Monday December 14th, 2009 - Presents or Coal?
Monday, 14 December 2009 12:31
Merry Christmas? 'Tis the season for carols, presents, and such…even in Washington D.C. As we move into the home stretch of 2009, there is a lot of unfinished business. The business is largely unfinished because of the singular obsession on having the government take over 1/6 of the American economy and your health care. Senate rules do not allow them to break off for any other business during the weeks of health care debate except for appointments, confirmations, and conference committee reports.
But the calendar days continue to tick by and cannot be stopped or slowed down. Christmas will come in 11 days and the Speaker cannot repeal it. So, of all the various things that might be passed during these next 11 days, what are Santa Obama and his merry elves, Nancy and Harry, likely to put in your stocking? Will your stocking be full of presents....or coal....or will it be empty? Here is a rundown of all the potentials:
Empty or Coal - Government run health care: Certainly, nothing good is going to come out of this health care plan as it is currently constructed. There is not a single Republican that is likely to vote for it and divisions still exist between the Democrats. So, the most likely scenario is that nothing goes to the President by Christmas. Let's hope this lump of coal stays in the mine.
Coal - $2 trillion more debt: The U.S. will have borrowed the maximum allowed by law in the next month or so. Democrats are planning to raise the debt limit by nearly $2 trillion to cover all borrowing anticipated between now and the election next November. That will put the total national debt close to $14 Trillion. If the debt limit is not passed by year end, the government cannot borrow or print more money.
Coal - $1 trillion more spending: A spending budget for this year has still not been fully passed. It is expected that one will be passed by the House before Christmas which will increase federal spending by another 8% over last year and even higher when you include what was in the so-called stimulus plan. Americans are not getting raises. Unemployment continues to rise. But government bureaucrats are doing just fine under this administration. There is no recession in Washington D.C. if you need more proof, see this story about the salaries of federal employees now completely eclipsing their counterparts in the private sector: USA Today - December 11, 2009
Coal - Stimulus II: In February, Congress passed a stimulus package which has largely been ineffective. Now, in an admission that the first stimulus package has failed, here comes Stimulus II. The problem is, it's more of the same stuff that was in Stimulus I, and it will result in more borrowing, more debt, and more printing of money without creating or encouraging private sector jobs. More lumps of coal on top of lumps of coal.
Present, Coal, or Empty - Death Tax: The outcome of this is completely up in the air right now. If nothing is passed, the death tax goes to zero on January 1st. But there is already talk of retroactively reinstating it in February. Or, they could extend the current rates (This is where the 'coal' part comes in) or move the exemption to $5 million and the rate down to 35% (which would be a 'present').
Empty - Cap and Tax Global Warming Bill: After narrowly passing the House in June, this bill appears dead in the Senate and certainly will not go anywhere by the end of the year. Technically this would leave your proverbial stocking empty, but it is actually a present to the economy if this thing dies.
Empty - Financial regulation: We need some regulatory changes so that we don't even get close to a financial collapse as we did in 2008. But the bill, H.R. 4173, that passed the House last week is not it. This bill contains a completely new federal agency with a new building, thousands of new employees, and billions in new deficit spending. Not to mention, it will retard recovery by putting up too many roadblocks to lending in the future without curing the ‘too big to fail’ problem. But, it will likely not be taken up in the Senate until Spring and they may look at a completely different strategy which would be good.
Present, Empty, or Coal - Extension of Tax Credits: Under the perverse accounting in the Democrat budget, when you renew or extend a tax credit or tax deduction, you are "spending money." When they actually do spend money, many times they do not consider it as 'spending money,' because they really wanted to spend more. Anyway, a number of tax credits are scheduled to expire this year and Democrats are arguing about how to "pay for" them. So, they may be extended while other taxes are raised, or they may let them expire or they may just extend them. We'll see.
So, I hope you have lots of friends and family to put real presents in your stocking because you are not likely to get much from Washington other than lumps of coal. Of course, since the U.S. has more coal than any other country on earth except for maybe China; perhaps coal will be part of our energy independence? Nah. That's not the coal we're going to get.
Afghanistan: A couple of weeks ago I wrote you about my opposition to the surge in Afghanistan and I made comparisons to Vietnam. After I wrote that, I found the following well-researched piece with much more detail on the parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan. It is important to note that this was published in the Military Review, located at the United States Army Combined Arms Center based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This journal is the official professional journal of the United States Army.
Congressman John Campbell
Member of Congress