We Can Think of 535 Ways to Cut Government Spending

by David T. Bruce

House Speaker Boehner tells us that it is “time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Boehner. How we disagree, however, as do a great many Americans, is how spending should be reduced.

education_deathThis sequester will force federal job cuts in the hundreds of thousands, affecting civilians and military alike. Education in America will further erode, as children will be cut from Head Start programs and teachers and aides will lose their jobs. The mentally ill, the disabled and the elderly will also be impacted, as funds for health and food services will be eliminated or reduced. Are these truly the people and services that are a priority in terms of cutting the federal deficit?

Those most affected are those that are already reeling from an economy that has never quite recovered from the Great Recession, except in the eyes (and the coffers) of those who work on Wall Street. Those most affected are those who already have little or nothing, who have been literally dealt a poor hand.

Doug Bandow, a contributor to Forbes.com, illustrated a variety of ways that our government is wasting money:

 “The Department of State used $306,000 to bring European college students to America to learn civic activism” (we need an exchange program for this one).

“Columbia University collected $606,000 for a study of online dating” (perverts).

“The federal government cut a check for $550,000 to underwrite a documentary on the impact of rock and roll on the collapse of communism” (hell, if that worked, I can think of another government at whom we could sling our guitars).

“A federal grant for $765,828 went to [. . .] bring an International House of Pancakes franchise to Washington, D.C.” (this requires no punch line).

Instead of wasting millions of dollars (which quickly adds up to billions) on discretionary and frivolous spending, why don’t you try balancing the budget (we call it penny pinching in the real world) without passing the buck(s) to the rest of us, asking us to pay for your ill-considered spending?

Instead of pointing fingers at one another, ask yourself what good you have done recently for your constituents and for your country that didn’t somehow benefit you. Instead of chiding or punishing the poorest of Americans (by eliminating support programs) who you believe have made poor decisions that have lead them to fiscal ruin, clean up your own act and demand the same from government employees who are sending billions of dollars in improper payments and overpayments out the door.

We cannot be the only ones sick and tired of the endless bickering that occurs on Capitol Hill. The only time our representatives take a break from throwing stones at one another is when they need time to rebuild their forts, preparing for yet another election year. While our elected representatives engage in yet another pissing contest, the working men and women whom they are elected to serve (those fortunate enough to still have jobs, that is), further struggle to make ends meet in the land of the American nightmare that is politics as usual.

Corporate Greed Fuels Resistance to Minimum Wage Hike

by David T. Bruce

Many analysts and columnists are insisting that the economy is getting better. The state of the economy is a relative condition, however, as over 12 million Americans remain unemployed, with long-term unemployed men and women accounting for 38 percent of that number. At any rate, this perceived economic recovery has prompted President Obama to offer up an increase in the federal minimum wage over the next two years.

minwageThe arguments against raising the minimum wage are predictable, as they are consistent. Business owners contend that an increase in the minimum wage would force them to pass that cost on to the consumer. As well, the costs associated with paying employees more would limit the number of employees that they could hire, thereby further impacting the unemployment rate. This may be the case, certainly for small business owners who are trying to earn a living, but for those larger corporations that are doing well, these arguments amount to pure greed.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 amounts to $15,080 a year; this places a family of two below the poverty level. This is recovery? To pay rent in 1960, a person would have to work 71 hours at minimum wage ($1); a person would have to work 109 hours at the current minimum wage, to afford rent. This is recovery?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (unaffectionatly referred to as Obamacare by dissenters) compels business owners employing over 50 people to provide those employees with healthcare benefits. Companies such as Wendy’s (in Omaha, Nebraska), Papa John’s and Walmart are systematically structuring their workforce to avoid providing benefits. This is greed. And the bottom line of the argument against increasing the federal minimum wage is greed.

Business owners regularly raise prices to keep pace with inflation. Local utilities and governments do likewise. When will big businesses and governments realize that at some point, prices will be raised so much that they will lose money? The federal government does understand this, as government employees have historically received a cost-of-living allowance to help offset inflation.

The unemployed and underemployed Americans cannot give what they do not have. At some point, everyone will suffer. There is plenty of evidence to support that an increase in minimum wage would be a good thing, and the numbers demonstrate that big businesses continues to prosper while the middle class deteriorates. Every time you read or hear that the economy is improving, you can bet that Wall Street is doing very well, while the rest of us are worse off than we were yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of Our Elected Officials Need a Time Out

by David T. Bruce

politics_1_tnbWith the recall elections in Wisconsin complete, the Associated Press reports that the “Democrats managed to seize two Republican state Senate seats [. . .], but fell short of the three or more they needed to take control of that legislative chamber.”  The article cites that both sides claimed victory, yet some would continue to pursue recall elections in the coming year.  This redundant, reprehensible rhetoric is representative of how our elected representatives conduct themselves, and this demonstrates the political mentality of our elected officials, not only in the state of Wisconsin, but in every state in the nation as well as on Capital Hill.

Kiplinger forecasts that our nation is potentially on the verge of another recession, and while business spending is up, retail sales are not half of what companies are spending.  Companies may be enjoying some breathing room as the government raises the debt ceiling, continues subsidizing oil companies, and focuses on the upcoming election year.  The millions of Americans who remain unemployed and the millions more Americans who are on a fixed income enjoy no such relief, as we verge on a double-dip recession.

The United States downgrading by Standard & Poor’s rating agency is yet another graphic reminder that our government is living and spending beyond its means.  The knee-jerk reaction from our representatives is to eliminate what they refer to as “entitlements.”

How perverse and insulting to attach a negative connotation to a word that is supposed to reflect what citizens have earned over the years.

After many years of representing the backbone of what has kept the United States a viable global entity, you are damned right that most Americans trapped at the lowest economic level of the United States economic echelons are entitled to at least basic medical care, a safe home, and food!

Millions of dollars were spent on campaigning in the recent Wisconsin recall elections.  What would have been a better use for those monies?  Yet these elected officials care little or nothing for the neediest of their constituents unless they are able or willing to vote in their favor.

The behavior exhibited by those politicians closely involved with the recall elections in Wisconsin illustrates how very little they care for the people that are responsible for employing them and for the potentially disastrous fiscal crisis we border on in the coming months.  As soon as they are elected, they look to the coming election or to unseating their opponents.

How pathetic.

Children behave better than those who bicker and argue over the simplest of agenda items.  Were we to survey members of White House Nannies, I would suspect many might suggest (off the record, of course) that little difference exists between the behavior of some of our elected officials and that of young children.  As citizens, we have the right – we are entitled – to expect better behavior from those that we charge with representing our interests.  Both Democrats and Republicans may claim victory in the latest playground brawl, but all of us are the losers.  All they care about is taking control.

We need to remind them that the control is ours.