Thursday, February 21, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The focus in Washington is now on the March 1 deadline to get a budget deal done and avoid sequestration of federal monies in across the board cuts to numerous government programs. Right now, both political parties in Washington are busy shouting at each other and playing the political game like masters. While that may be good for their individual re-election chances, it is time for our leaders in Washington to stop playing the political games and begin to govern. And there is a world of difference between the two. And if both parties are going to actually govern, they should start by telling the truth. That truth is: we as a nation spend 32% more per year than we take in via all taxes; our debt is $16 trillion and growing; correcting this problem will take tax hikes on all income levels, especially the middle class; and that benefits (read: entitlements) will have to be significantly reformed. That is the truth, the reality of our situation in this country. Democrats have to set aside politics and offer meaningful entitlement reform. Republicans need to offer pro-growth policies that also include increasing taxes. Politics is easy; governing is hard. It is time for our leaders in Washington to govern.

My daydreams about being skinny are always interrupted by the sound of my chewing.

We are all feeling the pinch of rising gas prices. It is starting to get painful again when we fill up our vehicle. Here is an interesting bit of information that may provide some hope for relief: according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic crude oil production will hit 7.8 million barrels per day in 2014. The significance is that is a 56% increase in the production of U.S. crude oil since 2008. To put this into perspective, the increase in production would supply all of Russia's oil demand for a year. Why is this? New oil discoveries, such as the Bakkan Shale in the Dakotas, are yielding phenomenal amounts of crude oil and natural gas. Oil companies are developing new technologies to discover and extract oil deposits. Technology now allows oil companies to tap into vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas in various shale deposits. The SCOOP (South Central Oklahoma Oil Project) could yield as much if not more oil than has already been extracted from Permian Basin drilling in Texas and Louisiana. Now we need Washington to get out of the way and let us use the natural resources that are here in our own country rather than import these resources from Middle Eastern nations. This is something that all of us should be attentive to and we should encourage our legislators to remove the impediments to obtaining our natural resources. If we do that , it may not be as painful at the pump in the next few years.

The brain is a most amazing organ. It works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from birth until you fall in love.

We now have over 11 million Americans that collect social security disability insurance payments. The number of Americans that are receiving DI benefits is the highest in the history of the country. According to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office in January, the DI trust fund will be exhausted in the first quarter of 2016 based on the amount of payout vis-a-vis the taxes coming into the fund. So Congress is faced with a huge problem that has to be fixed. There are 4 possible solutions (there may be more, but these were the most viable one I could think of): raise taxes on those that make more than $250,000 in annual income; increase payroll taxes on everyone; cut DI benefits per recipient by 30%; or raid the Social Security Old Age Survivor Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund. OASI is the portion of Social Security that pays out the monthly benefit to retirees that have paid into the system. I will give you a minute to think about which is the most politically expedient choice... and if you picked raid the OASI trust fund, you are a winner. Just one question for you to think about- if the OASI side is raided to pay for the growing number of DI beneficiaries, what do you think will happen when even more baby boomers retire and demand their OASI benefits and there isn't sufficient funds to pay them? Folks, this will be a financial train wreck of Casey Jonesian proportions. And that is why we have to have an honest discussion about reforming entitlements.

Never let people push you around. Unless you are in a wagon. That is fun stuff.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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