Congress to meet; let us all pray.

As I write this on Sunday night, we should be preparing for a New Years’ Eve celebration. Instead, we are 24 hours from being shoved off a cliff.

Congress did agree on a farm bill, temporarily, because of a threatened spike in milk prices. Too bad the fiscal cliff that threatens the whole economy doesn’t get the same attention before we all get milked.

The big question in Washington is, “Who gets the blame?” President Obama WANTS the blame for new taxes on the top 2%. He has talked so much about that tax that the other 98% are ignoring the taxes and increased costs that almost everybody will pay in 2013, including health care taxes and Social Security. Meanwhile, the President is determined to avoid the blame for any real cuts in government benefits and programs that Republicans insist on.

While the President has repeated over and over that he wants between $0.8 and $1.6 Trillion over 10 years in new taxes on the rich, he is foggy on what to cut. Well, I dug up a list, and his cuts for 2013 add up to $0.001 Trillion. Over 10 years that would be $0.01 Trillion.

Washington Democrats do not know the meaning of the word “cut.” Tonight Harry Reid praised Republicans for “taking Social Security cuts off the table.” But Republicans never proposed a cut, only a possible reduction in the annual increase in payments.

The President is determined. He is “holding the course” hoping that eventually the spirit and determination of successful Americans will overcome all obstacles thrown in their path and put the country on solid economic footing again. He is counting on the big taxpayers to keep on working long hours to earn more, then investing productively whatever dollars they don’t send to Washington rather than squirreling them away.

Have we ever had a president so dependent on those he openly dislikes? Suppose the business folks that he put down when he said ‘You didn’t build that’ decided to pull back, relax, and become lackadaisical about turning a profit, hiring more people, and growing the business. Suppose the oil and gas and coal companies gave up drilling and mining in the U.S. and Canada, letting the price of gasoline and electricity double.

However, President Obama is a student of Franklin Roosevelt. President Roosevelt admitted he made a mistake by cutting spending in his fifth year (1937), which resulted  in a bump in unemployment and prolonged the Depression. So he could be right to insist on no cuts.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“Congress meets tomorrow morning. Let us all pray. Oh Lord, give us strength to bear that which is about to be inflicted upon us. Be merciful with them, oh Lord, for they know not what they’re doing. Amen.”  DT #102, Dec. 5, 1926
“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.”
 DT #1948, Nov. 1, 1932

Ignore the fiscal cliff; have a Merry Christmas

Do you remember back a year and a half, when Congress couldn’t agree on a budget? But they did agree to set a date, January 1, 2013, when they would agree on a plan. It looked like a good plan, and it was, but they forgot it would be the same birds in there.
Now, your average fifth grader, in a year and a half, will pick up quite a bit of knowledge. And he’ll likely be a bit wiser.  But not Congress or the President. They drove us another Trillion in debt, learned nothing, and lost whatever wisdom they had, if any.
They should have set the date for Dec. 15 to get this mess settled before Christmas. Or even better, Nov. 1 so we would have known the damage before we voted for ‘em.
So here we are, 300,000,000 of us hanging on the edge of the cliff, and our leaders are on Christmas vacation.
Near as I can figure, this is what those birds expect from Santa Claus. Republicans want: reduced spending so the $16 Trillion national debt decreases; as a last resort, they’ll raise taxes but only if about $3 is cut for every $1 of higher taxes. Democrats want: higher taxes on the rich and spending cut no more than 1%; also ignore the Debt.
What will we get? If you pay taxes, you’ll pay more next year. If you’re worried about the debt, get used to it. Instead of 3:1, the ratio of cuts to income will be more like 1:1.

Congress is ready to allocate $60 Billion for storm victims along the coast of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. That seems like a steep contribution from the other 47 states, considering those 3 are among the wealthiest in the country. My suggestion, if we’re forced to donate the money, is divide it among those who lost their houses, but with the proviso they have to build somewhere inland, and build on rock, not sand. Barrier islands are called barrier islands for a reason. They’re just piles of shifting sand and nothing should be put on ‘em except tents.

Secretary of State Clinton got sick, fell and suffered a concussion. She postponed a talk with the Senate to explain the Benghazi massacre, because, like injured NFL players, she had to sit out a week or two. Maybe she can borrow a helmet from the Washington Redskins. I wonder who is running the State Dept. this week. If her mind is muddled from the concussion, she can’t be quarterbacking the team.

Good thing Mexico released that former Marine, Jon Hammar. Otherwise a bunch of Marines, led by Col. Bill O’Reilly, would have swooped in and rescued him. The whole operation would have taken less than an hour, to fit into his time slot on Fox News.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“I didn’t know that Christmas did mean so much till you have to spend one away off like this one from home.” DT #1693, Dec. 27, 1931
“Spending when we didn’t have it put us where we are today. Saving when we have got it will get us back to where we was before we went cuckoo.” DT #1353, Nov. 24, 1930
“People have just got to get used to debt. If we just let the fellow we owe do the worrying, the United States will be the happiest land on earth.” 
DT #2421, May 7, 1934

Mourning the CT school massacre, and the fiscal cliff is looming

The tragic murder of 20 first-graders and 6 teachers in Connecticut has put a damper over Christmas for the whole country. No one can explain such a senseless, cowardly act. We’ll depend on ministers and other religious leaders to bring comfort to the families and other students in Newtown. Ironically, if those same preachers volunteered to offer a prayer each morning at the school, that would be prohibited.

Naturally, guns are blamed for this massacre. And it’s doubtful if the killer would have done much damage armed only with a hunting knife. Now, I’m sure against banning guns. But for those folks who insist they need a semi-automatic military attack rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition for self-protection, ask this question: how much good did it do the murderer’s Mom?

It’s not just about guns. These loner, mentally deranged boys and young men are over exposed to violence and mass killing in Hollywood movies and video games. Maybe the surprise is there aren’t more horrible cases, whether it’s a suicide, or murders of family members or random helpless victims.

News reporters said the murderer’s mom used to take her son to a shooting range for practice. If that is true, I wonder if she also took him to church. Or to Boy Scouts, or 4-H.

The Fiscal Cliff is still staring us in the face. Speaker John Boehner finally agreed to raise the tax rate, but only for those making at least a million dollars. He had already come up with about a Trillion in what he calls new revenue. Meanwhile, President Obama is still looking for a few Trillion in spending cuts to put on the table. He hasn’t found any, and neither has any other Democrat. I heard a Congresswoman from Texas on TV. She was asked at least twenty times if she could name even one expenditure she would offer to cut to reduce the $16 Trillion debt. Not one dollar was she willing to give up.

Can you imagine being married to a Democrat like that? You would say, “Honey, we have two mortgages, maxed out credit cards, and you got laid off. We’ve got to cut back on spending.” The spouse replies, “No, you’ll just have to make more money.”

The federal government has a slew of new regulations ready to spring on us. Here’s one I got wind of: rainwater is a pollutant. That will be a shock to farmers in drought-stricken Kansas and Oklahoma. They might say, “Maybe the EPA can force these excess rainfall states, where rain is illegal, to ship some of it our way.”  Ironically, a couple of years ago EPA wanted to rule that dust from farms is a pollutant. If Washington would just pass a law like the one on “share the wealth”, they could even out the rainfall and eliminate the dust.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“It must be marvelous to just belong to some legislative body and just pick money out of the air.”
 DT #2673, Feb. 28, 1935

Ground Air Force One until the Fiscal Cliff is averted

This Great Recession that started 5 years ago is hanging on longer than any since the 1930s. Why can’t anybody in Washington figure out what it takes to get businesses to hire more people and produce more?

The President did figure out how to get the unemployment rate down: persuade more workers to drop out.  Last month 350,000 quit looking for work and only 150,000 others found a job. He got the unemployment rate under 8 percent, but by now it ought to be under 5.

The President is asking Congress for $1.6 Trillion in added taxes. And where are the $5 Trillion in cuts he promised earlier to help reduce the deficits? The only answer we get from his spokesmen is, “We’ve agreed on $0.023 Trillion cuts to farmers, and, trust us, we’ll come up with the other $4.977 Trillion later.”

Concerning deficits, Nancy Pelosi, who served four years as Speaker of the House, said, “You cannot cut your way to deficit reduction.” We hear that our school children don’t know arithmetic. Well, neither does Mrs. Pelosi. And even scarier, the majority of Americans seem to agree with her.

Our farmers are so efficient that 80 percent of the Agriculture budget is diverted to feed poor people. Can you imagine if 80% of the Defense budget was diverted to something other than protecting our shores?  Well, come to think of it, a huge chunk of it is used to protect Europe, Japan, and other countries; maybe we should bring our troops home from Germany and Italy and South Korea. Or send ‘em a bill. I rather doubt any country would pay us.

You probably know that the drought last summer reduced the amount of corn and other crops produced in the middle of the country. Well, now the dry weather is drastically lowering the water level in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Barges hauling grain, fertilizer, oil and coal are dragging bottom at St. Louis. If it doesn’t rain upriver, soon you may be able to walk across the Mississippi without Devine guidance.

The President and his family are eager get out of the White House next Monday. They want to fly to Hawaii for a 3-week holiday. Frankly, I think Air Force One should stay grounded until the Democrats and Republicans reach an agreement on the Fiscal Cliff. No progress in the past week. We hear about the tax increase on the rich, but there’s a pile of other things on the edge of that cliff that will cost all of us. There’s 300 million living under that cliff and we had better find a mattress to crawl under. And a mattress will protect you better if it has plenty of cash hidden in it.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Glad Congress gave Mr. Roosevelt permission to spend that $4.8 Billion himself.  That would be an awful lot of money if you was paying it, but when you are just borrowing it, it ain’t so much.” 
DT #2644, Jan. 25, 1935

Commons Sense, Common Ground

The melodrama in Washington continues. Since the election, folks have been wondering what budget cuts President Obama would propose in return for the tax increase on the rich. He gave us a hint this week: none.
The President was reelected with the idea he would raise taxes $0.8 Trillion on the rich and would propose budget cuts about $2 Trillion to reduce the deficit. But now he is asking for $1.6 Trillion in taxes, and says it is up to the Republicans in Congress, not him, to cut expenses.
Now, suppose the Republican, Mitt Romney, had been elected President. Would he have waited for the Congressional Democrats to propose cuts? Of course not. The President is the leader. Maybe he only wants to play Santa Claus, but if you’re $16 Trillion in debt, sometimes a President has to play Scrooge.
Instead of suggesting anywhere near $5 Trillion in cuts, he wants to ADD $300 billion in new spending. That reminds me of the old negotiating story: a farmer advertised a pig for sale for $10. A buyer offered $8. The farmer says, “Let’s compromise. $10.50.”  The buyer says, “How about $8.50.” Then suddenly he realizes, “Hey, you just raised the price, not lowered it.” The farmer chuckles, “You’re sharp. You got me. I’ll let you have the pig for only $11.”
House Speaker John Boehner said today, “We’re going to solve the Nation’s debt problem.”  Well, I’ve got my doubts. Our “debt problem”is $16 Trillion and it’s increasing a Trillion a year. Here’s how to check if Mr. Boehner is right. If you’re young, and an optimist, make a note on your calendar for December 2022 to see if the debt is lower or higher than $16 Trillion. For us old folks, if we can make it a year, we can check on it next December.
Solving our budget problem takes common sense. Find the common ground we can agree on. Ask what the Constitution requires, and what can we do without or get funded by state and local governments or privately. If you absolutely need more revenue, it’ll come from those that have got it. If you have to make cuts, those cuts will come from those who are getting it. As the President might say, that’s the balanced approach.
The college football season is winding down. Notre Dame and Alabama will decide the  championship Jan. 7, and a bunch of other teams will play in bowls before then. Don’t be shocked if you see the President battling the Republicans in the “Fiscal Cliff Bowl” on Dec. 31.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Do you know I used to play a pretty good end, that is a substitute end. I don’t think they ever used me, but the rough way they were playing in those days, that didn’t hurt my feelings any, not getting in there. I played what you might call a Wide End. I would play out so far that the other 21 would be pretty well piled up before I could possibly reach ’em.”
 Will Rogers, WA #627, Dec. 30, 1934