Tag Archives: fiscal policy

Who Do You Trust?

Have you heard the phrase “information age?” Truly we are living in that time, as free information connects the world more rapidly than ever before with an increasing frequency and volume than ever before possible.   Technology has made everyone an expert capable of distributing facts, fiction and opinions to most of the literate world, if they will only click on your site or email. You are reading this blog as an example.

 

To quantify this information, Wikipedia reports that as of 2006, Google had already indexed more than 25 billion websites (long before this one existed), and was getting 400 million inquiries per day. In 2010, YouTube reported that 35 hours of video was being uploaded every minute, and that it already consumed more bandwidth than the rest of the internet.   Read More More

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What Is The Real Problem?

Remember the imagery of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand? That is sort of how I view the average American taxpayer. They may be opinionated, but choose to remain purposely blinded to what is really happening around them. It is much easier to just not see anything in the periphery and keep to ourselves, or maybe just vent about what we think we don’t like and won’t try to understand.  

The Concord Coalition (www.ConcordCoalition.org) was formed in 1992 to create a bi-partisan dialogue on fiscal responsibility by then U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Paul Tsongas (D-MA). Obviously it has not made enough progress in the years since to raise awareness of the need to reform the U.S. budget or its drunken propensity to continue an endless cycle of spending growth and income reduction. Read More More

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What Would Warren Do?

I have never owned a single share of Berkshire Hathaway stock. My interest and observations of Warren Buffett have always been passive, but my admiration is nonetheless strong. As a captain of American industry, he strikes me as a solid individual who has conducted his life and business with values we can only revere. Old-fashioned? Absolutely. Out-of date? Never.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what Warren Buffett is thinking now as our democratic process has delivered this republic to a point of perpetual government deadlock? At the core of every issue: money. Read More More

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Straight Talk About Our National Debt

In honor of the 250th anniversary Albert Gallatin’s birth, a Swiss native who became the fourth and longest serving U.S. Treasury Secretary, Atlanta’s Swiss Consul General Claudio Leoncavallo recently organized a forum to offer international perspectives on two timely topics on which Gallatin was quite outspoken: public debt and fiscal policy.

Emigrating to the U.S. at age 19, Gallatin was elected to the U.S. Senate only 13 years later. Venomous politics shortened his tenure, yet he later spent six years in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served as majority leader and founded the Ways and Means Committee.    

Thursday’s panel discussion at The Commerce Club was titled Balancing Act: A Dialogue on Public Debt and Fiscal Policy and gathered well qualified panelists for an insightful discussion – Fritz Zurbrügg, Director General of the Swiss Federal Finance Administration; Dennis Lockhart, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Annabelle Malins, Her Majesty’s Consul General of Great Britain, Atlanta; and Glenn Campbell, the Consul General of Canada, New York and Head of their Economic Finance Program. I was selected to moderate the discussion, which was a real treat to share a conversation with such an imminent gathering of economists, bankers and diplomats. Read More More

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Words Matter

This Monday morning opens with the terrible news of the weekend shooting of a U.S. Congresswoman from Arizona, who was hosting an open air town hall gathering with constituents in a Tucson AZ Safeway shopping center. Shot down with a slew of other victims, fourteen people were wounded and six persons died. Representative Gabrielle Gifford clings to life with an uncertain recovery.

There is no way to adequately express the tragedy of this event, and I believe all Americans share with my sadness, anger, and frustration at the senseless violence, futile outrage, and unseemly consequences of this act. And, we know there are many less sincere people who have already begun using this event to spin  their own political liberal and conservative positions, well ahead of a clear explanation of the motivations, methods or madness that was behind this tragic act.

I have my own opinions and this is not the forum to air them – but a hint would be that  senseless backhanded references to violence in our national political theater have contributed to this ugly chapter in  political discourse.   Consider former Senate candidate Sharon Angle’s comments “if we don’t win at the ballot box, we’ll start looking at 2nd amendment solutions…” or potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s use of a gun sight crosshairs to ‘target’ opposing Congressional district races.

Instead of following that story, I want to borrow that theme to point to current rumblings about fiscal policy before the U.S. Congress.   The new Republican majority has arrived in the House and with them all the disjointed promises, demagoguery, and mistaken assumptions are on the floor. First issue at hand: a promised $100 billion spending cut.

Words matter.

If this freshman class was as brash to promise such an irresponsible idea, they darn well should have accepted the responsibility to understand exactly what they were promising. Flying into office, posing for all the pictures, figuring out how to navigate  the Capitol, they have stumbled into the inconvenient truth of what a $100 billion spending cut really means. Particularly since their leadership removed defense, social security, and Medicare off the lists of possibilities where such cuts would be made.

If you add up the remainder of the federal budget (like government operations, bank regulators, investor protection, national parks, education, pollution control, drug enforcement, foreign diplomacy, etc.), they will have to cut $100 billion out of roughly 14% of the federal budget, which will equate to about 20% across the board on every program provided for by the federal budget. Oh, and they did cut $35 million out of Congressional operations – chump change.

Nuts.

Republican legislative aides are already backing down, claiming that since the fiscal year is almost half over, the sum must be adjusted to $50 billion, representing an annualized reduction.   And for what good? How will their bold act impact the deficit? Zilch. $50 billion on $1+ trillion is a rounding error. How does it impact the economy? It will reduce employment in virtually every state, and add pressure to 50 state budgets already stressed. Job growth? Fuggetaboutit.

Words matter.  

When you decide to campaign and  roll into a public position full of spit and vinegar about big, bold ideas, it might help to understand what the hell you are talking about.   Don’t get pushed in a corner by political rhetoric that makes a great soundbite, but hurts everybody that hears it.

The most sacred rule of health care delivery is appropriate here: do no harm.

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