Tax Reform – Time to Get Down On It

Only one group of people likes our tax laws just the way they are:  the accountants.

Our tax code is so complex that nobody understands it.  If you call the IRS ten times to get a question answered, you are likely to get ten different answers – that is, if your call even gets through!  30 million calls went unanswered at last count in 2015.

No two CPAs will ever come up with the same tax liability given the same set of books.  It’s not their fault – the tax code was 75,000 pages a year ago (probably more by now).  And that’s a good thing, if you make your living doing tax returns.  For the rest of us, not so much.

Tax compliance costs almost a half-trillion dollars a year, and that doesn’t include the routine accounting that businesses do every day to determine their profitability. 90% of Americans think the tax code is too complex.

Finally there is an opportunity to do something about it.  GOP members of congress have come up with a tax reform plan that would reduce most individual tax returns to one simple page, eliminate most loopholes and targeted deductions, repeal the complex alternative minimum tax, and do away with business depreciation.

Oh, the humanity!  Tax accountants will be leaping from their first-story windows.  H&R Block will no longer have an office on every block.  Packages of TurboTax software will be relegated to the bargain bin at Ollie’s.  Corrupt and inefficient IRS employees will have to get real jobs that actually produce something of value.

More importantly, GDP growth will suddenly jump from 2.5% to 3%.  Then 4%, and upward. Eliminating the productivity drag of all that accounting, reducing tax payments, and deducting the cost of capital purchases from taxable income will give businesses and individuals a huge shot of economic momentum.

Of course this can only happen if Congress is convinced that voters give a damn.  Most of them would just as soon spend your money for you rather than let you do it yourself, and they enjoy controlling your behavior by controlling your wallet.

It’s way past time for tax reform.  Today might be a good day to pick up the phone and call your member of Congress and tell him or her to get down on it.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Get down on it, come on and
Get down on it, if you really want it.
Get down on it, you gotta feel it
Get down on it, get down on it

Get Down On It – Kool and the Gang

 

They’re getting a little gray, but they still got it going on!  It’s Kool and the Gang.

 

 

 

A Change Would Do Us Good

 

America’s two-party political system worked remarkably well until recently.  Unlike most nations who have gone through all manner of revolutions, rule by despots, booms and busts, the USA has been (save for the Civil War) stable and improving since it was founded.

But something feels different now, not only culturally, but also politically.  50 years ago the Democrat and Republican parties were both made up of conservatives, moderates and liberals.  Cross-party coalitions were not only possible, they were routine.  Policy moved forward, generally in the best interests of the majority of citizens.

Think back – president John Kennedy was a conservative Democrat who believed in free markets, small government, exploiting natural resources, and peace through a strong military.  Nelson Rockefeller was a liberal Republican who served as Gerald Ford’s vice-president.  When America elected a president, all of our citizens coalesced behind him, regardless of party, presenting a united front to the world and joining forces to advance the well-being of all.

Those days are gone.  Today’s Republican party is still made up of a few liberals, a few conservatives, and the rest moderates.  Because of these ideological differences, and the fact that Republicans are a more independent lot, they will never vote as a bloc.  But the Democrats have adopted a tactic that requires monolithic devotion to their hard-left leadership.  They must bloc vote against anything proposed by Republicans.  Last week’s votes on the future of health care are proof.  Until the Republicans can muster a core group that outnumbers the bloc-voting Democrats, there is no chance of meaningful policy change.  And that won’t happen any time soon.

This state of affairs was inevitable as money became a greater influence over congress than the will of constituents.  As voters became less engaged and knowledgeable about government, party bosses learned that political offices can be bought, through slick and often dishonest campaign advertising, and also through policy that patronizes voters who don’t pay taxes with largess from those who do.

Money now rules politics, and the party bosses control the money.  A house campaign costs a minimum of $1 million these days, and candidates for senate offices will spend $5 million and up.  And these numbers ratchet up exponentially with every election.  Spending more than the competition does not guarantee a win (Hillary Clinton reportedly spent $1.2 billion on her losing campaign), but failure to raise a war chest usually promises defeat.

The few voters who are engaged can’t contribute this kind of money, and the low-cost old-school practice of door-to-door campaigning just doesn’t work like it once did.  The Democrats find themselves having to pay for “protestors” to advance their messaging.

With few exceptions, anyone who wants to become a congressman or senator (and stay there), must have the money that only K Street, deep pocket donors, and the party leaders can provide.  As a result, true representative government is totally dead in the Democrat party, and barely breathing in the GOP, thanks only to the life support system known as the House Freedom Caucus.

The situation has the Capitol, the press, and a good portion of the general public totally disoriented.  On top of that, our executive branch, elected on good intentions, can’t seem to stay on task.  Meanwhile, our treasured public institutions – schools, churches, military, media – flounder around in a fog.

We know from history that when there is disorientation and discomfort with the status quo it can’t and won’t continue.  Change is inevitable.  Something is going to happen, probably something nobody has anticipated.

It might be a direct change forced upon our system of government.  More likely it will be an unanticipated outside event – a war, a new technology, a financial disaster, an epidemic.  Who knows?  Maybe a space ship full of little green men will land in front of the Capitol.

My life experience has shown me that there’s no point getting too upset about the way things are, because things will change.

And right now, a change would do us good.  As long as it’s not the change that happened to Russia, China and all the other socialist failures.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train,
Leave my phone machine by the radar range,
“Hello it’s me, I’m not at home,
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone.”
A change (a change) will do you good!

Sheryl Crow – A Change Will Do You Good

Interesting – watch this great amateur video of Sheryl live from the front row.  The instruments and vocals are picked up from amps and stage monitors, not the big main cabinets the rest of the audience hears.  This is what it sounds like to the performers on stage.

 

Who Deserves Support – Sick Vietnam Vets or Sex-Change Seekers?

A bunch of my friends meet once a week at a local fast food for a short men’s bible study.  One of our regulars had missed the last several sessions because he was in a lot of pain and just not able to get around much.  We were glad to see him back last Wednesday, but it was evident that he is in trouble.  Sweat dripped from his forehead as he told us about his many medical problems, mostly caused by his handling of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.

“We always had tall chain link fencing around our fire bases at the front lines,” he said.  “But the vegetation would grow so fast and thick on the fences that we couldn’t see the VC sneaking up to attack.  So we always had a few barrels of Agent Orange on hand to kill the weeds.”

He continued, “We didn’t have any buckets to carry the chemical in, so we used to fill up our helmets and carry the Agent Orange to the fence.  We would throw it on the weeds and then put our helmets back on.  It actually felt good running down your face, it felt cool in the hot jungle.”

I thought back about a drummer friend of mine who, not long before he died of cancer, told me about his exposure to Agent Orange.  He was in the Navy, and most of his hitch in Vietnam was spent offloading barrels of the chemical for delivery to the air bases.  He said the barrels often leaked, or were broken, and the guys who handled them were soaked in Agent Orange almost every day.

The day after our men’s meeting Congress voted on the Hartzler Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.  It was a simple amendment that would have stopped the Pentagon’s Obama-prescribed practice of providing taxpayer-funded sex change operations and treatment for active duty military members.  The bill failed by four votes.

Countless veterans have fought the VA bureaucracy for every ounce of health care they received, and all too often they lose the fight.  My friend was unable to get the medication he needs through the VA.  Faced with a $300 bill for a whole prescription, he was resigned to buying a few pills at a time to get by until a benevolent Walgreen’s pharmacist cut him a deal out of respect for his service.

All 190 Democrats voted against the Hartzler Amendment.  235 Republicans voted for it.  Sadly, 23 Republicans voted with the Democrats to continue funding fake penises and vaginas to the tune of (according to Hartzler) $130,00 per surgery, costly ongoing hormonal treatments, more surgeries for the frequent complications, and at least a year of lost service time during the process .  A total projected cost of $1.3 billion over the next ten years.

Justin Amash (Michigan)
Jack Bergman (Michigan)
Mike Coffman (Colorado)
Barbara Comstock (Virginia)
Paul Cook (California)
Ryan Costello (Pennsylvania)
Carlos Curbelo (Florida)
Jeff Denham (California)
Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania)
John Faso (New York)
Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania)
Darrell Issa (California)
John Katko (New York)
Steve Knight (California)
Leonard Lance (New Jersey)
Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey)
Tom MacArthur (New Jersey)
Tom Reed (New York)
Dave Reichert (Washington)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida)
Bill Shuster (Pennsylvania)
Elise Stefanik (New York)
Claudia Tenney (New York)

I can understand the liberals’ bloc vote.  They don’t really care about the health of soldiers, straight or gay.  The sexually confused and honestly gay LGBTQ are just one of the many minority groups liberals peeled off from the general population and brainwashed into voting straight Democrat by claiming nobody else loves them.  Democrat party leaders pretend to care about the LGBTQ to continue to get their votes, and the Democrat congressional sheep dare not face the wrath of their leaders, so they vote as they are told.

How can the 23 Republicans justify their vote?

Our Veteran’s Administration is so corrupt, mismanaged and downright pathetic that it can’t provide adequate care for veterans who drop like flies waiting for care.  Meanwhile 190 Democrat Congressmen and 23 Republicans vote to spend precious time, care, and taxpayer dollars on transgender transmissions.

And if that isn’t troubling enough, it gets worse.  I was so angry with the vote that I tweeted my displeasure, naming the 23 Republicans.

*note – Rep. Brian Mast’s vote was miscounted in the original tally, the margin was actually 4 votes

Rep. Justin Amash, the biggest surprise on the list, immediately replied.

Policy?  Secretary of Defense “Bulldog” Mattis needs time to develop a freaking POLICY?

Here’s your “POLICY”, Bulldog.  Cut the politically correct crap and rebuild our military into a fighting force that nobody in the world dares to mess with.  And take care of our veterans.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

Take A Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed

 

We Heard An Inspiring “Make America Great” Speech – by JFK

photo JFK library

Over dinner, my wife and I watched the news about President Trump’s latest “Make America Great Again” rally, delivered to a stadium full of supportive Americans.  It was filled with populist promises and ideas  and peppered with a healthy dose of partisan vitriol.

We wondered who was the last president to barnstorm the country talking directly to the folks.  Simultaneously we both remembered attending John F. Kennedy’s historic speech in Great Falls, Montana in 1963, only two months before he was assassinated.

We were both in fifth grade, living in different towns, and wouldn’t meet until several years later.  But like everyone else in the area we both found our way to the high school football stadium to hear our president talk.  It’s not every day that you get a chance to see a president when you live in Montana.  Our teachers had prepared us for the moment, and we were old enough to understand every word of JFK’s speech.  We both remember being impressed not only by the celebrity of it all, but also the uplifting message.

Over the years we had forgotten exactly what Kennedy talked about, so I looked for his speech on the web, finding it at the American Presidency Project website.

Reading the speech aloud, we felt again some of the same inspiration at Kennedy’s words that we did 53  years ago.  In some ways we were even more inspired, knowing the depths of political depravity to which our nation has sunk in recent years.  Kennedy’s cold war rhetoric now seems naive and archaic, but national security was as vexing to Americans then as the spread of radical Islamic terrorism is today.

Back then the throngs of Montanans who clamored to hear Kennedy didn’t care about his party affiliation.  He was our president.  He belonged to all of us, and spoke to all of us – directly and respectfully.  Rather than dividing us into groups pitted against each other, JFK encouraged Americans to recognize and enjoy the benefits of living in the greatest nation in the world.

He spoke of growing our economy through use and development of our vast natural resources.  Back then Montana was an economic powerhouse with mining, forestry, agriculture and hydroelectric power promising a bright future for generations to come.  And Kennedy advocated for better education and technology.

Kennedy was firm in his resolve to maintain America’s status as the active leader of the free world; a beacon for democracy, peace and economic progress.  He asked for our understanding, our effort, and our trust.  He expected us, as a nation and as individuals, to be responsible.  JFK made mistakes, and had character flaws, but his concern for all of his countrymen, and his understanding of our shared values were never questioned.

Kennedy’s assassination was shocking to a nation of people who had coalesced in support of his agenda.  While the true motivation behind his murder may never be revealed to the public, it is accepted that it was a political act.

In today’s political reality, nearly half of our citizens subscribe to a regimen of hostility, obstruction and resistance to President Trump’s every thought and word.  His personal threat level is off the charts compared to Kennedy’s.

Please read the text (below) of President John Kennedy’s speech and see why it was easy for Americans to be united and be proud of our country in 1963.


 

Remarks at Great Falls High School Memorial Stadium – September 23, 1963

Senator Mansfield, Governor, Secretary Udall, Senator Metcalf, Madam Mayor, Congressman Olsen, ladies and gentlemen:

This journey, which started almost by accident, has been one of the most impressive experiences of my life. We live in the city of Washington, in a rather artificial atmosphere. Washington was deliberately developed as a Government city in order to remove those who were making the laws from all the pressures of everyday life, and so we live far away.

We talk about the United States, about its problems, its powers, its people, its opportunity, its dangers, its hazards, but we are still talking about life in a somewhat removed way. But to fly, as we have flown, in the short space of 48 hours, from Milford, Pennsylvania, to Ashland, Wisconsin, to Duluth, Minnesota, to North Dakota, to Wyoming, to Montana, back to Wyoming, back to Montana, and then to go to the State of Washington and the State of Utah this evening, shows anyone who makes that journey even in a short period of time what a strong, powerful, and resourceful country this is.

Montana is a long way from Washington, and it is a long way from the Soviet Union, and it is 10,000 miles from Laos. But this particular State, because it has, among other reasons, concentrated within its borders some of the most powerful nuclear missile systems in the world, must be conscious of every danger and must be conscious of how close Montana lives to the firing line which divides the Communist world. We are many thousands of miles from the Soviet Union, but this State, in a very real sense, is only 30 minutes away.

The object of our policy, therefore, must be to protect the United States, to make sure that those over 100 Minuteman missiles which ring this city and this State remain where they are, and that is the object of the foreign policy of the United States under this administration, under the previous administration, and under that of President Truman. One central theme has run through the foreign policy of the United States, and that is, in a dangerous and changing world it is essential that the 180 million people of the United States throw their weight into the balance in every struggle, in every country on the side of freedom. And so in the last years we have been intimately involved with affairs of countries of which we never heard 20 years ago, but which now affect the balance of power in the world and, therefore, the security of the United States and, therefore, the chances of war and peace.

I know that there are many of you who sit here and wonder what it is that causes the United States to go so far away, that causes you to wonder why so many of your sons should be stationed so far away from our own territory, who wonder why it is since 1945 that the United States has assisted so many countries. You must wonder when it is all going to end and when we can come back home. Well, it isn’t going to end, and this generation of Americans has to make up its mind for our security and for our peace, because what happens in Europe or Latin America or Africa or Asia directly affects the security of the people who live in this city, and particularly those who are coming after.

I make no apologies for the effort that we make to assist these other countries to maintain their freedom, because I know full well that every time a country, regardless of how far away it may be from our own borders-every time that country passes behind the Iron Curtain the security of the United States is thereby endangered. So all those who suggest we withdraw, all those who suggest we should no longer ship our surplus food abroad or assist other countries, I could not disagree with them more. This country is stronger now than it has ever been. Our chances for peace are stronger than they have been in years. The nuclear test ban which was strongly led in the Senate of the United States by Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf is, I believe, a step toward peace and a step toward security, and gives us an additional chance that all of the weapons of Montana will never be fired. That is the object of our policy.

So we need your support. These are complicated problems which face a citizenry. Most of us grew up in a relative period of isolation, and neutrality, and unalignment which was our policy from the time of George Washington to the Second World War, and suddenly, in an act almost unknown in the history of the world, we were shoved onto the center of the stage. We are the keystone in the arch of freedom. If the United States were to falter, the whole world, in my opinion, would inevitably begin to move toward the Communist bloc.

It is the United States, this country, your country, which in 15 to 18 years has almost singlehandedly protected the freedom of dozens of countries who, in turn, by being free, protect our freedom. So when you ask why are we in Laos, or Viet-Nam, or the Congo, or why do we support the Alliance for Progress in Latin America, we do so because we believe that our freedom is tied up with theirs, and if we can develop a world in which all the countries are free, then the threat to the security of the United States is lessened. So we have to stay at it. We must not be fatigued.

I do not believe that the test ban treaty means that the competition between the Communist system and ourselves will end. What we hope is that it will not be carried into the sphere of nuclear war. But the competition will go on. Which society is the most productive? Which society educates its children better? Which society maintains a higher rate of economic growth? Which society produces more cultural and intellectual stimulus? Which society, in other words, is the happier?

We believe that ours is, but we should not fool ourselves if the chance of war disappears to some degree.

Other struggles come to the center of the stage. The solution of every problem brings with it other problems. And, therefore, this society of ours is, in a very real sense, in a race, and, therefore, I want to see all of our children as well educated as possible. I want to see us protect our natural resources. I want to see us make our cities better places in which to live. I want this country, as I know you do, to be an ornament to the cause of freedom all around the globe, because as we go, so goes the cause of freedom. This is the obligation, therefore, of this generation of Americans. And I think that in the last 18 years, reviewing what we have done, we have every reason to feel a sense of satisfaction, and I look forward to the next decade when the struggle may be in all these other areas. I look forward to that struggle with confidence and hope. But we must recognize the national obligation upon us all. There are 8 to 9 million children in the United States of America in high school or in elementary school who live in families which have $3,000 a year or less. What chance do they have to finish high school? How many of them will go to college? What kind of an income will they have when they go to work? Will their children then grow up in a family which is, itself, deprived and so pass on from generation to generation a lag, a fifth of the country which lives near the bottom while the rest of the country booms and prospers?

It is the obligation of government, speaking on the will of the people, that we concern ourselves with this phase of our resource development, our children, 9 million children who are growing up without the opportunity available to yours. And then they drop out of school, and then they lose their chance. So we have a lot to do in this country. We have a lot to do. And I am out here to try to get your support in doing it.

One of the things that I think we have to do is worry about this country of ours. I flew over some of the most beautiful parts of the United States this morning from Jackson Hole. I am sure that half of our country, particularly those who live east of the Mississippi River, have no idea what we have in this part of the United States. They are beginning to realize it, and more and more. But all in the east of the Mississippi live too much in crowded areas. They live along the seashore, which is open to only a few. They live in cities which are becoming more sprawling and more concentrated. And we have here in the Western United States a section of the world richer by far almost than any other. I want them to come out here. And I want the United States to take those measures in this decade which will make the Northwest United States a garden to attract people from all over this country and all over the world.

We go to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone and we are impressed, as all of us are. But what we should remember is that that was due to the work of others, not to us, but to those who made the great fight in the last 50 years. Now in the 1960’s we have to decide what we are going to do, and I believe that there is a good deal that we can do. We have started on a project, a concentrated project of resource development. More watershed projects have been completed in recent years than ever before in our history. Negotiations are underway which should lead, and must lead, to the final ratification of the Columbia River treaty with Canada. It has moved into its last stages, and it is my hope that work will soon be commenced on the Libby Dam project in northwest Montana, which will make this a richer State in which to live. And what you have done here in this section of the United States, I want us to do along our coastline. Only 2 percent of our extraordinary coastline, the Atlantic, the Gulfstream, and the Pacific, only 2 percent is devoted to public use. We have the same fight along our coastlines that we had here in this section of the Northwest 30 and 40 years ago for forests and parks and all the rest–2 percent.

The fact of the matter is, we passed in one year in 1961 three parks along our seashores which is more than had been done in 1 year in any Congress in history. We have let our seashores go to waste.

So I urge this generation of Americans, who are the fathers and mothers of 350 million Americans who will live in this country in the year 2000, and I want those Americans who live here in 2000 to feel that those of us who had positions of responsibility in the sixties did our part, and those of us who inherited it from Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt will have something to pass on to those who come, and our children, many years from now.

So I hope that we will harness our rivers. I hope we will reclaim our land. I hope we will irrigate it. I hope we can provide, through cooperative effort of the farmers and the Government, the kind of program which will give them a hope for security. I hope, in other words, that we will take this rich country of ours, given to us by God and by nature, and improve it through science and find new uses for our natural resources, to make it possible for us to sustain in this country a steadily increasing standard of living, the highest in the world, and, based on that powerful fortress, to move out around the world in the defense of freedom, as we have done for 18 years and as we must do in the years to come.

This is the responsibility which this generation of Americans has been given. I do not share with those who feel that this responsibility should be passed on to others. The fact of the matter is that there are no others who can combine our geographic position, our natural wealth, and the determination of our people. And, therefore, until such a people someday arrives, I think the United States should stand guard at the gate. The fact is, we have done it for 18 years. The fact is, the chances for peace may be better now than before. The fact is that our wealth has increased. The fact is, there are over 100 countries which are now independent, many of them who owe their independence to the United States.

This is the record which this country has written since 1945, and it is upon this great record that I believe we now must build. This sun and this sky which shines over Montana can be, I believe, the kind of inspiration to us all to recognize what a great single country we have, 50 separate States, but one people, living here in the United States, building this country and maintaining the watch around the globe.

This is the opportunity before us as well as the responsibility.
Thank you.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ on the Right Side

Cut the Budget, Or A Whole Department? You Decide!

When is the last time the Federal Government asked you what you want it to do?  Been a while, hasn’t it?

Here is yet another example of how elections really do matter.  The Trump administration, via Mick Mulvaney and his Office of Management and Budget, wants your input.

They set up a web page on the White House website and are asking for suggestions from citizens on how to make our federal government “more efficient, effective, and accountable to the American public.”

They want you to name names.  They are asking for details.  If you have seen a federal agency that is not operating at, shall we say, “peak efficiency”, here’s your chance to do something about it.  Trump and Mulvaney want to know which agencies, boards, and commissions are screwing up, wasting money, or are no longer even necessary, and visitors to the website are encouraged to share their ideas and solutions in detail.

In addition, citizens are asked to weigh in on federal government management reform and reorganization of the government.  How damn refreshing is that?

It’s hard to resist the temptation to “select all” for elimination or reform and hit enter.  So I zeroed in on all the departments and agencies related to the Indian Reservation debacle.

Rumor has it that Mulvaney and his team are also planning to “tech up” the government to modern business standards, something I have advocated for years.

Information technology (IT) advancements have been at the center of a transformation in how the private sector operates—and revolutionized the efficiency, convenience, and effectiveness with which it serves its customers. The Federal Government largely has missed out on that transformation due to poor management of technology investments, with IT projects too often costing hundreds of millions of dollars more than they should, taking years longer than necessary to deploy, and delivering technologies that are obsolete by the time they are completed. We are working to close the resulting gap between the best performing private sector organizations and the federal government.

— Office of E-Government and Information Technology

Of course asking for input and actually using it are two very different things.  But I find it flattering to even be asked, after two terms of total arrogance in the executive office.

So I hope you will take a few minutes and look over the long list of agencies.  Consider whether the National Endowment for the Arts is still deserving of taxpayer support, and check yes or no.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Do you love me,
Do you want to be my friend?
And if you do
Well then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand
If you want to
I think this is how love goes
Check yes or no

Check Yes or No – George Strait

What The Hell Is ‘Mad Dog” Up To?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

With all eyes on the middle of the swamp, riveted on the battle over the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, a little drama has been percolating, unwatched, over in the far corner under the cypress trees.

Not long ago, General James Mattis rode President Trump’s full-throated endorsement to the lofty post of Secretary of Defense, past eminently qualified candidates like Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Mike Rogers, and veteran security advisor Stephen Hadley.  The men overlooked for the job had several things in common – all are Republicans, are loyal Trump supporters, and are broadly respected in conservative circles.

Mattis had a few things going for him, too.  People called him “Mad Dog”.  He once said, “it’s fun to shoot some people.”  He also once said he is opposed to the Iran nuclear giveaway.  Did I say his name is Mad Dog?

President Trump was so impressed with old Mad Dog he slam-dunked him right into one of his most critical cabinet posts.  Congress didn’t hesitate to give Mattis a waiver allowing the recently-retired general to bypass the required 10-year waiting period between active military service and SecDef.  Why, Leon Panetta himself personally campaigned for Mattis.  What’s not to like?

Wait a minute, Leon Panetta?  The guy who viscerally hates Donald Trump?  The far-left, Obama insider, Democrat apparatchik who was one of the biggest moving parts of the Clinton Machine?  That Leon Panetta?

It gets weirder.  Old Mad Dog’s first big recruit was Anne Patterson for undersecretary of defense for policy.  Patterson gained notoriety as a honcho on Hillary Clinton’s team for her support of the Muslim Brotherhood regime that failed so spectacularly in Egypt.

General Mattis also flirted with Democrat Michele Flournoy, founder of the far-left Center for New American Security and former Obama undersecretary of defense for policy, for a sub-cab post.  Flournoy ultimately turned him down because Mad Dog is not quite leftist enough to suit her taste.

Mattis’ latest pick is Rudy DeLeon for undersecretary of personnel and readiness.  DeLeon is a senior fellow at the Center for America Progress, whose current stated mission is to undermine the Trump presidency.  CAP was created and developed by John Podesta (there’s that name again) and is funded by George Soros.  According to Jordan Schactel in Conservative Review, DeLeon signed on to a letter that calls Trump’s national security order restricting immigration “beneath the dignity of our great nation” and advised government workers to apply “discretion,” in an attempt to essentially undermine the president’s initiative.  DeLeon is a big proponent of Obama’s nuclear giveaway program to Iran.

I can’t see any reason why a person with DeLeon’s pedigree wouldn’t fit perfectly into Trump’s administration, can you?

General Mattis’ appears determined to load up the administration with as many Trump-haters as he can find, as if there aren’t enough enemies left over from the Obama regime already.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Big man, walking in the park
Wigwam, frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven’t got a clue
Hey Bulldog!

Hey Bulldog – the Beatles

 

Let the Miracle of the Free Market Work For Health Care

We have two problems with our health care delivery system:  access and cost.  In 2010, ObamaCare was passed to address both problems.  Predictably, it failed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made voting for ObamaCare very simple,   instructing her fellow Democrats to “pass the bill so that you can see what’s in it.”  All but 34 of them did.  Not one Republican voted for ObamaCare.

The American people never did like the Affordable Care Act, especially after the President’s fake-out that we could keep our doctors and insurance plans. Costs have increased even more rapidly, and access to plans and care has become even ‘iffy-er’ as more insurers jump ship every day.

Throughout Obama’s term outnumbered Republican legislators set up “show votes” to signal their desire to repeal ObamaCare.  But that talk was cheap when they knew the bills had no chance of getting past Obama’s veto.  “There’s nothing we can do about it,” they whimpered, even though they had complete control of the nation’s purse-strings and could have cut off the funding.

So the people did the only thing they could do to get rid of this economy-crushing, freedom-sucking, unsustainable mother-of-all-government-programs.  They elected majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican president who promised to do away with ObamaCare, once and for all.   “NO MORE EXCUSES”, they told Congress.

But it seems voting this hot mess out is not nearly as simple as voting it in.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is trying to ram his “ObamaCare Light” plan through Congress.  But unlike Pelosi’s sheep, conservative legislators in the Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Group and a few brave senators want to see what’s in it and make it right before they pass the bill.

Ryan’s AHCA plan disguises and leaves in place many of the worst provisions of the ACA.  There are so many details that I won’t even try to elaborate here.  But I have one overriding concern about Ryan’s plan.  It does nothing to reduce the cost of health care, and may have the opposite effect.

Only one thing lowers the cost of any product, and that’s competition.  Until consumers make their own health care buying decisions in a competitive free market with transparent pricing, costs will never be reduced.

The GOP plan doubles down on the Medicaid expansion of ObamaCare, continues government subsidies in the form of refundable tax credits (some citizens will get cash back from the government because they pay little or no federal tax), and retains mandates that force individual and employer participation.  This distorts the market and makes health care just one more entitlement, edging us ever closer to a single-payer national plan.  And it further isolates the end consumer from health care purchasing decisions.

The first step must be the complete repeal of ObamaCare.  In 2015 both houses of Congress passed a bill under reconciliation that would fully repeal ObamaCare at a future date.  It was, of course, vetoed by President Obama.  Why not present the same bill to President Trump?  Then let the “invisible hand” of the free market find the appropriate price levels for health care instead of over-prescribing and over-pricing everything by running it through the same big-government machine that pays $700 for a toilet seat.  With all the complexity and control of ObamaCare completely out of the picture, Democrats and Republicans would be forced to start fresh with new legislation to protect consumers and provide a humane, and hopefully more efficient, safety net.

Even before ObamaCare the federal government was the biggest purchaser of health care.  The worst thing our legislators could do right now is pass a watered-down bill that leaves too much of the nasty old fat in the sausage, hoping to squeeze it out later.

Most of us can take care of ourselves and our families if the government will just get out of the way and let the miracle of the free market work.  That would be a big step toward making American great again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you

Mike and the Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle