“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Deficit Commission's Recommendations

The Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission's report last week contained something to upset voters of all political persuasions.

Despite the 'everything is on the table' verbiage, they didn't touch the disastrous new healthcare law, recommended some tax increases, but also a tax code overhaul, some small changes to Social Security eligibility, and a lower corporate tax rate.

However, between the Wall Street Journal staff editorial on the subject last Friday, and a more recent editorial citing the overall, unexepectedly strong, bi-partisan shift towards tax reform, it would seem a few important taboos have been broken by the commission.

While the near term arguments continue over extending the Bush tax cuts, that debate has quietly been overtaken by a sudden, widespread confirmation by many parties that the tax code really, no, really this time, has to be simplified. The decades-old pipe dreams of lower rates with fewer deductions and preference items actually seems to have gained a large, potentially legislatable following.

Is it the new, multi-lateral global economy featuring several other vibrant nations on the road to self-enrichment, sporting lower tax rates than America's?

The other major breach in the wall of denial is the commission's admission that federal legislators will have to swallow hard and grab the third rail of entitlement spending. Maybe it's Social Security, or Medicaid, or Medicare. Or all of them. But the commission's tiptoe into another Social Security 'fix' involving still-trivial, but at least identifiable admissions of the reality of a longer-lived population and fewer resources to fund them is heartening.

Look to Europe for reinforcement of this new political sanity. Who'd have believed that France, Greece and the UK would actually behave more boldly on social spending legislation to curb excessive deficits in the coming decades.

The larger perspective, of course, is inter-generational transfers. How can this currently-older generation, and its middle-aged brethren, be allowed to borrow, literally, for and from future generations, to fund retirements and benefits they cannot earn and fund themselves?

They can't. It worked for a couple of decades, but it seems to have finally run its course. There's just a lack of willingness on the part of global investors to fund this insanity anymore. And that's a good thing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Skeleton In Spencer Bachus' Closet

As the GOP begins to name its House committee chairmen, the Wall Street Journal peeked into the closets of a few Republicans. What it reported in last Wednesday's edition, in its lead staff editorial, was troubling.

It turns out that Alabam's Spencer Bachus, a frequent guest on CNBC, was far less conservative and responsible regarding Fannie Mae than he has been talking recently. Specifically, the Journal cited Bachus' efforts in 2005 and 2007 to fend off tighter regulation and stiffer capital requirements for the GSE.

Not coincidentally, Bachus "was the single largest House recipient of campaign cash from Fannie and Freddie from 1989-2008."

The editorial argued for Californian GOP Representative Ed Royce to take over the Financial Services committee.

From what I read, though, it's clear that Bachus' recent charade is just that. And that he should be denied control of this important House committee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Much Ado About Earmarks

Thank God Mitch McConnell finally got some sense slapped into him by more conservative, sensitive GOP Senators like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint. Senators who actually bothered to notice the Tea Party activists and their fury over federal spending.

Leave to old mossbacks like McConnell to turn a deaf ear to the very movement that gave him 6 additional Senators to work with.

Sure, now he's repenting and beating his breast in support of a Republican Senate ban on earmarks. But what about his obstinacy to the idea for the past few weeks? Even John Boehner managed to man up and bow to his younger, more in-tune colleagues, like Eric Cantor.

Frankly, I just don't trust McConnell. I'd much rather see Coburn, Corker or DeMint heading up the GOP Senate caucus.

What the Congressional House and Senate leadership seem to miss is that it's not the party loyalists, but the independents whom they have to convince, for the next two years, that they have really, finally gotten it.

Because a failure to do so could swing control in Congress right back the other way again. And with Wonderboy at the top of the ticket next time, and maybe a better economic scenario, don't think it can't happen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glenn Beck's Investigation of Spooky Dude George Soros

Last week  saw Glenn Beck devote several evenings of his Fox News program to putting ultra-liberal, Progressive and government- and society-manipulating billionaire George Soros under a microscope.

I can't recall all of the things Beck said about Soros. Given the former's tendency to overstate certain economic and financial phenomena, I think he probably accused Soros of some financial chicanery that may not have been proven. But he did manage to include the infamous case in which Soros, generally believed to have had inside information, bet correctly against the British pound and made billions on the trade.

More recently, Soros' lavish funding of Progressive groups in American politics have made it easy to track his activities.

But what is so amazing is how much good video footage Beck aired of Soros bluntly arguing for global governance and the need to make the US Congress more accountable to other nations via various extra-political efforts. Soros is seen, and heard, saying that non-Americans deserve a vote for the US Congress, because America is the lone global superpower. Apparently much of those videos were publicly available from some sort of Soros-backed quasi-global government 'convention' he holds on a recurring basis.

It's stuns me to think Soros is either so arrogant, or foolish, or both, as to not believe any of that footage would eventually come back to haunt him. Not to mention his ham-handed attempts to intimidate Beck, complete with giving the latter's emissary a copy of the movie A Face In The Crowd. This post contains two YouTube videos from the movie.

Ironically, Soros doesn't see himself in the role of Lonesome Rhodes- only Beck.


But I think Beck did a great service to Americans by shining a very bright spotlight on Soros' malevolent attempts to undermine our Republic with his billions and his personal political agenda of world government and the collapse of the value of the US dollar and our nation's standard of living.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Charlie Rangel's Day of Reckoning

It looks like alleged income tax evader Charlie Rangel has finally run out of time. The Wall Street Journal noted, in an article in today's online edition,
"Mr. Rangel faces a congressional ethics proceeding on 13 separate counts, including failing to report assets, failing to pay taxes on rental income from a vacation property and misusing congressional stationery to try to raise money for a college center named in his honor. The 80-year-old lawmaker has represented New York City's Harlem neighborhood in the House since 1971 and had been the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee until he was forced to step down in March."

Rangel has been, well, wrangling over these charges for several years. As the Journal article notes,

"He has spent two years and more than $2 million in legal fees dealing with the investigation of his finances. His legal team left the case last month when his campaign fund ran out of money to pay them. Mr. Rangel could, if he wanted, pay for a lawyer out of his own funds, but as a member of Congress, he can't accept pro bono work from an attorney.

Mr. Rangel said he needed more time to do so.

"You tell me all of the things I could do, but you won't give me the time to do it,'' he said. "I truly believe I am not being treated fairly.'' "

So it would seem that Rangel made a choice two years ago to try to run out a clock on the House Ethics committee. But this month's elections made that a losing strategy, with Republicans set to take control of the House come January.

Thus, the Journal piece reported,

"Rep. Charles Rangel walked out on his trial before the House ethics committee as it began Monday, saying it was unfair to ask him to continue without a lawyer that he couldn't afford.

"I am being denied the right to have a lawyer right now because I don't have the opportunity to have a legal-defense fund set up,'' the New York Democrat said. "I truly believe I am not being treated fairly.''

Mr. Rangel left the hearing room less than a half-hour after the proceedings began and didn't return. The case has been an embarrassment for Democrats who took control of the House in 2007 pledging to run the most ethical Congress in history.

The panel's eight lawmakers appeared to be taken aback by Mr. Rangel's abrupt departure, huddling privately to consider his request for a delay in the trial while he continues to seek a lawyer. They soon decided they would continue without him. "He has indicated that he does not intend to participate, and it is his right not to participate,'' said committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, (D., Calif.)."

That's rich, isn't it? Rangel got to use $2MM of campaign funds to pay for his defense. He chose to take two years to delay his trial. Now he claims to be ill-treated for being forced to continue with the case.
I hope he is treated justly in absentia. By that, I mean the same as any other private citizen would be treated in similar circumstances, for similar tax-related behavior.