Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Congress’

Captain Rick: The Senate and House passed a short-term spending bill that prevented a government shutdown at the end of the week. It has White House backing.

This legislation allows Congress to ‘kick the can down the road’ until after America elects a new President and new members of Congress. With a bunch of ‘lame ducks’ residing in congress at that time, you can bet they will again ‘kick the can down the road’ with another short-term spending bill to fund the government until after a new President and Congress take office in January. That’s when the excitement begins …

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Fights over raising the debt limit broke out between the Obama White House and ruling Republicans in Congress in 2011 and 2013, unsettling Wall Street and foreign investors. The two sides struck a deal in 2015 to suspend the debt limit until Obama left office. The federal debt limit has been suspended since late 2015, but the law is set to be reinstated on March 16, 2017. The current debt limit of $20.1 trillion will be breached and another funding emergency will be at hand to prevent another U.S. government shutdown.

Government shutdowns in the past have become a ‘joke’ in that certain federal employees are told to stay home without pay, until Congress passed legislation to fund the government, which often included increasing the national debt and awarded compensation for all lost pay … meaning their time off was really an extra paid vacation; an insult to hard working employees of ‘Main Street’ America. The ‘Shutdown Game’ can not continue much longer because America is coming ever so close to falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Many federal programs like Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare and even Social Security are projected to implode in coming years without serious spending/taxation reform.

The U.S. National Debt has more than doubled since President Obama took office; from $9 trillion to $19.5 today. It is exploding at rate of $1.35 trillion each year. More than $10 trillion of ‘red ink debt dollars’ have been spent to keep the federal government functioning during the Obama Administration.

About 15% of money spent by the federal government has no revenue to support the expenditure and thus adds to the national debt. Much of this debt spending goes to states and cities in the form of federal grants. Our states and cities ‘drink up’ the grants like it is ‘free money coming from heaven’. Their philosophy is ‘if we don’t get the grant, some other city or state will’. What an awesomely greedy and fiscally reckless way to think. Shame on every city and state in America for slurping up these slush grants which add to the mushrooming U.S. National Debt. Our cities and states are a main contributors to the growing problem of America’s National Debt … debt which will be placed upon future generations to pay back … including our children and grand children. It’s a serious matter to think about.

I hope the next President and Congress will begin to balance the budget and curtail deficit spending. Saving America from falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’, will not be easy. It will require ‘belt tightening’ by people, cities and states across America and most importantly by the U.S. Federal Government and our elected representatives in the U.S. Congress.

Captain Rick : I have watched every presidential debate since 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected and became one of America’s greatest presidents. I will always remember the day I was eating lunch in the high school cafeteria and those terrifying words came over the school PA system that President Kennedy was shot and killed. It was a day that planet earth stood completely still, frozen in shock. That day had a profound effect on my thinking. It marked the day I became seriously interested in the candidates that run for President of the United States of America. 

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Fox News hosted the first Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015.  Sadly, it was only broadcast live to cable TV subscribers. Watch the official Fox News video rerun by clicking the image above.

As I have done for most presidential debates for decades, I kept score of how each candidate answered the questions. Each candidate started off each question with 5 points on a scale of 10. As they answered each question, I adjusted their score up or down based on what they said as it related to how I believe the mainstream voter would judge the answer. Their body language and audience reaction factored in. After the debate I averaged the scores for each candidate.

Captain Rick’s Scorecard of 2016 Republican Presidential Debate Contenders:

8.1 Donald Trump

6.7 Rand Paul

6.3 Mike Huckabee

6.2 Ted Cruz

5.7 John Kasich

5.6 Marco Rubio

5.2 Scott Walker

5.1 Ben Carson

5.0 Jeb Bush

4.8 Chris Christie

Donald Trump dominated the debate, in spite of loaded questions thrown at him by Fox News host Meagan Kelly, scoring considerably higher than all other candidates. Rand Paul came in a distant second, weaker than I had expected. Mike Huckabee’s third place performance was a surprise. I have a hunch we will be seeing more press on him in coming weeks. It squeaked Ted Cruz to a close fourth. The rest of the candidates all scored within a point of neutral 5.0. Scott Walker’s drop was a surprise. Ben Carson, with his excellent comment about the ‘brain of congress’ helped him fair a notch above Jeb Bush. Chris Christie came in last. I think he needs to excuse himself from the race.

I recognize that there is lots of commentary on how the candidates faired that is being broadcast across social media. I am honored to be one intelligent voice for your consideration.  

Captain Rick’s Closing Thought … I think America is sick and tired of both parties (Republican and Democrat) because of their poor ability to have a positive effect in the Presidency and Congress of the United States of America … which continues to ‘kick Americas debt can down the road’ for our grandchildren to pay for. They can not afford the bill of debt. Unless America begins to elect an intelligent president and members of Congress, America will soon witness the world’s largest catastrophe … the United States of America becoming a third world country. 

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Captain Rick : Today, if Dorothy met men with no brains, no hearts and no courage, she wouldn’t be in OZ, she would be in the U.S. Congress !

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These are definitely ‘Words of Wisdom’ for Americans who witness the majority of representatives in the U.S. Congress make decisions that continue to spend like drunkards on all kinds of things America can not afford, using dollars printed with red ink that grow America’s world record $18 trillion national debt … with no courage to produce an honest plan to stop it … and no heart to protect our children from inheriting an unsolvable pending fiscal disaster.

The U.S. Congress is today’s ‘OZ’ and President Obama is the ‘wizard’.

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U.S. Congress

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Captain Rick: U.S. Job Growth has crawled upward to pass the break-even rate with with population growth. The trend is in the right direction. The jobs being added are mostly low wage. There is little hope of regaining the 8.7 million medium to high wage jobs lost during the Great Recession any time soon.

The chart below shows the new jobs added during each month of the the past year. 

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GREEN LINE: an average of 214,000 new jobs have been created each month during the past year

BLUE LINE: an average of 185,000 new jobs need to be created each month to keep up with U.S. Population growth of 0.7%

REAL JOB GROWTH: is represented by the difference between the Green and Blue lines … 29,000 new jobs each month that exceed population growth.

How long will it take to recover the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession: At the ‘Real Job Growth Rate’ of 29,000 new jobs per month, it will require 300 months … or 25 years. That is a long time, during which many other significant concerns will come into play … like the U.S. Debt crisis … on track to explode during the next decade.

Wages remain stagnated: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said she wants to see wages rise faster than inflation so American households will have more buying power. That has yet to happen. I personally think Janet and the entire Fed are living in a ‘dream cloud’.

New poll show majority rating the U.S. economy as ‘Poor’: Many Americans still think the economy is not fully recovered. According to the results of a CNN/ORC International poll released Friday, 41% of people surveyed rate the economy as "good", while 58% rate the economy as "poor."

Perceptions about the U.S. economy will be a key factor in November’s midterm elections: More than a third of the Senate and the entire House are up for grabs. Both sides of the aisle are blaming each other for holding back the recovery. I blame almost all of them. I hope the American voters will exercise their thoughts and register their voices in the upcoming elections and vote out of office the majority of those now in office.

Captain Rick’s Prognosis: America is traveling into uncharted territory, which if not handled properly by the U.S. Congress (which is very unlikely, based on performance in the past decade), has the potential to drive America over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’ and reduce America to a ‘third world nation’.

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Jobs

U.S. Debt Crisis

GDP

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

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Captain Rick: What should we do with people who rely on government handouts, but are too lazy to work? This cartoon sums it up perfectly. Kick them out of Congress.

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It is no secret that the majority in the U.S. Congress are very lazy and accomplish basically nothing of any benefit for the people in exchange for a very wealthy salary and benefits. I read today that the current US Congress is even more ‘do nothing’ than the record ‘do nothing Congress’ during the President Truman days in the 1940s. Perhaps Obama will go on record with Truman as being the two most ‘do nothing’ presidents (both Democrats) in the past 100 years. I should clarify that…Truman did achieve great destruction overseas. He gave the approval to drop the nuclear bombs on Japan. I have to agree with the cartoon…’Kick them out of Congress’. But then…we are still left with a ‘do nothing’ president…except for his countless ‘executive actions’ which serve his personal agenda at the expense of escalating the US National Debt.

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Captain Rick: The U.S. Economy officially tanked big time in the first quarter of 2014…the first slowdown since early 2011. It is a ‘wake-up call’ that America is heading into ‘Recession’ in spite of the ‘it was just a hard winter’ hype that many ‘blind’ economists have been pumping. 

Last month I posted a report showing the US government’s second estimate of GDP dropped to –1% in the first quarter of 2014…a drop from the first estimate in April of a gain of 0.1%. This third and usually final government GDP report shows that the US economy plummeted soundly into ‘recession’ territory during the first quarter of 2014.

The weather had an effect…but perhaps not as much as other factors like the curtailment of ‘Quantitative Easing’ … the pumping of tens of billions of U.S. debt dollars into the economy each month to make the economy look like its doing OK, when in reality, it is not.

This severe drop of GDP into negative territory (–2.9%) is a sign that another recession might be looming.  A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Overall, the U.S. economy continues in limp along in anemic growth…and now negative growth, as shown in the chart below.

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BLUE LINE: 3.0% GDP Growth is required to keep up with U.S. Population Growth. GDP above the blue line represents real growth that adds real jobs. GDP below the blue line indicates real economic decline that is loosing real jobs. GDP below the blue line, but above zero line (‘Recession’), is what Captain Rick calls the ‘Anemic Zone’.

RED LINE: 2.1% GDP Growth is the average of what the U.S. economy scored in the past 12 quarters (3 years). This demonstrates that the U.S. economy is stuck in the economic ‘Anemic Zone’…not mustering enough growth to keep up with population growth. 

GDP…What is it?

‘GDP’ represents ‘Gross Domestic Product’…a market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a year. GDP performance (increases and decreases) present a broad-based picture of the health of a country’s economy. High GDP growth is typical of a healthy economy. Low GDP growth (below 3%) is typical of an unhealthy economy. Negative growth is typical of an economy in recession. 

What does this GDP data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently rise above 3% growth … a level required to produce enough jobs and income to keep pace with population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

What can be done to better America and other countries?

Lots can be done! Take notice of what our elected officials do. Vote them out…replace them if they do not perform to your expectations. You might even consider running for an office. The world is in extremely short supply of intelligent people who care about our lands and well being of our people. Go for it. Run for an elected office. Help our world from plunging over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’…before its too late.

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Links:

Previous GDP Report

GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: The American flag…Old Glory…The Star-Spangled Banner flies proudly over my Arizona Oasis every Flag Day. It reminds me of the great land in which all Americans have the privilege of living in freedom. 

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Flag Day…a brief history:

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.

On June 14, 1777, less than one year after Betsy Ross had received the order from General Washington to make the first flag, the Second Continental Congress passed a flag resolution stating:

Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

The first national observance of Flag Day was on June 14, 1877; 100 years after the flag resolution was adopted by the Continental Congress.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation stating that June 14 shall be National Flag Day, and in 1949, it was made official by an Act of Congress.

Captain Rick’s inspiration: Your help is needed to keep the Flag flying

Do not take the American Flag and its representation of freedom for granted. The United States of America is entering very difficult fiscal times with the US National Debt approaching $18 Trillion…far greater than US GDP.  America is spending $1 Trillion more per year than it receives in revenue. Its going to get worse. Millions of ‘baby boomers’ are retiring that will result in sky-rocketing Social Security costs. Obamacare will massively expand the number receiving Medicaid and its mushrooming costs. Social Security and Medicaid will become insolvent in the next 10 or so years. Simply put, there is not enough revenue to sustain the United States of America’ spending binge indefinitely. Our President and Congress have demonstrated nothing but a ‘kick the can down the road’ approach…which if continued much longer will guarantee the fall of America over the pending real ‘fiscal cliff’…of which at the bottom lies America as a ‘third world nation’.

What can you do to help?

There are lots of ways you can help. Research the candidates running for office. Support and vote for those you feel will do a better job than the vast majority of do-nothing, ‘kick-the-can-down-the-road’, politically-motivated ‘clowns’ in the current ‘Washington Circus’.

Many states and districts have no credible candidate on the roster. Consider taking the noble step of running for an office. Do not worry about the money it takes to run. If you have a voice that deserves to be heard, I am confident there are ways to address that.

I do not have all of the answers of how to fix the gigantic mess that America faces. I urge everyone to get involved. Join one of a zillion Facebook groups discussing the issues. I recommend one that focuses on finding solutions, rather than just gossiping…such as Captain Rick’s WORLD THINK TANK: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WorldThinkTank/

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Links:

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: The U.S. Economy took a nose dive in the first quarter of 2014…the first slowdown since early 2011. Some economists are blaming the sudden drop in GDP on the cold and snow in the northeast. The weather had an effect…but perhaps not as much as other factors like the curtailment of ‘Quantitative Easing’ … the pumping of tens of billions of U.S. debt dollars into the economy each month to make the economy look like its doing OK, when it is not. Another alarming factor is the stalling of house sales in America. The current real estate boom might be nearing its peak.

This drop of GDP into negative territory is a sign that another recession might be looming.  A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. There is still one more final tweak that will be made to the official GDP number at the end of June. The current –1.0% estimate, a significant drop from the first estimate of .1% last month, could be revised up or down. Overall, the U.S. economy continues in limp along in anemic growth…and now negative growth, as shown in the chart below.

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BLUE LINE: 3.0% GDP Growth is required to keep up with U.S. Population Growth. GDP above the blue line represents real growth that adds real jobs. GDP below the blue line indicates real economic decline that is loosing real jobs. GDP below the blue line, but above zero line (‘Recession’), is what Captain Rick calls the ‘Anemic Zone’.

RED LINE: 2.2% GDP Growth is the average of what the U.S. economy scored in the past 12 quarters (3 years). This demonstrates that the U.S. economy is stuck in the economic ‘Anemic Zone’…not mustering enough growth to keep up with population growth. 

GDP…What is it?

‘GDP’ represents ‘Gross Domestic Product’…a market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a year. GDP performance (increases and decreases) present a broad-based picture of the health of a country’s economy. High GDP growth is typical of a healthy economy. Low GDP growth (below 3%) is typical of an unhealthy economy. Negative growth is typical of an economy in recession. 

What does this GDP data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently rise above 3% growth … a level required to produce enough jobs and income to keep pace with population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

What can be done to better America and other countries?

Lots can be done! Take notice of what our elected officials do. Vote them out and replace them if they do not perform to your expectations. You might even consider running for an office. The world is in extremely short supply of intelligent people who care about our lands and well being of our people. Go for it. Run for an elected office. Help our world from plunging over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’…before its too late.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title at top)

Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Links:

Previous GDP Report

GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: Final U.S. GDP for Q4 2013 was a disappointing 2.4%, downgraded from the earlier estimate of 3.2%. Early estimates are notoriously optimistic. This GDP figure sounds a wake-up alarm that America is stuck in the GDP ‘Anemic Zone’ … a place between zero real growth and ‘Recession’. 

GDP (Gross National Product) is the broadest means of quantifying the health of an economy. GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders.

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BLUE LINE: 3.0% GDP Growth is required to keep up with U.S. Population Growth. GDP above the blue line represents real growth that adds real jobs. GDP below the blue line indicates real economic decline that is loosing real jobs. GDP below the blue line, but above zero line (‘Recession’), is what Captain Rick calls the ‘Anemic Zone’.

RED LINE: 2.24% GDP Growth is the average of what the U.S. economy scored in the past 8 quarters (2 years). This demonstrates that the U.S. economy is stuck in the economic ‘Anemic Zone’…not mustering enough growth to keep up with population growth. 

What caused the recent GDP decline?

Weakness in the housing sector is a factor. Investment in residential real estate slowed for the first time in three years. I see that as good, as the previous pace was heading rapidly towards another real estate bubble.  Real estate values have peaked and have begun decline in some areas of the U.S., like Gilbert, Arizona that led the value resurgence a few months ago.  

Perhaps the decline in federal QE (debt) spending played the biggest role as a result of the $20 Billion reduction QE (debt) spending per month. The latest GDP decline demonstrates the power that debt spending can have on the economy. If the U.S. were to curtail the remaining $65 Billion in QE debt spending per month, the U.S. might slip into recession. The bottom line is that the U.S. QE debt spending helps the U.S. economy look like its only anemic…when it is actually in recession. This will play out as the Fed is forced to reduce QE debt spending to keep the U.S. from going over the new U.S. Debt Ceiling, recently raised to $17.2 Trillion by the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Fiscal Reality Check

U.S. GDP: $16.1 Trillion

U.S. National Debt: $17.4 Trillion (already exceeds new ceiling), ($55,000 per citizen, $151,000 per tax payer)

U.S. Debt held by foreign countries: $6 Trillion

U.S Federal Spending: $3.5 Trillion

U.S. Federal Revenue: $2.9 Trillion

U.S. Federal Deficit: $0.6 Trillion

Source: USDebtClock.org

What does this GDP data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently rise above 3% growth … a level required to produce enough jobs and income to keep pace with population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Entitlement Reform

Social Security

Medicare

Medicaid

ObamaCare

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: Thomas C. Patterson, a former Arizona State Senator, sees the Compact for America as a test to see if Americans are still able to take their future in their hands or if they are content to see America continue its decline. States have constitutional authority to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget. This is a ‘long shot’ but it offers a ray of hope to save America from pending fiscal decline.

The U.S. Congress recently raised the U.S. National Debt Ceiling to an astronomical $17.2 Trillion, exceeding U.S. Gross National Product … a wake-up call for any nation. The U.S. Congress raised the debt ceiling to accommodate current spending levels and thus kicked ‘America’s debt can’ down the road again for the Nth time to deal with after the fall election.  The sad fact is that with the cost of entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and pure welfare programs like Medicaid, greatly expanded by Obamacare… U.S. spending is mushrooming at an alarming pace, while revenue is increasing at a snail’s pace that can not keep up. I see this resulting in America sailing over the real ‘fiscal cliff’ in the not too distant future… an event that has the potential to reduce America to a third world country.

I invited Thomas, whom I have long admired for his excellence in thinking, to present guest commentary. With his acceptance, I asked him to tell us why his commentary is important to Americans. His reply:

Thomas C. Patterson: “I see the Compact–a constitutional convention of the states–as a test for Americans.  Are we still able to take our future into our hands, like our founders did, to forge the nation we want or are we content to see America continue its decline?  Do we care enough about our posterity, as our founders did, to undertake the most difficult, improbable shared national initiative in our time or will history judge us as standing by while a nation founded in liberty slides into oblivion?”

ABOUT: Thomas C. Patterson is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Nebraska. He was elected to the Arizona State Senate in 1989, serving as minority leader from 1991 to 1992 and majority leader from 1993 to 1996. Patterson was the author of legislation creating Arizona’s charter school system and welfare reform program. Until 1998, he was a practicing physician and president of Emergency Physicians, Inc.. Patterson also served as president of the Arizona chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. In 2000 he became chairman of the Goldwater Institute. Thomas is a retired physician and resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL

Guest Commentary

by

Thomas C. Patterson

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More Americans than ever feel our federal government has been permanently taken over by special interests and collectivists.

Dependency on government is reaching ominous levels. Spending that exceeds income has become part of our political culture. We feel like shouting that our debt is dangerously high and that it’s immoral to pass on to future generations the consequences for our self-indulgence.

Yet realistically, there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it. Until maybe, just maybe, now.

The answer to our despair may well lie in the Compact for America, an agreement among the states to come together to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution. This idea is so promising and dynamic that is gathering momentum across the states, including ours, where it is known as HB 2305.

Here’s the skinny. The U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to call a constitutional convention, as a protection against central government overreach. The framers’ expectation was that once every generation or so, states would need to convene and tweak the Constitution to respond to evolving conditions and to protect the rights of people from the inevitable tendency of power to centralize.

The framers were prescient in understanding that the states would need this privilege, but for one reason or another the states have never called a convention. Every amendment proposed to the Constitution has come through Congress, the other authorized pathway.

It is said that the founders didn’t include a balanced budget provision in the founding documents because they thought it unnecessary. Now that incomprehensible levels of fiscal recklessness have become the norm, the potential need for the states to intervene is clear.

The problem is that, since the states have no experience with a convention, several concerns have arisen over its execution. How would the convention delegates be selected, how would votes be apportioned, how would leadership be chosen? More importantly, what about a runaway convention? What would stop interest groups from taking over the convention and bending the Constitution for their own hot-button issues?

It’s worth remembering that any proposed amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state Legislatures. But these are serious questions asked by serious people and they deserve answers.

Here’s the genius of the Compact for America. It allows states to know the answers to all the pertinent questions, including exactly which amendments may be considered, before they sign on. When state Legislatures pass a resolution agreeing to the contact, they become part of a constitutionally recognized organization of states created for the express purpose of proposing constitutional amendments. The selection process for delegates, convention logistics and even the text of the amendment would be in the compact document itself.

Would this be difficult? Would there be opposition from all sides? Are there still questions to be answered? Yes, yes and yes. Vast private and government interests are heavily invested in business as usual. Moreover, compacts require the blessing of Congress, although this has been previously granted.

But the Compact for America isn’t constitutional craziness, like annulment or secession. This isn’t some sort of redneck revolt. It’s an opportunity for states to use the clear intent and language of the Constitution to rein in the federal government and put the republic on a more sustainable course.

Unquestionably, the Compact for America would represent change and innovation on a scale many may find unsettling. But this is our challenge. Are we, the political descendants of founders who risked everything to create the most free and prosperous government in the history of the planet, now so timid that we are afraid to use the tools they gave us to defend ourselves from tyranny and decay?

The risk larger than the Compact is the continuation of politics as usual. If we continue doing the same thing, it’s highly probable we’ll get the same results.

Our present predicament was anticipated by the founders. It is precisely the reason they gave the states the power to amend the Constitution. They would very much urge us to use it.

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Tom’s previous ANJ Commentary: “Look behind the Obamacare Curtain”

Captain Rick: The U.S. Senate gave its approval to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to $17.2 Trillion, allowing the government to continue spending like ‘drunkards’ by borrowing more money to pay its bills through March 2015.

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The politically charged issue cleared the chamber 55-43 after winning House approval Tuesday. The measure now goes to ‘debt loving’ President Barack Obama for his guaranteed signature. Approval removes the prospect of another protracted political fight over fiscal policy as Democrats and Republicans gear up for November’s midterm elections. How politically convenient is this?
It was a ‘clean’ bill…meaning there were no strings attached that would mandate new spending cuts. It gives approval to continue spending like ‘there is no tomorrow’. Our representatives in DC have kicked America’s ‘debt can’ down the road again for the N’th time. How much farther can it be kicked? I suspect…not much.

I wonder with dismay as to how Americans can stand for this total disregard of fiscal common sense? How can Americans continue to elect such fiscally reckless representatives to the U.S. Legislature. I see this tragic event bringing America one step closer to the edge of the real ‘fiscal cliff’. At the bottom…I envision America as a ‘third world country.’

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

U.S. Debt Crisis

Fed Financial Policy

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

President Obama

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Thanks Ken of California for contributing these cartoons.

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Humor

Obamacare

Captain Rick: The Budget Act of 2013 kicks the ‘U.S. Debt Can’ down the road yet again. Passed by the U.S. House and expected to be passed by the U.S. Senate next week, I sense renewed concern for the fiscal demise of America. This act does not stop Americas insatiable thirst for debt spending. Debt will continue to rise at a reckless pace. The U.S. debt ceiling will again be reached in February 2014. I would wager it will again be raised. I would also wager that America’s train will plunge over the real fiscal cliff in the coming years. At the bottom lies America as a third world nation. The frustration I feel is well summed up by Matt Salmon, my Arizona representative in the U.S. Congress. Matt is a person that uses intelligence and wisdom to speak and vote … a very rare find in Washington DC these days.

ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Guest Report

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Salmon Statement on the Budget Act of 2013

Washington—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) released the following statement on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (Amendment to H.J. Res. 59):

“I applaud Chairman Ryan and our Republican Budget Conferees for working under difficult circumstances to negotiate a compromise with Senate Democrats, and I appreciate that this deal offers some positive items, such as helping to bring back regular order for the appropriations process, approving the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement, restoring badly needed resources for our military, and making small changes to some mandatory spending programs.

“However, for me and most of the constituents I have heard from in my district, this deal falls short of something I could support.

“Unfortunately, this deal fails to even make modest reforms to our nearly bankrupted entitlement programs and it, once again, increases government spending  in the short-term with only a promise to make spending cuts in the long-term.

“If we are not willing to make tough choices now, then how can we expect future Congresses to stop kicking the can down the road?

“This was a grand opportunity for our nation’s leaders to reform and preserve the fiscal longevity of our entitlement programs, and this deal does not rise to that challenge.

“Furthermore, I have never believed that Congress should raise taxes or increase fees to justify more government spending. Sadly, this deal does exactly this by raising fees on air travelers.

“As we move forward under these new spending caps, my hope is that Congress and President Obama will finally recognize that our fiscal problems are not solved by raising more revenue and increasing spending, but by cutting spending and addressing our biggest crisis – unsustainable entitlement spending.

“We must make do with less government or our children and grandchildren will pay the heavy price as we continue to see a skyrocketing debt and runaway government spending.

“We must make big strides in the direction of a smaller and more efficient government in order to get our country back on the right path.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

U.S. Debt Crisis

U.S. Government Shutdown

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Economy

Guest Commentary

Captain Rick: A shutdown of the U.S. Government will most likely begin on October 1, 2013, the beginning of the new fiscal year. There is currently no budget agreement to fund the U.S. Government for the coming year. The Democrat led Senate and the the Republican led House are in a stalemate that does not appear likely will be rectified by October 1. The real showdown will come on or before October 17, when the U.S. Government reaches the debt ceiling of $16.699 trillion and will begin defaulting on its financial obligations, an event that has never before occurred.

The last threat of shutdown occurred on March 27, 2013. It was averted by an agreement to allow Sequester spending cut’s (part of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ legislation that became effective on January 1, 2013) to gain some flexibility regarding where to make spending cuts, in lieu of the mandatory across the board cuts.

My goal is to help increase understanding of the extremely important events that are unfolding…

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U.S. Government Shutdown … What will happen? Non essential elements of the government will begin shutting down. These are things like National Parks and Monuments and the federal employees and contractors that support them. The employees would be furloughed. Contractors would have their payments delayed. At no time in the past has a shutdown lasted for more than a month. In every case the contractors eventually got paid and the furloughed employees were awarded back pay, so in essence, they received a nice long paid vacation, compliments of the U.S. taxpayers. In every previous case of shutdown, it ended up costing tax payers more than if the government had remained open.

What does a shutdown accomplish? Nothing, except increased cost. It is however, a necessary reminder that our government needs spending to remain less than revenue. In reality the U.S. has been spending far more than it receives in revenue, especially in recent years.

U.S annual spending: $3.52 trillion

U.S. annual revenue: $2.69 trillion

U.S. annual deficit: $825 billion

Total U.S. National debt: $16.95 trillion

U.S. GDP: $15.91 trillion (U.S. Debt exceeds GDP…a wake up call to get the fiscal house in order…or prepare for economic destruction)

Who is to blame? First and foremost to blame is President Obama. He is our president, elected to lead our nation in a positive direction…yet he has demonstrated the most reckless spending in American history, especially with his Fed’s continuation of pumping $85 billion per month of ‘Quantitative Easing’ debt dollars into the American Economy (adding directly to the U.S. National Debt) in an effort to make an economically sick nation look just anemic. It is all ‘smoke and mirrors’ that is doing nothing more than increasing America’s debt at an astronomic expense and burden to future generations.  Second to blame is the entire U.S. Legislature, including the Senate and House, Republicans and Democrats. None of them impress me as having the intelligence or ability to agree on a plan to withdraw America from its insatiable addiction for debt spending far beyond its revenue. I believe most of them have their ‘pockets’ fed by ‘big money’.

Obama passes blame and creates fear in news conference: Today I listened to President Obama speak in a news conference casting fear upon Americans by placing blame for his reckless spending on the shoulders of the U.S. House:
“If Congress chooses not to pass a budget by Monday, the end of the fiscal year, they will shut down the government along with many vital services that the American people depend on,” The Senate “acted responsibly” by passing its bill, and “now it’s up to the Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same.”
He asked Republicans “to think about who you’re hurting” by letting the government shut down, and said “it would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.”
He also made clear that a government shutdown wouldn’t stop the Affordable Care Act from being implemented. “That’s not going to happen. More than 100 million Americans currently already have new benefits and protections under the law. On Tuesday, about 40 million more Americans will be able to finally buy quality affordable health care just like anybody else.”

Reality Check. What really happened: This was one of the most disgusting, fear-causing set of statements I have heard President Obama make recently. What really happened is that the House sent a bill to the Senate that included defunding Obamacare (a program with an enormous cost that America can not afford at this time of financial crisis). The Senate revised the bill to remove the Obamacare defunding and sent it back to the House. In opposition to Obama’s statement, I believe the Senate did not act responsibly. If the House does not pass the bill on Monday (which it should not), it will not be the House that causes the shutdown as Obama warns. It will be the result of the failure of the President and the entire U.S. Legislature combined. Obama said that a shutdown will stop many vital services. This is not true, unless the shutdown lasted for a long period of time…or Obama chooses to focus on certain entities for political gain. Obama’s scare tactics of asking Republicans to ‘think of who they are hurting’ by the government shutdown are absolutely despicable. President Obama should ask himself who he is hurting by spreading such fear and lies. This shutdown does throw a ‘wrench’ into Obamas ‘gears’ to make the economy look ok, when it is really sucking badly. Obama is fixated on Obamacare, a mark he hopes the world will remember him by. He will push it, even if it contributes to the financial destruction of America.  In reality, 40 million Americans are going to find out that ‘affordable health care’ is not really affordable and the majority of them will pay (or evade) the penalty to avoid it. The resultant unexpected, massive costs will lie firmly on the backs of American tax payers and add directly to the U.S. national debt.  I have this on my list of future blog reports. It sounds to me like Obama is running scared and is choosing to hide his fear by casting false fear on Americans. That scares me. Does it scare you?

View the comments (below) for ongoing updates of important happenings at the U.S. Capitol concerning this unfolding story.

I have done my very best to chronicle the events that contributed to this first U.S. government shutdown in nearly 18 years…as displayed in my comment updates below. This report could be among the best chronicles on the web. I am honored that Google and other search engines have picked up on this report.  The views for this report have exceeded those of all other ANJ reports by a factor of 10X+. The view stats from the past week far surpass any previous week. It tells me that there are lots of people that are tuning into this blog post to get the real facts…not the hype found on virtually all web news sites and especially TV news casts.

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

U.S. Government Shutdown

Obamacare

U.S. Debt Crisis

Fed Financial Policy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Economy

Captain Rick: U.S. entitlement programs are going broke. Disability will be broke by 2016, followed by Medicare by 2024 and Social Security by 2035. These sobering projections were made by the U.S. Social Security Administration. This report presents an in-depth study of the U.S. Disability program.

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Disability recipients in jeopardy
Nearly 11 million people depend on federal disability payments.
Unless changes are made, beginning in 2016, the revenues coming in would not be sufficient to cover all of the disability payments.
Unless taxes are increased, disability benefits will have to be cut or the number of claimants reduced.

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Disability soared 27% since the beginning of the Great Recession
The number of people collecting federal disability has soared to nearly 11 million, up from 8.7 million in April 2007.
The federal government spent nearly $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some type of disability claim. That’s about 7% of the overall population, and 16% of the workforce.

Causes for the Disability Program Increase
The Great Recession pushed many people into the disability program because it was a safety net to save them from economic disaster.
The aging of the baby boomer generation is one of the primary drivers. Workers typically enter the disability program in their 50s.
Disability claims among veterans are up 28% since 2008, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
With better surgical techniques and body armor, soldiers are ten times as likely to survive today’s wars, according to the Veterans Administration. But soldiers often come home with severe injuries. The recent decision to recognize post traumatic stress disorder as a disability has also lifted the number of benefits claims. The Veterans Administration noted that illnesses tied to the cancer-causing chemical defoliant Agent Orange used in Vietnam are also now viewed as a disability.  
More women have entered the workforce in recent decades, making them eligible for the program should they become disabled.

Americans are abusing the system because of the ease of entering the program. It’s morphed from a program that pays benefits to stroke victims and cancer patients to people with mental illness and chronic pain.

Prognosis for a Disability Program Solution
The disability program … the smallest of the three, will be the first that Congress has to deal with.
There is not much consensus about entitlement reform on Capitol Hill these days. Attempts to rein in Medicare spending have gone nowhere recently.

Disability Program Solution Possibilities

Solution 1
Congress could authorize increasing the amount of payroll tax supporting the disability program from its current 1.8%. An increase paid by workers and employers by 0.2% each would keep the program solvent for 75 years. But there’s little appetite among lawmakers to raise taxes these days.

Solution 2
Congress could authorize increasing the share of Social Security payroll tax going toward disability, instead of Social Security. Currently, the combined rate paid by employers and workers is 12.4%. The disability program’s rate is 1.8%, while the retirement system’s rate is 10.6%. Congress could authorize increasing the share going toward disability payments to 2.6% for two years and then slowly cut it back to 1.8% by 2030. This would keep the disability fund solvent until 2033, but it would shorten the retirement system’s predicted lifespan by two years, to 2033.

Solution 3
Congress could take the most controversial approach by raising the bar for eligibility for disability benefits.

Captain Rick’s Disability Solution Preference: I believe Solution 3 is the most intelligent solution … but considering how welfare-oriented the U.S. Congress is becoming, I do not hold much hope for this solution. I believe Congress will take the most cowardly path … Solution 2 … and rob money from Social Security to pay the rapidly expanding crowd who are abusing Disability. Do you agree/disagree? I welcome you to comment below.

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Entitlement Reform: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/entitlement-reform/

Medicare: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/medicare/

Social Security: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/social-security/

Medicaid: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/medicaid/

Tax Reform: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/tax-reform/