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Economy

The GOP: The Party of Fiscal Conservatives?

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The GOP, led by President Trump, recently passed the most massive tax reform bill in decades. One of the biggest pieces of that bill dropped the corporate tax rate down to 21% from 35%, which had previously given the United States the largest corporate tax in the industrialized world. So cutting this tax and cutting individual taxes was a job well done for fiscal responsibility. It was a CRITICAL first step, but it was only a first step.

The second step was to cut the bloated federal budget. Last night’s budget deal not only failed to do this but in fact increased spending to the deficit levels of the Obama and Bush eras. Liberals claim this is due to the tax cuts, but Senator Rand Paul demonstrated clearly that this has to do entirely with the expensive high Congress gets from spending taxpayer money as well as placing an unconscionable burden on our children.

Republicans made a big to do about deficits and the debt while Barack Obama’s was in power, even coming up with the sequester during the latter half of the Obama Presidency. However, now that they control both houses of Congress and with Trump in the White House, they suddenly have no inclination to cut spending.

“When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party, But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who attempted to block the bill last night.

Others in the party also demonstrated their displeasure at the lack of leadership by the GOP on this issue. Missouri Senate Candidate Austin Petersen’s campaign released this statement:

“The spending deal approved late last night, and supported by both Missouri Senators McCaskill and Blunt, was an absolute travesty. The American people are already $20 trillion in debt, and the deficit for the current fiscal year is estimated to be an additional $1 trillion. This is just plain nuts! And it’s a great example of why Austin is in this Senate race: because like many Missourians, he’s sick and tired of sending politicians to Washington who, break their promises. The truth is we don’t just need another Republican elected to the United States Senate — we need a true constitutional and FISCAL conservative — someone who’s going to stick to their guns, stick to their principles, and most importantly, keep their promises. “

Konstantinos Roditis, Republican candidate for California State Controller said, “Hope of a budget with a modicum of fiscal responsibility from D.C. is laughable. The likelihood a fiscally responsible budget will see the light of day in D.C. is as likely as Trump winning California in a landslide in 2020. Here is a perfect example why I say, I’m a Conservative that happens to be a Republican, instead of a Republican that happens to be a Conservative.”

California GOP Senator candidate Erin Cruz had this to say… Those in the House and Senate work for the American people and should put forth a fiscally responsible budget, one which does not put an undue burden on the taxpayer and future generations. Heavy cuts should be made in the area of foreign aid, as well as pet deals congressional members tuck into these bills known as pork. The taxpayer is the boss and they want big change in government, namely reduction in size and scope of government as well as cuts to unnecessary spending. The budget passed is not reflective of what the American people voted into office. Actual change is coming, patriots like myself are standing up to the call to serve the people, there will be a big turn in how D.C. operates. Americans live by budgets and within their means, Congress should as well. Midterms can’t come soon enough for all Americans. Americans must push for a high turn out at the polls this year.

A disappointment for many conservatives is that standard-bearer Ted Cruz (R-TX) “reluctantly” voted for the spending bill, giving away any credibility he might have in the future on this issue. It should be noted that Cruz has filibustered spending in the past, famously reading to his children from the Senate floor.

In stark contrast, there was no surprise that the other Texas Senator, John Cornyn, was vocal about his annoyance with Rand Paul’s efforts to derail the budget process, saying this was an “emergency” while failing to make mention Congress hasn’t had a non-emergency spending effort in years.

It would be easy for some to lay the blame for all this on the self-proclaimed “king of debt,” President Trump. However, those who have actually read the Constitution know the power of the budget comes from Congress. Sure, Trump could lead a bit more on this issue, but at no point has Trump ever made over-spending a priority.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is the former chairman of the House Budget Committee, seems most to blame. Of all people he should know how to cut spending, and yet has failed to do so.

The political fallout will likely be negligible. The average American, when asked, will say they are concerned about the debt, but often not enough to change their vote. And so both major parties keep passing this issue back and forth like a hot potato. The party that will be hurt by the debt is whoever is in power when the economy comes crashing down due to debt. Time will tell on that one.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how we can’t afford our sacred cows, including increased defense spending, and yet we’re increasing defense spending through the roof. You can refer back to it here.

The thing I can tell you for certain is we can’t keep doing what we’re doing. Spending on credit will eventually lead to default as more and more of our budget is eaten up by paying interest on our debt and it leases to Greek-style austerity. We need new leadership with ACTUAL fiscal conservatives.

Economy

To those who don’t care about the national debt, consider this

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To those who dont care about the national debt consider this

The national debt has been growing dramatically for decades. It’s so great that most Americans seem to dismiss it altogether; if we haven’t been harmed by it already, it obviously can’t hurt us, right? This sort of “head in the sand” thinking is why lawmakers refuse to tackle it. As long as the people don’t seem to care, why should they?

It’s time to care. It’s been time to care for a while but the collective ignoring of it has brought it to the level that now, in 2018, we are nearing the point of no return.

Why? Because the astronomical interest is now going to noticeably affect how the government operates. We’ve spent years pretending like the interest isn’t a big deal even though it was growing to unsustainable levels during the Clinton administration. Now, we’re seeing it reach levels that are tangible. Why? Because the cost to cover it is now great enough that other areas are going to need to be cut.

In 2017, the interest on our debt was $263 billion. That’s 6.6% of federal government spending. We’re on track to spend more on interest than Medicaid in 2020 and more on interest than defense by 2023. Let me repeat that:

By 2023, we will spend more in interest on the national debt than we spend on national defense.

Normally, we can take CBO predictions with a grain of salt because they’re usually off (see Obamacare predictions for CBO’s epic failures) but this one relies on simple math. Even in a humming economy with the best case scenarios in play, you can’t overcome interest without paying down the debt.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any intention of paying off the debt. This is why candidate Trump went from promising to pay off the national debt in eight years, then ten years, then paying part of it off, then finally proclaiming himself the “king of debt” – all within the period of one month on the campaign trail.

To get the national debt in line will require an ironclad commitment backed by irrevocable legislation that spans two- to four-decades. It means entitlement reform, budget limits, cutting entire agencies and possibly even departments, and commitments to rein in all forms of discretionary spending.

In other words, the only way to get the national debt to a manageable level – not even getting it to zero but somewhere much lower than it is – would require commitments by politicians that none of them are willing to make. Oh, there might be a couple of Senators and a handful of Congressmen who would embrace such measures, but even those ones won’t buck the system to the point that they’d push hard for it without a mandate by voters.

We are the only hope for the very near future. If Americans don’t care that our tax dollars are being used to pay interest on the mountainous debt that has been accumulated in recent years, let alone the debt that preceded it, then we shouldn’t expect politicians to care, either. This can has been kicked down the road for decades, but the road is coming to a very abrupt end soon. It’s beyond unsustainable. We’re on the verge of collapsing under the weight of our own mistakes.

As long as voters ignore the national debt, neither party will pay attention to it, either. We will drown in our own ignorance if we don’t act soon. In the past, they said the debt will affect our children and grandchildren. Now, the debt is starting to affect us.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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Economy

Trump: Fund the border wall or let’s have a government shutdown

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Trump Fund the border wall or lets have a government shutdown

President Trump indicated Saturday that if he doesn’t get the $5 billion he wants for Homeland Security in the next spending bill, he may push a partial government shutdown.

“This would be a very good time to do a shutdown,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House to visit the fire zones in California. “I don’t think it’s going to be necessary, because I think the Democrats will come to their senses, and if they don’t come to their senses, we will continue to win elections.”

The House has already passed a spending bill that includes the $5 billion President Trump wants in order to jumpstart the building of his wall along the Mexican border. The Senate is still working with the original number proposed, $1.6 billion. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it isn’t going to happen.

“We believe Democrats and Republicans should stick with their agreement and not let President Trump interfere,” Schumer said earlier this week. “Every time he interferes, it gets bollixed up.”

Around 70% of the government is already funded beyond the December 7 deadline. The shutdown President Trump is threatening would affect State, Interior, Homeland Security, Justice and other departments.

My Take

I’m always hesitant to call for increased spending on anything. Budgets are already too high. But the border wall is one of the few things that actually does need to be funded. The long-term effects of slowing illegal immigration will actually save the country money.

Most politicians fear a shutdown. It harms federal employees and with Christmas coming up, the prospects of a shutdown are troubling. But we need the wall. We were promised the wall. It’s time to get aggressive and force Congress to do their job.

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