Friday, March 15, 2013
Depending on who is speaking, you will hear that the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF), the fund that is used to pay social security tax benefits and disability payments, is either broke or has plenty of money and is solvent. The factual answer to that question is critical not only to those receiving benefits and those yet to receive benefits from the fund, but also to the overall financial picture of the country. Most Democrats will say that there is no problem with the SSTF and that it is solvent. Taking a look at the fund, we find that the it holds U.S. Treasury bills and notes and these investments are used to support current and future payments. But what are Treasury bills and notes? They are obligations of... the U.S. government. In effect, the government has placed a bunch of I.O.U's written by...the government into the fund to pay future obligations. Now think about this for a moment: this is no different than you or I writing ourselves an I.O.U. for $20 and then saying we have a "new" $20 to spend. This is critical to understand. We have a massive financial obligation in the form of social security and its current future payments to you and me as beneficiaries. The money that was actually in the SSTF is gone, looted by previous administrations. And Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault in this matter. Bill Clinton raided the SSTF during his administration to the tune of $565 billion; George Bush subsequently tapped the SSTF for a total of $1.5 trillion during his eight years in office. All those real dollars were replaced with I.O.U's in the form of U.S. Treasuries. See the problem? Until we are honest about the real condition of the SSTF, we are just living in a fantasy land about the true financial condition of the fund and the financial condition of this country.
I wish I could get a firm grip on reality so I could get my hands around its throat.
The sequester of federal dollars is now firmly in place, and it is no secret that the Obama administration is trying to make it as painful as possible to score political points. The debate centers on cutting federal spending and beginning to move toward a balanced budget. Democrats want to raise taxes (again) while Republicans want to cut spending. Those on the Left say that spending is not a problem and there is no room to cut significantly to help get the budget in balance. Oh real;y? Here are just a few of the line item expenditures that are currently in the budget: the federal government current owns 55,000 buildings that are vacant or mostly empty. The annual maintenance cost of those building sis $1.7 billion. The U.S. government owns 30% of all acreage in the U.S. This includes our national parks but also an abundance of raw land. The federal government owns 80% of the land in Nevada and Alaska and more than 50% of Idaho. And it wants $2.3 billion to buy more land. Homeland Security has $9 billion in unspent funds in its reserves, yet is cutting TSA agents at airports, making air travel even more painful than it should be. The National Science Foundation just released a $350,000 grant to Purdue University to study how to improve your golf game (Really?). The U.S government just spent $3 million for research on video games; gave $2.6 million to China to teach prostitutes in that country to drink responsibly; $500 million was released for a study to determine why 5 year olds cant "sit still" in kindergarten; and the list of stupidity goes on and on. It is time that all of us get engaged and demand that our elected leaders in Washington get serious about controlling spending.
I would lose weight, but I hate losing.
We all know about the law of unintended consequences: do one thing and there is often an unintended consequence of that action. Obamacare is full of unintended consequences, and here is one that will affect pet owners. Obamacare has a 2-3% federal excise tax on certain medical devices to help fund this boondoggle. The tax is assessed on items such as I.V. pumps, scalpels and anesthesia equipment. So how does this apply to pet owners? Medical equipment used on pets is not taxed under Obamacare, but these items I mentioned and others are considered "dual use" items- medical equipment that can be used on pets and humans. So they are subject to the excise tax. And you know what is going to happen to pet owners that have to take their pet in for a medical procedure. Their cost is going up as veterinarians pass along their higher cost for these devices. So now Rover and Fluffy are helping to subsidize Obamacare. Unintended consequences indeed.
I don't have bad handwriting. I just have my own font.
And that, my friends, is my view.