“Our practical choice is not between a tax-cut deficit and budgetary surplus. It is between two kinds of deficits: a chronic deficit of inertia, as the unwanted result of inadequate revenues and a restricted economy; or a temporary deficit of transition, resulting from a tax cut designed to boost the economy, increase tax revenues, and achieve . . . a budget surplus.” John F. Kennedy


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Sep 19 2012

Our Tax Dollars and Receipts

Let me get this straight – the US federal government is spending $20 million of our hard-earned money every year on “Afghan firewood,” and they’re doing it without any receipts or other form of documentation.

According to John F. Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, when the auditors asked for documentation of how much was spent on Afghan firewood, the response was, “We don’t have the records, we just spend the money.”

Just wondering how far that would get you if you tried it on an IRS agent, auditing your finances. Next time you’re sitting down with an IRS auditor in order for him to determine if you paid enough of your portion of that $20 million, just give it a try, something like, “I don’t have the records, I just make some cash and spend some cash . . . I paid you guys exactly what I owe you though. I can feel it.”

Go for it.

Jul 16 2012

Economic Reality and Government

C.M. Phippen

“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.” Frederic Bastiat

The newly upheld healthcare bill, passed by a president who can’t get anything right and always has someone else to blame for his failures, is supposed to add 30 million Americans (or non-Americans) to the “insured” category while at the same time not hampering accessibility or quality, and decreasing costs.

In fact, just after the Supreme Court ruling declaring the mandate unconstitutional but upholding the ability of the federal government to tax non-participation in the US insurance industry, every interview I heard with a supporter of the bill still claimed that it would save the federal government $100 million, even though every recent indication is to quite the contrary.

China is having some government v. free enterprise conflict of its own. In order to continue to grow the Chinese economy without causing inflation, which would be devastating to the 150 million Chinese living in poverty, the government has mandated that utility prices remain below market rates. Of course, we all know that if the government says something must be, then it simply must be.

The result is that private companies in China, refusing to operate at a loss, have been supplying power for fewer hours and have shut down record numbers of power plants for maintenance during the hot summer months. In some areas, power plants have stopped providing power for days at a time, leaving citizens without air conditioning, refrigeration or running water.

The chairwoman of China Power International has warned that if the government continues to enforce price controls, one-fifth of China’s 436 coal-fired power plants could face bankruptcy.

The fact is, there is a cost for goods and services, and a price below which no one will willingly produce or provide them. China’s largest electric utility, Huaneng, says that prices charged to customers should have been 13 percent higher last year to remain in line with the increase in coal prices; this year, spot prices for coal are up 20 percent because of various world events. All the while, the government is mandating almost no increase in the rate that utility providers can charge.

In order to deal with the lack of dependable power, some businesses have their workers come in at night or during odd hours when there are fewer blackouts, some restaurants have resorted to cooking over coals and hauling water by hand from wells. Additionally, the government has put pressure on the mines to sell coal at below-market rates, causing the best and purest coal to be exported while selling high-sulfer, high-polluting coal to Chinese companies.

At the end of May, at least six cargo ships carrying loads of coal from abroad were affected by deferrals or defaults on contracts by Chinese buyers as those ships remained full and waiting in ports with no one to pay. Of course, why would they when the government won’t allow utility companies to be adequately reimbursed for providing the electricity generated by that coal to consumers?

The Chinese economy is experiencing rapid deceleration and its potential growth is being hindered by bureaucrats who claim to honestly believe that their issuance of an edict will cause economic forces to fall into line behind their stated desires.

In the US, 83 percent of doctors who responded to a survey performed by a group opposed to Obamacare have considered leaving the medical profession as a result of “current changes in the medical system,” with 65 percent of those individuals pointing to government involvement as the main culprit.

We can look to Massachusetts to see that since the passage of state healthcare reform, there has been basically no difference in the usage of emergency rooms, doctor shortages abound and premiums shot up above the national average within two years and have only recently started growing at a slower rate.

In order to combat a nearly 50 percent cost overrun encountered with the implementation of the law, the state reduced costs by kicking almost 40,000 legal immigrants off of state health coverage and implementing free market principles which grant tiered health care plans to individuals based on, yes, their ability to pay. Free market principles are what finally brought down the rise in the cost of care in Massachusetts.

As for the rest of us, our president promised that with the passage of Obamacare we would see lower premiums, less federal spending and no additional federal debt, no taxes for anyone making under $250,000 a year, the ability to keep any current health plan if one were to so choose and greater access to health coverage.

Too bad saying it just doesn’t make it so.

Jun 15 2012

Austerity: A Balanced Approach?

C.M. Phippen

Concerns are spreading that Germany is on the verge of losing its safe-haven status for investors. According to Bill Blain, co-head of the special situations group at Newedge Group Ltd, “[Germany] isn’t a pure safe haven anymore.” As it finds itself potentially on the hook for an additional 100 billion euros ($125 billion) after the EU bailout of Spanish banks earlier this month, investors are starting to see the cracks in the foundation of what has been a star in the EU economies.

Not only does the most recent bailout scare off private investors from Spain, who know they will be the last in line if the country does eventually default, but most analysts fear this bailout is only one of many. Estimates of future liquidity injections in Spain alone are as high as 700 billion euros, which would decimate the EU rescue funds.

Despite German fiscal restraint, high worker productivity and relatively low levels of unemployment, apparently a system where a minority put in the serious work and everybody else lives off of their largess while sipping margaritas, is an unsustainable system.

As Angela Merkel recently stated, “Germany’s powers are not unlimited,” and “All the (aid) packages will ring hollow if you overestimate Germany’s strength.” Even the German economy can be dragged down by too many dependents pulling at it for too long.

It’s time for the rest of the European countries to start playing by the rules of success, the rules of true austerity.

In Britain, promises to reform social programs and cut taxes and spending were made by Gordon Brown just before leaving office, but instead he increased the top marginal income tax rate. In 2011-2012, spending increased, the public pension system is still not reformed and “the government increased the capital gains tax, national insurance tax and value-added tax along with other fees and duties.”

In Spain, while the retirement age was increased from 65 to 67, no structural reforms have been made to entitlements. Additionally, myriad tax rates have been increased, from income and property taxes to tobacco taxes (up 28 percent). While the current budget calls for spending cuts as well as tax increases, there is little chance that the tax increases will bring in the expected revenue because of a lack of economic growth. With entitlement spending unchecked, deficits are projected to continue rising.

France’s spending increased $33.4 billion between 2009 and 2010, and $29.5 billion in 2011. The Socialist government there also plans to implement a new 75% top marginal income tax rate for anyone earning over $1.3 million, in addition to an increase in the corporate income tax rate. At the same time, they are promising significant public sector hiring, a decrease in the retirement age and an increase in the minimum wage, which has been shown to price the least skilled workers out of the labor market.

According to recent research, a “balanced approach” to austerity (isn’t that the new progressive catch phrase?) doesn’t end well. An austerity program that involves both tax increases and spending cuts does not successfully stabilize debt and leads to economic contractions in the marketplace.

Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna looked at 107 examples of austerity in developed countries over a period of 30 years and found that spending cuts without tax increases were the key to significant debt to GDP ratio reductions. They also discovered that when those spending cuts were accompanied by structural reforms, easy monetary policy and a liberalization of markets, economic expansion was most often the result.

Across the ocean here at home, the story is, unfortunately, much the same. While we could continue down our current path of demonizing the rich and blaming them for not paying their fair share (who can possibly believe that the top 5 percent paying 59 percent of federal income taxes while earning only 35 percent of total national income is somehow not their “fair share”?!), all the while threatening onerous taxes and regulations, we wonder why corporations are sitting on massive amounts of cash and refusing to hire new workers.

President Obama’s claim that his policies would “have this done” (fixing the economy) within three years and Clinton’s encouragement in 2010 to “vote ‘em out” if the economy weren’t fixed in two years lead me to think that this administration is honestly and genuinely surprised that their understanding of the economy just isn’t reality.

Welcome to the world the rest of us live in . . .

Jun 2 2012

Get the Job Done or Get Out

C.M. Phippen

Last week I wrote about the fact that President Obama seems to want to make excuses for everything that he deems as getting in the way of him delivering his promised hope and change. Nothing works out quite like he believes it will, and yet he behaves as though there are no other options.

It was interesting then, to hear him criticizing Romney’s experience with Bain Capital. While Romney has a proven track record of turning around companies that are suffering from adverse circumstances brought on by world events, prior poor management, bad luck, structural changes in the economy, etc. Obama looks at these very same types of challenges, throws up his hands and says he can’t.

A friend recently shared with me her husband’s experience working for Bain & Co. many years ago. His job was to turn around companies and make them profitable in under six months, to take them from losing money to earning profits. Of course, as we all know, companies making money tend to hire and/or retain workers; companies losing money tend to lay off workers. And mind you, in under six months.

Admittedly, the US economy is a much larger, more complicated beast, but the principles for success and sustainability are still the same. “If I don’t have this done [the economy fixed] in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition.” Apparently, he felt that giving him 500 percent more time than a business consultant would get was adequate to prove the effectiveness of his strategies.

Not only did Bain Capital (the investment firm), under Romney, have a 78 percent save rate with regard to companies that were headed toward bankruptcy before Bain stepped in, but when Bain & Co. (the consulting firm) itself was headed for trouble in the early 90s, Mitt Romney was the person called in to turn around that company. Within a year under Romney’s leadership, Bain & Co. was again profitable and able to grow throughout the 90s at a rate of 25 percent per year, more than doubling the number of offices and increasing the number of employees.

On the other hand, the Obama administration handed out large amounts of money to various failing companies that have continued to fail even after receiving grants and loan guarantees from us, the taxpayers. Marc A. Thiessen had a piece in the Washington Post that outlined Obama’s record of public equity failures. These included:

Abound Solar, Inc. received a $400 million guarantee, drew on $70 million before halting production and laying off 180 workers.

Beacon Power received a $43 million taxpayer loan guarantee and filed for bankruptcy in fall 2011. We can assume loss of jobs for 100% of the workforce.

ECOtality received $126.2 million in taxpayer money. The company has sustained $45 million in losses and claim to have no foreseeable profits anywhere in the future.

First Solar received $3 billion in loan guarantees, yet the company’s trading price fell to record lows this month due to “$401 million in restructuring costs tied to firing 30 percent of its workforce.”

Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) was given a $98.5 million loan guarantee in 2010. As of October 2011, its own auditor concluded that there was “significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Raser Technologies was given a $33 million grant and filed for bankruptcy protection this year. The plant for which the money was used has fewer than 10 employees and owes $1.5 million in back taxes.

SunPower received a $1.2 billion loan guarantee and now owes more than it’s worth.

Many of the companies this administration chose to invest in were rated as junk bonds. Maybe that’s because “71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to ‘individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.’” And maybe that’s why over 100 investigations have been launched relating to the Department of Energy’s green energy programs.

If this is what Obama calls capitalism, no wonder he thinks it doesn’t work.

The very things Romney was able to overcome at Bain are the very things Obama claims are outside of his control. Could it be that our president is right, that he just isn’t capable of working through the roadblocks in his way? If so, then I guess it’s time to elect someone who is.

May 19 2012

Income Equality v. Economic Stability

C.M. Phippen

Income inequality has always been a part of the human condition. When men hunted for food for their families, the families of the best hunters always had more to eat than their neighbors. Under dictators and kings, friends and family have comprised the wealthy while most of the rest of humanity under their rule have been peasants, paupers and slaves.

While living in the Czech Republic in the early 1990s, the inequality of Communism was quite clear. When entering a neighborhood of party officials it was obviously different, and erased any confusion over the myth of equality in a system where a few ruled the rest by force.

Today is no different. Individual ability, motivation, education and access to power, especially government power, often differentiate the top strata from the bottom in any society. The question is which of these factors we want most prevalent in our society when success is determined – those indicating merit or those indicating the right government connections, i.e. corruption.

When government is allowed to determine who succeeds and who fails, not only are the least competent often elevated to the top, but the incentives for producing the best product, offering the best service, and meeting the needs of the customer or client become warped. For those who think they already are, I would argue that not only is government already too involved in picking economic winners and losers today, but that the alternative to what we have is substantially worse.

According to a report by the OECD released in 2008, the three countries that have bucked the trend of growing inequality from the mid-1980s through the mid-2000s are Greece, France and Spain. None of these countries are exactly models of fiscal sustainability, and none have been able to create an environment where businesses are encouraged to hire for any reasonable period of time.

In all three countries during the period beginning in the mid-1980s, the rate of unemployment has ranged anywhere from 8 percent all the way up to 25 percent with few exceptions. Crisis rates of unemployment in the US are the norm for these countries.

Greece has generally hovered around 10 percent, while enjoying a multi-year spike now over 20 percent. France has historically been in the 8 – 10 percent range with a few dips below for short periods. Spain has seldom fallen below 10 percent, generally in the 12 – 17 percent range, and has had three climbs to nearly 20 percent within that period.

The report also pointed out that the increased differential in incomes isn’t because the poor and middle-class are becoming poorer, rather it is because the upper class are becoming richer. This would seem to indicate that those societies that are decreasing the gap between rich and poor are generally doing so because the rich aren’t becoming richer and suggests a lack of dynamism, creativity, and vibrancy in those economies, at least when compared to other developed nations.

Beyond the idea of income inequality it is interesting to note that, “the difference between income and wealth disparities is largest in countries with relatively equal distribution of incomes, such as Germany and Sweden.” In countries where the government provides more services and benefits for the lower-income population, while at the same time potentially disincentivizing growth for top wage earners, there remain the largest differences in wealth accumulation.

In other words, those who earn their own money, even while being forced to support large percentages of the population with that money, are still substantially better at saving and investing it than those who are simply given benefits. This has led to a greater disparity in income “from capital: dividends, interest, rent, capital gains and so on.”

Two factors significantly improve one’s chances of living above the poverty line. The first is marriage before children; single-parent households are three times as likely to be poor. This means that other workers in society take the place, financially, of the missing parent, which takes money out of the pockets of families often already struggling to make ends meet. The second is work; households with at least one working adult have very low rates of poverty.

The greater the dependence on government for support and subsidies, the greater will become the gulf between the rich and the poor, as well it should be. It is a consequence of comparing relatively stagnant wealth transfers meant for short-term use to keep people from starving to death with what ought to be dynamic, innovative economic transactions.

The alternative is a quasi-socialist economy that closes the gap between rich and poor just before the whole structure crashes and burns or the government is forced to do what socialist Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been doing: drastically cutting spending in order to “avoid bankruptcy.”

Let’s not play the game of the Greeks, 75% of whom want to stay in the Eurozone while at the same time casting 70% of their votes for anti-austerity parties, but rather face what is rather than imagine what can never be.

Sep 6 2011

Government Business v. Private Business

C.M. Phippen

We all heard the news last week that yet another company on the President’s tour of success has declared bankruptcy. Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer and, according to President Obama “a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism,” has sought bankruptcy reorganization.

In December of 2010, with less than one month’s reserves on hand, Solyndra sought to refinance by asking the Energy Department to subordinate $385 million of the $535 million guaranteed by the government. This would allow them to obtain an additional $75 million from outside sources. The Energy Department agreed, putting taxpayers behind new investors if things were to go wrong.

T.J. Rodgers, founder of Cypress Semiconductor and former Chairman of Sunpower, said on The Kudlow Report that on the day of President Obama’s visit to Solyndra in 2010 a secretary asked him what it meant that the President was there, visiting their competitor. He says that his response was, “Set your watch. That company will be out of business in one year.”

According to Solyndra President and CEO, Brian Harrison, “Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion.” Regulatory and policy uncertainties? Huh, hadn’t heard that anywhere before. Looks like it might be a deeper problem than that, though.

According to Rodgers, the thin-film technology used by Solyndra is “lousy,” low efficiency and the cost per watt is double other technologies. He noted that the typical Silicon Valley startup is full of great ideas in a “crappy” building; Solyndra, on the other hand, built a palace which, according to reports, cost $700 million. The company also made the mistake of building their manufacturing facility in California, the worst state in the nation to manufacture, Rodgers added.

Solyndra’s cost per job amounted to $1.5 million, and now those workers are without jobs at all. Money well spent, or simply another attempt to override private markets and supplant them with an uninformed bureaucratic vision of utopia?

Rodgers, on the other hand, knows a thing or two about the solar panel business. In 2001, he invested $750,000 in SunPower, a solar panel manufacturer which uses a technology much more efficient and easier to manufacture than most others. Within a matter a months, Cypress Semiconductor, the company he built, had invested $168 million in SunPower, including the purchase of additional plants and equipment (Solyndra’s new plant alone cost $700 million . . . in this economy?). That company, by the way, is still around and growing despite management and R&D shakeups over the past couple of years.

Reminds me of the comment made by the Social Security judge, David Daugherty, who pretty much hands out Social Security Disability like candy (nearly 100% approval rate v. an average of 60%), “Some of these judges act like it’s their own damn money we’re giving away.”

Aug 18 2010

The Battle for Freedom and Fiscal Responsibility, Yet Again

This cartoon was originally published in the Chicago Tribune in 1934.

David Horowitz succinctly summed up this seemingly never-ending battle when he explained that our history is one of two “distinct revolutionary traditions,” as opposed to the idea of an old order (conservatism) and a new revolution (progressivism). Our two-hundred year history, that which has shaped our nation, is a history of two disparate revolutionary paths to the modern world, “two different paradigms of the European Enlightenment that took root, respectively, in America and France.”

He goes on to say that, “the radical ethos of the French Revolution became the wellspring of a socialist revolt against bourgeois order that culminated in the creation of the Soviet empire. On the other hand, the libertarian ethos of the American Revolution inspired the conservative opponents of the Soviet tyranny, a counterrevolution based on individual rights, free markets and democratic constitutions.”*

You’d think once the battle had been won by the historic experiences of the past century, the debate would be over; that, unfortunately, would be asking too much. So the same arguments must be won, the same battles must be fought, and the same truths must continuously be told.

*The Politics of Bad Faith, David Horowitz, The Free Press, 1998, p. 142.

Jul 20 2010

Blame and Discipline

C.M. Phippen

I heard our president today, complaining that the Republicans are standing in the way of the Democrats’ desire to extend unemployment benefits without paying for it through spending reductions elsewhere or by diverting unused money already set aside for the stimulus. Democrats are refusing; they only want to pass a benefit extension bill that is paid for with newly borrowed funds. In fact, Obama today said, “It’s time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics.” Nice . . .

Am I the only one who remembers 1995? The Republicans controlled Congress for the first time in 40 years and true to the conservative principle of fiscal responsibility (which they adhered to for at least a couple of years), refused to accept the Clinton budget. The Republicans wanted to see more spending cuts, and forced Clinton into a battle of frugality which eventually ended when the administration finally submitted a budget that proposed to eliminate the federal deficit within seven years.

The ensuing firestorm in the media, which blamed the Republicans for victimizing the government workers who were temporarily out of work, never gave them credit for the result of that shutdown – a balanced budget. In fact, most liberals I know love to use that very budget as their greatest (and only) example of fiscal restraint.

Now we have a president who wants to play the same little game, accusing those who are listening to the voice of the people crying out for fiscal responsibility of “holding hostage” the American people. This, from the party which clamored for spending restraints under George W. Bush (most conservatives did, as well) but which has been more than willing to triple our federal deficit, as a percent of GDP, to nearly 11%.

Unless we stop calling names and start controlling the checkbook, we’re going to have a whole lot more to worry about than not being able to pay multi-year unemployment benefits.

May 8 2010

Greece, US, and Economic Reality

C.M. Phippen

Among weeks of civil unrest that included at least three deaths, numerous injuries, and widespread property damage, the Greek government has agreed to major economic adjustments in exchange for an IMF rescue. Among the measures required is the opening up of private markets in crucial areas of the economy, namely health care, transportation, and energy.

These steps will be taken in conjunction with tax increases and public sector pay freezes. The ability of the government to lay off public sector workers, whose “low levels of productivity and high wages are a big contributor to Greece’s debt problems,” should also substantially assist the country’s recovery.

It seems like the only part of this equation proposed here in the US, with our debt load ever closely mirroring that of Greece, is the tax increases. According to Art Laffer, our entire federal revenue could be replaced with a flat tax of 11% on individual gross income and 11% on net business income, even without accounting for the greater economic growth and increased revenue which would certainly follow. That solution would be much too simple and would decrease the power of politicians in Washington. It’s much simpler to talk about wealth redistribution and increase the taxes on the already over-taxed, even if it means stunting the longer-term economic growth of our economy.

The greater question is why we’re currently headed in the very direction Greece is being forced to leave because of the structure’s inherent unsustainability. If government-run health care, transportation, and energy are bad for an economy, why are we instituting such systems in our country in the midst of the greatest economic downturn in 80 years? If public sector workers, supported by unions who negotiate with government officials not representing the interests of taxpayers, end up with higher than average pay and benefits ($79,197 for federal workers v. $50,028 for private sector employees; with benefits, $119,982 federal v. $59,909 private) and their ranks are increasing faster than the ranks of those footing the bill, how do we grow ourselves out of a Greek-like mess?

In 1988, the debt was 51% of GDP and by 2020, it’s projected to hit 90%. Either we follow Greece now, before it becomes too late for us, or we just unite as a country, hold hands and chant, “Hope and change.” Surely that will save us.

Mar 30 2010

Deficits and the Road Ahead

C.M. Phippen

In the shadow of the recently passed healthcare bill, the news that the administration made a $1.2 trillion “mistake” in deficit projections over the next ten years should do nothing to reassure us regarding our country’s fiscal future. Last Thursday, the CBO, after analyzing the Obama 2011 budget, declared that the $8.53 trillion 10-year deficit projection was off by $1.2 trillion.

Now, for many of us, who’ve heard billion and trillion bantered about in Washington recently as though these are pretty standard monetary denominations, let’s be clear about what $1.2 trillion means in real terms, for real people. The GDP (gross domestic product) of the entire country of the US was $14.2 trillion in 2009; a trillion seconds is the equivalent of about 32,000 years; and if you were to have spent $1 million every day since the day Christ was born, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 trillion (only about $750 billion, or 3/4 of $1 trillion).

That additional $1 trillion means another $10,000 per US household is now owed to investors. When President Obama took office, the public debt was approximately $56,000 per household, a total of $6.3 trillion. Today, based on the most recent budget, that amount has jumped to $72,000 per household, or $8.2 trillion, and will reach over $170,000 per household by 2020 (based on the administrations own numbers), for a whopping $20.3 trillion in federal public debt.

Such an astronomical accumulation of debt is completely unsustainable. In the Bush years, through 2008, $2.5 trillion was added to the public debt. In the six years from 2010-2016 (2009 belongs to both Bush and Obama, so isn’t included but amounts to $2.6 trillion), President Obama’s budget would add $4.9 trillion to that debt.

Currently the US has a AAA bond rating, enabling our federal government to borrow money at extremely favorable rates. By 2020, the cost of major federal entitlements in conjunction with servicing the debt will be equivalent to 100% of federal tax revenue, and this is if our credit rating remains stellar. No one believes it will, without major fiscal discipline never before seen in a politician.

If the rate at which our government is able to borrow money were to increase, we would find ourselves in the non-enviable position of Greece in recent months: Unaffordable and unsustainable rates of government entitlement spending, sluggish economic growth, and increasing interest rates as investors decide the risk of default on government bonds is real.

Just this past month, the rating agency Moody’s issued a stern warning to the US and other major Western nations with regard to the unseemly levels of debt currently being amassed.

Growth alone will not resolve an increasingly complicated debt equation,” Moody’s said. “Preserving debt affordability” — the ratio of interest payments to government revenue — “at levels consistent with Aaa ratings will invariably require fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion.”

While Moody’s said the US credit rating is not currently threatened, it relies on the ability of our leaders “to repair the damage caused by the crisis on public finances.”

We have been warned – budgets must be cut, and in a serious and substantive way, which may cause social cohesion to be threatened. Politicians will certainly use this to their advantage as they try to turn us against each other by encouraging disparate groups to push for the preservation of their favorite entitlement. We can’t allow that to happen.

Our elected leaders, who certainly understand the serious fiscal crisis awaiting us, will most likely do what they’ve always done – put aside the good of the country in order to score cheap political points that in the long run will cost us all far more than we ever imagined. We must work together, “cohesively,” to defeat any who choose to put their personal interest ahead of the interests of this country.