Walrus Feeling Guilty

October 4, 2013

With all of the attention on the shenanigans in Washington and the in-depth moment by moment reporting, I thought the Walrus might sit this one out, but various forces have caused guilt.

Congress certainly has the authority to challenge the Affordable Care Act. Why don’t they just challenge the ACA in Court? Why are they messing with the greatest economy in the World?

Oh, wait. They did challenge it in court. In the Supreme Court. The highest court in the land. On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion upholding the constitutionality of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” finding that the federal government can require people to purchase affordable health care insurance coverage or face an income tax penalty.

So, we have a law which was approved by the House of Representatives, approved by the U.S. Senate, approved by the President of the U.S. and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

But, wait! We also have a splinter group of dubiously elected officials (i.e. the Ayatollah John Boehner, Cruz Control, Private Ryan, Eric “T.P.” Cantor – and others who shall remain anonymous for now).

These creatures have determined (in September 2013) that the only appropriate way for the Congress to arrive at a Continuing Budget Resolution which would keep our federal government running is to open a debate on a law which was enacted in 2010?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are many times I wish that I could just put all of the clocks and calendars around the world on pause. Just give me a few days to catch up on all of the loose ends, and then I would restart the clocks and calendars as though those few days I had to myself were invisible and inconsequential. Sort of like a short “working vacation” in the Twilight Zone.

Boehner and his Band of Merry Men apparently have gone beyond the Twilight Zone and have jumped all the way down the rabbit hole, desperately trying to drag the rest of the country with them.

I have to wonder – how does the Supreme Court feel about this behavior?

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Sequestration Solution

February 24, 2013

Given Speaker John Boehner’s recent attacks on the executive office regarding federal budget cuts he believes are appropriate and necessary to bring Federal spending under control, I thought I would take a look at the most recent Federal budget to see what all of the commotion is about.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that trying to read and/or understand the Federal budget is an almost impossible task.

I was able to find some detail that shows the budget for “Salaries and Expenses of the House of Representatives” is $1.25 Billon. Plus an additional $574 Million for “Members’ representational allowances, including Members “clerk hire, official expenses, and official mail.” Plus, hundreds of millions of additional dollars to fund: various committees; salaries and expenses of ‘officers and employees’; allowances and expenses; joint items; and more.

Although determining the full cost allocated to support the expenses of having an elected House of Representatives seems to be almost impossible, it was also not clear what effect – if any – sequestration might have on the members of Congress and their staffs.

We’ve certainly heard dire predictions of negative consequences regarding loss of services due to cuts to the FAA; Homeland Security; and Department of Defense.

If funding to support the bureaucracy of our elected officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate were interrupted and all of the elected officials and employees of the legislative branch were furloughed for a week, 2 weeks, even a month — would there be any negative consequences to our society?

If we need to incur some immediate spending curtailments, I say, let’s furlough the legislative branch! Let’s send Speaker Boehner home to Ohio for a month with no salary, no benefits and no staff. When he comes back in April, maybe he will be ready to talk Turkey!

Wizard of Oz & Sequestration

February 23, 2013

For the first 210 +/- years of our 2-party Democracy, we were blessed to have elected officials who were statesmen and who seemed to place the public good before their own personal agendas.

Since the birth of Americans for Tax Reform under the leadership of Grover Norquist – and subsequently the rise of ‘Tea Party’ backed candidates — we’ve witnessed a series of national dramas which seem to accomplish nothing, but waste scarce resources and divert our elected leaders from doing the job we elected them to do.

The only honest and sustainable way to reduce taxes is to re-engineer and reform government, and that requires a great deal of analysis, planning and making tough decisions.

It seems that some of our elected officials just don’t want to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work; then make the tough decisions which are supported by careful analysis and research.

We just can’t let a farmer from rural Ohio continue to hold our country hostage because of some wealthy campaign contributor(s) he is beholden to.

That’s not a Democracy: it is a ‘Wizard of Oz’ Dictatorship.

And that’s wrong, terribly wrong.

http://www.dccc.org/page/s/sequester-ja?source=fb_auto_share_sequester_ja

 

A Letter to Hon. John Boehner

December 28, 2012

Hon. John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Boehner:

I’ve been following the saga of ‘the fiscal cliff’ since the end of summer 2012.

It was made very clear to us outside the Beltway (commonly known as citizens, voters and taxpayers) that our elected officials in Congress would take no action until after the November elections.

As disappointing as that news was, it seemed reasonable and appropriate to many of us on the outside to expect that our elected officials would do some talking behind the scenes in preparation for a call to action after the election at which time our elected officials would work together in the best interest of the overall U.S. economy — business, commerce, education and the citizens of the United States.

Now – several months later and just a few days from the ‘tipping point’ a.k.a the ‘fiscal cliff’– we seem to have a continuation of the petty, partisan and puerile drama that has come to categorize our Congress following the national elections of 2010.

November 2010 marked the point in time when a number of conservative tea party candidates were elected to the House of Representatives. The infusion of passionate but neophyte tea party representatives — all of whom signed the Grover Norquist Pledge — precipitated your election as Speaker in January 2011, which coincidently seems to mark the beginning of extreme dysfunction in our nation’s capital.

I have listened to you and some of the ‘young rascals’ who were elected in 2010 under the tea party platform.

When I listen, I hear some really great sound bites, focused almost entirely on the federal government.

There is no one I’ve met who wouldn’t like to see smaller government and reduced government spending — sweetened by the magic elixir of reduced taxes.

The real problem seems to be: Government (as we see and interact with it from outside the Beltway) includes federal, state, county, local, schools and a vast number of entities which operate in the public sector as ‘quasi-government’ agencies.

As a citizen, voter and taxpayer in the U.S., I know I pay: federal income taxes; federal excise taxes; state income taxes; state sales taxes; county property taxes; county sales taxes; city property taxes; city sales taxes; city sewer taxes; city library taxes; and property taxes levied by my local school district. I can quantify the majority of those taxes: what I can’t quantify is the amount of other government and quasi-government fees and taxes I pay daily, weekly monthly or annually: highway and bridge tolls, parking fees, hotel occupancy fees, motor vehicle fees, MTA fees, license fees, daily use fees, and park access fees, most of which are invisible to me.

You and the ‘young rascals’ have some great rhetoric: What I don’t hear from you and your tea party cabal is dialogue, discussion, research or new ideas about re-engineering our overall government in the U.S. for enhanced efficiency and longer term sustainability.

Mr. Boehner: With your intractable and rigid focus on cutting spending at the margins and continued tax breaks for the ultra-rich, I think you and your tea party followers may be threatening the very essence of the United States and our economy as a going concern.

That thought leads me to believe that you and some (or all) of your tea party cabal may be guilty of treason because your actions are diametrically opposed to the best interests of my fellow citizens, voters and taxpayer of the United States of America.

It is my hope, Mr. Boehner, that come Monday, December 31, 2012, you and your followers will move away from treason to align with the majority of American citizens, businesses and American society to ensure a rational, sensible and sustainable solution to the ‘fiscal cliff’ dilemma which currently threatens our country.

Thank you in advance for considering my opinions, and hopefully, for adjusting your posture to a more inclusive and mainstream position.

Sincerly,

The Walrus
Mount Vernon, NY 10552