Category Archives: Free Markets

The Supreme Court Sends Obamacare Back to the People, Where it Rightfully Belongs.

“Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.”  William Shakespeare

Like many conservatives I had come to hope the United States Supreme Court would not only put an end to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but would also breathe life into the 10th Amendment by placing much needed limitation on the “Commerce Clause”. That hope was awkward and indeed misplaces as one who has opposed judicial activism relying on the court to overturn a legislative act was uncomfortable. It ended just after 10 am yesterday as the court essentially upheld most of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. In doing so the court put Obamacare exactly where it belonged, in the hands of the American People who will almost certainly decide its fate at the ballot box November 6, 2012.

John G. Roberts, 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

To be clear, I disagree strongly with Chief Justice Roberts and his majority opinion, believing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s strong dissent was on firmer constitutional ground. Yet my faith in the constitution and the institutions it defines necessitates respect for the decision of the court. I suspect history will long debate the words we first read yesterday but the fate of Obamacare has now passed back to the legislative branch the people who elect their representatives.

We can play “who wins the polls” all day and do nothing but waste hot air. What is clear is Obamacare has failed to secure the majority support among the American people that any major piece of social legislation (think Civil Rights which had strong majority bi-partisan support) has in modern American history. The President and the Democratic leaders in congress were hard pressed to pass the legislation despite strong majorities in both houses of congress. Indeed in all votes more Democrats voted in opposition to their own parties proposal than Republicans voting for healthcare. Then Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi famously told Democrats they had to pass the bill so the public would come to understand and support healthcare reform. Without a doubt this was the central issue in the 2010 Congressional election which resulted in significant Democratic losses in the senate and a near record loss in the House which saw control pass to the Republicans. Throughout the 112th Congress Obamacare has continued to be the focus of debate with the House passing legislation repealing and Senate democrats killing those bills without a vote. Indeed the repeal votes have been little more than political theater since with Barack Obama in the White House, no repeal can ever become law. So Republicans have had to settle for preventing key elements of Obamacare from being funded (such as IRS agents being hired to enforce the taxation elements).

Obamacare

Obamacare is the Largest Tax Increase in American History

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, the solution to this situation seems crystal clear as Obamacare now stands to be one of if not the central issue of the 2012 Presidential & Congressional elections. Indeed, it would seem that in authoring that decision, Chief Justice John Roberts may have helped the conservative cause much more than was first apparent. Clearly, the Obama fabrication that Obamacare was not a tax increase was undermined by his own Solicitor Generals oral argument and was killed in Roberts ruling. Republicans how have a clear case to present that Barack Obama has put into place the largest tax increase in American history, for the middle class and every other class. While initially less apparent but potentially of greater long term significant, Chief Justice Roberts has for the first time in modern history placed significant limits on the Commerce Clause, indeed stating that if the act had relied upon that it would have been unconstitutional. This guidance will live on for generations and many liberals may come to have considerable indigestion over this.

Mitt Romney Pledges to Repeal and Replace Obamacare as First Act Upon becoming President in the Wake of June 28th Supreme Court Decision

Thus Obamacare will be put to its most significant vote exactly where the decision should be made, by the American People. Mitt Romney was quick to say that if he is elected president and sworn in on January 20, 2013 his first act will be to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Given the GOP has a strong majority in the house and with 23 Democrats to just 10 Republicans up for election in the senate this year, a President Romney would almost certainly have majorities in both houses of congress. Obamacare would soon find a place of honor on the ash pile of history. However, if President Obama is reelected, it much less likely he would have both houses of congress, yet he would have a real mandate to move forward with Obamacare. He may well have to finally negotiate in a truly bi-partisan manner to realize the funding required to implement Obamacare, but he would have a moral mandate to move forward (even though we conservatives would like it no better). The only way Obamacare can be implemented as it now exists would be for the American People themselves to show their support by not only re-electing President Obama but giving the Pelosi-Reid Democrats a majority in both houses of Congress.

So the battle lines are drawn and the fight has been joined. Within 24 hours of the court’s decision Mitt Romney raised more than $5 million in small donor online funds and a yet unknown non-online donations. While many things have been said and debated about Barack Obama, one thing is for certain, he is the great unifier of Republicans. Mitt Romney in one day has seen significant divisions in his own base evaporate and conservatives find enthusiasm for his candidacy. Mitt Romney has become the great, if unlikely, savior of free market health care in America. Barack Obama is now clearly the advocate of socialized medicine and the massive tax increases which will be needed to affect such a program. To be certain there will be other issues in the 2012 election such as America’s role in the world, keeping American’s Safe and restoring our nation’s economic base and getting millions of Americans back to work. Yet the fate of health care in America is almost certainly to be decided in this election and the debate over it pivotal to the election itself.

Let the fight begin, it sure will not be boring.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Congress, Constitution, Free Markets, Health Care, Mitt Romney, Obama Administration, Politics, Supreme Court of the United States, Taxes, The White House, United States House of Representatives, US Senate

On Hypocrisy, Barack Obama and the Buffett Rule

There are few issues in American politics today that I find more hypocritical or concerning than the so called “Buffett Rule”. Based upon the Billionaire of Omaha suddenly realizing late in life that he pays a lower rate of tax than his secretary. For starters let’s leave aside that if he had concern over his secretary’s financial situation, he could simply dip into his piggy bank and give her a well deserved raise. No, that Warren Buffett would suddenly have a concern that he pays lower tax rates than most Americans is laughable. What did Warren think he was paying those tax attorneys for over the decades? Why did he structure his investments in corporate structures aimed to qualify resultant earning as capital gains rather than standing up like a man and simply characterizing it as ordinary income? No, Warren has built his fortune exploiting every tax scheme available. Now Warren wants other Americans who have been successful to pay higher taxes than the now 80 year old Buffett has for decades. Well, I may not be a financial genius like Warren, but I can spot a blue blooded hypocrite when I see one Warren Buffett is in a hypocritical league of his own.

This story becomes more pathetic when President Obama comes along and latches onto “The Buffett Rule” as the salvation to the nation’s economic ills. Unfortunately President Obama is more a political opportunist and liberal who can never let the opportunity to increase taxes pass them by. Instead of applying the Buffet Rule revenue to debt reductions President Obama would simply use it to fund his liberal democrat social agenda. The President Obama & the Do Nothing Democrats in congress have bet their future upon a political class warfare platform. Any political opportunist cannot resist an opportunity to leverage someone else’s reputation for their gain and Warren Buffett is big league butt cover.

America is a nation where the dream of a better life for one’s self and children was always a core value of the people.  American’s aspire to success and work to give their children a better life than they have. Those who have succeeded have been seen as inspirations to be emulated, not objects of scorn and envy to be torn down. Class warfare has never been a cornerstone of our nation’s political discourse. Today we have a president who in seeking a second term to advance an extreme leftist agenda is basing his reelection on class division and envy without regard to the damage it can do to the nation’s character. In and of itself, hypocrisy is usually a benign personality trait which simply diminished the reputation of the hypocrite. Rarely do hypocrites succeed for long as their lack of character is transparent. However when a national leader bases his partisan future on such a hypocritical platform to advance the big lie, then real harm can be done to the nation.

I will leave it to others to demonstrate how little good the Buffett Rule would do for the debt and the damage raising taxes during a recovery could do (for reference see the Heritage Foundation Article). I actually share the president’s view that there are fundamental inequalities in our tax system. Corporate Cronyism has permeated the tax code leaving it littered with the best loop holes money can buy. But the Buffett Rule is not a solution to inequality but rather a syndical revenue grab by a tax & spend liberal administration. The only way to solve the inequality is a revenue neutral fundamental round of tax reform with simplification as its goal. The more flat our tax system becomes with fewer deductions and loop holes, the more fairness we would see. Mr. President, real tax reform does not make for as good a rally speech, but it is good for the country and the honesty may just help your reputation and the nation’s future. Country first, what a novel concept.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Budget, Free Markets, National Debt, Politics, Taxes

The Reality of National Debt

After years of uncomfortable silence, the nation’s political discourse is now full of, if not dominated by, discussions of the crisis created by the national debt. This is long overdue as the seeds were planted for this over decades. Headlining the news today is the social unrest created in Greece as they have finally reached the edge of the financial cliff and faced with the prospect of going over that rim, are trying to find a solution which apportions the pain across the population. It is easy for American commentators to dismiss the situation in Greece as a flawed comparison which could never happen in the United States. Indeed Greece is a small country with a population of just 11.3 million, as part of the euro zone it had limited monetary control and is not considered a strong economy. The United States is still the largest economy in the world, both in nominal terms, but also more importantly on a per capita basis among the major economies and among the most diverse economies in the world. The US Dollar is the international reserve currency and considered the safest in the world; the one international investors seek in times of financial and political risk. Most importantly the Greek debt has passed 125 percent of GDP while the US is at a much more manageable 75 percent. While all this is true, it overlooks some of the challenges we face in the US in resolving the debt crisis, the liabilities within the social Security System which are not counted in the national debt calculation and the potentially devastating effect of an international exodus from the US dollar if investors lost faith in our ability to manage our finances.

Greek People Take to the Streets to Protest Government Cuts

What the Greek situation today does illustrate is the significant social strains which will be places on American society in the event we do not find a long term solution to our fiscal situation. Somewhere around 2026, just 15 years from now, the majority of Americans who as of now depend on Social Security for a majority of their retirement will get a shock when their benefits are cut by 30 to 40 percent when the Social Security runs out of money. The social implications of this should be alarming to policy makers as it will place at risk the basic structure of American society. On one hand we will potentially have a massive displacement of older Americans, many of whom will be facing homelessness or massive restrictions of basic needs of life which we as a people have found to be unacceptable. On the other hand there will only be between 2.0 and 2.5 workers in the workplace to support each of those then receiving benefits and any tax increase to support those receiving benefits could easily double their total effective tax bill, a situation which would be socially, let alone politically unacceptable. The massive cuts in all spending and unavoidable tax increases would likely send Americans to the street.

Back in 1985 Ronald Reagan’s commission on Social Security proposed relatively modest adjustments to the cost of living increases in Social Security, many of which simply better reflected the actual cost of living for seniors, as well as a gradual increase in the retirement age. This represents the inevitable truth of Social Security, when created you received benefits at 65 when life expectancy was just 62. Then Senate Majority leader Bob Dole courageously endorsed the commission’s recommendations and as a result saw the Republican majority reduced to a minority in the 1986 midterm elections as the Democratic demagogues portrayed it as forcing seniors to eat cat food. Thus the myth of Social Security being the “third rail” of American politics was born, a myth reconfirmed in 2005 when President Bush half heartedly attempted to allow private investment and management of social security. Policy makers today can only wish they had options as painless as those Bob Dole chose to champion.

At its core, the federal budget deficit is a reflection of the fight for America’s self identity in the coming decades. President Obama is in fact a social-democrat, progressive, socialist or whatever you want to label those who seek a dramatically expanded a European style role for government. If you choose to support this view it is impossible not to dramatically increase taxes to pay for those services. This will also result in a change in the nature of American society to one where government replaces the entrepreneurial private sector as the leader of society. Those of us who believe that government’s role should be limited to national and domestic security and providing only a social safety net enough to ensure our citizens are not neglected must recognize the time has arrived to stop the inertia of government spending. This means revitalizing the private sector and true capitalism. We must restore the concept of moral hazard to the private sector: if your business is not successful and well managed then it should fail to be replaced by those who can. We must stimulate the private sector not with shovel ready dreams but with tax cuts to spur investment (a dramatic acceleration of capital depreciation on new investments as an example), reductions in government regulations and eliminating regulatory activists such as the NLRB (if Boeing wants to build a factory in South Carolina, it is no concern of the federal government, period). And raising the debt ceiling should be done to a reasonable ceiling, then prevented from increasing the next time we fail to live within our means.

The riots in the streets of Greece should be seen as a somewhat blurred and distorted by the filter of time look into our future if we stay on our current track. Over the past few years I have resisted supporting some of the more emotional movements calling for reductions in government. I believe we as Republicans must present a free market alternative to Obamacare rather than simply call for repeal. The responsibility of governing calls for the adoption of real solutions not just opposing the socialist programs of the left. We must show true fiscal stewardship of all elements of government spending such as defense (the elimination of programs even the Generals don’t want like the F136 “alternative” engine for the F 35). Every American must embrace less government spending even in their home town, not just the rest of the country. This will not be a one program Silver bullet but rather a line item by line item review of spending. While I truly fear the empty rhetoric we hear from all sides in Washington today, I have tremendous faith in the American people. When challenged the people have always faced sacrifice and restraint with strength and resolve. What is needed is the courage of leadership to make the case to the people those real solutions exist and a path to stability is defined. What we need is detailed reforms, not empty rhetoric; what we need are real leaders, not blow hards and demagogues. It truly is time to man up.

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Filed under 2012 Election, American Leadership, Barak Obama, Budget, Congress, Conservative, Free Markets, Health Care, Liberals, Obama Administration, Politics, Social Security, Spending, Taxes

Battleground 2012: An Insight into the Electorate

Way back in late 1999 (yes it was a long time ago) I became a regular reader of a great website called Voter.com which was a blog style site with prominent contributors from all perspectives mostly discussing the upcoming 2000 presidential election. Now Voter has long since disappeared, replaced by left or right dominated sites (welcome to the echo chamber) and more developed sites like Real Clear Politics or the Politico. But one gem has survived, The Battleground Poll, and now finds its home at The Politico and is sponsored by George Washington University. What makes Battleground special is it is a relatively deep poll with approximately 1,000 likely voters and is jointly conducted by Republican Pollster The Terrance Group and Democratic Pollster Lake Research Group. Additionally Battleground has an extensive set of relative questions and is very transparent in the polling methodology.

Read Analysis or Get a Copy of The Battleground Poll at the Politico

The current version offers an interesting insight into the minds of the American electorate that offers hope and caution to those of us who support the Republican Party, and also Democrats. On the surface, it appears Americans have endorsed divided government with the generic congressional ballot at 39 percent Strongly Democratic and 3 percent leaning Democratic while 37% Strongly Republican and 5 % leaning Republican and 16% expressing no opinion. In the November 2010 election the actual vote gave the republicans a 5 percent lead. On Job approval President Obama has a reasonable level of support with 34 percent Strongly Approving of his job performance, 18 percent Somewhat Approving, 34 percent Strongly Disapproving and 10 percent Somewhat Disapproving. This shows that the truly partisan sides are essentially equal, with 34 percent strongly Approving and Disapproving it’s those who feel less sure that seem to be driving the dynamic. It also seems the President received very little bound for Killing OBL. One cautionary note is the level of personal support President Obama has with 48 percent Strongly Approving of him and 24 percent Somewhat Approving as opposed to 15 percent who Strongly Disapprove and 4 percent who Somewhat Disapprove. This message is clear, the path to defeating Barak Obama rests in contrasting his policy positions and job performance as President, not is personal attacks. Really this is not a surprise since most Americans of all political affiliations genuinely want the President in office to succeed and support the office if not the occupant.

It is when you begin to look at the issues that it becomes clear the electorate is not in a good mood at all and the Administration is on the wrong side of many of the issues. To put it bluntly we as a people are scared of our economic future with 73 (58 strongly/15 leaning) percent feeling the next generation will be worse off than the current and just 24 (13/9) being optimistic for the next generation. This level of pessimism is almost without precedence and consistent with many other polls. Americans favor repealing the Healthcare Reform law 49 (37/12) percent to 42 (30/12) percent. Without any doubt the voters are focused on the economy and when asked what the single most important issue to them is, 28 percent respond the economy and jobs and 20 percent reply government spending and the budget deficits. This swamps all other issues in the poll. Please note this poll asked dozens of other questions and is packed with interesting data making it well worth a good solid read.

Inside this poll is a roadmap to the 2012 election for those who take the time to think about how the people feel. Personal attacks against any of the candidates are much less likely to gain traction than directly addressing and contrasting positions on economic issues. Addressing the current economy and real private sector job creation is what the voters seek. It seems people have become focused on how the threat the debt poses to the very future of the country. In many ways this is a flashback twenty years to the 1992 election and that campaign may provide a guide to victory. Lastly I think Healthcare poses a threat and opportunity to the GOP. While a plurality favor repealing it, a strong majority feel it went too far. Thus a proposal which did not simply propose repealing the law but contained real free market reform would significantly increase the popularity of such policies. Additionally comprehensive free market healthcare would prevent the leftists from trying to socialize healthcare down the road when they inevitably gain power again. Let’s just hope our candidates for the nomination keep the focus on the economy, in doing so they will ensure the retirement of Barak Obama.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Budget, Free Markets, Health Care, National Debt, Obama Administration, Politics, Republican Party, Spending, The Grand Old Party, The White House

The Question of Tax Breaks for the Oil and Gas Industry

Today we see the spectacle of five CEO’s of the major oil companies being marched in front of the klieg lights to be grilled before the Senate Finance Committee. The democrats are demanding the repeal of tax breaks for the Oil and Gas industry to reduce demands for spending cuts to achieve deficit reductions. Some Republicans will be defending the continued bail out of the oil and gas industries. Unfortunately there is far more at stake here than the hyperbole of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would let on. Indeed the questions raised by the current energy price escalation and the deficit crisis are complicated and not easily answered. but key to America’s economic and strategic future.

21st Century American Energy Security is Central to Our Future

As a fiscal conservative I am opposed to any industry subsidies as they are just tax payer bail outs disguised as tax reductions. It drives me crazy to see so called conservatives arguing for industry specific tax breaks, regardless if they are for the oil & gas industry, farm price supports or the General Motors bail out. Simply put in a free market companies should manage themselves based on the market based supply and demand forces. When they interfere with those forces by way of collusion (price fixing) then the Justice Department should perp walk them straight to prison. Let the market do its thing, period. It has taken me years to come around to the Flat Tax but the excessive use of industry specific tax and fiscal bail outs based solely on which industry has the best lobbyists is just uncontrollable. It’s time to have a lower flat tax rate with very few deductions (based on GAP accounting, not legislative gibberish) and let companies succeed or fail based on their performance. Not only would this be simpler and less costly (my apologies to all the soon to be unemployed tax accountants and lawyers) but this would allow businesses to plan long term in a stable tax environment.

Don’t be confused by the words spoken at the hearings today, this is simply political theater of the round and an embarrassment to the concept of free enterprise. Yes these CEO’s are coming as an extension of their lobbying efforts to continue to get a bail out for their industry. The Leftist will vilify the corporations over their profits (god forbid anyone makes profits) and talk about the pain of consumers paying gas prices of more than $4 a gallon. Republicans will forget their free market roots and defend the ongoing bail out an industry with combined profits of more than three times the total tax break. All throughout the klieg lights will flash and CNN, Fox News MSDNC and CNBC will provide live coverage of the drama of pre written statements being read. As I said, theater of the round.

All the while maybe the most strategic question to the United States in the next decades will be totally ignored, sustainable energy self sufficiency for America. The politics of this subject have been so blurred than it is dizzying. I am proudly conservative and as such believe in self sufficiency and self reliance, of the individual and the nation. Being conservative does not mean being pro any industry nor does it mean being anti environment. America should be aggressively pursuing clean renewable energy sources. We should be developing domestic oil, gas and coal. We should be developing next generation nuclear energy sources. There is no single solution to our energy problems but there is a common enemy. By allowing our reliance on foreign energy to continue we are continuing our dependence on people who don’t like us. I would rather see solar cells on the roof of every home in my town than continue sending almost a TRILLION DOLLARS a year to Hugo Chaves in Venezuela and to the Saudis’ to pay for Madrasa schools to teach your Arabs to hate us. Really, it’s time to wake up and stop this Washington theater and let loose the ingenuity of the American entrepreneur and private sector and develop the technologies which will allow us to be totally energy self sufficient.

Those of us on the right must step back and think what it really is to be a conservative. I opposed the General Motors bail out since it prevented a poorly run corporation from failing. If the oil and gas industry cannot make money from producing oil and gas inside the largest energy consuming market in the world, welcome to Chapter 11. Pass a flat corporate tax which is based on sound accounting, fair and predictable. Government should limit itself to preventing illegal market abuse, there is nothing Conservative about price fixing and anti competitive practices if they really occur. As for the Senate Finance Committee, I think they have a deficit problem to deal with.

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Filed under American Leadership, Budget, Congress, Conservative, Energy, Free Markets, Liberals, National Debt, Politics, Spending, Taxes