April 28, 2009
In a related story, fiscal conservatives believe in balanced budgets (this is why the current conservative movement should abandon its love affair with Ronald Reagan, he of the unacceptable peacetime budget deficits). Individuals, businesses and the government should not spend money they don’t have. Fiscal conservatives reject the notion that short-term budget deficits are a necessary policy tool to fight recessions. Government borrowing reduces the amount of capital available to individuals and businesses, prolonging and deepening recessions. If government prints money rather than borrows it, it devalues the currency, creates inflation and forces individuals to work harder to maintain the same standard of living. It would also be wise for the federal government to balance the budget and use some of the surplus to pay down systematically the national debt. Morally responsible policy would require the generations responsible for much of the debt to bear the burden of paying it back.
Fiscal conservatives should push the federal government to adopt a policy of sound money. The balanced budgets mentioned above are the foundation. The Federal Reserve should drop its dual-goals of low inflation and full employment. The Federal Reserve should maintain a base interest rate that is higher than the rate of inflation. Abandoning reckless free trade agreements in favor of trade policies that better protect US citizens and workers would help reduce the trade deficit and buoy the value of the currency. When the US was at the height of its economic hegemony, it had trade rivals, not trade partners. The US should not fear a trade war. It has won in those in the past, and with the right policies, it will win them in the future. A return to the gold standard would be the ultimate sound money step. However, fiscal conservatives need not be ideologically pure on this issue if they can achieve implementation of the aforementioned policies.
Fiscal conservatives should fight to eliminate GSEs, or government sponsored entities. GSEs such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac essentially insure investors against the risk of loss. Unfortunately, subsidizing mediocrity and providing safety nets for failure encourages more of both. In addition, the process of creative destruction that is vital to the prosperity of any nation is interrupted or derailed.
Other ideas fiscal conservatives should consider supporting are the decriminalization of marijuana (tens of billions of dollars wasted fighting this “threat”), a non-interventionist foreign policy that includes bringing our troops stationed overseas home (empire maintenance is threatening to bankrupt and collapse us, as it did to the Persians, Greeks, the Romans, the Holy Romans and the British), eliminating farm subsidies and the phasing out of Social Security (retirement is not a right, and it is probably an outdated 20th century phenomenon, anyway). Fiscal conservatives should push for legislation that supports the production of energy from all sources, including (especially) nuclear, oil, oil shale, natural gas, coal, hydroelectricity, wind and solar. The US can and should be the world leader in energy production. Fiscal conservatives should become production-huggers who stand up to tree-huggers and cloud-worshippers.
The fight ahead will be difficult and the opponents will be tough and determined. For the future of this country, fiscal conservatives have to win this argument. The long term alternative is likely learning Chinese and professing allegiance to the People’s Republic.
April 24, 2009
George W. Bush and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson engineered the $700 billion corporate welfare program known as TARP, the largest upward transfer of wealth in our nation’s history. GWB presided over the largest expansion of government in our nation’s history since the one over which LBJ presided. This expansion of government included increased federal involvement in education (No Child Left Behind) and health care (growth of Medicare and Medicaid). GWB opened a two-front war, championed the outdated expansion of NATO, increased foreign aid to unprecedented levels (including the most aid ever sent to Africa, even as that continent continues to devolve into a diseased, corrupted, war-torn, terrorist-harboring disaster) and failed to enforce our borders, allowing millions of illegal immigrants to undermine our nation’s workers. Despite record federal tax revenues, GWB signed into law budgets that ran the largest deficits in history (apparently all that spending did not include an allocation for an ink cartridge for George’s veto pen). GWB, at least tacitly, endorsed a cheap money policy that debased the value of the dollar, making it harder for working citizens to save and encouraged further crass and needless consumption. Sadly, the list continues. Predictably, the economy capitulated.
Even more predictably, the mainstream media and the useful idiots on the left (namely young Democrats, Hollywood, “academics” and deadbeats drunk on entitlements) “logically” concluded that not only had conservatism failed, but that it was directly responsible for the nation’s current economic mess (if one doesn’t believe this, he or she should read every Thomas Frank column in the Wall Street Journal). Thanks to GWB’s incompetence, conservatism got discredited during an era in which liberalism ran amok (with any luck, President Obama’s apparent incompetence will do the same work discrediting liberalism, though one suspects all of Obama’s failures will be blamed on Dick Cheney and/or Rush Limbaugh; more on that in a future blog).
Believe it or not, the purpose of this blog is not to bash GWB (one expects that writers far more talented than this column’s author will write 40-volume encyclopedic odes to his incompetence) because it is obvious to all literate people that Congress, on both sides of the isle, was completely complicit. Complicit as well were the voters who failed to hold congressional RINOs accountable for their profligacy (one could blame Democratic voters as well, but experience indicates that not much is to be expected from Democrats). The purpose herein is to inform Let’s Get Loud of the difficulty of the task ahead (after all, GWB was supposed to be “one of us”). However, the task will be easier if fiscal conservatives can first define fiscal conservatism and then unify the message as they seek to spread it.
Begin with the basics. Though this is not news to anyone, fiscal conservatism starts with a belief in low taxes. Taxes on businesses should be drastically lowered or eliminated. As many already know, businesses pass on their taxes in the form of lower dividend payouts to investors, higher prices to customers and fewer jobs/lower wages to workers. In this calculus, the workers bear the brunt of the burden as businesses are loathe to injure investors and alienate customers. In addition, the capital gains tax should be eliminated. If it is not eliminated, it should be indexed for inflation. Not indexing capital gains taxes for inflation allows the federal government to steal wealth through manipulation of the money supply (and manipulate and steal it will). A massive, pro-growth tax cut in the federal marginal income tax rate on earned income would help as well. This blogger endorses scrapping the income tax system in favor of a consumption-based tax system, but is not dogmatic about it. Point being, tax rates and the method of taxation are central to fiscal conservatism.
The other side of low taxes is a small federal government and strong states rights. Fiscal conservatives believe that the states are Petri dishes of policy development for the greater republic. States should use policy to compete for talented residents and capital. May the best states prosper and the worst states adjust policy accordingly.
April 6, 2009
On March 26th, at a press conference to announce that a Chinese Company was signing a lease for its new tower, the Port Authority of NY/NJ also announced that the 1776 foot tall tower would no longer be called the Freedom Tower, but instead would be called One World Trade Center.
The Port Authority claims that Freedom Tower isn’t marketable for them. But as someone who lost a loved one in the actual One World Trade Center on 9/11, I find this change completely inappropriate. It diminishes the memories of those who died that day. It also forgets that the actual footprints of the One and Two World Trade Center are not going to be built on. They will be a void of buildings as a reminder and memorial to the victims, as well as a place for people from all over the world to come, pay their respects, reflect, remember and for those who were not born yet to learn about what happened that day.
As former NY Governor George Pataki said, “The Freedom Tower isn’t going to be One World Trade Center, it’s going to be the Freedom Tower,” because no matter what the bureaucrats call it, it will be known as what the American People call it.
With that in mind, I encourage anyone who reads this and agrees that it is just wrong to use One World Trade Center as an address or a name for the Freedom Tower to contact your Congressman and Senators and urge them to protest this. Contact the Port Authority of NY/NJ, write letters to the editor and pass this note along to your friends, family and co-workers.
Less than 8 years after the attacks of 9/11, it seems that some have already forgotten what happened to NYC and the US. They seem to have forgotten that for many of us the memories of that day can still make us cry. That some of us will never forget and don’t want anyone else to forget. The phrase “remember Pearl Harbor” still resonates 68 years later. I hope that the phrase “9/11 Never Forget” will resonate for at least as long. I know it will for me.
September 11, 2001 is this generation’s December 7, 1941. It should be treated with the same reverence and respect, no less.
April 3, 2009
I’ve heard President Obama compared to Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and even Ronald Reagan. I don’t really see the comparisons, except maybe a little with FDR who also tried to use government spending to get us out of an economic downturn.
The only US president that I really think you can make a comparison to is Jimmy Carter. A president who was seen as weak by our enemies and couldn’t deal with the tremendous economic recession and inflation he faced.
Obama’s policies to this point actually make me think more of Hugo Chavez. Like Chavez, Obama is trying to nationalize businesses and grow government. It’s as though the President and his liberal/socialist allies in Congress don’t believe that Americans can be self sufficient. They believe that government is the answer. I don’t know what the question is, but they believe they and their policies are the answer.
What seems to be left out of the liberal plan is the realization that socialism has never worked in any nation where it’s been tried. The same people that want bigger government, higher taxes and less personal responsibility from the public, are the same people that passed a $787 billion “stimulus” plan without even reading it. Then when it became public knowledge that the spendulus plan included a provision that grandfathered in bonuses for AIG executives and others, these members of Congress feigned populist outrage and proceeded to write and pass an unconstitutional bill to tax these bonuses at 90%!
People need to wake up and recognize that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. High taxes, deficit spending and bigger government lead to more deficits, higher inflation and bigger less efficient government.
The devaluation of the US Dollar, due to inflation, has allowed Russia, China, France and the UN to float the idea of an international currency to replace the Dollar. This and the so-called “manmade global warming” crisis are just excuses to move toward a Global Government via the UN. If that doesn’t scare you, you need to stop and think about all the “good” the UN has done recently. Whether it’s ignoring the genocide in Bosnia (which the US and NATO stopped) or the current genocide in Darfur, the UN has been impotent in defending the weak and the poor. We could also look at the “oil for food program” where billions of dollars were funneled back to Saddam Hussein while senior UN officials were enriching themselves. Is this the organization we want running the world? I think not.
This is our country and we value US sovereignty. We have the rights given to us by the US Constitution, for now. But if we allow the UN to run things the Constitution will be void. Imagine, freedom of speech GONE. Imagine a guy in a blue UN cap coming to your door to collect your guns. It isn’t that far fetched people. They say Obama transcends politics (yeah right). They say he’s post partisian and post racial. What he may really be is post sovereignty, post national and post constitutional.