reform the U.S. Congress is like a G-rated flick that would make Walt Disney yawn. There’s no sex, no violence, no scandal, no crime, comparatively little political intrigue, and no big-time stars, just a lot of risqué talk about filibustering the motion to proceed.
It is doubtful the subject will come up in campaigns, either, beyond the patronizing and often hypocritical blather about running against Washington.
Several weeks ago the House Rules Committee held a hearing on about 40 reforms that members wanted to see brought up on the opening day of the next Congress in January 2019. The attention to it was, as you would expect, silence.
There wasn’t any news coverage, except from Paul Krawzak at Congressional Quarterly, who understands the subject matter.
The need for reform couldn’t be clearer, or more critical, or more timely.
Hey, here’s a scoop! I was wrong about when the shutdown would end. I thought it would be last Thursday.
My new prediction is: Never.
As I think I’ve made pretty clear, I thought – and still think – that tying the shutdown to repealing or delaying ObamaCare was a bad idea. That doesn’t mean I think ObamaCare is a good idea; I do not. But, the GOP’s mantra, if you will remember, was “Repeal and Replace.”
Republicans in the House and Senate cannot repeal, and they have not offered a replacement.
But, that was last week’s news. This week’s news is we are about 10 days from the financial world coming to an end – again – this time because we are about to bump our national fiscal head on the debt ceiling.
Consider throwing your incumbent Congressman and Senator out of office in 2014 who has voted time and time again to saddle us with a 1935 version of ‘dependence’ that has not kept up with the times: Social Security.
Replace them with someone who will vote for the greatest economic freedom and independence package the world has ever known for each and every American citizen, young and old.
‘The New Great Deal’ that really is one and doesn’t just pretend to be. Continue reading →
One of the problems about dealing with and debating an issue as big and as complicated as Medicare is that most people simply don’t care what it costs to take care of senior citizens.
Certainly not the senior citizens currently on Medicare. It is the best deal in the nation they are ever going to get in terms of buying health insurance for around $310-$360/month. Many self-employed people now paying close to $1000/month would give their eyes and teeth and other certain parts of their body to be able to find ANY comprehensive health care insurance for anything near $350/month. Continue reading →
We are constantly reminded of just how great of a job FDR’s advisors did in the Great Depression ‘selling’ the American people on the whole notion of Social Security being some form of ‘insurance’ or ‘pension’ plan.
Which is it: ‘Insurance’ or ‘Retirement’? Or both? Who the heck really knows nowadays almost 80 years later? Continue reading →
BY JOHN FEEHERY Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com
Greg Walden condemns an unpopular proposal in the President’s budget and gets attacked by the right-wing.
What is up with that?
Walden is the popular, smart, hard-working head of the National Congressional Campaign Committee. His job is to elect Republicans, or more precisely make certain that Republicans stay in control of the House.
He attacked the Obama budget for its inclusion of a proposal to recalibrate Social Security’s cost of living adjustments to be more in line with actual Continue reading →
The big hoo-hah over taxes we had to suffer through last month had to do with income tax rates and some specialty items that largely attached to corporations.
As you may know if you’ve ever made the mistake of saying “about half of those who work pay no taxes at all” in front of a Liberal, everyone who shops pays sales taxes, everyone who drives pays gasoline taxes, and everyone who works pays … payroll taxes. Continue reading →
BY JOHN FEEHERY
Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com
In the mid-1980’s, Social Security was going broke, as was the Federal government. And the retirement program for all Federal employees was in the cross-hairs of voters who thought it cost too much and was too generous to retirees.
I was thinking about the transition to the current Federal Employee Retirement System as I picked up a letter sent to my wife from the Thrift Savings Program.
The TSP was a part of the reform effort from that period in history when Ronald Reagan was President, Bob Dole was Majority Leader, and Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House.
I ran across a fascinating history of that period written by Jamie Cowen in a back issue of the Employee Benefit Research Institute magazine. Cowen was a staff member of former Senator Ted Stevens, a driving force behind the reform initiative at that time, and his insights into how a major reform of an entitlement program is informative. Continue reading →
Like most people I have gotten so caught up in the rising and falling of GOP Presidential candidates’ fortunes that I more-or-less forgot about President Obama and what else is going on in the world.
What else is going on is that gasoline prices are on the rise.
Some people are following the so-called “Doc Fix” issue – that is to forestall a 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians. More people understand an extension of unemployment benefits. A lot of people would recognize whether or not payroll taxes (to pay for Social Security and Medicare) were being withheld from their paycheck. Continue reading →
Have you ever sat down and really thought about the amount of money you pay in taxes versus the direct benefits you receive from the government?
Alan Simpson’s rather salty but descriptive comment about Social Security could be politely amended to read: ‘The US federal government has 310 million teats on it to milk!’.
Depending on how many programs a person derives benefits from or tax preferences he or she uses, the number could be 1 billion for all we know.
Do this little exercise right now. Add up all the taxes you pay on one side of the ledger on a piece of paper or Excel spreadsheet. And then add up all the taxes that you saved from any tax deductions you use each year on your tax form and grants you received from the federal government in any form and put them in the other column. Continue reading →
BY JOHN FEEHERY
Reprinted from thefeeherytheory.com
The President turns 50 tomorrow, which is a big deal, especially to
the President’s fundraisers, who are doing their best to milk it for
all it is worth. Apparently, they are throwing a big bash for him in
my hometown of Chicago. My invitation must have got caught up in my spam filter.
50 isn’t nearly as old as it used to be (especially if you are 47,
like a blogger I know pretty well), and to many old-timers who depend on Social Security and Medicare to survive, 50 is pretty darn young. Continue reading →
President Obama emailed his supporters that he is running for re-election. I guess he did that as a way to tell young voters (who largely powered his initial election campaign) that he is still with them.
When tiny globs of gooey brown oil began washing up on Gulf shores, it foreshadowed a more ominous environmental calamity lurking just over the horizon. These first signs were troubling enough. But they also revealed a more daunting threat riding incoming tides that might prove impossible to fix.
The Gulf disaster is a metaphor for our federal spending and debt crisis. Globs of budgetary red ink have been washing up in Washington for some time now. Cleaning up the immediate problem is hard enough. But the difficulty policymakers face addressing the current fiscal mess only underscores a larger challenge.
The Senate’s efforts over the past month, trying to enact a state aid/unemployment/tax extender bill are illustrative. The Democrats’ original plan exemplified politics as usual. These initiatives all cost the federal government money. But instead of making the tough choices necessary to pay for these benefits, they proposed just adding more to the deficit.
But with an election looming and nervous voters increasingly cranky about unsustainable debt, the original Senate plan, which increased the federal debt because it offset less than a third of the $190 billion in spending, ran into a buzz saw of opposition. Democratic leaders continue to ameliorate concerns by scaling back the package or finding other offsets.
In California, two women who have risen to the top ranks of the business world have positioned themselves for entry into the top ranks of government as well, as California’s governor and one of its two United States Senators. Another has positioned herself to become a United States Senator from Connecticut.
All three — Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California and Linda McMahon in Connecticut — still face large hurdles in November’s general elections, but they are serious candidates with reasonable prospects. And all three have based their campaigns on a common attribute. No, not the fact that they are women — after all, Connecticut has a woman governor and both of California’s current U.S. Senators are women. What Fiorina, Whitman, and McMahon all tout as the credential that proves their superior qualification for high office is the fact that all three are highly successful in … business.
I have no serious problem with any of the three: in California, in particular, the women, Fiorina and Whitman, face Democratic candidates (Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown) whose loss would do no great harm to the nation. I do have a problem, however, with the continued promotion of business success as a qualifier for public office.
Success in the market is not an automatic disqualifier for public service, but it is a far different undertaking with different purposes and different values. And to suggest that government needs people experienced in business reminds me of the old feminist saw that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. In fact, business and government — while there may be skills involved that are translatable and useful as one moves from one sphere to another — are in some ways polar opposite undertakings.
If you want to see broken government, consider the fall of the constitutional Roman Republic and the rise of Julius Caesar: “Fortune turned against us and brought confusion to all we did. Greed destroyed honor, honesty and every other virtue, and taught men to be arrogant and cruel, to neglect the gods. Ambition made men false. Rome changed: A government which had once surpassed all others in justice and excellence now became cruel and unbearable.” So said the historian Sallust at the time.