"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Next Up on the Agenda -- "What to do Next!"

The Senate missed the "What to do Next" at least when it comes to an FAA budget.  If you have the money some airlines are offering tickets minus the taxes which cannot be collected, so you might want to buy your tickets now.  Shame on the airlines who raised rates to fill the tax void:   Airlines fill void of tax cut with fare hikes.  What should have been a boon for passengers, most airlines have decided higher rates are in order on top of their huge add-on 'fee' for baggage.

As the Senate headed for recess leaving behind the unfinished FAA extension you are left wondering why.  The only answer we can come up with his Senator Rockefeller is the stumbling block as the Republicans pulled back the union language.  Why would he hold up this bill?  Is he selfish enough that this is all about the small WV airports getting upgrades by the Federal taxpayers?  Is this another West Virginia Senator putting himself first by bringing home the pork to small rural airports?  How much money is poured into WV for these rural airports from our tax dollars?  All legitimate questions but his answer that without air transportation the state couldn't function doesn't work.  Has Rockefeller never heard of tractor trailer trucks to move goods?  Would be a lot cheaper for the federal taxpayers then fixing up WV airports.  We would like to say we can look at the budget to find out, but there has been no budget out of the Democrat Senate we thought for two years but the FAA lack of a budget goes back to the fall of 2007 when the Democrats were in charge of the House and Senate.

Where do we go from here with the 12 members of a bi-partisan committee yet to be named to do cuts?  We have two sides, the Defense Department and entitlement sacred cows.  This should be interesting to watch because anyone who says the Defense Department cannot be cut has never been around the Defense Department.  Once you are involved with any portion, you see gigantic waste over and over again.  That waste needs to go.  The same is true of social security and medicare where fraud is rampant.  People continuing to get checks when they are dead and people cashing them, doctors padding medicare bills, medicaid out of control and after five years can be used by non-Americans residents, but 50 cents over the limit as an American citizen and you out the door with nothing.

It would be nice if both groups would put the American taxpayer first and cut the deficit and quit worrying about whose sacred cow it is.  In the next few weeks with the Senate in recess and the rhetoric starting to go down, we will take a look at some of those defense sacred cows -- F-35 comes to mind, a program that the Navy never wanted, but was forced on them is way over budget and will be a mechanic's nightmare.  That's the tip of the iceberg as we look once again at Automatic Test Systems and their authoritarian you will buy our system even you need an upgrade only.  That would be $110M versus $10M which is a savings of $100M right there.  Why also is the Air Force adding civil service jobs now?

Then on the other side is social security, medicare, and medicaid.  Will someone explain to me why raising the full retirement age to 70 when Americans live longer is going to hurt today's seniors?  It makes the program more secure for the future which AARP seems to ignore.  While we are talking retirement age -- why is Civil Service retirement still at 55 with 30 years?  We are not talking deferred, we are talking full retirement with healthcare benefits which frankly are not cheap -- $400+ a month for Blue Cross/Blue Shied for a family plan, but still you are young enough to go get another job.    

How can the military retire with 20 years of service from a desk job with full benefits.  We are not talking combat but people who never leave the Country and in some cases go from base to base in a Command doing the same job as a civilian.  There should be two categories for the military retirement like there are in the FBI, CIA and other agencies -- the military in combat/overseas positions and the desk people here in the States who never leave the States doing the same job as civil service.  I know one instance of someone in the medical service corps who transferred offices at the same hospital to avoid transfers to another base and retired with 20 years.  It is not like in earlier years where younger troops did not get paid well -- they pay has gone ahead of the private sector for what they do.

In a few short paragraph, I can save over a $1B without even looking at what else can be cut, yet we have the 'sky is falling' from both sides who say Defense and Entitlements cannot be cut.  Time for Common Sense to take over and nothing be left off the table to at least take a look at to see where cuts can be made.  My first recommendation is to pull back civil service positions to December 31, 2006, as a good start.
What to Do NextAugust 2, 2011 1:01 P.M. By Ramesh Ponnuru  
The supercommittee seems likely to deadlock, which means reductions in projected defense and domestic discretionary spending will automatically become law. If that happens, I assume that Republicans will try to increase defense and Democrats domestic spending — but in each case they will face the burden of getting both chambers of Congress and the president to go along with the change. 
In the interim the obvious liberal strategy will be to set pro-defense and anti-tax activists against each other. The price of staving off cuts to defense, they will say to defense hawks, is a balanced deal from the supercommittee that includes net tax increases. The price of keeping taxes low, they will say to anti-taxers, is to accept cuts in defense. (Some of the anti-taxers will see this as a side-benefit rather than a price.) Either way conservatives, most of whom want to keep taxes down and defense spending up, lose something. 
But it seems as though there is an obvious counter-strategy: Pit domestic discretionary spending against middle-class entitlement spending. Liberals know that middle-class entitlement spending is more valuable to them politically, but they care more about discretionary spending. So the Republicans could hold the line on taxes while also advancing entitlement reforms that (1) spare the poor as much as possible, (2) yield savings within the budget window, and (3) don’t cross any ideological red lines for the Democrats. I think the Coburn-Lieberman Medicare reforms, though not perfect, would be a good template for Republicans on the commission to work with. 
In effect the Republicans would be saying: Accept these entitlement reforms, or we’ll let the automatic cuts to both defense and domestic discretionary spending become law and see which side is more likely to get those cuts reversed in the political process. Would it work? Probably not. But it could work, it seems like the best available strategy, and it would keep the focus of the debate off intra-Republican strife. 
Source:  National Review
Republicans need to be smart in their negotiations and no one who is an automatic "NO" needs anywhere close to them.  Get the Common Sense people who understand cuts have to be made to the deficit and NOTHING should be left off the table.

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