The Struggles of Cutting the Budget

Talk to anyone and they say, “We need to cut spending!”  If everyone agrees, why doesn’t it happen?  I believe it is a struggle to cut the budget because our governmental system has compartmentalized our citizenry.

When our government started, it was simple.  Tax revenue went towards things like roads, standing army, police, and a judicial system.  All of these benefits were accessible to all citizens equally.  Everyone could use the roads, was protected by the army and police, and got a fair day in court.  Now, however, there are numerous entitlement programs and tax incentives for various groups.

Over time, our politicians have tried to protect/bribe different classes of people.  If you earn a lower income, you don’t have to pay taxes and you get welfare.  Elderly citizens get social security.  If you own a business, you get to write off a ton of expenses.  If you are married, you get an extra tax break.  If your income is from capital investments rather than a paycheck, you pay less taxes.  There are many little discrepancies in our confusing budget and tax system.

Have you ever noticed that the debates are seldom on whether we should cut or raise the budget or taxes?  Rather, they debate on who should get the budgetary cut or who should get the raise in taxes.  The reason it is tough to cut the budget is because you have to single out a certain group to reduce the budget.  That group will then say that they are being “targeted” or that it is “unfair.”

If Republicans try to cut welfare, Democrats say they are being mean to the poor.  If Republicans try to cut Social Security, Democrats say they are mean to the elderly.  Because politicians are more concerned with getting re-elected, it is not worth it for them to single out a big class of people.

Further, this compartmentalizing has trained people to vote for the person that is going to get them the most stuff.  Did you know that 40% of adults last year did not pay income tax?  Why would those citizens vote for a candidate that is going to make them pay taxes?

I do not believe politicians should have the moral authority to determine which class of people deserve extra benefits and which ones do not.  I do not believe that our government system was based on treating everyone different, but rather treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.  I do not believe these things because I want to protect the “rich,” but because I want to protect everyone from an unfair system that will ultimately hurt the entire citizenry of the United States.

In the next session of Congress, don’t listen to the lies and politics.  Be understanding that tough decisions are going to have to be made and certain groups may have to take more of a hit because of our current system.  Continue to vote for the conservative candidates that wish to make our government simpler and smaller.

States Fight Healthcare Bill Constitutionality

In the same day that President Obama signed the Healthcare Bill into law, state Attorney Generals from over a dozen states filed lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of the bill.  The Justice Department issued a statement today, saying, “We are confident that this statute is constitutional and we will prevail when we defend it in court.”

A Rasmussen poll released today stated that 49% favor their state suing the federal government over Obama-care while 37% oppose and 14% are not sure.  States are listening to their constituents and fighting the healthcare bill in a number of ways (i.e. some are trying to pass laws that state people do not need to buy healthcare).  If you want to see what is going on in your state, click on this link to see a full list of what is going on in state legislatures.

So who is going to win?

While many conservative blogs will just make the argument for why they believe it is unconstitutional, I want to try to summarize the legal arguments that both sides will most likely make about the constitutionality of the healthcare bill.  I wrote an article a while back called Auto Insurance v. Health Insurance v. Constitution if you wish to read about the comparison of Auto Insurance v. Health Insurance.

There are three main arguments for the bill:

  • First, the Commerce Clause allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce.  Even though you cannot buy health insurance across lines, there is precedent that could allow the court to say that because health supplies or medicine may be shipped into a hospital from another state, healthcare is interstate commerce and thus, can be regulated by Congress.
  • Second, federal government law supersedes state law, so even if the states have their own law, it would most likely be trumped by federal law.
  • Third, Congress has broad power to levy taxes and they’ve cleverly written the bill as a tax, putting the IRS in charge.  The Supreme Court has given Congress broad power to tax and spend for the general welfare, a term that Congress itself can define.

There is essentially two main argument against the bill:

  • First, you cannot punish someone in this country for not buying something they do not want to buy.  The 10th Amendment does not give Congress the right to force someone to buy some thing.  States have a lot of rights to regulate, but Congress only gets those powers given to them in the 10th Amendment.  Further, there is a 1992 Supreme Court case that states that Congress cannot impose a tax to penalize or control conduct.
  • Second, using the Commerce Clause the way that it was originally intended would not allow Congress to regulate healthcare.  However, the argument is weak due to horrible precedent.

In the end, I think there is enough precedent out there that the Supreme Court can use to deem the bill as constitutional because of how much the constitution has changed in the courts slowly over the years.  I hope the Tea Party folks keep pushing their agenda because there is an opportunity for our country to go back to some of our constitutional roots.  According to a CBS poll, Harry Reid’s approval rating is 8% and Pelosi’s approval rating is 11%.  If we stay passionate, we can win back Congress in 2010.  With most of the programs not starting until 2014, there is time to stop portions of the bill.

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

I have always admired Martin Luther King Jr.  I like to periodically go to youtube and just type in “Martin Luther King speech” and watch the various videos that pop up to inspire me to be a better person.  Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader that could inspire people around an ideal in a peaceful and powerful way.  He often cited the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or simply talked about the power of the American Dream.

Now-a-days, it seems that the only way a political leader can inspire anybody is through hatred towards an opponent rather than a positive vision for a great nation.  Reagan inspired people, talking about the U.S. as a “shining city on a hill.”  Obama inspired millions during his campaign by sticking to a positive message about America’s future and rallying people around the ideal of a different kind of Washington, D.C.

The best leaders’ words are honored even beyond their passing.  In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought I would share a few of my favorite quotes from his speeches, enjoy:

  • “A right delayed is a right denied.”
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  • “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Sometimes, it takes a strong, bold leader, to inspire people to do what is right!  Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader we needed in a tough time.

Obama on Trial?

There is a group that is commonly known as the “birthers.”  They believe that President Obama was not born in the United States.  This is a strong allegation because according to Article II of the Constitution, to be eligible to be President of the United States, you have to have been born in the United States.  Throughout Obama’s political career and especially during the 2008 primaries, people have been filing lawsuits to get the courts to look into the facts.  All of the judges have dismissed the trials, until now.

In 2007, the Obama campaign released Obama’s “Certificate of Live Birth,” that was verified by the Hawaiian Department of Health.  That didn’t stop Judge David Carter of Santa Anna, CA, who has set the trial date for January 26th, 2010.  Based on the excerpts, it would appear that Judge Carter, a former marine, is determined to settle this issue and get all of the facts on the table.

This is pretty crazy – what if he is NOT an American born citizen?!?  What would happen?  At the end of the day, I wasn’t the doctor who delivered Obama nor have I personally seen the birth certificate, so I really cannot say whether President Obama was born in the United States.  That being said, it is probably a good thing that this case is going to be heard in the courts so that all of the evidence for both sides can be heard and we can move past this.

I’d love to hear whether you think Obama was born in the United States.  Go to my “Polls” page and let everyone know your opinion!

No Nerf Guns = Gun Control on Crack

When the ACLU fights for civil rights, they are very selective.  It is rare, if not nonexistent that you would see them fight for the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms.  It is the 2nd Bill of Rights, shouldn’t that count for something?  Mayor Bloomberg recently made a comment about the importance of gun control and more politicians are following this trend.

The right to bear arms is rooted in the foundation of democracy.  A long time ago, people lived a private life.  Competition for land was fierce and one would constantly have to fight for their land.  After a while, people got sick of fighting; they were willing to pay some money to an organization for protection.  The initial need for democracy was based on protecting oneself and protecting one’s land.  The right to bear arms gives people the right to protect themselves, a fundamental right.

As the government continues to focus on gun control, one has to ask, “How far is too far?”  The University of Colorado drew a line in the sand that have many people shaking their head by banning Nerf guns.  Yes, the orange and green plastic toy guns that spit out sponges are no longer acceptable.  They said it is an addition to their gun policy that does not allow any guns or simulated guns.

Hey Board of Regents, do you think you may be focusing on the wrong things?  Um…how about focusing on their education and leave the fun up to the college students who are old enough to drive a car, but apparently aren’t ready for the responsibility of nerf guns.  These students could be drinking, having sex, taking drugs, but they have decided that they’d rather play with Nerf guns.  What will they choose now?

This decision to ban Nerf guns gives a glimpse into the ridiculousness minds of extreme gun control advocates.

Afghan/Iraq War Tax? We’re Already Paying It!

Wisconsin Democrat Congressman, David Obey, is calling for a tax to pay for the wars we are currently in.  It makes sense, we are spending money doing an activity, so we should tax to pay for it.  However, early interpretations of the Constitution by the Supreme Court may not agree with Congressman Obey.

In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed income tax unconstitutional (ruling was in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. on the basis that it was a direct tax).  Article I, Section 9 of the original U.S. Constitution provided that “No capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census.”

In the early 1900’s, amendments were made to our Constitution to allow our government to charge income tax.  Our government immediately implemented the tax, but only about 2% paid it.  During WWI, the tax was extended (they even had an “excess profits” tax) as the democrats added progressive rates; the tax was accepted as a means to pay for WWI.  During WWII, the war effort again was used as a reason to increase income tax; the number of people paying income tax went from 3.9 million to 42.6 million people in just a few years.

Is it inconceivable that our government would raise taxes during war?  History would say that it is logical to increase taxes during this time of war to pay for the war effort.  However, wars have been used to increase taxes to increase political power rather than a rational means of covering war costs.

I believe there are some primary functions that a government should do, such as provide police and judges, build roads, and have an ARMY for protection of our property!  All of the social programs, pork spending, and bailout money would be secondary (actually, it should not be a priority at all). The hundreds of $billions that our government already takes from us should do more than cover our primary governmental functions.  If we don’t have enough revenue to cover secondary or tertiary expenditures, than we probably shouldn’t spend the money.

Mr. David Obey, the government has plenty of money to fund the war, we do not need a new tax for it.  We maybe don’t have enough money to buy bad debt or car companies, nor spend billions on pork projects, but I think Americans are alright with that.  We’ll somehow survive.  So do a little exercise called “re-prioritization” and we’ll be just fine.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act (government spending bill) for FY2010 that the house just passed is 11.4% over FY2009 and 24.4% over FY2008 spending.  Not a good start Mr. Obey, not a good start at all.

Demystifying the Czars

Many people wonder about all of Obama’s Czar’s…what can they do? what power do they have?  what are they held accountable to?  Dictionary.com states that a ‘czar’ is: “an emperor or king; any person exercising great authority or power in a particular field.”

Czars in our current case are a set of special advisors that have the president’s ear on specific issues.  There are currently 33 czars with 4 open positions.  President Bush had 13 czars in his presidency after Congress passed laws that said that President Bush could show classified information to anyone of his choosing.

Czars do not need to answer questionnaires like cabinet or secretary positions, nor do they need to have FBI background checks, Supreme Court confirmations, or Congressional hearings.  It is not really clear what they do or what they get paid for.

Legally speaking, they are technically Presidential advisors.  A president can put advisors on payroll and can essentially have as many as he wants.  If they do things that should be done by other Federal officials that clearly have that responsibility or who’s work is accountable to Congress, it could violate the Constitution and Federal law.  Further, if President Obama has his czars do things in his own name, it would also be a violation because he cannot delegate that power to czars.

For TARP (Trouble Asset Release Program), Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner was given discretion to spend over $700 billion.  One of the czars that had the privilege of whispering into the ear of Geithner was Ron Bloom, the manufacturing czar.  Bloom is a special assistant to the president of United Steelworkers union and a former executive with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

During the Crystler/GMC bankruptcy, the United Auto Workers got large stakes in the business.  If Bloom was sharing his thoughts to Geithner, that is lawful.  However, if he was bypassing Sec. Geithner to negotiate the deal in favor of the UAW, that would be unlawful.  We will never know.

I propose that congress vote out the bills passed during President Bush’s era.  All people who are giving direction should be held accountable to the people via Congress.  This is not a red vs. blue issue, it’s an American one.