“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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Dec 10 2012

“The Age of the Unserious”

C.M. Phippen

Our president claims that he is making an honest effort to negotiate with Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff. He wants us to believe that they are the ones who simply won’t budge on their positions and won’t allow him to fix the horrific fiscal issues we face.

This is the president whom Tim Geithner claims is willing to go off the fiscal cliff if the Republicans don’t agree to his plan to raise taxes on the richest 2% because, in Geithner’s words, “remember, it’s only the top two percent.” Doesn’t unequal treatment under the law become a civil rights issue at some point!? Anyway . . .

This is the same president who has had his past two budgets shot down in Senate votes of 99-0 and 97-0, one of which looked an awful lot like Obama’s current proposal from which he is negotiating. He apparently expects Republicans to support the plan that his Democrat allies in the Senate refused to support?

In addition to major entitlement spending cuts, the greatest priority our government should have is that of allowing/encouraging/stimulating economic growth, which will in and of itself lead to the President’s desired revenue increases.

In fact, Bill Whittle recently made the point that “if you destroyed the entire government, burned every [public] building, fired every government worker, sank every aircraft carrier, even with no government to pay for – none – we’d still pay the same taxes that we’re paying today and still have to borrow or print money just to pay for entitlements.”

I would argue that if we do indeed have a shortage of money for schools, teachers, police and other government services, it is entitlement spending that is draining those resources, not tax cuts or wars.

Even Austin Goolsbee, former president of Obama’s Council on Economic Advisers, recently stated that any solution to America’s economic ills “cuts on discretionary and entitlement spending.”

In addition, Peter Orszag, former OMB director, recently came out urging his fellow Democrats to support reforming entitlements and putting “crucial programs on a sounder footing.”

I must assume that our president is well aware of the fact that nothing in his rejected budget plans or spending priorities will stimulate growth. And he has made it very clear that, despite his repeated declarations to the contrary, he is never going to cut any real spending.

Thus, his only plan to decrease the rate of growth of our historically unprecedented federal deficit seems to be an increase in revenue coming from the already over-burdened taxpayer. Unfortunately, the proposal on which he is willing to risk our entire economy, that of increased taxes on the top 2%, leads to enough revenue to cover expenses for about eight days! Brilliant!

Even the Obama-touted Buffet Rule, if implemented, would pay for about 28 hours of government spending. If you want to close the deficit through increased taxes on the two highest tax brackets – 33% ($178,650 – $388,350) and 35% (over $388,350) – it would be necessary to hike those rates to 159% and 166% respectively. I’m assuming most liberals would tell us that such rates would have absolutely no impact on economic growth or the willingness of those individuals to work!

AEI economists recently looked at the effect of tax increases v. entitlement reforms on fiscal crises management over the nearly three-decade period of 1970-2007. They found that countries that were able to successfully reform did so mainly with spending cuts; in fact, on average 85% of their budget gaps were closed this way. On the other hand, those with failed reforms were the countries that, on average, relied at least 50% on tax increases.

Just ask Jim Sinegal, co-founder of Costco, if those tax increases will most likely lead to greater or reduced revenue next year. He’s a supporter of Obama who preached the moral imperative of Obama’s tax plan, and of businesses large and small all “following the same set of rules . . .” while risking Costco’s credit rating to take on an additional $3.5 billion in debt in order to pay out dividends this year before Obama’s tax hikes kick in. Oh, and he is apparently the biggest beneficiary of this move.

Or ask Great Britain how a plan of tax increases worked for them last year when they raised rates on those making over £1 million (about $1.6 million) to 50%. The result was that they saw a £7 billion treasury loss as nearly two-thirds of the high earners were suddenly missing from the country or finding ways to shelter income.

Funny though, that even after the manifestation of the result of such policies, political supporters of the increased tax are now calling any reduction a “tax cut for millionaires,” as though resentment toward the wealthy is more important than the amount of money the government actually has for programs which benefit the less well-off.

Yes, Mr. Whittle, I think you’re right; this truly is “The Age of the Unserious.”

Dec 5 2012

Childhood Obesity and Michelle’s Failing Plan to Change It

Reprint of an article I wrote for Smart Girl Nation, third quarter 2012.

C.M. Phippen

The United States has an obesity problem.

Let’s ignore the fact that this problem for women has been linked to food stamp usage and that the longer they remain on food stamps, the more weight they gain; weight which is, to a large degree, lost after ceasing participation in the program.

Let’s forget that almost 45 percent of overweight or obese children, 10-17, are poor and that adolescents in low-income areas are nine times more likely to be overweight than those in well-off neighborhoods.

Let’s not pay attention to the fact that in many localities schools provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for students. These programs are generally in low-income areas where, presumably, many of the parents are already receiving food stamps.

Now, while expanding school food programs and encouraging food stamp participation through slick new advertisements and a further loosening of requirements, our federal government is more concerned than ever about rising obesity rates.

Enter the school cafeteria and Michelle Obama’s plan to slim down America’s children. Changes to the school lunch program were rolled out this year, changes that include more whole grains and a wider choice of fruits and vegetables. The new lunches also have calorie caps of 650 calories for elementary, 700 for middle school and 850 for high school.

Keep in mind that growing teenagers need more calories than adults, and active teens may need substantially more, anywhere from 1,800 – 3,200 calories per day. Since the implementation of the new lunch program, many students are complaining of being hungry by early afternoon and those who can are simply choosing to bring lunch from home in order to have enough to eat.

While students are complaining about not having enough to eat, twice as much food is being thrown away from school lunches this year, according to ABC news. Maybe this is because, as one food service worker put it, “It’s completely flip-flopped in terms of portion size. New federal guidelines require vegetables to comprise the largest portion of a student’s lunch, while the entrée is now being treated as a side dish.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who worked with Michelle Obama on the new lunch initiative, claims that the answer for these hungry students is to eat a snack; in other words, replace the food they just took out of the school lunches.

The administration is apparently working on creating a new snack program for kids not getting enough to eat at lunch, thanks to the last program they just created.

Meanwhile, children in private schools, like Michelle Obama’s own daughters, are not subject to the same rules public school children are. As one who has had children in both public and private schools, I’ve clearly seen the responsiveness of private schools specifically relating to the lunch issue. If the food isn’t what the kids want, the parents stop buying and the program becomes too expensive to run; consequently, school administrators do all they can to provide healthy, attractive and interesting food options that kids will actually want to eat.

Unfortunately, there are no such incentives, or common sense, in the public system. While a new snack program is being implemented to fill the tummies of hungry students who are eating their federally-limited two ounces of protein while probably throwing away most of their vegetables, students are prohibited from receiving additional helpings even if there is food left over.

The kids are throwing away their vegetables, we’re throwing away the leftover meat and our federal government is implementing a new supplementary snack because everyone’s starving; all while our country is going broke. Huh?